Train: Global Spotlight

2014 Grants Program

The GPS Alliance is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2014 Global Spotlight grants for international scholarly activities. This program supports targeted research and other scholarly initiatives related to the spotlight areas for 2012-14: the region of South Asia and the issue of Global Food Security. More than $700,000 has been awarded to University of Minnesota faculty and graduate students through four grant programs that fund innovative research and support the continued development of a global network of engagement and scholarship across the University.

Major International Research Grants

The purpose of these grants is to promote the establishment of major international research and creative activity initiatives with global visibility. Grants are funded at a level that will provide substantial opportunity for initiation of a major, long-term research program. Awards ranged from $50,000 to $100,000.

Tobacco Carcinogens and Oral Cancer in India

Principal Investigator:

  • Samir S. Khariwala, Assistant Professor, Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Medical School

Co-Principal Investigators:

  • Pankaj Chaturvedi, Professor, Head and Neck Surgery, Tata Memorial Hospital, India
  • Vikram Gota, Assistant Professor, Clinical Pharmacology, Advanced Centre for Research, Education and Training in Cancer, India
  • Irina Stepanov, Assistant Professor, Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health
  • Jasjit S. Ahluwalia, Professor, Medical School

While tobacco consumption is declining in high-income countries, lower-income countries such as India have continued to see an increase. This problem is especially prominent in India given the rampant use of smoked and smokeless tobacco products that are historically poorly regulated. Squamous cell carcinoma of the oral cavity (OCSS) is the leading cause of cancer death in India, and the number of cases continue to rise. India generates the highest number of oral cancers worldwide per year, with OSCC increasing in several low-income countries. The factors that cause some tobacco users to develop OSCC, while others do not, are poorly understood and limited research has been conducted in this area. Identifying those who are most at-risk for the development of OSCC would have great benefit through pre-diagnosis clinical surveillance. This study has the potential for significant impact toward scientific understanding of cancer risk.

Building Popular Food Security Institutions: Developing Policy-Oriented Curriculum for Translating between Political Agro-Ecology Practice and Policy Reform in Nepal; Aotearoa, New Zealand; and the European Union

Principal Investigator:

  • Valentine Cadieux, Research Associate, Sociology and Geography, CLA

Co-Principal Investigator:

  • Bhaskar Upadhyay, Associate Professor, Curriculum and Instruction, CEHD
  • Dr. Jahi Chappell, Director of Agriculture Policy, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy

The World Food Programme (WFP) calls hunger “the world’s greatest solvable problem.” The proposed project will examine how people understand and practice food security, with the goal of transforming broad policy discussions to more effectively address common barriers regarding achieving food security. The project will use three case studies to understand the ways that people have been working to reform food policy, particularly in locations where food security efforts are in tension with food security policy locally, nationally, and internationally. The case studies will examine a range of access to power such as state support, international trade negotiations, development infrastructure, and social organization of food producers.

Exploring Natural Resources Sustainability in Mizoram, India

Principal Investigator:

  • Karlyn Eckman, Senior Research Associate, Forest Resources, CFANS

Co-Principal Investigator:

  • Joseph Magner, Research Professor, Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering , CFANS
  • Dean Current, Research Associate, Master's of Development Practice in International Development program, Humphrey School
  • Michele Schermann, Research Fellow, Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering, CFANS

Mizoram University Partners:

  • Laltanpuii Ralte, Professor, Public Administration
  • Lalnilawma, Extension Education and Rural Development
  • H. Lalramnginglova, Professor, Environmental Science
  • S.K. Tripathi, Professor, Forestry
  • Lanunmawia, Lalfakzuala, Professors, Forestry

Mizoram is a remote northeastern Indian hill state landlocked between Bangladesh to the west and Myanmar to the east. Foreigners were restricted from travel within Mizoram from 1958 to 2011 due to the Indian Protected Area Law of 1958. Today, it is still rarely visited by foreigners. The population has more than doubled in 40 years and 95% of the population is listed as scheduled tribes (minorities). The challenges of sustainable development in Mizoram are compelling. It is reaching a tipping point and solutions need to be sought for the underlying issues that cause food insecurity. The proposed project will investigate the impacts of shifting cultivation on food security, soil loss under different cultivation, and geologic conditions; test agroforestry practices to improve food production and prevent soil loss; and explore farmers’ capacities to adopt improved practices. This research will yield new scientific data in agriculture and food production, agroforestry and zoonosis, soils, and water quality. Results of this research will assist the Mizoram Government in creating water conservation and farmer extension programs to improve and sustain access to food.

