Working for 13 years as a policy analyst and research consultant for several non-governmental organizations, Nelson is an expert on economics and the developing world. Currently, his courses focus on development, human rights, NGOs, food security, and religion and development.

Teaching and Research Areas 

Nelson's research focuses on these key areas:

  • International development
  • NGOS and non-profits
  • Human rights, land, and water
  • Religion and development 
  • Food security 


Select Publications and Funded Research 

  • Global Development and Human Rights: The Sustainable Development Goals and Beyond. University of Toronto Press, Insights Series, 2021.
  • Religious Voices in the Politics of International Development: Faith-Based NGOs and Political Mobilization. Palgrave/Macmillan, 2021.
  • “Who Practices Rights-Based Development? A Progress Report on Work at the Nexus of Human Rights and Development.” World Development, 104, 97-107, April 2018. (with Ellen Dorsey).
  • “Citizens, Consumers, Workers, Activists: Civil society during and after water privatization struggles.” Journal of Civil Society, 13:2, 2017, 202-221.
  • Henry Luce Foundation, “Religious Voices in International Development,” $100,000, four year grant awarded 2008.

Consultancies and Public Service 

  • Church World Service, Latin American Office, 2013.  Briefing Paper: Toward Ethical Banking?  NGOs, Banks, and Initiatives to Influence Commercial Bank Lending Practices.  Pro bono.
  • North-South Institute, Ottawa, 2000-2001: For the project, "New Voices in Multilateral Organizations," a paper on the World Bank's new Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers.
  • Secretary and Board member, The Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.