Spring 2015 | 2017 | 2019 with the Nilgiris Field Learning Center (NFLC)

The curriculum is integrated along many axes including disciplines, language arts, education and research, cross-cultural learning and engagement with socio-cultural/material problems of nutrition, wildlife management, governance, water and sanitation in the context of livelihoods and life in the Nilgiris Biosphere Reserve.  Similarly, course material delivery is not structured along class-times and schedules as in Ithaca. It follows an integrated model structured around weekly topics that Cornell faculty have identified and developed in collaboration with our NFLC partners in Kotagiri.  It also includes an important field visit component. Classes meet at the Keystone Campus in Kotagiri (where students also live).  During the research phase students do fieldwork while living in rural hamlets and peri-urban areas, after which they process field notes, advance writing, and debrief with faculty. Students ultimately prepare a series of presentations on their work for community members, civil society organizations, and government officials.


Spring 2004 | 2005, Fall 2017

NGO functioning, legitimacy and accountability merit a closer look, given the explosion of NGOs—physical and virtual—in the last four decades and the increasing funds channeled to the sector via western governments, aid agencies, corporations, and private citizens. Their importance increased as states moved to decentralize and privatize, and market mechanisms began dominating. In many cases, citizens and institutions turned to NGOs to help meet various humanitarian crisis and societal needs. This seminar was designed to examine a range of topics that are key to understanding NGO actions and outcomes: their effectiveness at service provision and advocacy; their political role in constructing social capital and strengthening civil society; their relationship with the state, and with donor agencies; and issues related to organizational design for success. The emphasis throughout will be to critically evaluate the literature, research, and accounts on NGOs as both institutional actors in the development arena and as bounded organizations at the local level: a task that is complicated by the heterogeneity of contexts and organizational types. In Spring 2004 and 2005, this class had a joint component with Prof. Rachel Davidson's CEE 402: Engineers for a Sustainable World.


Fall 2001 | 2002 | 2008 with Pierre Clavel

Planning is the design of courses of action in search of a better future. Yet, planning outcomes through history have often magnified existing inequalities and institutionalized existing prejudices. Public planning is the design of collective action in the face of complexity and often, diffuse authority. The purpose of this class is to engage planning and its practice through history in the context of this complexity. The national accreditation system that reviews professional planning programs requires that each course make clear three kinds of pedagogic objectives: those relating to "general planning knowledge," "planning skills," and "values and ethics." This course introduces students to the purpose, meaning, dilemmas and challenges of planning practice as well as modestly introduce planning theory. With respect to planning skills, students engage with written and oral communication strategies, plan implementation, planning process methods, and issues of leadership. We introduce questions, debates and arguments about governance, participation, and social justice. In addition to the accreditation goals, this course should help you appreciate more keenly, issues of interconnectedness, multiple forms of knowledge, legitimacy and precedent, as well as consider the dangers of professional arrogance and gullibility.


Spring 2003 at the Johnson School of Management

The aim of this course is to offer an introduction to issues pertaining to nonprofit and nongovernmental organizations. These organizational types differ from both private and public organizations, and we begin by situating them in the institutional landscape. We also briefly examine some structural issues crucial to understanding nonprofit organizational behavior. These include questions of accountability and legitimacy, and the economic role of nonprofits as service providers versus their political role as advocacy organizations.  Several guest speakers address issues of Nonprofit Board governance; funding; strategic management and advocacy.  Throughout the course, the emphasis is to critically evaluate nonprofit and nongovernmental organizations as both institutional actors and as bounded organizations at the local level: a task that is complicated by the heterogeneity of contexts, sectors, and organizational types.

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