George Perkins Marsh Institute

Center for Technology, Environment, and Development (CENTED)

Founded in 1978, CENTED is internationally recognized as one of the oldest and most prominent centers for the study of natural and technological hazards in the United States. Even prior to its foundation, CENTED researchers were active for more than a decade in studies of natural hazards, human responses to disasters, nuclear testing, and global environmental change.

Interdisciplinary research has always been CENTED's forte, ranging from theoretical work on hazard analysis, hazard taxonomies, vulnerability, environmental equity, comparative risk assessment, and risk perception to more applied work on risk communication, hazardous (including radioactive) waste management, corporate risk management, hazardous waste transportation, emergency planning, pollution prevention, and public participation.


CENTED researchers have long been active in the work of the National Research Council, chairing major committees on risk assessment and participating in many others. Other advisory work has included participation in: the advisory board of the Energy Division of Oak Ridge National Laboratory; various advisory committees for the former Office of Technology Assessment; the Environmental Protection Agency's assessment of acid rain; the EPA's Strategic Options Subcommittee on relative risk reduction; various advisory committees for Sandia Laboratories; and the advisory committee to the State of Massachusetts on hazardous waste management. CENTED researchers have also participated in several broad-based reviews, including: a review of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's state-of-the-art document on probabilistic risk analysis; and a citizen review of catastrophic risk management at the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons facility.

Following the restructuring of the Institute in 1994, two former research centers were integrated with CENTED to add two distinctively new research directions to CENTED's long-standing focus on risks and hazards. Activities initiated under the former Center for Global Urban Studies investigate the role of economic and industrial changes in shaping the impacts of human systems on resource use and the global environment. Activities initiated under the former Center for Land, Water, and Society included several projects on global land-use and land-cover change, a project on gender and land/water use in East Africa, and a comparison of the perceptions of global change in the U.S. with perceptions in Russia. As a result of this activity, the Insitute played a key role in the development of the research effort of the International Geosphere-Biosphere/Human Dimensions of Global Change programs (IGBP/HDGP) on land-use/land-cover change (LUCC), the only project in the international global change community that is a joint effort between the natural and social sciences.