Professor William Ascher, a member of the Government Department and chair of the International Relations Program, has been appointed director of the Roberts Environmental Center, Claremont McKenna College’s flagship institute for the study of the intersection of contemporary ecological issues with commerce and public policy. He will begin his tenure at the REC on July 1, 2013.
Ascher succeeds Professor J. Emil Morhardt, Roberts Professor of Environmental Biology, who has guided the REC during an impressive decade and a half of expansion and achievement, including the REC’s growth into an important watchdog monitoring the reporting practices of corporations regarding transparency and sustainability.
Before his arrival at CMC in 1996, Professor Morhardt taught environmental physiology and studied mammalian and avian temperature regulation at Washington University in St. Louis. He also served as a senior vice president with EA Engineering, Science, and Technology, Inc., an environmental consulting firm.
The College is grateful to Professor Morhardt for his many years of leadership to an important center of environmental analysis on campus. With the conclusion of his REC tenure in the summer, Professor Morhardt will return full-time to the classroom.
Ascher brings a similarly broad range of expertise in the environmental field to his new role as REC director.
The Donald C. McKenna Professor of Government and Economics at CMC, Ascher is also a member of the Robert Day School of Economics and Finance. He has served as a principal research fellow at the Centre for Energy, Petroleum, Mineral Law & Policy at University of Dundee, Scotland (2005-08); and as Professor of Public Policy Studies and Political Science at Duke University (1984-2000).
Since 2006, Ascher has been a Fulbright Senior Specialist ; for the past six years, he also has been director of Soka University’s Pacific Basin Research Center, which analyzes humane, peaceful approaches to development in the Pacific-Asia region.
A prolific writer and editor, Ascher is the author and co-editor of many books, including Knowledge and Environmental Policy: Re-Imagining the Boundaries of Science and Politics and Why Governments Waste Natural Resources: Policy Failures in Developing Countries. His most recent books are Economic Development Strategies and the Evolution of Violence in Latin America and the forthcoming Development Strategies, Identities, and Averting Conflict in Asia.
In 2009 he received the G. David Huntoon Senior Teaching Award, which is given annually to a tenured, full professor for excellence in teaching.
Ascher’s current individual research and student collaborations center upon resource policy in developing nations, policymaking in international organizations, political psychology, and the public policy of economic development, natural resources and environment—all areas of key interest for the Roberts Environmental Center since its inception in the early 1990s.
During his career, Ascher also has held several administrative roles at CMC and elsewhere, including: Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty, CMC (2000-05); Director, Program in International Development Policy, Center for International Development Research, Sanford Institute of Public Policy, Duke University (1986-2000); and Director and Chair, Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy, Duke University (1994-97).
The REC is named for Trustee George R. Roberts ’66 P’93, who provided the endowment to fund a center committed to contemporary environmental issues. The Center employs a multi-pronged approach that trains students to draw on science, economics, and public policy in their analyses.
A major centerpiece of the Center’s work is the PSI (Pacific Sustainability Index) Sector Reports that enable students and faculty to analyze environmental and sustainability reporting by the world’s largest corporations. The PSI reports are so widely regarded in environmentalist circles that the title of an REC-published book refers to them as Clean, Green, and Read All Over.