Building Knowledge Networks to Improve Agricultural Resilience and Food Security in Somalia

Principal Investigator:

  • Paul Porter, Professor, Agronomy and Plant Genetics, CFANS

Co-Principal Investigators

  • Lewis Gilbert, Managing Director, Institute on the Environment
  • Cheryl Robertson, Associate Professor, School of Nursing

Due to internal conflicts and famine, Somalia has been absent of a permanent and effective central government, which has resulted in the decline in population welfare. The agricultural sector has particularly been hit hard as research indicates that food-aid is stifling Somali agricultural production. With donor agencies transitioning from aid to development, the agricultural sector must be strengthened. This research will involve a critical analysis of the agricultural and livestock sectors in Somalia by documenting the agricultural production and relating this information to the quantity of food aid coming into the country. This research will build an agricultural knowledge network for Somalia by utilizing databases from the Food and Agriculture Organization, the Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit-Somalia, and the Famine Early Warning Systems Network, coupled with the U of M Institute on the Environment’s Global Landscape Initiative and EarthStat. The goals of this project will be to develop mechanisms for articulating knowledge barriers to the evolution of resilience in Somali food systems to ultimately shift from humanitarian aid to development and food security.

Examining the Intersection of Disability Identity and Civil Society Disability Messaging

Principal Investigator:

Co-Principal Investigator:

  • Sandya Limaye, Associate Professor, School of Social Work, Tata Institute of Social Sciences
  • Misa Kayama, Post-Doctoral Associate, Social Work, CEHD

Disability identity has been studied in the United States since the 1930s. Only recently, however, have researchers identified that a taxonomy of identities exists among populations of persons with disabilities. Sociological research in the United States (Darling, 2013) has demonstrated that age of onset, exposure to different viewpoints, and culture may mediate identities (see also McDermott & Varenne, 1995). This study will use qualitative inquiry and build upon previous work conducted by Professor Sandhya Limaye at Tata Institute of Social Sciences related to Indian disability identity. It will provide an opportunity to create a culturally contextualized discussion about disability in India and may open the door to further studies about culturally mediated identity among persons with disabilities. Findings generated from this research will both add a much-needed Indian perspective to the existing literature on disability identity and will provide useful information to civil society organizations working in policy and empowerment spheres.

Assessing and Prioritizing Needs for the Occupational Health Infrastructure in India

Principal Investigator:

Co-Investigators:

  • Anu Ramaswami, Professor, Humphrey School
  • Matteo Convertino, Assistant Professor, School of Public Health
  • Sigamani Panneer, Assistant Professor, Dept of Social Work, Jamia Millia Islamia University
  • Sunita Reddy, Assistant Professor, Centre of Social Medicine, Jawaharlal Nehru University

Rapid industrialization and urbanization in India has severely strained existing occupational health and urban infrastructures, which have resulted in significant public health impacts and economic costs. This research will analyze current attributes and outcomes of the occupational health infrastructure in India and their dynamic and complex interactions within themselves and the urban infrastructure. The analysis will identify the needs for occupational health infrastructure in India and the priority areas for investment of government and industry resources that will have a significant public health impact. The proposed research is a novel combination of mathematical systems modeling based on extensive, spatially-resolved governmental data, engagement of a broad cross-section of stakeholders and policymakers in the project, elicitation of expert opinions in a probabilistic framework, and empirical field work. The proposed multi-pathway work with a trans-disciplinary research team and a working group composed of scholars and policy makers will impact public policy and inform scholarly studies in public health. The results of this work will be shared with the key stakeholders, but especially with policy makers in government.

International Research Seed Grants

These grants support innovative project-based scholarly research and creative production of an international nature with a focus on the region of South Asia and/or the issue of Global Food Security. Grants are up to $20,000.

