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Vice provost keeps Cornell’s engagement mission vibrant and relevant

Katherine McComasKatherine McComas, Ph.D. ’00, professor of communication in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, is Cornell’s vice provost for engagement and land-grant affairs.

As vice provost, she serves as the academic lead for the universitywide Engaged Cornell initiative; advocates for Cornell’s role as New York’s land-grant university; represents Cornell’s four contract colleges in dealings with the State University of New York; and oversees Cornell’s ROTC program, the Cornell Prison Education Program and the university’s Office of Engagement Initiatives.

How have you experienced and embraced Cornell’s land-grant mission and “knowledge with a public purpose” philosophy?

It’s something that has always figured prominently in my career and also in my interests. I started out being particularly interested in journalism around issues related to science and the environment. When I came to Cornell in 1994 as a doctoral student, my interests were in communicating about health and environmental risk. I quickly became involved with Cornell Cooperative Extension, working with different extension associates around issues related to waste management, for example, or communicating to farmers about tractor safety.

At Cornell, the public engagement mission, the knowledge with a public purpose, and wanting to engage with communities – it’s a core mission. It doesn’t just reside in our four contract colleges, although they do have that special responsibility in terms of our relationship with New York state.

When I came back to Cornell as a faculty member in 2003, it was sort of like coming home. I was happy to be able, once again, to participate in communication that has basic scientific elements and also the practical implications of working with communities around issues of health and environmental and scientific risks. And that’s been my research program, basically, for my career: looking at community engagement, at decision making, typically in the context of health and environmental risks.

So when the opportunity arose almost a year ago for me to advance into this vice provost position, to help steward and build on that public engagement mission, it was very exciting.

Read the full interview in the Cornell Chronicle.

Nearly A Decade After Department’s Demise, Education Minor Continues to Offer Students a Path to the Front of Classroom

Tucked away in Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is a small, unpresuming minor few would suspect of a school better known for dairy and plant genetics.

The education minor — housed in CALS, but open to students of all colleges — is all that remains after the dissolution of Cornell’s education department nearly a decade ago. The University shut it down in 2010, and its faculty either retired, moved to other universities or dispersed to other departments.

“The department’s future has been debated in the college for several years,” Dean Kathryn Boor said in a University press release at the time. “CALS has come to the difficult conclusion that we do not have the additional resources that would need to be invested in the program to ensure its preeminence as we move into the future.”

Currently, the education courses are offered under the code “EDUC,” but there remains no consolidated department for the discipline. Instead, the education minor falls under the auspices of development sociology.

The education minor is intended for students interested in pursuing any career within the field of education — whether that be a traditional teaching path, a role in academic policy or a dozen other more niche professions, such as curriculum development or educational technology.

A key characteristic of the minor is the freedom it provides for individualized structure, opening up the minor to each student’s personal goals. For instance, if a student studying abroad finds a course they think fits well with the minor, it’s an option to count that course towards the minor’s elective credits, according to Minor Coordinator Prof. Bryan Duff, development sociology.

Read the full article in the Cornell Daily Sun.

Polson Institute to host food waste-reduction workshop

Cornell’s Polson Institute for Global Development will host “Reducing Campus Food Waste: Innovations and Ideas,” a lecture and workshop May 2-3 at Call Auditorium, Kennedy Hall, and in the Multipurpose Room of the Africana Studies and Research Center, 310 Triphammer Road.

The lecture and workshop are free and open to the public.

“This two-day event brings together community members, academics and policy makers to engage with the Cornell and Ithaca community on reducing food waste – an important, but often overlooked, sustainability issue,” said Lori Leonard, professor of development sociology, director of the Polson Institute and a fellow at the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future.

The event kicks off with noted author and activist Tristram Stuart speaking on “Food Waste and What We Can Do About It,” May 2 at 5:30 p.m. in Call Auditorium. Stuart founded Feedback, an environmental group that aims to change society’s attitude toward wasting food. He is also the founder of Toast Ale – a beer made from fresh surplus bread – which launched in the United Kingdom three years ago.

Read the full article in the Cornell Chronicle.

Cornell University students get to know of tribal way of life

Students from Cornell University teamed up with student leaders from indigenous communities in the Nilgiris, to understand issues such as healthcare, ecology, environmental governance and waste management.

