George Perkins Marsh Institute


Seminar Series 2016-17 Academic Year

The George Perkins Marsh Institute and Jeanne X. Kasperson Research Library announce the 2016-17 Academic Year Seminar Series. Seminars will present cutting-edge research on human/environment interactions taking place at Clark University and are designed to catalyze discussions regarding future research possibilities. Seminars are open to all in the Clark community. The format is a 40-45 minute presentation followed by 15-20 minutes of questions and discussion. Interaction with the speaker is encouraged. Light refreshments will be provided. Please feel free to bring your own brown-bag lunch if desired. The sixth seminar of the series is as follows:


Elisabeth Gilmore, Associate Professor, Department of International Development, Community, and Environment, Clark University

"Pathways from Climate Change to Armed Conflict and Social Unrest"
Tuesday, February 28, 2017
12:15 – 1:15 pm
University Center, Lurie Conference Room

View our full listing of Marsh Institute seminars »


Anthony Bebbington Awarded 2017 Australian Laureate Fellowship

Professor Anthony Bebbington, Director of the Graduate School of Geography and Marsh Institute researcher, was recently awarded a $2.8 million Australian Laureate Fellowship from the Australian Research Council. The project entitled "Mining and Society in a Changing Environment: Pathways to Sustainability" will conduct a systematic comparative analysis of mining activities across Latin America, Australasia, and South-East Asia, drawing on political ecology, sustainability science, indigenous geography, and geographic information science.


Yuko Aoyama Publishes New Book on Collaborative Governance

Yuko Aoyama, Professor in the Graduate School of Geography and Marsh Institute researcher, with Balaji Parthasarathy of the International Institute of Information Technology, recently published the book The Rise of the Hybrid Domain: Collaborative Governance for Social Innovation, which explores possibilities for new governance structures that blend social and economic missions and advance the livelihoods of the poor in the Global South.

Geller Student Fellowships Awarded to Four Graduate Students

The 2017 Albert, Norma and Howard '77 Geller Endowed Research Awards were granted to four doctoral students to assist with their dissertation research: Yifan Cai (Geography 2019), Janae Davis (Geography 2020), Carlos Dobler-Morales (Geography 2019), and Alex Moulton (Geography 2020).

The Albert, Norma and Howard '77 Geller Endowed Research Awards support student-initiated research projects that advance our understanding of natural resource and environmental sustainability and develop practical improvements that move society towards more sustainable outcomes. Remembering his own experience as an activist student researcher at Clark, Dr. Howard Geller (Science, Technology, and Society '77) hopes to support other Clark undergraduate and graduate students through these annual awards.

Four student projects were funded in 2017:

  • Yifan Cai, "Variegated Green Capitalism and the Decentralized Developmental State: A Case Study on the Low-speed Electric Vehicle (LSEV) Industry in Shandong, China."
  • Janae Davis, "Toward a Framework for Decolonizing Integrated Conservation and Development Projects at Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park."
  • Carlos Dobler-Morales, "Integrating Remote Sensing with Local Perceptions to Characterize Droughts in Rural Mexico."
  • Alex Moulton, "Managing resources in Jamaica's Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park."

NOAA Internship Opportunities for Summer 2017 - Student Information Session


The Mosakowski Institute for Public Enterprise and the George Perkins Marsh Institute in partnership with the NOAA National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science will again be offering paid $4500 internships for Summer 2017. A student information session will be held on Tuesday, January 24, 2017 (4-5:30 pm) in the University Center, Lurie Conference Room. The NOAA Internships will place Clark students in exciting, hands-on-projects at locations around the United States. Students from a wide range of majors will have the chance to learn from working scientists and policy experts at one of America's leading public scientific institutions. The intern will also be mentored by Clark faculty to maximize the connections between their internship experiences and their academic programs.

Undergraduate students are eligible to apply up through their third year of study (current seniors are not eligible). The program is aimed primarily at those in their junior year (i.e., most internships will occur between the junior and senior years). Available internship opportunities and full application guidelines are available here. Student applications are due on February 27. We anticipate placing three interns from Clark during summer 2017. Any questions should be directed to Robert J. Johnston, Director of the George Perkins Marsh Institute or Jim Gomes, Director of the Mosakowski Institute for Public Enterprise.

Study: Climate, Not Bark Beetle Damage, to Blame for Increased Wildfire Risk

Landscape of dead trees next to water, with mountains in background

For the first time, new research has compared the impact of bark beetle outbreaks versus climate on the occurrence of large wildfires across the entire western United States. The Clark University study points to climate, not beetles, as the main culprit, suggesting new approaches to managing forests and preventing wildfires. More »

Study: Ecosystems Slow the Rate of Rising CO2 Concentration

Landscape of trees in Australia

The rate at which carbon dioxide is accumulating in the atmosphere has plateaued in recent years because terrestrial ecosystems are grabbing more carbon from the air than in previous decades, according to a new multi-institutional study published online in the journal Nature Communications. Christopher A. Williams, associate professor of geography at Clark University, is a co-author on the article. More »

Postdoctoral Researcher -- Ecosystem Service Valuation; Stated and Stated/Revealed Preference Methods

The George Perkins Marsh Institute at Clark University seeks a Postdoctoral Researcher in environmental economics, with an emphasis in ecosystem service valuation, stated and stated/revealed preference methods, and benefit transfer to join a vibrant and growing interdisciplinary research team. Click here for details.

