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  • Polson Institute for Global Development
  • Department of Global Development
  • Global Development

The Polson Institute for Global Development announced its fall 2022 grants to support research at the intersection of systemic inequality and social-environmental justice.

"The Polson Institute is pleased to support cutting edge research collaborations that address important issues in global development – from gender in agriculture, to population decline in rural areas, to the labor practices of multinational corporations in Africa,” said Mildred Warner, professor of city and regional planning and global development and director of the Polson Institute. “These grants promote research collaborations as well as opportunities for our students to study and work with faculty here and partners around the world.”

According to Warner, the new grants focus on the advancement of global development as a critical, innovative and participatory practice. The grants aim to enhance the Department of Global Development’s signature strengths of wellbeing and inclusion; environmental sustainability; and food and nutritional security. 

Collaborative and Small Grants

    Chinese Multinationals in Africa: Cross-Cultural Communications and Knowledge Sharing

    • Principal Investigators (PIs): Ding Fei and Connie Yuan
    • The developmental impacts of Chinese multinational companies (CMNCs) in Africa are widely debated. Some people celebrate CMNCs’ contribution to job creation and human capital development in Africa. Others blame CMNCs for their problematic managerial practices. While CMNCs have recruited a sizable number of Chinese to work alongside African employees, there is limited research on cross-cultural management and communication practices between Chinese expatriates and local Africans. Even less attention has been given to the implications for African employees’ skill development and career progression. The goal of this collaborative project is to develop a new interdisciplinary research agenda that synthesizes existing literature on communication and knowledge-sharing dynamics in CMNCs in Africa. Specifically, the project focuses on two levels of analysis: the office-level, cross-location communication, and sharing of best practices among CMNCs’ overseas branches and the interpersonal-level learning and knowledge-sharing between expatriates and local employees. 

    Circular Bionutrient Economy for AgriFood System Transition in Kenya

    • PIs: Chuan Liao and Rebecca Nelson
    • This project aims to explore agrifood system transitions through enhanced circularity in the Lake Victoria Basin of Kenya. Circular bionutrient economy, here defined as the return of carbon and nutrients from a variety of organic byproduct streams (including human and animal excreta) to agricultural production, offers solutions to a suite of challenges at the crucial nexus of climate, water, soil, and socio-environmental justice. We will build partnerships and synthesize available datasets to examine how, under different policy scenarios and engagement activities, the agrifood system transition can allow us to achieve synergistic outcomes in human and environmental wellbeing.

    Conceptualizing Gender in the Food Systems from Multidisciplinary Perspectives

    • PIs: Ramya Ambikapathi and Shubh Swain
    • Collaborators: Rachel Bezner Kerr (Global Development); Mario Herrero (Global Development); John Hoddinott (Global Development and Division of Nutritional Sciences); Katherine Dickin (Department of Public & Ecosystem Health); and Elizabeth Fox (Department of Public & Ecosystem Health)
    • There is a recent global push toward transforming our current food system to deliver equity, environmental, and nutrition outcomes. However, food system transformation (FST) cannot be achieved without centering equity, especially gender equity, in all of its components. This collaborative research grant aims to understand the role of women and men in the food system from a multidisciplinary perspective and how this might affect research, intervention, and policies for FSTWe do this through a systematic mapping review of research topics on gender in the food system through a multidisciplinary feminist lens. These disciplines include economics, geography, sociology, anthropology, public health, nutrition, and demography. This review will culminate into two workshops with collaborators and experts/policymakers/donors to conceptualize and disseminate research findings. This proposed work aims to identify gaps and convergence of gender equity research and policies between disciplines to develop a gender-transformative research agenda for FST. 

    Mentored Research Experience with the One CGIAR in sub-Saharan Africa: A Win-Win Opportunity for Global Development

    • PIs: Jan Low and Terry Tucker
    • Tackling the increasing effects of climate change on food production systems, while seeking to reduce glaring social inequities and what we choose to consume, is a daunting challenge that will require a new generation of problem solvers.  The Polson Institute will support building a strategic partnership between Cornell’s Global Development Department and the One CGIAR- International Potato Center (CIP) through supporting two Global Development MPS or graduate students to conduct two to four months of field research in 2023 aligned with on-going CIP projects in sub-Saharan Africa. These students will share their findings both within the country where they conduct research and with the Global Development community. In addition, an undergraduate Global Development student will be engaged to share the findings and experience through social media. Grant implementation will be coordinated by Global Development Professor of the Practice Terry Tucker and adjunct professor Jan Low, based in Nairobi, Kenya.

    Trans-Atlantic Collaboration for Resilient Rural Communities

    • PI: John Sipple
    • Collaborators: Kathryn Foster (Global Development); Kristie LeBeau (Global Development); Hope Casto (associate professor of education studies at Skidmore College); Mags Currie (senior researcher at the James Hutton Institute); Jon Hopkins (research scientist at the James Hutton Institute); and Eoghan McCarthy (researcher at Maynooth University’s All-Island Research Observatory)
    • Rural communities across Ireland, Scotland, Indiana, and New York are experiencing a range of challenges such as decades-long depopulation and recent attempts to recover from the economic and social impacts of the pandemic. But these challenges are not experienced uniformly across places. In rural communities where schools often serve as a stable social and economic institution, it is crucial to examine how school and community leaders work together to enhance the wellbeing of their community. This research group will ask: What are the key components of a vibrant community? What is the school’s role in building and maintaining a vibrant community – socially and economically? We will work collaboratively with scholars across Ireland, Scotland, and New York, bringing together a range of international policy and academic expertise. We stand to benefit from examining how demographically similar but politically and fiscally different rural communities are resilient (or not) in the challenges they encounter.

    Research Working Groups

    "We are also pleased to support two student-led initiatives for workshops and research working groups to explore topics in critical development studies," said Warner.

    Critical Development Studies Spring 2023 Workshop: Cornell and the State of the Field

    • Student Collaborators: Kathryn FosterTamar Law; and Timothy Ravis
    • Faculty Partners: Jenny GoldsteinChuan Liao; and John Zinda
    • A one-day workshop will be held in February 2023 on the state of the field of Critical Development Studies (CDS) This workshop will convene students working with members of the Graduate Field of Development Studies across campus to reflect upon Cornell University’s historical role as a center for the field internationally and how Cornell can continue to advance the objectives of Critical Development Studies in a new institutional setting of the Department of Global Development at this historical moment. Potential outcomes may include a graduate student conference or a graduate student-run academic journal.

    Revisiting Critical Agrarian Studies: From Classical Debates to New Directions

    • Student Collaborators: Maria Boa Alvarado; Mike Cary; Jarvis Fisher; Tamar LawSteven McCutcheon RubioLiz Pickard; and Timothy Ravis
    • Faculty Partner: Wendy Wolford
    • This Research Working Group will explore both classical and contemporary work in critical agrarian studies to support Development Studies graduate students specializing in agrarian political economy, rural sociology, political ecology, and related fields. The questions debated in this literature —from the role agriculture can play in various development pathways and economic transitions to debates about the formation, persistence, and politics of rural class formations — continue to loom large, as do the analytical tools pioneered by the literature’s foundational texts. This reading group will provide graduate students an opportunity to explore these texts in preparation for their A exams, dissertation proposals, or early dissertation chapter drafts. The research working group, will connect these foundational contributions with current debates in the interdisciplinary field of critical agrarian studies.

      The Polson Institute for Global Development

      The Polson Institute for Global Development reflects the commitment of its benefactors, former faculty Ruth and Robert Polson, to the community and international connections forged through collegial research, teaching and the study of social change. Discover more on the Polson Institute website.

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