The initiative – the Nilgiris Field Learning Center (NFLC), a collaborative effort between Cornell University and Keystone Foundation in Kotagiri, is an interdisciplinary programme, which took over three years to design, and is aimed at getting students from Cornell to team up with students from local communities to better understand issues concerning local communities, said Neema Kudva, Associate Professor at Cornell University and faculty lead of the NFLC.

Read the full article on The Hindu.

To aid Cameroon students with test prep, earn their trust

When it comes to studying for their all-important baccalaureate exam, students in Cameroon are largely left to their own devices. Now a team of Cornell researchers wants to use those devices to help them prepare for the test.

The researchers sent a series of study questions via SMS and WhatsApp to Cameroonian students – an attempt to take advantage of growing phone use by African youths to combat some of the challenges they face. The study found that while the approach holds promise, participation rates, which hovered around 20%, were influenced by students’ perceptions of the project’s trustworthiness and their own security.

“There were definitely concerns about financial or security-based scams, rumors and fake news kinds of things,” said Anthony Poon, a doctoral student in the field of information science at Cornell Tech and first author of “Engaging High School Students in Cameroon with Exam Practice Quizzes via SMS and WhatsApp,” which will be presented at the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, May 4-9 in Glasgow, Scotland.

Read the full article in the Cornell Chronicle.

Winnie Ho wins Campus-Community Leadership Award

Winnie Ho 2019 Campus-Community Leadership AwardWinnie Ho ’19 has received the 2019 Campus-Community Leadership Award. The annual honor, given by the Division of University Relations, is presented to a graduating senior who has shown exceptional town-gown leadership and innovation.

Ho, a native of Syosset, New York, is a biological sciences and sociology major in the College of Arts and Sciences, with minors in global health and inequality studies. Following graduation in May, she will be a research assistant at the Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics with Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. She then plans to pursue medicine or public policy.

Ho was honored by University Relations for her active participation and leadership on a number of shared town-gown interests, through her work as an ambassador for Engaged Cornell, with the Gamma Chapter of the co-ed service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega, and other philanthropic initiatives.

Read the full article in the Cornell Chronicle.

An Architect’s Lens on Societal Wellbeing

Mardelle Shepley Every day in the United States, it seems, there’s another gun-related crime in the news. While politicians and activists argue about the issue, Mardelle McCusky Shepley, Design and Environmental Analysis, is tackling it through the lens of architectural design.

“We have a horrific problem with guns in this country,” she says. “At the same time, there have been a number of studies that have shown when there’s more green space, violent crime goes down.”

Collaborating with Naomi A. Sachs, Design and Environmental Analysis postdoctoral associate, Christine T. Fournier, life sciences librarian at the Cornell Mann Library, and Hessam Sadatsafavi, University of Virginia School of Medicine, Shepley initially surveyed 15,000 titles on the impact of nature on the human physiological and psychological state. “There’s a huge body of literature on the subject,” she says. “But few have looked at the urban scale in very much detail.”

Read the full article on the Cornell Research website.

“SPILL” examines the human stories and lasting environmental effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill

On April 20, 2010, an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling rig set off the largest marine oil spill in history. The blowout killed eleven workers, injured dozens of others, and caused lasting environmental and economic repercussions in the Gulf of Mexico. Nine years later, how has the oil industry and our reliance on fossil fuels changed? How do the stories of those directly affected help us to make sense of climate change and economic inequality?

Developed from hundreds of interviews with survivors of the disaster and the families of those who lost their lives, Leigh Fondakowski’s SPILL explores the human stories behind the headlines. Cornell Performing and Media Arts PhD candidate Caitlin Kane directs performances of SPILL April 26–May 4 in the Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts’ Flex Theatre.

Read the full article on the College of Arts & Sciences website.

Podcast explores role of identity in youth engagement

A Burrow Cornell Cooperative Extension podcastHow can exploring identity and sense of purpose help young people get more out of programs such as 4-H?

In the latest episode of Cornell Cooperative Extension’s “Extension Out Loud” podcast, Anthony Burrow, associate professor of human development in the College of Human Ecology, shares his research on the benefits of helping youth think about long-term personal goals and self-identifying “their why” prior to introducing programming.

Burrow, co-director of the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research’s Program for Research on Youth Development and Engagement (PRYDE), suggested that before program leaders kick off activities, they lead youth participants through a series of exercises designed to identify long-term goals and prompt them to examine their future selves. Tapping into this perspective can give programming more meaning and help youth stay focused.

