Mihail M. Cernea

Dr. Mihail M. Cernea is Academician,  member of the Romanian Academy, elected in 2012, and Research Professor of Anthropology and International Affairs at the George Washington University, in Washington DC, USA.

Mihail Cernea started working as assistant researcher in the Institute of Philosophy of the Romanian Academy in 1958, became principal researcher, defended his PhD in 1962 and became the Chief of the Institute's social research section soon thereafter. During the 1960s, the research section he led at the Institute shifted from general social philosophy to empirical sociological field investigations in rural and urban areas and helped break the official prohibition on sociological work in Romania at that time. The European Society for Rural Sociology elected him as Vice-President in 1967. He was invited as visiting researcher at the Centre D'Etudes Sociologiques in Paris (1967) and as Fellow in residence at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford, USA (1970-1971). For his research publications, the Romanian Academy gave Dr Cernea the Vasile Conta Prize, and other prizes and distinctions.

In mid 1974, Prof. Cernea moved to the USA, where he has since lived, taught and practiced for the second part of his professional sociological career. He was appointed by the World Bank in Washington DC in 1974 as its first in-house sociologist, then as its Senior Sociologist, and Senior Adviser for Social Policy and Sociology from 1982 to 1997. Between 1998-2003 he was appointed as member of the CGIAR Science Council (the group of 16 International Agricultural Research Centers). Professor Cernea has also served as Senior Social Adviser to international organizations such as the UN, OECD, UNDP, ADB, CGIAR, FAO, BP, Chevron, etc. on social policy, development, cultural and poverty issues. He was elected as officer in various capacities for international and national professional social science organizations, including as Vice-President of The Gusti Foundation (Romania) after 1990. He has worked directly for non-profit organizations and NGOs as well, and is currently Director in the Board of PACT (USA) and a member of the Board of Trustees of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina (Egypt).

At the World Bank, Dr. Cernea gradually recruited, established and led a large community of development sociologists and anthropologists, placing these social disciplines on the World Bank's intellectual map and broadening its skill mix. Cernea decisively helped to gain a place for development-oriented social research in the Bank and professional, applied sociological work in Bank's operations. He authored, or contributed to defining and writing, some of the Bank's main social policies, particularly its policies on involuntary population resettlement, on indigenous populations, protection of "chance finds" cultural artifacts, cooperation with NGOs, the World Bank strategy for cultural heritage preservation and management, water and irrigation, reforestation, agricultural extension, and others.

In the field, Dr. Cernea has carried out social research on policy and operational development issues in hydropower, agriculture, irrigation, forestry, mining, and other sectors, as well as direct project design and evaluation work in many countries. among which: India, Nepal, China, Papua-Indonesia, Thailand, Burma, the Philippines, Pakistan, Moldova, Kenya, Tanzania, Morocco, Yemen, Mexico, Turkey, Togo, Ukraine, and others. He also worked as member of several International Development Expert Panels.

Professor Cernea has lectured in Universities in Europe, the US, India, Japan, and China. He was a Fellow in Residence of the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Studies in Wassenaar/the Hague (1979-1980) and a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University (1990-1991). For his scholarly work on public policies, he received the Solon T. Kimball Award for Public Policy and Applied Anthropology from the American Anthropological Association, and the Bronislaw Malinowski Prize from the international Society for Applied Anthropology.

Dr. Cernea has authored and edited many books on the sociology of development: on social change, population displacement and resettlement, impoverishment and poverty reduction, cultural heritage protection, social forestry, grassroots organizations, sustainability and participation. His most recent books are: Researching the Culture in Agri-Culture (2006) and Cultural Heritage and Development: A Framework for Action in the Middle East and North Africa (2001, 2003). Among his other books are: Putting People First: Sociological Variables in Development (several editions, also translated in Japan, Mexico, China, Indonesia, and France), Research-Extension-Farmer: A Two-Way Continuum (1985); Anthropological Approaches to Resettlement: Policy, Practice, Theory (ed. with Scott Guggenheim, 1993);Resettlement and Development (1994, with S. Guggenheim and assoc.; Social Organization and Development Anthropology (1996); Social Assessment for Better Development (ed. with Ayse Kudat, 1997); Resettlement and Development (vol. I and II, published in China, 1996-1998); The Economics of Involuntary Resettlement(1999): and Risks and Reconstruction. Experiences of Resettlers and Refugees (2000, ed. with C. McDowell).