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Nilgiris Field Learning Center

A Project of the Keystone Foundation & Cornell University



Welcome! The Nilgiris Field Learning Center (NFLC) is a unique partnership between the Indian NGO, Keystone Foundation, and Cornell University. It aligns Cornell faculty and students with practitioners and community members in the Nilgiris, the “blue hills” of southern India. Since 2015, the NFLC learning community has explored a range of issues around sustainability, conservation, livelihoods and education in a region recognized for its biodiversity. Students from Cornell and the indigenous communities of the Nilgiris develop leadership and research skills in a collaborative, cross-cultural, field-based learning environment.

Projects address community-identified issues in four broad areas:

  • Environmental governance. Projects include understanding contested  lands as spaces for food, farming & sustenance, and issues related to livelihood generation through small-holder agriculture and collection of non-timber forest produce.
  • Community wellness and health. Projects include access to medical resources, changing modes of healing, eating habits and life rituals within indigenous communities.
  • Ecology. Projects include understanding human-wildlife conflicts on forest edges and urbanizing areas and wild edible landscapes.
  • Water and waste infrastructure in a rapidly urbanizing environment and impacts on environmental and community health and livelihoods.


At the NFLC, we engage in, give back, and benefit from our collective work. Cornell brings strengths in the ecological and social sciences including the applied fields of regional planning and policy analysis. The Keystone Foundation brings deep practical knowledge through over 25 years of work with indigenous communities in the Nilgiris Biosphere Reserve focusing on livelihoods, conservation, and market-based social enterprise. NFLC is based at the vibrant Keystone campus, located in Kotagiri, a hill station in the Western Ghats. Learn more about the NFLC through student blogposts, research projects and publications available on this website.  Learn more about Keystone on their website, and about Cornell here.


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