CLALS | Development & Inequality

No challenge is more important to the future of Latin American societies than the quest for strategies of economic development that can promote a reasonably equitable pattern of income distribution. Despite significant improvements in income inequality and substantial progress toward the achievement of the UN Millennium Development Goals, poverty remains endemic and inequality persists as a stubborn feature of the economic landscape, permeating social, cultural and political realms as well.

Unequal access to resources is an equally pressing concern for Latino populations living in the United States, as evident in their disadvantaged positions in labor markets and schools and in the obstacles they encounter in gaining access to health and other social services. Discrimination on the basis of gender, ethnicity, race and class adversely affects vast swaths of the population throughout the hemisphere. Addressing these and other aspects of inequality preoccupy a number of projects promoted by the Center.

Current Initiatives

Reconfiguration of Elites and the Exercise of Power in Central America

In collaboration with leading researchers and research institutions in the region including the Universidad Rafael Landívar and the Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales – Costa Rica (FLACSO-CR), CLALS is engaged in an ambitious project about the composition and role of Central American elites who have long played a leading role in shaping the political and economic landscape of Central America. This two-year program of research, dialogue, and publication is funded by the Ford Foundation. (Learn more)

Exclusion, Violence, and Community Responses in Central American Cities: Explaining variation to guide policy

FLACSO-Costa Rica, in collaboration with CLALS, will carry out a five-year project of research, application, and dissemination to determine why different urban communities within Central America that exhibit similar levels of social exclusion experience varying levels of violence. (Learn more)

Strengthening Civil Society, Sustainable Livelihoods and the Environment in Ecuador

For centuries, Afro-descendant communities in northwestern Ecuador have made their living from the mangroves and forests, which are among the world's top ten biodiversity hotspots. In the past twenty years, however, road building, shrimp farming, intensive oil palm cultivation, and spillover from internal conflicts in Colombia have brought considerable changes and pressures to villagers' livelihoods throughout the region. Working directly with the area's Afro-Ecuadorian communities, SIS Professor Redvers-Lee applies participatory action research and community participatory methods. The chief goals are to evaluate community needs and identify long-term, sustainable employment options for people in the region. Redvers-Lee is working with two local organizations to further the development of cacao cultivation and species re-introduction. (Learn more)

Latino Entrepreneurs in the DC Metro Area

The Center has launched a new program with the Latino Economic Development Center (LEDC) that investigates Latino entrepreneurship in the DC metro area. The project is directed by AU Kogod School of Business Professor Barbara Bird and George Washington Elliot School of International Affairs Assistant Professor Michael Danielson. (Learn more)

Archived Initiatives

Impacts of Innovative After-School Programming on Latino Children’s Development and Learning

In partnership with CentroNia, a community-based organization serving primarily Latino children and families in the DC area, and the Collaborative for Urban Education, Research, and Development at AU’s School of Education, Teaching and Health, this project assesses the impacts of innovative after-school programming on the development of Latino children. (Learn more)

Commodities and the Social Dimensions of Sustainability in the Brazilian Amazon

The “greening” of various industries in the Brazilian Amazon has improved prospects for achieving environmental sustainability in one of the world’s most precious ecosystems. Less studied, however, are the social ramifications of such changes on the populations who live there. (Learn more)

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Photo by Bill Gentile

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