The Global Development And Environment Institute



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GDAE Overview

Background: The Global Development And Environment Institute (GDAE – pronounced "gee-day") was founded in 1993 to combine the research and curricular development activities of two Tufts programs: the Program for Sustainable Change and Development in the School of Arts and Sciences (directed by economist, Neva Goodwin), and the Center for Environmental and Resource Policy (directed by William Moomaw, a chemist and environmental policy specialist). The combination creates a center of expertise in economics, policy, science and technology. The Institute has produced more than a dozen books and numerous articles, policy documents, and discussion papers. These materials are being used in academic settings, to enhance the teaching of economics and related subjects, and in policy circles, where GDAE researchers are recognized leaders in their fields.

Neva Goodwin discusses GDAE's history and mission

Prior to 2000, GDAE’s largest single project was production of the six-volume series, Frontier Issues in Economic Thought. The seven-year effort in which GDAE researchers selected and summarized hundreds of articles for this project uniquely positioned the Institute to comprehend both the limitations of the mainstream economic paradigm, and also the wide range of creative efforts that have been and are being made to extend our economic understanding.

In our effort to understand actual and possible trajectories of economic development, GDAE researchers emphasize ecological health and the correlation between social and economic well-being. This requires expanding our theoretical understanding of economic systems, recognizing that they are embedded in the physical contexts of technology and the natural world, as well as in the social/psychological contexts of history, politics, ethics, culture, institutions, and human motivations. Throughout all of its activities, theoretical advances at GDAE are informed by the Institute's applied and policy work, while its practical applications of economics are enhanced by a growing theoretical understanding of what is required to promote socially and environmentally just and sustainable development.    "…if you want to fight for the environment, don't hug a tree; hug an economist. Hug the economist who tells you that fossil fuels are not only the third most heavily subsidized economic sector after road transportation and agriculture — they also promote vast inefficiencies. Hug the economist who tells you that the most efficient investment of a dollar is not in fossil fuels but in renewable energy sources that not only provide new jobs but cost less over time. Hug the economist who tells you that the price system matters; it's potentially the most potent tool of all for creating social change." (From the Keynote Address by Bill Moyers at the Environmental Grantmakers Association, Brainerd, MN, October 16, 2001)

Programs: Responding to the Institute's growth, in 2000 its activities were organized within two program areas: Research and Policy, and Theory and Education. While Co-Director Goodwin works most closely with the Theory and Education program and Co-Director Moomaw is mainly associated with the Research and Policy program, there is considerable interaction and mutual feedback between the two areas.

Theory and Education, headed by Brian Roach, is dedicated to developing a comprehensive, teachable system of economic theory that will better serve human needs and respond to ecological realities. The program explores and develops alternatives to the standard economic paradigm, both in the form of new economic theories and as teachable curriculum materials.

Research and Policy, led by Dr. William Moomaw, carries out applied research on the effects of economic policies using an analytical framework that assesses the limitations of market-mechanisms for addressing social and environmental issues. Research priorities include energy and climate change, recycling and materials use, and trade and sustainable economic integration.

The Institute also participates in a variety of initiatives at Tufts University, including:

  • GDAE sponsored on-campus Lecture and Seminar Series, which brings speakers and panelists to campus to discuss a wide range of topical subjects: globalism, climate change, free trade and the environment, and many others

  • GDAE participates on the Steering Committee of Tufts Institute of the Environment (TIE), an interdisciplinary, university-wide education and research institute which facilitates and coordinates environmental programs at the University.

  • GDAE supports and promotes the goals of the Talloires Declaration, a ten-point action plan for incorporating sustainability and environmental literacy in teaching, research, operations and outreach at colleges and universities. The Talloires Declaration was composed in 1990 at Tufts Campus in Talloires, France, and was originally signed by 20 university presidents. It has since been signed by over 300 university presidents and chancellors in over 40 countries.

Administrative structure: GDAE is jointly administered by the Tufts Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. It is overseen by an External Advisory Board and a Tufts Faculty Advisory Board. GDAE's work is primarily supported by grants from private and public funding agencies.

GDAE's name: Our name reflects our mission. We have capitalized the "A" of "And" to emphasize that it is the interrelation between Development And Environment that is our special focus; studies or policies relating to either of those terms alone have too often resulted in one or another kind of failure. We use the word "Global" to indicate that we are concerned with the linkages between Development And Environment in all parts of the world. There are important differences – as well as some important similarities – between the meaning and the consequences of those linkages in the North and in the South. We are concerned with understanding both the differences and the similarities, from both the academic and the policy perspectives.

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Global Development And Environment Institute
Tufts University
44 Teele Avenue, Somerville, MA 02144 USA
Tel: 617-627-3530 | Email:

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