CFAT is an internationally recognized research facility dedicated to the rapidly growing field of market-based social change and environmental protection. Through a variety of research and outreach activities, CFAT produces in-depth analyses of current initiatives, future opportunities, and on-going dilemmas to better understand the potential and limits of fair and alternative trade, product certification schemes, and other aspects of the emerging conscious consumer movement. CFAT is not an advocacy group. Rather, it is founded on the belief that critical and scholarly investigation of this global phenomenon is fundamental to advancing the quest for social justice and environmental sustainability in Colorado, the United States, and around the world. Our core activities include:
- Scholarly research
- Graduate and post-graduate training (MA, PhD)
- Consultancies for the public and private sector
- Workshops, conferences, and symposia
- Technical assistance for companies, producer groups, non-profit/non-governmental organizations, and others
What is Fair Trade?
Fair and alternative trade are examples of market-based approaches to alleviating poverty & promoting environmental sustainability through innovative business models spanning production, distribution, and consumption. Examples include: fair trade and organic certification schemes, sustainable/certified forest product initiatives, payment for environmental services, fair labor practices, corporate social responsibility, sustainable tourism, community-supported agriculture, and “Be Local’ economic development.
CFAT grew out of the successful Fair Trade Research Group (FTRG) established at Colorado State University (CSU) in 1999. FTRG incorporated a CSU-based research team with an international network of scholars and practitioners. In 2005-06, with funding from the College of Liberal Arts at CSU, we transformed FTRG into a research center named the Center for Fair & Alternative Trade (CFAT).
In 2008, CSU recognized CFAT as a fully-established university center with funding from the Graduate School, VIPRIT, and the Provost.
As a university center, CFAT is working toward becoming better integrated with our CSU colleagues and the Fort Collins community. At CSU, we have invited faculty and students from a wide range of fields – political science, agricultural economics, business, and applied sciences – to participate in our seminars and research projects or join as associate faculty. In Fort Collins, we are working with the City of Fort Collins, Downtown Development Authority, and a community organization developing the Conscious Consumer Trust. The Trust will work to educate local schools, community groups, and businesses on global trade and development issues and the options available for market-based social change.
In addition to our local collaborations, our international partnerships continue to be vital to our work. We collaborate on research and policy analyses with a number of colleagues and practitioners from universities, governmental and non-governmental organizations, and businesses throughout the world.
Lastly, we could not have completed our work without the generous financial support provided by the following organizations:
- John D. & Catherine A. MacArthur Foundation
- Ford Foundation
- Bohemian Foundation
- International Institute for Education
- Mennonite Central Committee
- Centro Internacional de la Papa (CIP)/ International Development Research Centre (IDRC)
- Fort Collins Downtown Development Authority
- National Science Foundation (NSF)