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John presents at SAI’s Symposium in 2011

The Harvard South Asia Institute is saddened to hear the news that John Briscoe, Gordon McKay Professor of the Practice of Environmental Engineering and Environmental Health, Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and SAI Steering Committee member, passed away on November 12, 2014.

John was a passionate scholar with a deep dedication to water issues and development, especially in South Asia, and spent a great amount of time working in Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan. In April 2014, John was named the 2014 Stockholm Water Prize Laureate for his unparalleled contributions to global and local water management issues.

“One of the things that we will remember most about John is the way he advised us to think of our work as not bound by borders, but rather that issue-based thinking can span geographies and regions to enrich learning and teaching. This is what John did with his water project, an issue with an immediate urgency for many parts of the world. His approach and perspective will live on in the way that SAI brings together faculty, students, and regional experts across disciplines and borders.”

– Meena Hewett, South Asia Institute Executive Director

“John was an extremely dynamic individual who combined theory with practice and with a deep sense of the issues of water policy especially in the developing world. He was known world wide as ‘water Briscoe’ and the go-to person on matters of water policy. He was my office neighbor for 5 years and I saw first hand what a dedicated teacher he was. There were always dozens of students from different parts of the campus waiting to see him! A truly wonderful colleague and a very special friend! I will miss him greatly.”

– Venkatesh Narayanamurti, Benjamin Peirce Professor of Technology and Public Policy and Professor of Physics, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Director Science, Technology and Public Policy Program, Harvard Kennedy School

“Professor John Briscoe was a teacher, a guide, a mentor, and a dear friend. To us, his students at Harvard, whom he led on field study trips of the Indus in Pakistan, he was ‘JB’. His warmth and care infected us and motivated many of us to do advanced studies in water management and development. He taught us to see that as bad as we thought things were, the glass was always ‘half full’. You will be missed John, and we will endeavor to build on your legacy, for those deprived of the full potential of their water resources.”

– Erum Sattar, SJD Candidate, Harvard Law School