Rescue and Preservation of the Araucana Chicken Breed for the Benefit of the Mapuche Community in the Arauco Valley, Chile

Principal Investigator:

Co-Principal Investigator:

  • Dario Menanteau, Professor, Dept of Social Work, CEHD
  • Eduardo Jeria-Castro, Veterinarian, Centro de Innovación y Transferencia Tecnológica Agropecuaria, Universidad Católica de la Santísima Concepción Cañete, Chile

The Araucana breed of chicken has been raised by Mapuche (indigenous) families for the last five centuries. These animals are part of their household and cultural and religious practices. In collaboration with the Catholic University of the Holy Conception in the Arauco province of Chile, Drs. Abel Ponce de Leon and Dario Menanteau will develop a program to improve the adverse socio-economic situation of Mapuche families who do not have or cannot lease land for agricultural purposes. Specifically, families will be provided with an opportunity to use the Araucana breed of chickens as a source of food and income. Using initial exploratory findings from 2013, the outcome of this proposal could have the potential to impact 50,000 Mapuche people in the Canete valley by providing access to an efficient production of chickens as food and by generating income that will in turn provide access to other food staples (i.e., vegetables, fruits, etc.). In essence, this project has the potential to increase food security for the Mapuche people in a sustainable way by providing the methods and resources to produce and sustain this project.

Rapid Urbanization, Public Infrastructure and Stranger Violence Against Women in India

Principal Investigator:

  • Anu Ramaswami; Charles M. Denny Chair, Professor of Science, Technology, and Public Policy; Humphrey School

Co-Principal Investigator:

  • Jason Cao, Associate Professor, Urban and Regional Planning, Humphrey School
  • Greta Friedemann-Sanchez, Associate Professor, Global Policy, Humphrey School
  • Bruce Alexander, Professor Division of Environmental Health Sciences, SPH
  • Sivakami Muthusamy, Associate Professor, Center for Health & Social Sciences, Tata Institute of Social Sciences
  • Shilpa Phadke, Assistant Professor, Center for Media & Culture Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences
  • Hitakshi Sehegal, Coordinator, India Programs, School of Public Health & GPS Alliance

Stranger Violence Against Women (SVAW) as a research field is in its infancy. This topic has received much attention due to media reports on horrific attacks on indiscriminate women. This violence has ranged from verbal harassment to acid attacks, rape, and murder. Dr. Ramaswami and her colleagues will address this new research on SVAW in Indian cities, with a focus on Delhi and Mumbai, to understand SVAW issues across different city types. Within these cities they will investigate the social, institutional, and civil infrastructures such as the demographics of rapid urbanization, rural-urban gender and cultural norms, and socio-economic factors that could influence SVAW. This research will establish international and inter-disciplinary scholarly activities in the emerging topic area of SVAW in large cities and assist in developing data on the public health impacts on an issue that is virtually unknown.

Neel/Butopia: Charting Visions of Change

Principal Investigator:

Co-Principal Investigator:

  • Jigna Desai; Associate Professor; Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies, Asian-American Studies; CLA
  • Hui Niu Wilcox, Associate Professor, Sociology, Women’s Studies, St. Catherine University

Neel/Blutopia: Charting Visions of Change is specifically inspired by the innovative and courageous ways in which women in South Asia are reimagining the triangulation of lines of power and resultant gridlocked hierarchies to envision sustainable and equitable life conditions. Through a year-long artistic journey the project will explore the ways in which these women visualize future possibilities, which could lead to epistemological breaks: how we come to know our world differently as a result of their dreams and visions, even those that do not find fulfillment. This will inspire an original dance theater piece that conjures up a world in which these visions are realized. Neel/Blutopia is an intersectional and hybrid research project that brings together scholarly and creative research, artistic investigation, social justice, and community - building. Many of these women come from working class and rural communities with responsibilities for nurturing their families, and often their innovations and work are in the sphere of sustainable production of food and portable water. Neel will also explore tensions between the public and academic production of knowledge and suggest that the performance of stories—partly imagined, partly researched, and partly remembered - is a vibrant way to archive and share one possible version of many untold stories. The goals of this project are to use multiple forms of research to understand and demonstrate the little realized relationships among the multiple kinds of work women do and the ultimate sustainabilty and vitalization of our world. The results of this project will be expressed through choreographic, musical, and visual artistic processes to investigate how imaginative and epistemic labor offers possibility of resistance and reimagining women's lives and eco-systems.

