A 30-year legacy of community-based impact in New York State

Founded in 1990, the Community and Regional Development Institute (CaRDI) led Cornell’s response to current and emerging needs in community, rural and regional development for thirty years. Working with an extensive and diverse network of partners including Cornell Cooperative Extension, Cornell faculty, policymakers and community partners, CaRDI fostered trust and informed decision-making on social and environmental issues at the local, regional, and state level in support of Cornell University’s civic engagement and Land Grant mission. Via applied research, trainings, seminars and workshops, publication series, and critical engagement with policymakers and practitioners, CaRDI’s impactful applied research and outreach worked to strengthen the capacity, resiliency, and sustainability of communities in New York State.

In 2020, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell created the Department of Global Development to foster critical interdisciplinary research, teaching, and extension focused on the many urgent development challenges of our time. While “CaRDI” as an Institute was retired, the applied and engaged approaches used by CaRDI over the past three decades in focal areas such as food systems, energy transitions, demographics, environmental sustainability, community & economic development, etc., will be leveraged within this new local-global framework, as well as by new collaborative opportunities with a broad array of disciplinary perspectives. A key feature of the Department of Global Development will be an emphasis on engagement – between students, practitioners, communities, researchers, and policymakers - both in New York State and around the globe. This approach builds on the strong engagement legacy of CaRDI, with appreciated acknowledgement of our extensive network of stakeholders, partners, and collaborators.

We look forward to strengthening these partnerships as we continue developing the new Global Development project. The Cornell Farmworker Program, Lead NY and Rust2Green will continue on as programs within Global Development. Heidi Mouillesseaux-Kunzman, David Kay, and Robin Blakely-Armitage will focus their efforts on building initiatives that contribute to engaged learning, engaged research, and engaged policy and practice opportunities in the new unit. We invite you to be part of this new initiative, and to reach out to us with questions or ideas for collaboration. For more general questions, please contact the globaldevelopment [at] cornell.edu (Department of Global Developmen)t. Previous CaRDI resources will be archived and available on the new department website later this fall. We will keep you up to date on publications, workshops, seminars, research projects, student engagement opportunities, and more, via new communication methods which you will have the choice to receive or not. Thank you for your contributions to CaRDI initiatives over the years; we are excited to write the next chapter with you.

Connect with experts in the Department of Global Development

David Kay
David Kay

Senior Extension Associate

Department of Global Development

David Kay
Community & Economic Development
Community, Energy Transitions & Climate Change
Governance & Conflict Resolution
Heidi Mouillesseaux-Kunzman headshot
Heidi Mouillesseaux-Kunzman

Senior Extension Associate

Department of Global Development

Director, Education Minor

Department of Global Development

Heidi Mouillesseaux-Kunzman
Community development
Civic engagement
Engaged learning and research

CaRDI's Impact

As engineering faculty interested in sustainability, CaRDI has enabled me to bring a systems view of energy uses to communities in a way that I would not otherwise have been able to do….with the implications of shale gas development, community energy choices, and biomass heating. CaRDI helped me connect to interested communities...and navigate the political and social factors in communities moving toward sustainability. I believe this helped communities to work toward sustainability and it certainly broadened my perspectives.
Al George, Professor, Department of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering, Cornell
CaRDI has been a valuable resource for me over the years… bringing greater sophistication to the analysis of municipal data. Sharing results back-and-forth has led to greater insights and better data products. Additionally, the State-of Upstate Conferences have been helpful in bringing a variety of viewpoints together to focus on critical statewide issues.
Janet Mayo, NYS Office of the Comptroller
The Community and Regional Development Institute at Cornell University has been an invaluable asset for town officials seeking to make informed public policy decisions. From agriculture to workforce development, CaRDI has provided direct assistance through seminars, policy briefs, articles, workshops and round tables on a wide range of topics affecting towns throughout NYS.
Christopher Anderson, Director of Research, Association of Towns of the State of New York
The NYS Water Resources Institute has been fortunate to have worked with CARDI on shale gas and water infrastructure issues. CARDI’s involvement helped us to understand and address these issues from a community development perspective, and has facilitated presentation of a wide range of Cornell faculty research on sustainable water infrastructure, as well as contributed to this research through assessment of New York’s Smart Growth Act.
Susan Riha, Professor, Department of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences, Cornell

CaRDI Community Development Institutes, 2013-2019

Partners: the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), Rust2Green, and Cornell University's Office of Engagement Initiatives.

