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:

  • Public economics
  • Labor economics
  • Race and gender in the economy
  • Political selection and representation
  • Non-monetary motivations in the labor market 
  • Charitable giving in the non-profit sector 


Select Publications and Funded Research 

  • “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.