Professor Michael J. Watts

Professor of Geography and Director of Development Studies, University of California, Berkeley

Michael J. Watts is an Emeritus ‘Class of 1963’ Professor of Geography and Director of Development Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. He served as the Director of the Institute of International Studies at Berkeley from 1994-2004. Watts was the Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Social Science Research Council in New York (2010-2015) and was recently awarded the Berlin Prize by the American Academy in Berlin. He was a Guggenheim Fellow in 2003 and was awarded the Victoria Medal by the Royal Geographical Society in 2004. Watts was educated at University College London and the University of Michigan and has held visiting appointments at the Smithsonian Institution, and universities in Bergen, Bologna, and London.

Professor Watts’ research has addressed a number of development issues, particularly the oil and gas industry, energy security, resource development and land reform in Africa and South Asia. He has written extensively on the oil industry, focusing on West Africa and the Gulf of Guinea. Much of his research has centered on Nigeria, which he first visited shortly after the civil war, and was attached to Ahmadu Bello University and the University of Ibadan in the 1970s. Professor Watts has consulted for a number of development agencies, including the United Nations and the World Bank. Professor Watts has published nineteen books and over three hundred articles in leading research journal, has provided testimony to the US Congress and State Department, and provided expert testimony in a number of legal cases.