The Nilgiris Field Learning Program (NFLP) is a Cornell faculty-mentored, engaged learning and research partnership where Cornell students and young people from indigenous communities in the Nilgiris live, study, and work together during the spring semester. The NFLP provides meaningful, hands-on research opportunities for students, community members, NGO professionals, and faculty who all work together on ongoing projects that have emerged from community expressed needs.
What is unique about this program?
The goal of the NFLP is to develop academic and research skills with a view toward developing practical solutions for complex problems. Projects address community-identified issues:
- Community wellness, access to medical resources, and changing modes of healing
- Dietary diversity, eating habits, and sourcing patterns in local food systems
- Contested forest lands as spaces for food, farming, & trade
- Infant feeding practices in the context of maternal health & social networks
- Water and waste infrastructure in an urbanizing environment
Cornell's partner NGO in the Nilgiris, the Keystone Foundation, has been working with indigenous communities in the Nilgiris Biosphere Reserve for more than 20 years. The focus of Keystone’s work is eco-development initiatives that emphasize livelihood generation, conservation, environmental governance, and supporting and celebrating diverse local cultures and peoples.
The NFLC provides transformative research experiences for faculty, students, community members, and professionals. Together, we engage in, give back, and benefit from the work done at the Center. Read more about the student experience on the Student Blogs!
- Student Research Projects
- Student Blogs - Scroll down to see "Recent Posts". To read blog posts from past participants, from the same web page find "Our Teams" at the top of the page, hover over "Students" and find posts from each batch of participants.
What is unique about the Nilgiris?
Located in the “blue hills” of South India, The Nilgiris Biosphere Reserve is incredibly rich in culture, communities, and biodiversity. It is an important ecosystem that covers three Indian states, and is home to a sizeable indigenous population. Across the Biosphere, small towns, tea, coffee, and spice plantations, vegetable cultivation, and tourist facilities are interspersed with forested lands and national parks that are home to a wide variety of flora and fauna.
Students live and dine in guest houses on the Keystone Foundation’s property, a former hillside tea plantation with spectacular views of the town and surrounding countryside. Meals are prepared by a local cook using ingredients fresh from the market. Central Kotagiri is a 15-minute walk from Keystone. The weather during the spring semester will be mild, with warm days and cool nights. Recreational opportunities – hiking, national parks – abound. Local travel is easy on the public bus system, with access to regional train stations.
Cornell faculty visit Keystone throughout the semester to lead educational modules and direct field work.
- Neema Kudva - City and Regional Planning, NFLP Lead Faculty member
- Steven Wolf - Natural Resources
- Andrew Willford - Anthropology
- Lucinda Ramberg - Anthropology and Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
Things to Consider Before Applying
- Review the information on the Education Abroad Office’s Get Started page for important considerations on academics and finances, and a guide to next steps.
- Find answers on the Education Abroad FAQ and resource pages for Cornell study abroad policy, health, and safety updates.
- Still have questions? Visit the Get Advice page and learn how to connect with an Education Abroad Advisors.
- Want to keep up to date with Cornellians Abroad? Follow Education Abroad on social media, @cornelliansabroad, @CornellEducationAbroad
How do I apply?
Click on the "Apply" button on this webpage and complete all sections of the online application by the deadline listed on this page. Applications are reviewed and approved by the Office of Global Learning and Cornell-NFLP faculty. Please note that meeting with the Education Abroad advisor for this program (see above) and Cornell-NFLP faculty are required steps in the application process. Please ensure your meetings are scheduled before the application deadline.
Next steps regarding enrollment in the required fall prep course(s) will be communicated to accepted applicants.