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Nilgiris Field Learning Center

A Project of the Keystone Foundation & Cornell University

Study Abroad

What is the NFLC?

The NFLC is an engaged learning and research program where Cornell students and members of local communities live, study, and research together for 16 weeks each spring. Cornell students earn 12-15 credits in this innovative study abroad program, which requires completion of a fall prep course.

Where in the world?

The Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve (NBR) is a United Nations biodiversity “hotspot” where culture, community and biodiversity meet. The NBR is home to the Asian elephant, guar, and lion-tailed macaque, as well as more than 3,300 species of flowering plants. Coffee, tea, and spice plantations abound, and small towns and tourist areas are interspersed with forested land and national parks. The vibrant Keystone campus is located in Kotagiri, a hill station in the Western Ghats. NFLC activities are centered in a classroom and community space called Manda Arae. Two new buildings provide housing for NFLC students and a canteen for the entire campus.

How does it work?

  • In weeks 1-7, field trips and classroom modules will focus on the Nilgiris Biosphere Reserve. Enjoy a spring break in week 8!
  • In weeks 9-15, you’ll team up for field work on community wellness, environmental governance, infant nutrition and diet diversity, and waste management issues. Together you’ll analyze what you’ve learned.
  • In week 16, you’ll make presentations in the local communities in which you’ve worked and to members and friends of the Keystone Foundation. A debrief and a celebration of your accomplishments round out the experience of lifetime.

What will you learn?

All Cornell students are enrolled in 15 credits of coursework for the Spring semester, plus a 1-credit preparatory seminar the prior semester.

  • ANTHRO 1520: Tamil Conversation in Context, A. Willford (2 credits)
  • ANTHRO 4520: Society and Culture in the Nilgiris, A. Willford (3 credits)
  • CRP 3850; Society and Culture in the Nilgiris, N. Kudva (3 credits)
  • NTRES 4940: Environmental Governance in the Nilgiris, S. Wolf (3 credits)
  • Independent Study: Anthropology, Urban Planning, Natural Resources, Nutrition, or Global Public Health (4 credits)
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