Day 1: October 23, 2019


Day 2: October 24, 2019

Day 1: October 11, 2018

Day 2: October 12, 2018

How do global trends in immigration, climate change, fiscal stress, food systems, and inequality impact local communities? How are communities in New York State responding? What new research, policies & practices enhance community sustainability?

Read more about this Institute in the Cornell Chronicle

Day 1: September 28, 2017

Day 2: September 29, 2017

The 2015 theme was Strong Families ↔ Strong Communities. Cornell Cooperative Extension co-sponsored the two-day event, which featured presentations and discussions about innovative community projects & the latest research and policies focused on supporting strong families, strong communities, and the connections between them. Click here to read the Cornell Chronicle article about the Institute.

Key questions we addressed together included:

  • How do changing social & economic trends affect our families and communities?
  • How can we better link efforts to build family and community capacity?
  • What new ideas are emerging in research, policy, and practice?

Day 1: July 14, 2015

Session 1: The Changing Social & Economic Landscape          

Session 2: Community Supports for Working Parents

Session 3: Innovative Strategies for Community Well-Being (part 1)

  • STEPS - Seneca Towns Engaging People for Solutions, Ave Bauder, Executive Director Cornell Cooperative Extension, Seneca County and Theresa Lahr, STEPS Project Coordinator, S2AY Rural Health Network
  • SOAR - Strengthening our Area Residents (slides included in STEPS presentation), Sandi Bastedo, Creating Healthy Places Coordinator, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Wayne County

Session 4: Fiscally Stressed Local Governments, Communities & Families

  • Shifting the Burden: National, State and Local Funding, John Sipple, Associate Professor, Department of Development Sociology, and Director, NYS Center for Rural Schools
  • Post-Recession Strategies for Families, Vicki Bogan, Director, Institute for Behavioral and Household Finance, and Associate Professor, Dyson School of Applied Economics & Management, Cornell University                                                                          

Session 5: Innovative Strategies for Community Well-Being (part 2)

Wednesday July 15th, 2015

Session 1: Navigating Cultural Differences

  • Working with Latino Families in Rural Communities, Mary Jo Dudley, Director, Cornell Farmworker Program, and Senior Extension Associate, Community & Regional Development Institute (CaRDI)    
  • Opportunities and Challenges for Refugee Families in Upstate New YorkShelly Callahan, Executive Director, Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees

Session 2: Using Data and Indicators for Community Development

Session 3: Innovative Strategies for Community Well-being (part 3)

Session 4: Mapping Community Linkages & Cross-agency Collaborations

Is water resources infrastructure a critical piece of community development?  A combination of factors are increasing pressure on local and regional water resources infrastructure – reduced federal assistance, increased local fiscal stress, increased susceptibility to climatic events, and the concern over water supply and quality – underscoring the need for sustainable community development strategies and policies that address these issues from a variety of perspectives.

The 2014 Community Development Institute will bring together a diverse group of local government officials (elected, appointed, & staff), CCE Educators, practitioners, economic developers, community leaders, and University and college faculty in the region.

The 2014 Institute is co-sponsored by the Cornell University’s Community and Regional Development Institute (CaRDI) and NYS Water Resources Institute. The institute will focus on water resource infrastructure, economic vitality and smart growth. Over the two-day period, participants will engage in dynamic discussions and workshops to promote informed decision-making in support of sustainable community and economic development, support innovation and forge new partnerships, improve regional water quality, integrate scientific, economic, planning, governmental and social expertise, and to build comprehensive strategies for public asset and watershed management. 

    CaRDI’s Community Development Institute: Informed Communities, Informed Decision focused on critical pieces of the community development process, and was designed for a diverse audience of local government and school officials, CCE Educators, practitioners, and other community leaders.

    Topics addressed included: framing the various approaches to community development; how recent socioeconomic and demographic trends impact NYS communities; resources for accurate community-level data; the role of leadership in strengthening community capacity; and how these approaches and resources can lead to informed decision-making.  Special sessions focused on supporting recent initiatives in agriculture and food systems, community and energy, shared municipal and school services, and regional community and economic development.

    Over the two-day period, participants engaged in dynamic discussions, exercises, and trainings which form the heart of CaRDI’s mission – to promote informed decision-making in support of sustainable community and economic development. Select presentations from CaRDI’s Community Development Institute: Informed Communities, Informed Decision event are available.