Faculty Biography

Cynthia Caron - Clark University

Cynthia Caron, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of International Development and Social Change
Coordinator of the Undergraduate Program in International Development and Social Change
International Development and Social Change
Clark University
Worcester, MA 01610-1477

Email: ccaron@clarku.edu
Phone: (508) 793-8879

Curriculum Vitae

Professor Caron has worked and conducted research in South Asia for over 15 years primarily in India, Bhutan, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka and more recently in Rwanda and Ethiopia. Living in Sri Lanka at the time of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, Professor Caron spent five years managing and implementing a variety of post-tsunami relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction projects. For the United Nations, she managed a joint monitoring system that kept track of shelter and shelter-site conditions in over 400 transitional shelter sites housing tsunami-displaced families. She was Rehabilitation and Resettlement Program Manager for Arbeiter-Samariter-Bund (ASB Germany) providing financial support, construction training, and engineering oversight to displaced communities so that they could construct new homes.

In 2008, Professor Caron founded the Applied Research Unit (ARU) for the United Nations Office for Project Services providing clients in Sri Lanka's humanitarian and donor community with project design and monitoring and evaluation services. She has worked with World Wildlife Fund-Bhutan, UNICEF, UNDP, the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions, CARE International, FAO, and the International Labor Organization (ILO). Most recently, she served as Land Tenure and Property Rights Specialist and Senior Research and Evaluation Manager on land rights programming with the Seattle-based non-profit, Landesa.

She previously taught at Cornell University and has delivered seminars and training programs in applied social science research in Rwanda, Pakistan, India, and Sri Lanka. She has served on the boards of various Sri Lankan NGOs including the Energy Forum and a disability-mainstreaming organization, Equality-Based Community Support and Training (ECSAT). She speaks, to varying degrees, both Sinhala and Tamil and has published a Sinhala-to-English translation of a children's novel. She regularly peer review manuscripts for journals such Contemporary South Asia and International Forestry Review. Her book reviews have been published in Society and Natural Resources, Contemporary South Asia, and Conservation and Society.


Ph.D., Development Sociology, Cornell University, 2003

Master of Forest Science (MFS), Yale University, 1993

B.A., Government and International Development (cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa), Clark University, 1990

Research Interests

Professor Caron returned to academia in 2013 after nine years working in international development and humanitarian assistance in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. As a development sociologist, she returned with a desire to reflect on this work and situate it within her two areas of expertise: political and environmental sociology. In general, her research focuses on the mutually constitutive relationship between the state and society by specifically examining the cultural politics of natural resource access and land tenure and property rights. Professor Caron’s substantive areas of interest naturally follow from this: land and resource use and access within the context of resettlement following natural disasters and in post-conflict situations and resource rights in the context of REDD+ and related global climate change interventions. As an evaluation specialist, she employs qualitative and interpretative methodologies and privilege gender relations and the gendered implications of development interventions. Lastly, as her development practice continues to include impact and performance evaluations of natural resource and land tenure programming, her latest research works to advance the nature and methods of evaluation in cross-cultural settings.

Courses Offered

International Development and Social Change

ID 125: Tales from the Far Side
ID 229: Property and Community

Grants, Contracts, and Fellowships

Faculty Travel Grant, Department of International Development, Community and Environment, Clark University for “Socio-economic characteristics of banana-cultivating communities in Tanzania and Uganda: A gendered approach” ($3,200.00; April 2015; collaborative project with Bioversity International and the Root, Tubers and Banana Group {RTB} of the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research {CGIAR}).

Performance Evaluation of the “Accelerating Inclusion and Mitigating Emissions (AIME) Project” (Proposal co-author with John Michael Kramer – awarded by USAID, June 2014; contract ends in 2017).

“Evaluation, Research and Communication,” Task Order under STARR, USAID Strengthening Tenure and Resource Rights Portfolio  (Proposal co-author with John Michael Kramer – 20.0 Million awarded by USAID, May 2013; contract ends in 2018).

