Center for Fair & Alternative Trade

Colorado State University

CFAT: The First Five Years

Posted: Summer 2012.

CFAT formed in 2005-06 and became a fully established University Center in 2008. During its first five years, the Center has completed a number of ambitious initiatives. In addition to producing widely-cited publications, we have instituted a multidisciplinary seminar series and engaged in outreach with a range of local and global partners.

CFAT provides critical and scholarly studies of fair and alternative trade, product certification, labor rights, conscious consumerism, and related initiatives working to promote market-based social change. We unite local and global studies, and via collaborative partnerships, have helped to form a global network of scholars and practitioners.

CFAT emerged from a decade of successful research led by Laura Raynolds and Douglas Murray who serve as Co-Directors. We now have nine Faculty Associates from four CSU Colleges and other multinational universities, as well as two Professional Associates representing development practitioners. We host an annual cohort of 10-15 Student Affiliates, including a multidisciplinary group of MA and PhD students and advanced undergraduates. In our first five years, we provided full-year funding to eight graduate students, partial-year funding to six graduate and undergraduate students, and funds for two student projects.

The Center has achieved a strong funding track record: in addition to securing various internal grants, we brought in $404,500 in external grants from the National Science Foundation, Fort Collins Downtown Development Authority, Bohemian Foundation, International Development Research Council of Canada, and USAID. In 2006, CFAT also completed a $300,000 grant that previously had been awarded by the Ford Foundation in 2003.

In terms of publications, CFAT’s Co-Directors edited and wrote five chapters of the path-breaking book Fair Trade: The Challenges of Transforming Globalization ( Routledge 2007) which experienced the second-largest first-year sales in its category and has been very widely cited. To further advance fair and alternative trade scholarship, Raynolds and Murray also published six refereed articles and four book chapters. CFAT articles are highly influential and are in some cases the most widely read and cited pieces in the journal.

From 2005-2010, two PhDs and two MA degrees were awarded to students under CFAT supervision and the Center has hosted two international students: a Ford Foundation MA student from South Africa for two years and a visiting scholar from the UK for a semester. CFAT provides its top students with co-authorship opportunities, and Murray and Raynolds have published several journal articles and book chapters with MA and PhD students. CFAT has further invested in education by instituting a monthly seminar series which has featured a diverse range of speakers from among its Associates as well as external scholars and practitioners from the US, UK, Japan, Australia, and Benin. The Center hosted a 2005 workshop in Brazil and integrated CFAT findings into undergraduate and graduate courses.

To ensure broad dissemination of research findings, CFAT Co-Directors have written several popular articles and given numerous presentations, including 11 speeches at CSU, 15 at national forums, and eight at international forums. Raynolds and Murray likewise have conducted 22 interviews with national and international media (eg. NPR and Congressional Quarterly). They have conducted 87 collaborations with multinational researchers and 53 collaborations with various government agencies and NGOs, including the World Bank, FAO, and Oxfam America.

As CFAT moves into the second-half of its first decade, we are renewing our commitment to research, education, and outreach. Expanding into applied work, the Center has recently finalized participatory action research within South Africa, and is working with the Fort Collins Downtown Development Authority in order to assist the City in developing policies that support multifaceted sustainability objectives. At the same time, we are continuing to invest in academic research and analysis. Raynolds currently is working on a series of publications on Ecuador’s Fair Trade cut-flower industry, and CFAT Associates are developing important new publications on sustainable consumption. Finally, CFAT will be represented in three sessions at the American Sociological Association’s upcoming 2012 Annual Meeting. For further information regarding these and other exciting developments, please visit the research and outreach pages of our recently updated website.