A Mixed Method Study of Caregiving for Older Adults in India

Principal Investigator:

Co-Investigators:

  • Greta Friedemann-Sánchez, Associate Professor, Humphrey School
  • Dr. Subharati Ghosh, Assistant Professor, Tata Institute of Social Science

India is rapidly undergoing two simultaneous transitions: an epidemiologic transition to growing chronic disease burden and a demographic transition to an unprecedentedly large and growing aging population. Thus, in the coming decades, older adults in India will be living longer albeit with more morbidity and disability that requires care. In lower and middle-income countries, care for older persons nearly always falls to family members, overwhelmingly to women. However, because of other social and demographic factors, including declines in fertility, migration, and changes in household structure, this vital care for older adults is likely to fall on fewer shoulders. We do not yet understand the best ways to support family caregivers and enable them to continue providing necessary care for the aging population. This project will investigate the experience, demands, and tradeoffs of caregiving for other adult family members. In addition, this study will characterize opportunities to support caregivers, including the caregivers’ perceived unmet needs for informal and formal long-term care services to compliment or substitute for their caregiving duties. In particular, we have stratified the sample by perceived caregiving strain to be able to characterize the conditions that might differentiate higher strain from lower strain situations. Although this study will be focused on caregiving in the Indian context, the themes may be relevant other middle-income countries and settings.

The New Green Revolution and the Politics of Agricultural Policymaking in Tanzania

Principal Investigator:

Co-Principal Investigator:

  • Ron Aminzade, Professor, Sociology, CLA
  • Deborah Levison, Professor, Humphrey School
  • Paul Manda, Professor, Library Dept. University of Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania

Transnational actors have achieved a broad consensus around an approach to food security based on a market-driven and high external input approach, popularly known as the Green Revolution in Africa, or GR-A. The reception and impact of this global model at the national level, in particular African countries with distinctive political cultures and histories, has not been adequately explored. The first phase of the proposed research explores the connection between global and local policy discourses and networks by contrasting what is contended as a high degree of consensus in transnational policy networks (TPNs) regarding the new market paradigm for reducing food insecurity with contentious national discussions of food policy that have recently been taking place in Tanzania. The project will examine how transnational policy actors have dealt with this conflict and how it has shaped processes of policy formation and implementation. The goal is to understand how the GR-A’s effort to change agrifood systems through the market model been accepted, rejected, and reformulated at the national level. The second phase will examine how policies are implemented and their effects on smallholder income, household food security and social in/equality at the household and village levels. It is here that crucial questions about global and national political processes, the market-based approach to food security, and social impact - and justice—come together. This phase will involve identifying and working with Tanzanian collaborators on designing several empirical case studies of policy impacts. Their analysis plan to highlight the contending interests and values of different stakeholders in public policy debates, the alternative agricultural policies being proposed and debated, and how these support, intersect with, or challenge global policiy proposals based on GR-A.

Doctoral Fellowships International Research Grant (post-oral exam)

These grant supports doctoral dissertation research (after the successful completion of the oral preliminary examination) from students in academic units throughout the University of Minnesota system. Grant proposals should clearly demonstrate the international nature of the proposed research project. Awards are up to $15,000 each.

Akshya SaxenaVernacular Englishes

Akshya Saxena
Ph.D. candidate, Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature
College of Liberal Arts



My dissertation, Vernacular Englishes, examines the combined literary and political force of English in post-liberalization India. It asks: does English – as a language and as a symbol – make possible political claims by hitherto-marginalized castes, classes and language groups? Does the abiding allure of English indicate attempts to resolve deeper insufficiencies of representation in Indian democratic politics? English was made an official language of India after Independence. I examine the history of language politics since then to argue that it is impossible to conceptualize Indian democratic politics without acknowledging the relationship of the English language with a liberal democratic discourse. My dissertation critically analyzes an unprecedented collection of texts from film, journalism, Hindi and English literature, and governmental language policy. I show that access to English in media forms facilitates sociopolitical changes that are increasingly altering the complexion of Indian democracy.

