Professor, Department of Global Development
Chair, Department of Global Development
Lori Leonard is a professor and inaugural chair in the Department of Global Development at Cornell University. Her current research focuses on the social and environmental implications of consumption, disposability, and the global circulation of used and secondhand things. She is involved in research projects on the recycling of food waste in upstate New York and on the repair and recycling of used cars in West and Central Africa. She also carries out research on the extractive industries, including a long-term study of a pipeline project in Chad that was supposed to be a model oil-as-development project and studies of Chad’s energy transitions. Gender is a crosscutting theme in her research.
She has been a scholar in residence at the Rockefeller Foundation in Bellagio, Italy and at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (WWICS) in Washington, DC. She has twice been the recipient of a J. William Fulbright Fellowship. Her research has also been supported by the NSF, the NIH, the WHO, the Council of American Overseas Research Centers (CAORC), amfAR, state agencies and private foundations. She is a member of the graduate fields of Global Development, Development Sociology, and Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Cornell.
Awards & Honors
- Faculty Fellowship for Social Sciences, Humanities and the Arts, Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future (ACSF), Cornell University (2019)
- Academic Writing Residency, Rockefeller Foundation, Bellagio, Italy (2016)
- CALS Innovative Teacher Award, Cornell University (2016)
- Residential Fellowship, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (WWICS), Washington, DC (2010-2011)
- Canada Research Chair, McGill University (2009; declined)
- Margaret Bright Award for Excellence in Teaching, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health (2008)
- Advising, Mentoring, and Teaching Award (AMTRA), Johns Hopkins School of Public Health (2007)
- Faculty Innovation Award, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health (2003-2004)
- New Century Scholars Award, J. William Fulbright Foundation and the Council for the International Exchange of Scholars (CIES; 2001-2002)
- Faculty-in-Residence, Mews Hall
- Sc.D./1996, Harvard University, Health & Social Behavior and Population & International Health
- M.S./1992, Harvard University, Health & Social Behavior
- B.A./1985, St. Olaf College, English Literature and Psychology
Waste & garbage
DSOC/FGSS 1120: Wonder Women (1 credit)
This is a Learning Where You Live (LWYL) course. The sessions are held in North Campus faculty residences. The course brings together students, faculty, and invited guests to discuss the art of leadership, the opportunities and challenges women have encountered in their careers, and the ways in which women have managed these challenges. The course features prominent women from different professions and walks of life: politicians, artists, lawyers, scientists, police officers, women in spiritual life, business owners and entrepreneurs. The course is taught by faculty-in-residence, who draw on the biographies of guest speakers and readings about women and leadership to facilitate discussions about gender, leadership, accomplishment, work-life balance, and mentorship.
By the end of the semester, students will be able to:
- Identify potential mentors on the faculty and in the local community;
- Integrate information about some of the challenges and opportunities women in leadership have faced in their careers;
- Critically consider strategies women have used to deal with adversity in their work lives;
- Identify potential life and career paths through exposure to stories about the ways women have constructed their lives and careers; and
- Demonstrate oral communication skills.
DSOC/FGSS 3230: Gender and Global Change (3 credits)
This course focuses on transformations in the global economy since the 1980s and the gendered implications of global economic integration. It examines the development of gendered labor niches and looks at how ideas about gender are shaped by globalization, how inequalities within and across gender categories emerge in the context of economic integration, and how gender intersects with age, class, race/ethnicity, and nationality to shape experiences of the new economy. The course considers challenges for nation-states, communities, families, and individuals of economic transformation, work, job markets, and gender itself as well as efforts to address these challenges through policy, social movements, politics, and the law. This course satisfies the CALS human diversity requirement.
By the end of the course, students should be better able to:
- Describe how the acceleration and increasing density of global exchange is shaping labor markets, job prospects, and gendered identities in different parts of the world;
- Trace the operations of globalization across multiple scales, including the body, the household, and the nation-state;
- Apply an intersectional approach to the study of gender and global change, taking into account differences in experience by gender, age, class, race/ethnicity, nationality, and other axes of difference;
- Critically assess efforts to address gender inequality in the global economy through policy, social movements, global norms and conventions, and the law;
- Describe how global flows and circulations enable and constrain the possibilities for living gendered lives and contribute to the formation of gendered identities; and
- Write convincing prose, having completed a series of essays that connect the personal with the social and political.
DSOC 2030: Global Garbage (3 credits)
Waste is good to think with when exploring a broad range of sociological themes. In this course, garbage or waste is a lens for thinking about consumption, value, inequality, marginalization, creativity and innovation at home and around the globe. The course covers several broad themes via readings, discussions, films, and field trips. These include: 1) how waste is socially and culturally constructed; 2) the politics of waste, including where waste goes, and ideas about dirt and pollution that shape the perceptions and treatment of waste workers; and 3) the social lives of material objects such as textiles, plastics, and electronics, including the creative possibilities in cast-off things that might be realized through re-use, repair and recycling.
