Planting seeds of change.

Over the years, the Polson Institute has supported and jump-started research efforts that have grown and developed momentum of their own. We are proud of the diverse legacy of projects and programs that continue to leave their mark.

Research Networks

The Trans-Atlantic Rural Research Network

TARRN is a partnership of US and UK researchers whose founding members were first brought together in international conferences with the support of the Polson Institute. Since 2012, TARRN has been a medium of comparative research on rural transformations in the US and UK across issues including migration, aging, education and stratification; producing research and publications, special issues, and conferences.

The Land Deal Politics Initiative

The Polson Institute was a founding member of the LDPI, a research network connecting the International Institute of Social Studies (Erasmus Rotterdam), the Institute for Development Studies (Sussex University), the Institute for Critical Agrarian Studies (St. Mary's University), and the Institute for Poverty, Land, and Agrarian Studies (University of the Western Cape). Since 2012, LDPI has produced dozens of working papers and organized a large number of international conferences.

Action Research Initiatives

The Food, Agroecology, Justice, and WellBeing Collective

Starting as a Polson Research Working Group in 2014, the FAJW Collective has evolved to develop action research and partnerships between Cornell University and community-based organizations to work towards a just and sustainable food system in Tompkins County.

Performing Our Future

A 2016 Research Working Group developed an action research agenda for replicating  models of leveraging art, theater, and music as an instrument of community development in upstate New York. Performing Our Future continues to serve the state as a key partner, along with AppalShop in Kentucky and Lafayette College in Pennsylvania.

Future of Development Symposiums

The 'Future of Development' Symposium series creates opportunities to bring experts and practitioners from across disciplines and fields together to discuss the big ideas that bear on the future of global development.


In 2018, the inaugural year of the series, participants from Cornell University, Syracuse University, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, UNESCO, UN DESA, The Bipartisan Policy Center, and many more organizations addressed the challenges of bridging science and policy in the era of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals.

In 2019, 'The Future of Development' series began a string of events focused on the challenges of reaching "Net Zero by 2050", or net zero carbon dioxide equivalent emissions by the year 2050. The first event, held on March 8th, 2019, focused on the issue of carbon dioxide removal, contextualized by the UN's Special Report on 1.5C released in October of 2018. Experts from the World Resources Institute, Carbon 180, the Institute for Carbon Removal Policy and Law, and Yale's School of Forestry and Environmental Science joined Cornellians in discussing the many dimensions of the issue.


From technical reports to action research initiatives, from books to digital tool kits, the Polson Institute provides resources to develop starting points for ideas and initiatives that offer insight to the challenges of global development. Though the following is not an exhaustive list, it highlights some of the work that has emerged from our support.

Supported Special issues

White Papers and Technical reports

Websites and Digital Tools

  • The Poverty Risk Calculator  - Tom Hirschl
  • Tom Hirschl and Mark Rank (Washington University) wanted to answer a basic question: “What is the likelihood that an American will experience poverty at some point during their lifetime?” Their research transformed into a tool that anyone could use in order to estimate their risk of poverty: the Poverty Risk Calculator. Check out the video.

Supported Book Publications