Brian WilsonFood Accessibility in Bolivia

Brian Wilson
Ph.D. candidate, Philosophy
College of Liberal Arts



Lack of access to food is a widespread problem in Bolivia, as many Bolivians live in remote, isolated communities in rural areas. Despite government attempts to support local food production methods, many households are still food insecure. The proposed project will investigate the underlying causes of the food inaccessibility in order to better inform governmental practices and contribute to the development of practical solutions. The research is based on a novel combination of theoretical philosophy and empirical human rights work. The project will focus specifically on the Cochabamba department of Bolivia. Through ground-based research in the affected communities and with the collaboration of both governmental and non-governmental organizations, a series of reports on empirical and theoretical findings will provide detailed explanations of the barriers to food accessibility along with actionable recommendations for improvement.

MA, Professional, and Doctoral International Grants (pre-oral exam)

These grants support current University of Minnesota Master's, Professional, and Doctoral (before oral preliminary exam) students pursuing a program of study with an international focus from academic units throughout the University of Minnesota system. Awards are up to $5,000 each.

Lalit BatraCaste-subalterns and Urban Infrastructure: The Spatial Politics of Sewers in Contemporary Delhi

Lalit Batra
Ph.D. student, Geography
College of Liberal Arts


The contentious relationship between the modernization of sanitation infrastructure and hardening of stigmatized and hazardous caste-based occupations has remained an under-explored aspect of postcolonial urbanism in India. Traditional manual scavenging has arguably declined in India, at least in major urban centers. However, manual handling of excreta has proliferated — only this time in the form of manual cleaning of underground sewers. Delhi, for instance, has a subterranean network of 6,000 km of frequently clogged sewers. These blockages are removed manually by over 5,000 regular and temporary dalit workers often at a great cost to their social and physical health and well-being. My dissertation project seeks to understand the functioning of Delhi's sewage system through the social life, work processes and knowledge forms of dalit sewage workers who belong predominantly to the Valmiki community in North India. I use multiple methods of enquiry, including archival research, ethnographic methods, interview, community survey and mapping to explore the relationship between: i) the technical, material, organizational and political dimensions of Delhi's sewage system and dynamics of its growth at the local and state levels; and, ii) the everyday lives of Valmiki sewage workers who maintain this vast subterranean network of sewage system.

Damien CarriereFiltering Classes in Space: The Geographic Work of Security Guards in Delhi's National Capital Region

Damien Carriere
Ph.D. student, Geography
College of Liberal Arts

Very rich literature has focused on the Indian working class with an emphasis on resistance. Few have “studied up” the ladder of domination at the interface between working class and elite control. The research I propose will therefore not only take into account the urban seclusion and security issues at stake, but equally be concerned with the training, the origin and the recruitment of security guards, and the learning curve to become one. If the security apparatuses research considers seclusion and the disappearance of public space as problems to be addressed, their conceptual relevance as concepts must be questioned, as is the concept of right to the city, because they spring from a universalistic version of the dynamics of urban capitalism which do not coincide with the experience of India.

Julia CorwinGlobal discourse, national policy, local economies: India's changing electronics recycling sector

Julia Corwin
Ph.D. student, Geography
College of Liberal Arts


India’s National Capital Region is fast emerging as one of the major centers of electronic waste (e-waste) recycling in the world, with computers, monitors, cell phones and TVs arriving from around India and the rest of the world to be sorted, broken down into different materials streams and recycled in informal markets. These recovered materials, from gold and aluminum to plastics and glass, re-enter commodity markets as resources and their sale provides income for 25,000 informal recyclers in Delhi. International environmental concerns about electronic waste disposal and informal recycling are driving policies that seek to manage electronics recycling through an emphasis on formalized recycling infrastructures and technological fixes. In India, newly implemented e-waste regulations that seek to prevent environmental damage and human health problems attributed to informal recycling have made informal recycling practices illegal. The new regulations not only disregard the livelihood needs of tens of thousands of informal recyclers but also ignore the economic and ecological importance of their accumulated expertise, small-scale technologies and recycling infrastructure. My research investigates the changing landscape of e-waste recycling in the National Capital Region of India in order to better describe and theorize the under-studied relationship between global discourses on waste, national environmental policies, recycling infrastructures, and informal labor.

