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Jacob Boswell

  • Associate Professor, Graduate Studies Chair, Landscape Architecture Section
270 Knowlton Hall

Jacob Boswell is an associate professor of landscape architecture at the Knowlton School. Boswell’s research traces Social Imaginaries or what the philosopher Charles Taylor has called, “the ways in which people imagine their social existence, how they fit together with others, how things go on between them and their fellows, the expectations that are normally met, and the deeper normative notions and images that underlie these expectations” (Modern Social Imaginaries 106). Boswell is interested in the way that social imaginaries produce landscapes and the built environment with a specific focus on the role of climate, both social and environmental, in shaping reactions to landscape. He comes to this interest through an education and training in landscape architecture, city planning and cultural anthropology and he pursues this work through a hybrid practice centered on historical inquiry and design speculation. His historical research has been published nationally and internationally and his speculative and applied design research has received recognition in a number of prestigious international design competitions. Boswell is a 2018 recipient of the prestigious Mellon Fellowship in Urban Landscape Studies at Dumbarton Oaks.  

Recent Work

The Ocean Above Us

The Ocean Above Us is an annotated children’s story, capturing roughly 100 years of future history beginning with the California drought crisis and exploring the series of events that follow in its wake – eventually leading to the creation of the first space elevator. The project was inspired by the confirmation of water ice on the dwarf-planet Ceres – and the potential for that water to aid in human colonization of the solar system. The story intentionally blurs contemporary science and historic thought with future imaginings. It is Science Fiction. A version of this project received an honorable mention in Archinect’s 2015 Dry Futures Competition. It is currently under consideration for publication as a children’s book.