Estimating the Value of Water Quality Improvements


The recent drinking water crisis in Flint, Michigan is an extreme example of what can go wrong when people do not understand the value of clean waterways. It reinforces the need to better understand the costs and benefits of protecting the environment, including the quality of water in rivers and streams. Yet water quality provides many benefits beyond those associated with drinking water; it also provides social benefits through effects on wildlife, recreation, aesthetics, and other outcomes that affect people's lives. As part of a newly awarded $800,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), environmental economist and Marsh Institute Director Robert Johnston is leading an interdisciplinary team of researchers to develop new methods to quantify the value of water quality improvements to the public, focusing on rivers and streams in the Northeast US. The award is part of a US EPA program that seeks to improve our understanding of the value of water quality improvements across the US, and is one of only six awards made nationwide. More »

Linking Gender Equity to Forest Outcomes

Increasing evidence indicates a link between gender equality and enhanced environmental outcomes. At the same time, gender-based violence emerges as a means by which households and communities discipline women and, as a result, shape women's participation in forest governance. Different levels of participation may lead to differences in forest outcomes; however, this question remains unanswered. A group of Marsh Institute researchers, led by Edward Carr, Director of Clark's International Development, Community, and Environment (IDCE) Department, was awarded funding from the World Resources Institute's Gender Initiative to explore the connection between different levels of women's participation in forest governance and ultimate forest outcomes. The project team, which also includes Sheila Onzere (Humanitarian Response Development Lab), Denise Humphreys Bebbington (IDCE), and Cynthia Caron (IDCE), will combine remotely sensed forest cover data with on the ground ethnographic research in case study communities to improve our understanding of the existence of such links.

Assessing the Effect of Extractive Industries on Forest Livelihoods

Large-scale infrastructure and extractive industry projects have attracted significant private and public investment, with direct and indirect synergies between them. However, while the effect of roads on deforestation has been widely studied, the extent to which extractive industry affects forest cover and forest-dependent livelihoods is less clear. Although the actual footprint of operations is modest in absolute terms, the footprint of pollutant-based externalities can be far larger. In addition, the drivers of these different processes are multiple and complex. Marsh Institute researchers Anthony Bebbington (Geography), Denise Humphreys Bebbington (IDCE), and John Rogan (Geography) received funding from the Climate and Land Use Alliance (CLUA) to assess the effect of extractive industries on deforestation and related impacts in three regions: Brazil, Mexico/Central America, and Indonesia with the goal of identifying feasible strategies for CLUA.

Assessing the Dynamics of Coastal Ecosystems

The Plum Island Ecosystems (PIE) Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) site is developing a predictive understanding of the response of a linked watershed-marsh-estuarine system in northeastern Massachusetts to rapid environmental change. Over the last 30 years, surface seawater temperatures in the adjacent Gulf of Maine have risen at three times the global average, rates of sea-level rise have accelerated, and precipitation has increased. Coupled with these changes in climate and sea level are substantial changes within the rapidly urbanizing watersheds that influence water, sediment, and nutrient delivery to the marsh and estuary. Robert Gilmore Pontius, Jr., Marsh Institute researcher and Professor in the Graduate School of Geography, was awarded $408,000 for his contribution to this large-scale, multi-institutional, interdisciplinary project that will assess how internal feedbacks within the marsh-estuary ecosystem influence the response of geomorphology, biogeochemistry, and food webs to three major drivers: climate, sea-level rise, and human alteration of the watershed.

Kate Markham

Grad Student Researches Small-scale Gold-mining's Impact on Biodiversity in Peru

Madre de Dios, in the northern Amazon region of Peru, has been hard hit by the devastating environmental effects of gold-mining. "Whole areas have been transformed into veritable deserts and wastelands," The Guardian reported recently. More »


Spotted Owls vs. Barred Owls: Clark Ethicist Helps Guide Debate on Protecting Species

The Pacific Northwest is in the middle of "Owl Wars," in which the possible extinction of the northern spotted owl is being weighed against the intrusion of another -- the barred owl. After a decade of planning, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has concluded that the only way to save the spotted owl from extinction is to kill barred owls, a move that is ethically troubling for bird and nature lovers everywhere. More »

High Country News: 'California Plans to Log its Drought-killed Trees'

Over the past four years, California has lost more than 66 million trees due to drought, and now the state is planning to log dead trees to reduce the risk of devastating wildfires, according to High Country News (HCN), a nonprofit, independent media organization covering news of the American West. But the planned logging already is proving controversial. More »


Clark's CDP Program Partners with Worcester on Food Economy, Families

The professors and students in Clark's Community Development and Planning (CDP) program learn from and work alongside members of the very community they want to transform. Their research not only pursues solutions to problems besetting urban neighborhoods, but also helps governments and nonprofits aspire to a more socially just world. More »