By the end of the course, student should be able to:
- Think critically about the relationship between consumption and waste, and how the social construction of value shapes waste practices differently in different places and times;
- Articulate ways in which the circulation of waste both maps and reinforces social inequalities and contributes to marginalization;
- Better understand the life cycles of particular kinds of materials and the effects of these forms of waste on human health, the environment, and local ecologies;
- Critically examine your own consumption and wasting practices, guided by your experiences in the class of keeping a waste diary and completing an exercise organized around it;
- Appreciate the creative potential of ‘waste’ and its aesthetic and productive capacities;
- Acquire or sharpen your social science research skills by conducting observations, interviews, and archival research leading up to the production of an original podcast; and
- Identify and think imaginatively about ways you and others might reduce waste or creatively re-use it.
Development Sociology 4700: Senior Capstone in Development Sociology (3 credits)
This course is limited to seniors in the Development Sociology major. It provides an opportunity to synthesize the knowledge and skills students have acquired in the major and apply them to a ‘real-world’ issue. It also provides opportunities to students to deepen or refine selected skills, including communication skills, and to practice public sociology. The course is designed around experiential learning and student-led projects.
By the end of the course, you will be able to:
- Critically analyze a complex socio-environmental issue;
- Conceive, organize and conduct an applied social science research project;
- Work effectively as a member of a team; and
- Communicate to the public about the issue and possible solutions to it in compelling ways.
DSOC 6150: Qualitative Research Methods (3 credits)
This is a graduate seminar on qualitative research methods in the social sciences. The course is designed to be a ‘studio’ course, in the sense that students experiment with elements of research design over the semester, spurred by creative insights from reading, conversation, and critical reflection. The course covers newer topics, such as multispecies ethnography, as well as research design and staples of fieldwork: participant observation, interviews, visual methods, and archival work. There is also a focus on ethnographic writing. Students in the seminar develop a research proposal for a final project.
One part of Lori Leonard’s research program involves the study of global markets for used or secondhand cars and local ecologies of repair and re-use in West and Central Africa. This research has been funded by the Council for American Overseas Research Centers (CAORC) through a Multi-Country Research Fellowship and a Mary Ellen Lane Multi-Country Travel Award, and is currently funded by the NSF.
- 2020 – 2023. National Science Foundation (NSF). “Junkers: Regulation and repair in West Africa.” $225,000 Total. (Role: PI).
Her research program also includes work on an impending organics ban in New York State and the possibilities and constraints associated with recycling food scraps.
- 2019 – 2020. Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future (ACSF). “Expanding Anytown USA wastewater treatment facilities into local microgrid hubs.” Academic Venture Fund. (Role: Co-I; PI: Ruth Richardson).
- 2020 - 2022. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC). “Feeding food scraps to animals: Implications of New York’s Food Donation and Food Scrap Recycling Act.” $100,000 Total (Role: PI).
- Pending/Under Review. Federal Capacity Funds, National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). “Feeding food scraps to animals: Implications of New York’s Food Donation and Food Scrap Recycling Act.” $58,000 Total (Role: PI).
Books and Peer-Reviewed Publications by Theme (selected from 50+)
Extractive industries and energy transitions
Some of Lori's most recent writing is on the extractive industries and energy transitions in sub-Saharan Africa. Most of this work emerges from a decades-long ethnographic study of an oil field development and pipeline project in Chad that the World Bank described as a model 21st century poverty reduction project.
- Leonard, L. (forthcoming). Gazomania! Shortage and the state in Chad. In: Adebanwi, W. (ed.), Ethnographies of the state and democracy in sub-Saharan Africa.
- Leonard, L. and Grovogui, S. (eds.) (2017). Governance in the extractive industries: Power, cultural politics, and regulation. London: Routledge. (Part of the Routledge Studies on Extractive Industries and Sustainable Development series). Introduction and Chapter 9: Wars of words: Experts and environmental governance in Chad (pp. 195-212).
- Leonard, L. (2016). Life in the time of oil: A pipeline and poverty in Chad. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
- Leonard, L. (2016). Pharmaceutically-made men: Masculinities in Chad’s emergent oil economy. Qualitative Sociology, 39(4), 421-437.
- Grovogui, S.N. and Leonard, L. (2008). Uncivil society: Interrogations at the margins of neo-Gramscian theory. In: Ayers, A. (Ed.), Gramsci, political economy, and international relations theory: Modern princes and naked emperors (pp. 169-187). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
- Grovogui, S.N. and Leonard, L. (2007). Oiling tyranny?: Neoliberalism and global governance in Chad. Studies in Political Economy, 79, 35-59.
Gender and sexuality
Gender and sexuality are cross-cutting themes in Lori's research and are front and center in some of her writing.
- Leonard, L. (2019). Women who change into men: A gendered history of precarity in ‘useful’ Chad. Africa, 89(3), 521-540.
- Leonard, L. (2016). Pharmaceutically-made men: Masculinities in Chad’s emergent oil economy. Qualitative Sociology, 39(4), 421-437.
- Leonard, L. (2009). Experiments with ‘modernism’: The allure and the dangers of genital surgeries in southern Chad. Medische Antropologie, 21(1), 93-106.
