Roger Kasperson, professor emeritus of geography, passed away peacefully on Saturday, April 10, at his home in Washington, D.C.
Dr. Kasperson, who earned a bachelor’s degree in geography from Clark in 1959, went on to receive his master’s and doctorate at the University of Chicago before returning to Clark as a faculty member in geography and government in 1968. In addition to being a full professor at Clark, he served at various points as Acting Director of the Graduate School of Geography, Dean of the College, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, University Professor, and Director of the George Perkins Marsh Institute.
At Clark, Kasperson co-founded the Center for Technology, Environment, and Development (CENTED), serving as its director from 1978 to 1981. The Center comprised experts ranging from physics, geography, philosophy, and psychology, exemplifying the impact of interdisciplinary research. Upon his retirement from Clark University in 2002, he was appointed Research Professor and Distinguished Scientist in the George Perkins Marsh Institute, an appointment he retained until his death.
In a message to his colleagues, George Perkins Marsh Institute Director Robert Johnston wrote, “Roger Kasperson was a giant in the fields of risk analysis and communication, global environmental change, sustainability science, vulnerability, and resilience.” Kasperson was one of the first geographers to be elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences. He also was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Perhaps most notably, he was the Executive Director of the Stockholm Environment Institute from 2000 to 2004. Under his leadership, the Institute turned its attention toward research on environmental and social-environmental issues. He authored or co-edited 24 books and monographs, and more than 150 articles.
According to Nick Pidgeon of Cardiff University in Wales, Kasperson has been “the leading light in our field of risk communication” for more than 30 years. Ortwin Renn of Germany’s International Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies said Kasperson was the model of “a dedicated, sincere, and value-based scholar in the risk field.”
At Clark, Roger met his first wife, Jeanne, who was research librarian and then research associate professor in the George Perkins Marsh Institute. The Jeanne X. Kasperson Research Library at Clark offers one of the most extensive collections in North America on environmental risk and hazards, environment and development, and the human dimensions of global environmental change.
Kasperson is survived by his wife of 15 years, Bonnie Ram; his son, Demetri Kasperson of Southbridge; his daughter, Kyra Litschauer, and her husband, Crocker, of Woodstock, Connecticut; his grandson, Cameron Litschauer, of Woodstock; and his sister, Alice Blackwood, and her husband, Budd, of Uxbridge, Massachusetts.
Gifts can be made in Dr. Kasperson’s name at this special memorial website. Donations can be directed to the Jeanne X. Kasperson Library.