Read the full article in the Cornell Chronicle.

‘Explore’ Engaged Cornell with new online database

Community-engaged learning, leadership and research are happening all across Cornell. Now, thanks to a new feature on the Engaged Cornell website, information on this activity is easier than ever to find.

Explore includes projects and teams supported by grants and awards, as well as Engaged Faculty Fellows, current Engaged Ambassadors and students who have earned or are pursuing the Certificate in Engaged Leadership. Filters allow users to narrow entries down by topic area, college or school, location and specific grant, award and program.

Looking for food and agriculture projects in New York state? What about international work focused on sustainability topics? Or Engaged Curriculum Grant projects from the College of Engineering? Explore can help.

Read the full article in the Cornell Chronicle.

Students showcase their community engagement work

2019 Community Engagement ShowcaseFrom Buffalo’s snowy sidewalks to Puerto Rico’s island warmth to a newly restored library in Ghana, Cornell students work in contrasting locales with community partners around the globe – and they’re making a difference. The students shared their global experiences through posters April 15 at the 2019 Community Engagement Showcase.

“The showcase celebrates how Cornell students support global communities and connect with people who live locally or half a world away,” said Mike Bishop, director of student leadership for the Office of Engagement Initiatives. “Our students are passionate and dedicated to building relationships with their community partners.”

Community engagement takes many forms, including research and leadership, and brings about partnerships locally, domestically and globally.

“All of the students take action in some form with an off-campus partner,” Bishop said. “They may work with a nonprofit organization or a government office. Some students have conducted research, others have undertaken community organizing, and some have developed educational initiatives.”

Read the full story in the Cornell Chronicle.

Allison Arteaga ’21 receives Create Change Fellowship

Allison Arteaga Latino/a StudidesAllison Arteaga ’21, a fine arts major and a Latina/o Studies minor, was awarded the highly competitive Create Change Fellowship through The Laundromat Project. The project champions the voices, cultures, imaginations, knowledge, and leadership of people of color (POC). While supporting public art projects tackling issues like gentrification, food injustice, climate change, and community safety, the project advances artists and neighbors as change agents in their own communities.

Read the full article on the College of Arts & Sciences website.

Engaged Cornell Should be a Mantra, Not Just an Initiative

Last semester, my friend Evelyn Torres ’21 woke up at 6:30 a.m. every Wednesday to go to Belle Sherman Elementary School. There, she was a student teacher in a third-grade classroom for three hours as field work for Prof. Jeffrey Perry’s, developmental sociology, EDUC 2410: The Art of Teaching. Although I thought of the experience that prompted her tiredness later that day as a unique one among Cornell students, it turns out that there is a wide array of classes taught far above Cayuga’s waters that include in their curricula engagement in communities close to and far from the lake’s shores.

In CS 5150: Software Engineering, a group of students is working to gamify snow-shoveling so that city sidewalks aren’t impassable for pedestrians of all ages and abilities following snowstorms. This semester, a group of students in GOVT 3121: Crime and Punishment are beginning research with two Cornell professors and a colleague at Ithaca College on the challenges of re-entry faced by those who have intersected with the criminal justice system in Ithaca and Tompkins County. In DEA 2203: StudioShift and DEA 2500: The Environment and Social Behavior, students are collaborating with Tompkins County Action to design a living space for 18 to 25-year-olds who don’t have a safe place to stay at night. These are just a sampling of the various courses which make community engagement not just a supplement to the academic experience at Cornell, but an integral part of it.

And yet, there are still many syllabi, lecture halls and seminars where engagement is limited to the classroom. For every friend I have like Evelyn, I have many more whose academic experiences have been defined more by the spots they study than by interactions with people who don’t come to campus multiple days a week.

Read the full article in the Cornell Daily Sun.

Video: Ch’ol in the technological era

Carol Rose Little, Engaged Graduate Student Grant recipient, and her community partners organized a workshop called “Ch’ol in the technological era” for students and teachers from the Intercultural University of Chiapas. The goal of the workshop was to emphasize the value of the Ch’ol language and to encourage native speakers to document and use the language while there are still speakers left.

