Welcome to the Marsh Institute
The George Perkins Marsh Institute (GPMI) at Clark University is dedicated to research on one of the most fundamental questions confronting humankind:
What is and ought to be our relationship with nature?
Grounded in nearly a century of applied research at Clark University, the George Perkins Marsh Institute studies the socio-ecological, technical, institutional and other systems through which humans interact with their surrounding environments. Working within a collaborative agenda, the Institute coordinates resources from Clark University and elsewhere to study human transformation of the environment and responses to this change. The Institute promotes collaborative, systems-based research that challenges traditional disciplinary boundaries to address some of the most pressing challenges facing today's world. The Institute is home to approximately fifty research faculty and staff, many of whom have joint appointments with other departments.
The Institute's research and outreach covers three core themes linked by cross-cutting topics. The primary themes that motivate our work include: (1) earth system science, (2) human-environment systems and sustainability science, and (3) institutions and human development. Cross-cutting topics reflect areas of particular relevance that are studied through these lenses. These include: (1) climate change impacts and adaptation, and (2) urban systems and sustainability. The study of risk, vulnerability and adaptation is another important focus, based in the pioneering work at the original Center for Technology, Environment, and Development (CENTED), now part of the Institute.
The George Perkins Marsh Institute makes a difference through advancements in basic and applied science, direct engagement with decision-makers, provision of learning opportunities for students, and communication with the public. We promote the success of other departments, centers and institutes across Clark University who share our commitment to science in the public interest. We coordinate workshops, conferences and seminars that bring together scientists, students, stakeholders and policy makers to address pressing challenges in human-environment interactions. We also host visiting scientists to promote cross-institutional collaborations. Institute researchers play important roles in national and international science and policy advisory bodies such as the National Academy of Sciences, US EPA Science Advisory Board, and NOAA Ecosystem Science and Management Working Group, as well as regional groups such as the Narragansett Bay Estuary Program. We are also heavily engaged in national and international research networks that connect scientists, decision-makers and stakeholders.
The Institute is one of the most productive and active hubs for research activity and funding at Clark University, regularly generating over one-third of external research funds received by the University as a whole. Grants to Institute researchers support work in such wide-ranging topics as climate change impacts and adaptation; the global carbon cycle; changes in arctic sea ice; invasive species; forest fires; the value of ecosystem services; resource extraction and human development; urban youth violence; and relationships between climate, land use and human development. New projects initiated during 2016-17 address topics such as the economic value of water quality improvements, climate-smart agriculture in developing nations, urban resilience to extreme weather related events, reducing urban gang violence, and trade-offs between pest management and pollinator conservation, among many others. External support for these and other Institute activities comes from private donations, foundations, and grants from state, federal, regional and international agencies.
The Institute is also dedicated to the provision of research opportunities for Clark graduate and undergraduate students. Dozens of students participate in the Institute's externally funded research projects each year. Recent programs for student research include the Polaris Project in the Siberian Arctic; the Human-Environment Regional Observatory (HERO) research program in central Massachusetts; the Albert, Norma and Howard '77 Geller Student Research Grants; and the NOAA Fellows program in coordination with the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science. Building on programs such as these, the Institute plays an important role in the Liberal Education and Effective Practice (LEEP) initiative at Clark, providing expertise as well as opportunities for student research within our many communities of effective practice.
In past years, the George Perkins Marsh Institute played a leading role in developing the Core Project on Global Land-Use/Cover Change (LUCC) for the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme and the International Human Dimensions Programme, and assisted the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) in developing the analytical capacities to address environmental changes in general. Books resulting from Marsh Institute activities include The Earth as Transformed by Human Action (1990), Regions at Risk: Comparisons of Threatened Environments (1995), and Benefit Transfer of Environmental and Resource Values: A Guide for Researchers and Practitioners (2015).
Among the facilities, offices and centers that comprise the Institute is the Jeanne X. Kasperson Research Library, whose holdings include one of the most extensive research collections in North America on risks, hazards and global environmental change. We are home to the Humanitarian Response and Development Lab (HURDL). We work closely with numerous departments and institutes across Clark University, including the Graduate School of Geography, the Department of International Development, Community and Environment (IDCE), the Mosakowski Institute for Public Enterprise, and the Department of Economics.
This website provides links and information regarding the many programs and initiatives supported by the Institute, as well as announcements of seminars and other events. We welcome any input or comments; please contact the Institute Director, Robert J. Johnston.
George Perkins Marsh Institute - Clark University
Visiting address: 16 Claremont Street, Worcester, MA 01610-1477
Mailing address: 950 Main Street, Worcester, MA 01610-1477