Minimum GPA: 2.50

Terms and Dates:

  • Winter 2020


Shorna Allred

Cornell Affiliations:

Agriculture and Life Sciences, David M. Einhorn Center for Community Engagement


Opportunity Description

The Global Citizenship and Sustainability program fosters cross-cultural learning while building skills in community-based research.  We are working in partnership with the Institute of Social Informatics and Technological Innovations at Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS) and with Penan village leaders.  The student project will build on information and communication Technologies (ICTs) for rural and indigenous sustainable development.  Indigenous, local, and traditional knowledge systems and practices, including indigenous peoples’ holistic views of community and environment, are a major resource for adapting to climate change, but these have not been used consistently in existing adaptation efforts in Malaysian Borneo.  Integrating such forms of knowledge with existing practices increases the effectiveness of adaptation. With collective knowledge of the land, sky and sea, indigenous communities are observers and interpreters of changes in the environment and knowledgeable about adaptations for the future.  Moreover, indigenous knowledge provides a crucial foundation for community-based adaptation and mitigation actions that sustain resilience of social-ecological systems at the interconnected local, regional and global scales.
Students in the program will:

  • Engage in dialogue with residents, researchers, and policy makers about climate change impacts in the Heart of Borneo.
  • Obtain stakeholder perspectives on climate change in terms of environmental protection, livelihoods, health, food security, enterprise development and cultural preservation.
  • Determine aspects of traditional indigenous knowledge pertaining to the environment that might further elucidate aspects of climate change and the factors that could mitigate it or adapt for the future.
  • Formulate a research agenda and specific proposals for the identification, collection, recording, management and application of such traditional knowledge in a way that harmonizes with community culture, standards and practices and makes effective use of information and computing technologies in accordance with local development aspirations.

Teams of students will conduct community-based research in partnership with village leaders and university partners with the intention of gaining a broader understanding of the issues of climate change and how it is impacting the Kelabit Highlands on the island of Borneo.  The research project will focus on the role of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in learning about and documenting climate change impacts and mitigation and adaptation factors.
Accepted participants are required to enroll in a Fall 2019 pre-departure course (NTRES 4000, MWF 2:30-3:20pm) on community-based research methods.  The trip will take place in January 2020, for a duration of three weeks during winter break (Jan. 2-17).  There is a $2,000 program fee (+ airfare) associated with the course that must be paid by September 2019 to cover costs for food, local transportation, housing, cultural, and academic activities. There is also a 7-week post-departure course Spring 2020.
If you have any questions, contact program Directors Dr. Shorna Allred ( or Amy Kuo Somchanhmavong ( 
The Program is open to all majors at Cornell and we are looking to put together interdisciplinary project teams with students from a range of backgrounds and experiences.  We are particularly interested in students with interests and experience or coursework in Southeast Asia, international agriculture and rural development, natural resources, ecology and environment, information sciences, communication, and computer sciences.  First generation college students, those identifying as an underrepresented minority, and those that have never traveled abroad are all encouraged to apply.