Imani Majied ’19 recounts her journey toward service

Imani Majied Engaged Ambassador - Soup and Hope, February 28, 2019Imani Majied ’19 has spent her life with labels, both negative and positive. But a haunting question posed by a friend of her mother’s, as well as her community engagement work through Cornell, have taught Majied how to move past the labels and focus on service to others and a purpose outside herself.

At Soup & Hope Feb. 28, Majied described her first understanding of labels when, at the age of 5, she learned from her suburban neighbors that – because she was black and Muslim and came from a family of modest means – others could perceive her negatively. Her well-educated parents taught her that, in spite of these labels, no one could take Majied’s background from her: They knew that education could give Majied access to a better life.

“I grew up with books and religion,” Majied told the Sage Chapel audience, which included her father, who had driven from New Jersey to hear her talk.

Majied said she thought she had moved past the negative labels when she reached high school age and a nonprofit organization made it possible for her to go to an elite boarding school.

Read the full article in the Cornell Chronicle.

Cornell librarians help train researchers in Africa

Cornell University librarians go the distance to share knowledge that makes a difference – and, in January and February, two of them traveled to Africa to help researchers advance food security and legal scholarship.

Sarah J. Wright, a life sciences librarian, taught graduate students at the West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI) in the University of Ghana; and Ariel Scotese, a law librarian and assistant director of the Legal Research Clinic, helped train nonprofit advocates in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Wright’s trip was sponsored by WACCI, a partnership between the University of Ghana and Cornell’s International Programs of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (IP-CALS). With Vernon Gracen, an adjunct professor of plant breeding and genetics, Wright taught scientific writing and library research using free and low-cost databases available through Access to Global Online Research in Agriculture (AGORA).

Read the full article in the Cornell Chronicle.

Symposium welcomes artists, public to explore feminist performance

Rhodessa Jones, visiting professor. Feminist Directions Symposium The history of feminist performance is one of radical storytelling, of showing how the personal is political, and of carving out spaces in which women can feel, in the words of performance artist Holly Hughes, “at last, fully human.”

An interdisciplinary symposium at Cornell March 15-16 will explore what this history can teach us about the future of feminism, and how we can use performance to reflect the changes we want to see.

Feminist Directions: Performance, Power and Leadership” features Hughes and other internationally acclaimed artists and directors such as visiting professor Rhodessa Jones from the College of Arts and Sciences, Tisa Chang of Pan Asian Repertory Theatre, Leigh Fondakowski of Tectonic Theatre Project and Split Britches co-founders Peggy Shaw and Lois Weaver.

Read the full article in the Cornell Chronicle.

Podcast explores role of identity in youth engagement

How can exploring identity and sense of purpose help young people get more out of programs such as 4-H?

In the latest episode of Cornell Cooperative Extension’s “Extension Out Loud” podcast, Anthony Burrow, associate professor of human development in the College of Human Ecology, shares his research on the benefits of helping youth think about long-term personal goals and self-identifying “their why” prior to introducing programming.

Burrow, co-director of the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research’s Program for Research on Youth Development and Engagement (PRYDE), suggested that before program leaders kick off activities, they lead youth participants through a series of exercises designed to identify long-term goals and prompt them to examine their future selves. Tapping into this perspective can give programming more meaning and help youth stay focused.

Read the full article in the Cornell Chronicle.

Collaborative venture helps women produce poetry from trauma

An upcoming multimedia event will showcase the collaboration of a Cornell English professor and a local filmmaker, who worked with local women to tell their stories of trauma and joy through poetry and film.

“Other Powers: Trauma Survivors Reclaim Joy,” is scheduled for 7 p.m. March 12 and 13 at Cinemapolis, 120 E. Green St. It will include a film, a talkback and readings by performance artist Leeny Sack and community actor Sherron Brown.

The project sprung to life last year when poet Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon, a professor of English, happened to sit next to  filmmaker Sue Perlgut, on a bus from New York City to Ithaca. As they chatted about their work and their lives, they realized they had common interests in telling women’s stories in creative ways.

Read the full article on the College of Arts & Sciences website.

Zine project features voices in the Latinx community

Zines have become a powerful way for marginalized communities to raise awareness about the issues affecting them. Faculty members from Cornell and Ithaca College have partnered with alumni from each school and ¡CULTURA! Ithaca to produce a Latinx and community-based zine, Bien Acompañada Press, which released its first edition this month.

Zines are small-circulation self-published works of original or appropriated texts and images. The new zine gives students a space to explore the intricacies of their identities through art.

