IDCE Collaborative Research




“The theme of global health and social justice is important because the two are inextricably linked. Global health problems can be a symptom of underlying problems that reach far beyond disease—poverty, environmental issues, access to clean water, and societal stress. A closer look at global health issues will inevitably uncover social injustices. This offers researchers the opportunity to address these injustices through the universal window of health. Some injustices are too sensitive for exploring in certain cultures—such as sex workers and gay communities—but a killer disease like AIDS demands the voices of marginalized groups to be heard.”
Heidi Larson, IDCE research professor and aids203 project director

“Considering what we want to do with aids2031, it is nothing less than influencing the course of history.”
Dr. Peter Piot, UNAIDS executive director

Fighting AIDS on a Global Scale

As one of nine partners worldwide, Clark University, represented by the Department of International Development, Community, and Environment (IDCE) and the George Perkins Marsh Institute, is collaborating in a global consortium, aids2031. The initiative will reshape how people in the development and medical fields think about the next 25 years of AIDS.

aids2031 is a commission of UNAIDS. It is a consortium of partners who have come together to look at what we have learned about the AIDS response, as well as to consider the implications of the changing world around AIDS in order to chart options for the long term response.

Professor Heidi Larson, aids2031 Director, says, “aids2031 is a two-year project which will revisit some of the assumptions that were made about AIDS when it was first identified in 1981. A lot has changed in the medical and technology fields as well as in the geo-political environment, so we want to investigate what new approaches we need to take. We aim to generate new evidence to inform our response to AIDS during the next 25 years. With a critical look at past and current responses and in light of world changes, we hope to learn how we can influence the state of AIDS at its 50-year mark, in 2031.”

The project, says Larson, will take a special look at youth because today’s teens are entering critical stage in their sexual and social lives. Identifying and encouraging young emerging leadership will be another key part of the initiative. The responsibility of the global AIDS response is changing hands.

Clark University Hosts aids2031 Management Unit

UNAIDS has selected Clark University to host the aids2031 Project Management Unit.  The Project Management Unit coordinates the work of nine working groups—including economists, epidemiologists, biomedical, social and political scientists—to question conventional wisdom, stimulate new research, encourage public debate, and uncover new evidence.  Each working group will explore different aspects of the future of AIDS.

Social Drivers Group

Clark University, represented by IDCE and The George Perkins Marsh Institute is hosting the Social Drivers Group in collaboration with the International Center for Research on Women. The working group is co-convened by IDCE Director William Fisher and ICRW Director Geeta Rao Gupta.  

Together, in collaboration with additional partners throughout the world, we examine the “social drivers” of HIV/AIDS—the underlying social, political, and cultural injustices that allow AIDS to thrive in certain areas of the world. These vulnerabilities include gender inequity, economic marginalization, stigma and discrimination—all things that fuel the spread of AIDS and other health crises. The group endeavors to understand the social changes brought about by the impacts of HIV/AIDS on societies. At the same time, it looks at the potential of positive social change to redress inequalities and imbalances in power to slow the pace of the epidemic and mitigate its negative impacts. 

UNAIDS Executive Director Visits IDCE

Clark’s role in aids2031 evolved following Dr. Peter Piot’s visit to Clark campus in September 2006. Dr. Piot is the UNAIDS Executive Director and Undersecretary General of the United Nations and recipient of an honorary doctorate from Clark University at Commencement 2007. Piot delivered a Clark Talk on Global Health and Social Justice, “AIDS: From Exposing to Overcoming Injustices,” which was co-sponsored by the President’s Office and IDCE.

Read Peter Piot's speech delivered to the Clark University community on September 16, 2006.

aids2031 & IDCE

Within the last year, members of Clark University have been involved with building aids2031 energy, knowledge, and public presence. This project helped to launch Clark’s thematic investigation of Global Health and Social Justice. Over the course of the 2006-07 academic year, Clark hosted a series of talks and presentations related to the topic. Then, over summer 2007, Clark hosted two Social Driver Group meetings on campus: on May 15-16, and June 19-20, 2007.  These meetings involved multiple partners from all over the world.

In fall 2007, a team of multi-disciplinary IDCE faculty taught a graduate level research seminar on aids2031, which explored various aspects of HIV/AIDS. During the course of the project, we expect that IDCE faculty and students will have the opportunity to contribute to the project through additional courses, events, and practice-oriented research.

IDCE News & Views

News & Views 2010
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