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Minimum GPA: 3.00

Terms and Dates:

  • Spring 2020
  • Spring 2021


Alayne Prine

Cornell Affiliations:

Global Learning

Off-campus partner:

Keystone Foundation


Opportunity Description

The NFLC 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 NFLC provides on-the-ground 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 Nilgiris Field Learning Center (NFLC) 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!

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

Cornell faculty visit Keystone throughout the semester to lead educational modules and direct field work.

  • Neema Kudva - City and Regional Planning, NFLC Lead Faculty member
  • Steven Wolf - Natural Resources
  • Andrew Willford - Anthropology
  • Lucinda Ramberg - Anthropology and Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

How do I choose among programs?

  • See the Office of Global Learning’s “Selecting a Program” page for information on program types and considerations
  • Use the search features on the Experience Cornell  Opportunities page to filter for programs approved by your college, and by particular subject areas
  • Go to the “Get Advice” page for information on drop-in advising hours, scheduling an advising appointment, returned student contacts, and college advisors for study abroad
  • Find out about upcoming events, check out FAQs, and read stories from returned study abroad students

How do I apply?

Applying to study abroad is a two-step process. You may complete both steps simultaneously, but the Cornell approval process must be complete before your program advisor in the Office of Global Learning can submit any approval or nomination to the program.

  1. For Cornell Approval, click on the "Apply" button on this webpage. Applications are approved by the Office of Global Learning on a rolling basis until the application deadline listed on this page.
  2. For Program Admission, complete an external application directly on the program’s webpage, using the link in the “Snapshot” section. (Note: This deadline may be in advance of the general Cornell deadline for approval. Many programs fill by rolling admission.)