"Housing Solutions for Long Term Conflict Affected IDPs in Sri Lanka," European Commission, 2009

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Program on Global Security and Sustainability, Research and Writing Grant, 2002

Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad, 1999

Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship (FLAS), 1998, 1999, 2001-2002

John Miller Musser Forest and Society Fellowship, Institute of Current World Affairs, 1994-1996

Harvard Institute for International Development, Harvard University & Tropical Resources Institute, Yale University, 1992

Selected Publications

2015. “Innovation in evaluating humanitarian response: Post-tsunami Lessons from Sri Lanka.” In: Brahmachari, A., R. Agrawal, S. Ghosh, and N. Bohidar. (eds). 2015. Evaluations for Sustainable Development: Experiences and Learning. New Delhi: Astral International. Pp. 209-218.

2015. “Why Land Tenure Matters for Nepal’s Earthquake Relief and Recovery”.  18 June 2015. 

2014. “To Strengthen Women’s Land Rights, Don’t’ forget Boys and Men”. USAID Land Tenure and Property Rights Portal. 29 December 2014.

2014. “Implications of Uncertain Land Tenure on Investment Success”. with Daniel Monchuk and Stephanie Fenner. USAID Land Tenure and Property Rights Portal. 24 March 2014. 

2013. “Do Secure Land Tenure and Property Rights Reduce Gender Based Violence”.  USAID Land Tenure and Property Rights Portal. 12 December 2013. 

2011. Anna Knox, Cynthia Caron, Jonathan Miner and Allyson Goldstein. "Land Tenure and Payment for Environmental Services: Challenges and Opportunities for REDD+". Land Tenure Journal 2: 18-55.

2009b. "Left Behind: Post-tsunami Resettlement Experiences for Women and the Urban Poor in Colombo." In: Fernando, Priyanthi, Karin Fernando, and Mansi Kumarasiri (eds.) Forced to Move: Involuntary Displacement and Resettlement-Policy and Practice. Colombo: Centre for Poverty Analysis. Pp. 177-206.

2009a. "A Most Difficult Transition: Negotiating Post-tsunami Compensation and Resettlement from Positions of Vulnerability." In: De Mel, Neloufer, Ruwanpura, Kanchana N. and Samarasinghe, G. (eds.) After the Waves: The Impact of the Tsunami on Women in Sri Lanka.Colombo: Social Scientist Association.  Pp. 112-152.

2009 (with Hannah K. Wittman)."Carbon Offsets and Inequality: Social Costs and Co-Benefits in Guatemala and Sri Lanka." Society and Natural Resources 22(8): 710-726.

2007. "Needs Assessment Survey for Income Recovery (NASIR) IV: A study undertaken in tsunami-affected areas of Sri Lanka." RADA/ILO Livelihoods.Colombo: ILO. 20 pp.

2007 (with Dia DaCosta)."There's a Devil on Wayamba Beach: Social Dramas of Development and Citizenship in Northwest Sri Lanka." Journal of Asian and African Studies 42(5): 415-445.

2005. "Sri Lanka's Northern Muslim Community: Expulsion, Internal Displacement and Prospects for Return." Law Matters (October): 15-22.

2003. "Sri Lanka." In: Desai, Manisha (ed.) The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Women's Issues Worldwide: Asia and Oceania. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.Pp. 441-468.

2002. "Examining Alternatives: The Energy Services Delivery Project in Sri Lanka." Energy for Sustainable Development 6(1): 38-46.

1997. Wedding Feast.Colombo, Sri Lanka: Karunaratne & Sons Ltd.53 pp.(English Translation of Cumaratunga Munidasa's Sinhala novel, Magul Kaema).

1995. "The role of nontimber tree products in food procurement strategies: Profile of a Sri Lankan village." Agroforestry Systems 32(2): 99-117.