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From the Ivory Tower to the Ebony Village: Do You Dare Cross the Bridge?


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Menezes will share her personal experiences, reflections and lessons learned over a period of 35-year career in the field, especially in Africa, and how her doctoral research has shaped her approaches to field work and development. The talk touches upon the use of mixed methods and participatory approaches necessary for livelihood analysis and understanding of the poverty dimensions within specific environmental, socio-cultural, political and economic contexts.  Through concrete field experiences she will reflect on how the strict use of a conventional “scientifically based research” method is not always the most appropriate to study poverty issues and development policy in developing rural communities. She argues that in the same token that the world is constantly changing and rapidly evolving into less-structured forms of governance and development, so is academic research called upon to follow the same pattern. Her professional experience calls for academic researchers, social and development practitioners to adjust their research and “we know it all” paradigms and to be more open to the unknown and dare to cross the bridge from the Ivory Tower to the Ebony Villages. She will share her perspectives on future actions based on her reflections and lessons learned from 35 years of field work that includes, biological and social research, capacity building, policy development and emergency interventions:  There will always be a nice hand-in-hand walk between the magnificence of the Ivory Tower (objectivity and critical thinking of the academia world) and the Mystery of the Ebony Villages (the unknown, the surprises, the beauty of others’ viewpoints, regardless of their intellectual status, the beauty of their traditional, local knowledge). Do you dare cross the Bridge?

Dr. Ana Maria Menezes, a 2004 Fulbright alumna who received her PhD from the State University of New York’s College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF), was named one of three candidates for the SUNY-ESF’s Graduates of Distinction Award for her notable achievements. The award recognizes those alumni who are pioneers in their field, whose work has positively impacted society and the environment, and who truly embodies the spirit of environmental stewardship.

Dr. Menezes has dedicated her career to improve food production and nutrition, livelihoods and economic growth through sustainable development of the aquaculture sector. Dr. Menezes currently works for the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) where she collaborates with Member States around the world to develop and implement policies and best practices of Aquaculture combining business concepts with environmental and ecosystem-based approaches. Her research and policy focus are on Aquaculture Governance and the development of tools to assess poverty and policy impact in fishing communities. Her strength is the ground work, working with stakeholders and especially with farmers. She believes education and knowledge and true caring for others’ wellbeing are the foremost assets to improve people’s lives and to make a change.


Social Science and Public Policy





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MAX-Moynihan Institute of Global Affairs, MAX-Maxwell African Scholars Union


Nicholas Feeley


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Exterior of Maxwell in black and white when there was no Eggers building

We’re Turning 100!

To mark our centennial in the fall of 2024, the Maxwell School will hold special events and engagement opportunities to celebrate the many ways—across disciplines and borders—our community ever strives to, as the Oath says, “transmit this city not only not less, but greater, better and more beautiful than it was transmitted to us.”

Throughout the year leading up to the centennial, engagement opportunities will be held for our diverse, highly accomplished community that now boasts more than 38,500 alumni across the globe.