Expanding the richness of academic collaborations and curricula.

The Polson Institute for Global Development sponsors a Visiting Faculty Program.  We host visitors in the spring semester. Visiting faculty are expected to teach one graduate seminar, hold weekly office hours, and meet with graduate students. Standard appointments of 6 to 7 weeks will typically involve 3 hours of classroom teaching and 2 office hours per week. Visiting faculty are welcome to participate in other department activities, such as department seminars, and to generate or advance joint projects with faculty and students.

Nominations for visiting faculty are made by faculty and graduate students in the Department of Global Development and should include a letter of nomination with the following information:

  • The proposed dates of the visit and course (nominees should discuss the timing of the course with the proposed visitor and confirm their availability);
  • The title of the proposed course and brief description (a full syllabus is not required at this stage);
  • Strong evidence of student interest in the course;
  • Visiting faculty CV

For standard 6 to 7 week appointments, successful visiting faculty nominees will be compensated through the Cornell payroll system for $15,000 to be paid semi-monthly (there is an option for a $2,500 performance bonus following a successful visit). The Polson Institute will also pay for travel as well as $3,500 toward room and board.

Proposals for visiting faculty are accepted on a rolling basis, but must be submitted at least 12 months prior to the spring semester of residence in order to be considered for that year (announcement of the review dates are made annually by the Polson Institute). Application materials should be sent in a single PDF via email to polsoninstitute [at] cornell.edu.

Applications will be evaluated for their potential to fill a curricular gap in the department and their appeal to graduate students. Courses and visiting faculty that bridge concentrations and introduce new perspectives are particularly encouraged.

Past Visiting Faculty

Inclusive Rural Development in Times of Urbanization

Professor Bettina Bock, Wageningen University 

Since 2009 the urban population has outnumbered the population living in rural areas. The situation differs considerably between high and low-income countries, with about 80% of the population residing in urban areas in the former compared to 30% in the latter. Yet the tendency is crystal clear – the world is urbanizing rapidly. Urbanization is generally perceived as a sign of modernization and, in turn, development and economic growth. At the same time there is concern about its effect on rural areas and their residents and anxiety that urbanization concurs with a continuous rural decline, impoverishment and social exclusion of rural residents, and rural abandonment. More insight into the interrelation between urbanization and rural development and the preconditions for realizing inclusive rural development is, hence, of crucial importance.

This course looked into the impact of urbanization on rural areas and the processes of social and spatial differentiation that go along with it. It focused on the presence and the construction of peripheral places in times of mobilization and globalization that change the significance of the geographical location. The course was built up around four core questions: (1) How do current trends of urbanization affect rural areas? (2) What does marginalization mean for rural residents and how does marginalization interact with social exclusion? (3) How can we explain the marginalization of rural areas in times of globalization and mobilization? (4) What can be done to counteract marginalization and promote inclusive rural development?

The course provided knowledge and comprehension of the features of rural differentiation in various parts of the world and their impact on the daily life of their residents. Students learned how to examine rural change and how to use novel theoretical approaches for analyzing processes of marginalization. This allowed them to identify the main drivers and agents of marginalization and their effects on residents’ sense of belonging and affective engagement. Integrating the different drivers and effects of marginalization enabled them to examine varying approaches to rural development, to evaluate rural development policies and to design alternatives. 

Nature, Modernity, and Social Theory: the challenge of the Anthropocene 

Professor Michael Löwy, emeritus research director at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS)

The planet is said to be entering a new geological era, the Anthropocene, where the pattern of human social reproduction is seriously threatening the natural environment and provoking dramatic climate change. Classical social theorists from Karl Marx to Max Weber were not unaware of the changing nexus between society and nature, but it did not occupy a central place in their theories.  This course will explore the ecological turn in social theory via critical readings of both classical and contemporary social theory.

Video spotlight

Representational Controversies in International Development in Africa

Professor James Fairhead and Professor Nigel Eltringham, University of Sussex

The relationship between power and the production of knowledge concerning development problems has been a preoccupation in international development at least since the postcolonial literatures of the 1980 and 1990s (Escobar, Ferguson, Sachs) inspired by the wider critiques by Foucault, Said and in Africa, Mudimbe’s ‘The Invention of Africa’. These works problematized the production and prioritization of development problems and agendas in Africa. The question arises: what has changed? In this course we examine cases relating to international development in Africa through which the nature of development problems is contested in the domains of environment, health, and conflict to probe current Power/Knowledge configurations, reflecting also on how globalized popular media (film and literature) have become part of this.