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IDCE Faculty teaching small class

Welcome to the Department of Sustainability and Social Justice at Clark University.

Director of Sustainability and Social Justice Laurie Ross working at a computer, smiles at the viewer

As someone who has been deeply involved with Clark’s international and community development programs for almost 30 years, I am very proud and excited about the Department of Sustainability and Social Justice, an evolution of what we formerly referred to as IDCE (International Development, Community, and Environment).

Through our practice, research, community engagement, and scholarship, we are called to focus on the critical, interconnected issues facing our world today: climate change adaptation; forced migration; gender, racial, and economic equality; and equitable access to high-quality and culturally responsive food, health, education, and housing. We offer immersive experiences for our students to apply what they learn; these include Global Learning Collaboratives, which allow them to pursue experiential learning opportunities from Worcester to Latin America, Africa, Asia, and Europe.

Today, our department is deepening and amplifying what we have always done best: provide opportunities for students to work with faculty and to partner with communities on projects that matter.

Our engagement — which challenges the false dichotomies of global and local, rural and urban — is rooted in participatory and liberatory methods of knowledge production and action. This calls us to understand the world as interrelated and interconnected, and opens space for communities to determine their destinies.

As an undergraduate and graduate student in our programs during the 1980s and ’90s, I had the opportunity to study abroad in Central America, conduct research in the Dominican Republic with Geography Professor Dianne Rocheleau, and apply the participatory and collaborative approaches I learned from International Development Professor Richard “Dick” Ford. Once back in Worcester, I became deeply involved in neighborhood and community development efforts and, with the support of Professor Ford, I applied that same methodology to engage youth to reimagine their neighborhood and redesign an underused city park. That experience led to our launching the Community Development and Planning Program, which still is committed, as I am, to supporting youth and neighborhood efforts in Worcester.

All of us in the Department of Sustainability and Social Justice share this unwavering commitment to making the world more just and sustainable. Today, our mission is more important than ever: to understand the complexity of urgent social, political, and ecological problems and develop leaders who, through collaborative scholarship and innovation, are prepared to find solutions to these challenges.

I welcome you to join us in this new and exciting venture.

Laurie Ross ’91, M.A. ’95
Director, Department of Sustainability and Social Justice
Professor, Community Development and Planning

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Department of Sustainability and Social Justice

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