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Clay’s research examines the notions of green growth and degrowth in debates over environmental and economic governance. His dissertation is a critical discourse analysis of the visions, values, and justifications given by defenders of each notion as a path toward effective climate action and sustainable development. In his work he has found that it is often unstated ideological, ontological, or ethical beliefs and commitments that divide this debate's participants, and that underwrite their differing assessments over the possibility of green growth. His research and other academic work are proactively transdisciplinary, spanning political-economy, ecology, complex systems theory, and the philosophy of science.

Clay holds an MA in Global Governance from the Balsillie School of International Affairs, University of Waterloo, and a BA in Sociology and Cultural Anthropology from the University of Western Ontario. He is a co-author of "Canada in a Climate-Disrupted World," (Waterloo 2017, with Simon Dalby, Daniel Scott, and Alex Suen), a student member of the Waterloo Institute for Complexity and Innovation, and has done research consulting for Sustainable Waterloo Region and REEP Green Solutions.

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