Josh EganDiets, diversity and identification tools for ecologically important order for food fishes in Sri Lanka

Josh Egan
Ph.D. student; Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology
College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences


Marine forage fishes (small and naturally abundant pelagic fishes) are highly important to global food security because they stabilize food webs and are an important source of protein for people in coastal developing nations. Unfortunately, poor fisheries monitoring and insufficient knowledge of the diversity and ecology of marine fishes is impeding efforts to sustainably manage harvested fish populations and forecast the effects of changing ecosystems on fisheries resources. These problems are particularly pronounced in the Indo-Pacific biogeographic region due to both its extraordinary fish diversity and complex social and political issues. To contribute to efforts to sustainably manage marine fisheries in this region, I will study an important group of forage fishes, the clupeiforms (anchovies, sardines, and relatives), in Sri Lanka. My work will describe the diets and morphology of these fishes, validate a model for predicting the diets of additional species, use molecular techniques to discover new species, and develop urgently needed tools for their identification.

Meaghan HumePayment of Ecosystems Services Implementation in Thus Thien Hue, Vietnam

Meagan Hume
Masters in Development Practice
Humphrey School of Public Affairs



As part of this project, our four-member team will assess and evaluate the implementation status of Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) in various villages of Thua Thien-Hue province in Vietnam. As an emerging and developing economy, Vietnam is a perfect location to investigate the intersection of food security and social justice. People belonging to ethnic minority groups dependent on forest-based livelihoods are estimated to be among the poorest in the country. We will work in partnership with a local non-profit: Consultative and Research Center on Natural Resource Management, which focuses on natural resource management and climate change adaptation. We plan to use a qualitative research approach to collect information from various stakeholders including but not limited to households, communities, forest officials, and non-profit organizations to understand the existing payment mechanism. Based on our assessment of this information, we will provide recommendations for improvement in the system. Our analysis comes at a crucial juncture in the PES timeline and also provides groundwork for the future implementation of the UN Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation. We plan to share our findings with local communities and organizations and through platforms in the Twin Cities and the Midwest region.

Chou MouaPayment of Ecosystems Services Implementation in Thus Thien Hue, Vietnam

Chou Moua
Masters in Development Practice
Humphrey School of Public Affairs



As part of this project, our four-member team will assess and evaluate the implementation status of Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) in various villages of Thua Thien-Hue province in Vietnam. As an emerging and developing economy, Vietnam is a perfect location to investigate the intersection of food security and social justice. People belonging to ethnic minority groups dependent on forest-based livelihoods are estimated to be among the poorest in the country. We will work in partnership with a local non-profit: Consultative and Research Center on Natural Resource Management, which focuses on natural resource management and climate change adaptation. We plan to use a qualitative research approach to collect information from various stakeholders including but not limited to households, communities, forest officials, and non-profit organizations to understand the existing payment mechanism. Based on our assessment of this information, we will provide recommendations for improvement in the system. Our analysis comes at a crucial juncture in the PES timeline and also provides groundwork for the future implementation of the UN Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation. We plan to share our findings with local communities and organizations and through platforms in the Twin Cities and the Midwest region.

Devika NarayanA Window into 'World-City' Making: A Case Study of the Bangalore-Mysore Infrastructure Corridor

Devika Narayan
Ph.D. student, Sociology
College of Liberal Arts


My research will explore ongoing urban transformation in India by focusing on the real estate market in Bangalore. The central aim is to examine the shifting dynamic between private and public actors with reference to urban infrastructure projects.  Countries across the global south have adopted a model of economic growth that necessitates competition for private sector investment. Central to the policy framework that enables the race to attract private capital as a means to maintain high growth rates is the restructuring of urban centers. Over the last 15 years Bangalore has emerged as a site that showcases many facets of this new model of economic growth. To sustain this surge in growth rates, the city’s policy elites have undertaken several large-scale infrastructure projects that are redefining the urban landscape. The Bangalore-Mysore Infrastructure Corridor (BMIC) a mega project that seeks to build a 70-mile toll expressway, and 7 privately owned townships, offers itself as a window into the politics of land conversion and infrastructure provisioning. This research will contribute to the growing scholarship on the social, political and economic changes catalyzed by neoliberal reform in India.

