June 1996 to Present

Since retiring from Harvard University in 1990, and intensively for the past three years, I have been doing research and writing on the issues of the development process which had captured my interest during my career. This effort has culminated in a website, , to which I invite interested parties to contribute. My hope is that a dynamic and interactive web site, gathering opinions and data from people in a variety of fields, can become a new method of knowledge creation.  


Courtney A. Nelson 1987


May 1990-Present  Independent Consultant

          In 1995, I visited Gaza on four occasions to work with the Minister of Planning and International Cooperation, Dr. Nabil Shaath, to structure a planning process, and to prepare a statement on development strategy for presentation by the Palestinian National Authority to the donors club meeting in Paris in January 1996. The visits were sponsored by HIID and the Kennedy School of Government. The Minister wishes them to continue if funding can be found.

          For several years I worked closely with the Minister and Cabinet Secretary, Drs. Saadilla Mursjid, to redefine the challenges facing the Executive Office (Sekretaris Negara) of the President of Indonesia and to devise a program for preparing staff to meet those challenges. We introduced language and computer courses to improve communications in the Sekretaris and arranged visits to executive offices in Australia and the United States by Indonesian officials. I guided a group of 22 senior Indonesian officials from the Sekretaris and other central agencies on a visit to Washington to observe budgeting and personnel processes of the US Government of potential relevance to Indonesia.

          For a number of years I have been periodically asked by the Management Development Program of the UNDP to undertake reconnaissance missions to analyze public management problems in various countries and to design institutional development projects for senior levels of the public service. I visited Ukraine,  Egypt, Uzbekistan, Oman, Sharjah and Iraq for such purposes. In Ukraine, I was asked to prepare a strategic development plan for an economic analysis institute.

          In 1993, I wrote, in cooperation with two senior Thai authors and Chip Myers of HIID, an analysis of the university development program in Thailand which was supported by the Rockefeller Foundation in the 1960s. The papers were presented at a Conference on Higher Education and Development sponsored by IIE and published in International Investment in Human Capital in 1993.

I managed an AID-sponsored export development project in Bangladesh on a part-time basis in 1991-93 for WPI. The project was undertaken in cooperation with the World Bank which funded an export development loan under IDA.

          In 1990 I led an HIID team assessing the economic policy making and analytical capabilities of three African nations in order to help USAID determine its response to the African capacity-building initiative (ACBI) of the World Bank.


1985-1990   Harvard Institute for International Development (HIID)

          In 1985-86, advisor to BAPPENAS in Indonesia on the establishment of an Overseas Training Office capable of managing the selection and preparation of candidates for graduate study abroad.

          In 1986-7, project manager of the Applied Diarrheal Disease Research project for HIID. Devised an innovative strategy for strengthening interdisciplinary research capabilities in seven countries including Indonesia and Thailand from a Cambridge base.         

          In 1988-90, Research Associate engaged in a variety of activities including participation in a UNDP Management Development Program mission to the Government of Iraq, consultations with the Government of Brunei on alternative development strategies and the conceptualization of a regional agribusiness investment initiative, and consultations with the Government of Indonesia on overseas training processes.

1978-1985  Independent Consultant

          For the US National Academy of Sciences, authored a paper on "Collaborative Research on Tropical Diseases," published as an annex to a report of the Academy and the Institute of Medicine entitled The US Capacity to Address Tropical Infectious Disease Problems, 1987.

          From 1977-1983, served as senior consultant to the Council on Reconstruction and Development, Government of Lebanon, drafting major portions of the official reconstruction plan for the nation.

          From 1978-1983, served as senior human resource development specialist in the group in the Executive Office of the President of the United States planning an Institute for Scientific and Technological Cooperation (ISTC).

          In 1977, while loaned by the Ford Foundation to the Brookings Institution for a study of foreign aid, proposed the establishment of an ISTC, which attracted the endorsement of President Carter.

          In 1984, as Senior International Fellow of the Charles F. Kettering Foundation, wrote a paper on US Science and the Third World based on the ISTC planning experience.

1963-1978 The Ford Foundation

          In 1977, served as Program Officer in New York, evaluating the Foundation's economic planning and management activities in eastern Africa from 1963-1975.

          From 1971-1976, was the Foundation's Representative for the Middle East, based in Beirut. The program had an annual budget of between $2.5 and $5 million and around 30 expatriate professional staff in the fields of environment, education, public administration, management, population, economics and agricultural research. Staff were based in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, Bahrain, Sudan and Saudi Arabia.

          From 1968-1971, served as professional personnel officer for the Foundation in New York, during which time carried out a major revision of overseas compensation policies.

          From 1963-1967, served as Assistant Representative for East and Central Africa, based in Nairobi.

1962-1963 The US Commission on Civil Rights: Deputy Assistant Staff Director


          o          MPA John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

          o          BS in Foreign Service, Georgetown University

          o          BA Hamline University, St. Paul, Minnesota


Married to Penelope Graves Nelson. Four grown children.

ADDRESS      405 VT Rte 30, Wells VT 05774                              



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