- Leonard, L. (2000). “We did it for pleasure only”: Hearing alternative tales of female circumcision. Qualitative Inquiry, 6, 212-228.
Ethnographies of health and medicine
Lori writes about global health programs and their effects on communities, institutional cultures, and identities - from polio eradication campaigns in Chad to the management of HIV as a chronic condition in adolescent medicine clinics in US cities. She also writes about the experience of illness in the absence of care or in the face of contested diagnoses, including the case of reproductive trouble in the infertility belt of Central Africa and the case of chronic symptoms following Lyme disease in the US.
- Rebman, A.W., Aucott, J.N., Weinstein, E.R., Bechtold, K.T., Smith, C.S., and Leonard, L. (2015). Living in limbo: Contested narratives of patients with chronic symptoms following Lyme disease. Qualitative Health Research. DOI: 10.1177/1049732315619380.
- Leonard, L. (2011). Working ‘off the record’: Polio eradication and state immunity in Chad. Critical Public Health, 21(3), 257-271.
- Leonard, L. and Ellen, J.M. (2008). “The story of my life”: AIDS and ‘autobiographical occasions.’ Qualitative Sociology, 31(1), 37-56. [PMCID: PMC2834208].
- Leonard, L., Greene, J.L., and Erbelding, E. (2007). Persons, places, and times: The meanings of repetition in an STD clinic. Medical Anthropology Quarterly, 21, 154-168.
- Das, V. and Leonard, L. (2007). Kinship, memory, and time in the lives of HIV/AIDS patients in a North American city. In: Carsten, J. (Ed.), Ghosts of memory: Essays on remembrance and relatedness (pp. 194-217). Blackwell Publishing.
- Leonard, L. (2002). “Looking for children”: The search for fertility among the Sara of southern Chad. Medical Anthropology, 21, 79-112.
Applied work to inform policy and practice
Lori has worked with research teams and with state, national, and transnational partners to improve programs and policies or to assess their effects. The topical focus of this work ranges from studies of social capital in Kansas to the use of bednets to prevent malaria in Mali.
- Leonard, L., Diop, S., Doumbia, S., Sadou, A., Mihigo, J., Koenker, H., Berthe, S., Monroe, A., Bertram, K., and Weber, R. (2014). Net use, care and repair practices following a universal distribution campaign in Mali. Malaria Journal, 13, 435. DOI: 10.1186/1475-2875-13-435.
- Leonard, L., Berndtson, K., Matson, P., Philbin, M., Arrington-Sanders, R., and Ellen, J.M. (2010). How physicians test: Clinical practice guidelines and HIV screening practices with adolescent patients. AIDS Education and Prevention, 22(6), 539-546. [PMCID: PMC3105471].
- Easterling, D., Fothergill, K., Foy, C.G., Leonard, L., and Holtgrave, D.R. (2009). Assessing social capital in Kansas: Findings from quantitative and qualitative studies. The Journal of Kansas Civic Leadership Development, 1, 23-35.
- Peterson, K.M., Singleton, R.J., and Leonard, L. (2003). A qualitative study of the importance and etiology of chronic respiratory disease in Alaska Native children. Alaska Medicine, 45, 14-20.
- Leonard, L. and VanLandingham, M. (2001). Adhering to the CDC’s travel health recommendations: The experience of Nigerian immigrants in Houston, Texas. Journal of Immigrant Health, 3, 31-45.
- Leonard, L. (2003). Possible illnesses: Assessing the health impacts of the Chad Pipeline Project. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 81, 427-433.
Publications co-authored with students
Lori has written articles with students she has supervised and she has written about writing and publishing with students.
- Leonard, L. (2010). Negotiating doctoral dissertation publications: A reply. Qualitative Health Research, 20(5), 723-726.
- Smith, C. H., Turbitt, E., Muschelli, J., Leonard, L., Lewis, K., Freedman, B., Muratori, M., Biesecker, B. (2018). Feasibility of coping effectiveness training for caregivers of children with autism spectrum disorder: a genetic counseling intervention. Journal of Genetic Counseling, 27(1), 252-262.
- Solomon, I.B., Harrington, E., Hooker, G., Erby, L., Axilbund, J., Hampel, H., Semotiuk, K., Blanco, A., Klein, W., Giardello, F., and Leonard, L. (2017). Lynch syndrome limbo: Patient understanding of variants of unknown significance. Journal of Genetic Counseling.
- Tsui, E., Leonard, L., Lenoir, C., and Ellen, J.M. (2008). Poverty and sexual concurrency: A case study of STI risk. Journal of Healthcare for the Poor and Underserved, 19(3), 758-777.
- Scott, A., Ellen, J., Clum, G., & Leonard, L. (2007). HIV and housing assistance in four U.S. cities: Variations in local experience. AIDS and Behavior, 11, S140-S148.
- Meyers, T., Leonard, L., and Ellen, J. (2004). The clinic and elsewhere: Illness, sexuality, and social experience among young African-American men in Baltimore, Maryland. Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry, 28, 67-86.
250C Warren Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853
ll536 [at] cornell.edu
Lori in the news
- Atkinson Center
- Department of Global Development