Ariel PinchotInvestigating a community forest enterprise approach for sustainable liveliohoods in central Vietnam

Ariel Pinchot
Master's student, Natural Resource Management
College of Food, Agriculture & Natural Resource Sciences


Forests resources are an important component of the livelihood and food security strategies for over a quarter of Vietnam’s total population. For these forest dependent people, recent shifts in forest and land management policies have improved forest rights, offering new opportunities to manage forest ecosystems for local livelihood benefits. The country has also undergone widespread economic transitions that are creating a more conducive environment for small private enterprise development. Given these and other changing national contexts, there is growing potential for a community-based forest enterprise approach for rural livelihood development. As demonstrated in other countries, community-based forest enterprises provide a means through which forest users can generate diversified income, employment, and social benefits while improving conditions of local forests. This research will assess the viability of this approach for local forest users in Vietnam by exploring the legal, institutional, regulatory, ecological, market, social, and cultural contexts for forest enterprise development in communities in Quang Nam and Thua Tien Hue provinces. The findings will inform the efforts of the collaborating organization – the Consultative & Research Center for Natural Resource Management based in Hue, Vietnam – in facilitating the establishment of community-based forest enterprises with partner communities, with an initial focus on palm products and environmental services.

Shruti SaxenaAnalysis of implementation of Payment for Ecosystem Services in Vietnam

Shruti Saxena
Masters in International Development Practice
Humphrey School of Public Affairs


As part of this project, our four-member team will assess and evaluate the implementation status of Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) in various villages of Thua Thien-Hue province in Vietnam.As an emerging and developing economy, Vietnam is a perfect location to investigate the intersection of food security and social justice. People belonging to ethnic minority groups dependent on forest-based livelihoods are estimated to be among the poorest in the country.We will work in partnership with a local non-profit:Consultative and Research Center on Natural Resource Management, which focuses on natural resource management and climate change adaptation.We plan to use a qualitative research approach to collect information from various stakeholders including but not limited to households, communities, forest officials, and non-profit organizations to understand the existing payment mechanism. Based on our assessment of this information, we will provide recommendations for improvement in the system. Our analysis comes at a crucial juncture in the PES timeline and also provides groundwork for the future implementation of the UN Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation.We plan to share our findings with local communities and organizations and through platforms in the Twin Cities and the Midwest region

Elspeth Iralu WrightIndigenous Rice Farming in Nagaland, India: Increasing Food Security, Sustainable Livelihoods and Biodiversity in the Face of Global Climate Change

Elspeth Iralu Wright
Masters in Public Health student, Community Health
School of Public Health


Food security and sovereignty are of increasing importance in Nagaland, India, where government and non-government agencies engage with indigenous Naga communities to adapt to climate change, protect biodiversity, increase sustainable livelihoods, and ensure nutrition security for at-risk populations.  Nagaland is located in northeastern India in the foothills of the Himalayas.  The majority of the population is involved in agriculture, despite the recent rapid modernization of the state.  After decades of political turmoil between Nagaland and India, Naga nationalist struggles still seek to maintain indigenous identity and sovereignty while participating in Indian government structures.  Strengthening the value chain of indigenous rice production in Nagaland has the potential to increase food security, maintain biodiversity, and contribute to the process of self-determination of the Naga people.  The proposed project will integrate indigenous knowledge about native rice agriculture with community seed exchange practices to increase agricultural sustainability, protect biodiversity of native rice varieties, and draft climate change policy in Nagaland. 

Developing region-specific water management models for two regions in India and China

Daqian Jiang
Masters in Science, Technology and Environmental Policy
Humphrey School of Public Affairs

The shrinking freshwater reserves and the exploding water demand in India and China are causing increasing sustainability concerns and have far-reaching impacts on global economy and food security. As both countries’ population and economy are projected to increase rapidly in the coming decades, the situation is only expected to exacerbate given the need for more water to sustain the population and economy growth. This project aims to develop region-specific hierarchical models to understand the current water demand-supply balance in two regions in India and China, and project the water demand-supply gaps in 2030 under different water management scenarios. The successful completion of this project will provide groundwork for a more comprehensive understanding of the water demand-supply dynamics in the two regions and provide scientific basis for more sophisticated water management models to mitigate the regional water stress. This project will also be completed in collaboration with students from local universities, as an effort to disseminate knowledge to the developing communities and enhance University of Minnesota’s presence on the global sustainability frontline.