Pedagogy, Research and Small City Urbanization: Theorizing through Engagement at the Nilgiris Field Learning Center, India
Neema Kudva Associate Professor, Cornell University
The Nilgiris Field Learning Center (NFLC) is a transdisciplinary collaborative project of Cornell University and the Indian NGO, The Keystone Foundation. The NFLC intentionally brings together the expertise and experience of three groups: the Adivasi communities of the Nilgiris Biosphere Reserve, the staff of an eco-development NGO, and faculty-researchers at a US university. The NFLC also includes students. As the collaboraters have noted in a recent article “By bringing university students from the global North to Kotagiri to live, study and conduct field research with tribal peers from the Nilgiris, we invite and structure cultural collisions that present opportunities for fundamental reflections on what constitutes valid knowledge, the fluidity of cultural norms, and the range of social and ecological interactions that structure opportunities and constraints to conservation.” The program is bilingual and multivocal, seeking to integrate knowledge pluralism, interdisciplinarity, lived experience and diversity into each interaction and the ongoing research projects that have emerged in conversation with community members. The LiPS seminar will focus on the NFLC water and waste project (2015-2019) based in villages and small towns in the Nilgiris to both describe the work being done at the NFLC and the ways in which it shapes theorizing in the realms of engaged research and learning and small city urbanization.
The Lectures in Planning Series (LiPS) is an initiative of the Urban Planning program at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation.