Associate Professor of Applied Economics and Management and International Professor of Agriculture and Life Sciences
Areas of Expertise
Impact Evaluation, Measurement , and International Development
340E Warren Hall • Phone: 607.255.1430
Mark A. Constas is an Associate Professor in the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management at Cornell University and an International Professor of Agriculture and Life Sciences. He is also a Fellow in the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future and a Faculty Affiliate of the Center for Global Sustainable Enterprise in the Johnson School of Management. With a specialization in impact evaluation and measurement, his research seeks to develop and test assessment tools to measure the ways in which households and communities achieve and maintain well-being in shock-prone contexts. His research is presently focused in the sub-Saharan region of Africa where droughts, environmental stresses, and political conflict undermine the livelihoods and threaten the well-being of vulnerable populations. He has recently initiated a set of projects that are focused on resilience measurement in Somalia and Kenya, working in close coordination with regional organizations and governmental authorities. Professor Constas is currently serving as Chair of the Resilience Measurement Technical Working Group, an effort jointly coordinated by The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and The World Food Programme. Professor Constas' work has been published in peer review journals and in other forms of publication. His most recent work has appeared in the journal of Food Security (with Tim Frankenberger), in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (with Chris Barrett), and in reports issued by the Food Security Information Network.
Research Focus Area: Evaluation Design and Measurement
With a background in quantitative and qualitative methods, Constas focuses on how to design and implement monitoring and evaluations systems that have the capacity to generate results that are both technically defensible and programmatically useful. For this aspect of his research portfolio, he aims to identify designs, measurement approaches, and analytical tools to help explain causal relationships upon which conclusions about a given intervention's impact may be based. On technical level his work on evaluation is focused on the identification of counterfactuals, through design and through analysis, to capable of supporting inferences about the impact of interventions. His work on measurement is concerned with developing systematic multi-method data collection strategies that reflect the realities of field settings.
Research Focus Area: International Development
In the field of international development Constas focuses on the measurement of resilience, where resilience is treated as a capacity that can equip households and communities to recover from an increasingly frequent and decreasingly predictable array of shocks and stressors that introduce a pronounced set of threats to the physical, social, and economic well-being of the world's poor. Of particular interest here is examining the ways in which seemingly homogenous populations exhibit heterogeneous patterns of recovery. The applied goal of his work in this area is to understand how the capacity for resilience can be fostered in shock-intensive environments, among populations living in chronic or transitory poverty.
Ph.D., Cornell University, 1987
M.S., Cornell University, 1985
B.S., Northeastern University, 1983
Current Projects and Funded Research
Resilience Measurement Technical Working Group
|Purpose:||Establish analytical frameworks and technical guidelines to inform the specification of metrics, data collection procedures, and estimation on models for resilience as key predictor of food security and other development outcomes|
|Funding Source(s):||Jointly organized by the World Food Program and the Food and Agriculture Organization with funding from USAID and the European Union|
|Role:||Chair of Technical Working Group|
The Essential Electronic Agricultural Library (TEEAL) and Information Training and Outreach Centre in Africa (ITOCA)
|Purpose:||Improve effectiveness of the agricultural research, extension, policy and education through enhanced access to effective use of international and local agricultural knowledge base|
|Funding Source(s):||Gates Fooundation|
|Role:||Monitoring and evaluation coordinator|
Strengthening the Case for Evidence-Based Policy for Development: Contextualized Causal Inference and the Importance of Mechanism
|Purpose:||The purpose of this project is to the explore aspects of policy contexts that should be taken into account as researchers model and test causal inferences that are meant to inform development initiatives|
|Funding Source(s):||Institute of Social Sciences|
|Role:||Principal Investigator, Per Pinstrup-Andreson, Co-Principal Investigator|
Recent Presentations & Papers
Barrett, C. and M. Constas Forthcoming. Toward a Theory of Development Resilience for International Development Applications. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Constas, M., T. Frankenberger, J. Hoddinott, D. Romano, N. Mock, and D. Maxwell. Forthcoming. A common analytical model for resilience measurement for development. Food Security (FAO, WFP, IFPRI), Rome, Italy.
Frankenberger, T., M. Constas, S. Nelson, and L. Starr. Resilience programing among nongovernmental organizations: Lessons for policy makers. Food Policy Report. International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington, D.C.
Constas, M. (with L. Russo and L., Mattioli). 2014. Enhancing resilience measurement and analysis for decision making. European Resilience Forum, Brussels, Belgium. April 28, 2014.
Constas, M. The Need for Improved Metrics of Resilience: The Food Security and Information Network Technical Working Group on Resilience Measurement. Presented at the International Food Policy Research Institute 2020 Conference: Building Resilience for Food and Nutrition Security, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia May, 14, 2014
Constas, M. Principles of Resilience Measurement and the Activities of Technical Working Group on Resilience Measurement. Somalia Resilience Network. World Vision, Nairobi, Kenya. May 19, 2014.
Constas, M. Frankenberger, and Hoddinott, J. 2013. Framing Paper on Resilience Measurement for Food and Nutrition Security: Toward an Agenda for Measurement Design, Prepared for the Food Security Information Network (FAO, WFP, IFPRI), October 9, 2013, Rome, Italy.
Constas, M. & Barrett, C. 2013. Resilience Measurement for Poverty and Food Security: Theory, Dynamics, and Mechanisms. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Evaluation Association, October 18, 2013, Washington, D.C.
Constas, M. and Barrett, C. 2013. Principles of Resilience Measurement for Food Insecurity: Metrics, Mechanisms, and Implementation Plans. Paper presented at the Expert Consultation on Resilience Measurement Related to Food Security sponsored by the Food and Agricultural Organization and World Food Program, February 19-21, 2013, Rome, Italy,
Constas, M. 2013. Resilience measurement: Theory, metrics, and estimation models. Paper presented the Agricultural Livelihoods Resilience Workshop, Catholic Relief Services, Dakar Senegal.
Barrett, C. & Constas, M. 2013. Toward a theory of resilience for international development applications. Paper presented at the International Food Policy Research Institute, August 2, 2013. Washington, D.C..
Barrett, C. and Constas, C. 2012. Resilience to avoid chronic poverty: Theoretical foundations and measurement principles. Paper presented at CARE International, Invited presentation, December 6, 2012, Washington, D.C.
Mark is married to Wendy Millroy, a South African originally from the Eastern Cape region of South Africa. Mark is a second generation Greek American whose last name was handily contracted (from Constandinides to Constas) in 1917 by a phonetically challenged immigration officer at Ellis Island. Wendy and Mark have three daughters with interests in theatre and performance, biology and agriculture development, and political journalism.
They live, with occasional challenges (winter!), on ten acres located on a hillside outside of Ithaca and share their land with nine hens, a shiatsu, a cat of unknown lineage, and varied forms of wildlife -- some of which are wanted and some are unwanted. Before coming to Ithaca, the family lived in Colorado, South Africa, Hong Kong, and Virginia. Wendy and Mark met while immersed in their respective doctoral studies at Cornell. After 17 years, having recovered from the trauma associated with Ph.D. studies, they returned to Ithaca. Contrary to their natural habits, the family has now settled in one place for an extended period of time.
In addition to his work as a faculty member, Mark is a House Fellow at Flora Rose House, an undergraduate residence hall that seeks to integrate residence life with academic pursuits.