“Zines have a multi-pronged or a multifaceted origin story such as underground and free press histories in the twentieth century, but also earlier Latin America independence and civil wars,” said Ella Maria Diaz, associate professor of Latina/o Studies and English and faculty advisor for the project. “Quite simply, they are a tangible space for the expression and circulation of voices that are often excluded from public discourse, institutions and mainstream culture.”

Read the full article on the College of Arts & Sciences website.

5 Questions with Valerie Reyna, Department for Human Development Professor and Extension Leader

Dr. Valerie Reyna is a professor and department extension leader for the Human Development department of the Cornell University College of Human Ecology. She directs the Human Neuroscience Institute and co-directs the Center for Behavioral Economics and Decision Research.

What is your role with Extension?

I’ve been director of Extension since 2005, and one of the jobs that I have is to get the word out about what people are doing in the Human Development Department. Our Department is filled with people that go into the community and do a variety of things, a lot of which takes place in New York State. We integrate fundamental, basic science with societal problems. It’s a lot of work to do both, but we think that’s where a place like Cornell–and the College of Human Ecology–fill a huge need.

How has working with CCE has informed your research?

Working with young people, adults in the community, and Extension staff have taught us a great deal about how to promote healthy choices.  For example, the content of the curriculum for reducing the risk of sexually transmitted disease and premature pregnancy has benefited from meeting with people on the front lines. We took their input and updated that curriculum. We took a curriculum, a multi-component curriculum that had some effect according to the CDC, and then we added our theoretical component to update it, magnify that effect, and make it last. We also developed an implementation manual. And all of this work benefitted enormously from  having a lot of discussions with staff in CCE as well as the people from the community. I always tell my students to do a lot of listening because people will have crucial information about the nature of their life experience.

Read the full article on the Cornell Cooperative Extension website.

“Yep, it’s Worth the Drive”

Each week for a semester, college students piled into a van for the 30-minute drive to Groton Elementary School. What the undergrads and the children enrolled in an after-school program learn from each other: priceless.

Background

A former K-12 teacher and now teaching professor at Cornell University, Bryan Duff focuses on youth development, especially in after-school and summer programs.  Because such programs can change youth trajectories, and because they are harder to access in rural areas, Duff reaches out to rural districts “near” the University each time he teaches a course. That’s because his courses on educational psychology include off-campus field-work: a chance for undergrads to use, refine, and add to what they learn on campus.

When Duff reached out in Spring 2018, Groton Elementary principal Kent Maslin reached right back. Yes, the school’s families would appreciate more after-school options. Yes, the children would enjoy regular interaction with adults who aren’t quite old enough to be their parents or teachers. And, for sure, the children’s awareness of college and of the world outside their school would grow from such contact. Duff says that such sentiments, alongside Maslin’s reciprocal concern for the learning of the college students, boded well for the partnership.

Read the full story on the Rural Schools Association of New York website.

Mellon-funded Rural Humanities initiative launches

The complex dynamics between rural and urban life have profound implications for America’s future, from the economy to the environment and beyond.

A new Rural Humanities scholarly initiative, funded for four years by a million-dollar grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, will leverage Cornell’s position in central New York to reinvigorate thinking about – and active engagement with – rural communities and landscapes. The initiative will emphasize one of Cornell’s founding principles – “knowledge with a public purpose.”

“Part of what makes Cornell so unique is that we are both rural and urban, both land grant and Ivy League. This project is a wonderful fit for Cornell, which has the mission, the mindset and the collaborative approach to learning that enables us to bring together disparate areas of study,” said President Martha E. Pollack. “We’re very grateful to the Mellon Foundation for its support, and excited to see the work that will come out of this initiative.”

“The humanities are essential to the ways in which we critically examine the past, illuminate the present and imagine possible futures,” said Ray Jayawardhana, the Harold Tanner Dean of Arts and Sciences. “I am particularly delighted that the Rural Humanities initiative will connect our scholars and students with community partners and the public at large for meaningful engagement.”

Read the full story in the Cornell Chronicle.

The Loneliness Project: Story Collection and Resources

Loneliness has been growing as a serious public health concern and it has been especially increasing among young people. The suicide rate among teens doubled from 2007 and 2015. Over the last few months, the Ithaca Voice has teamed up with WRFI, Ithaca College Park Scholars, and the Cornell Daily Sun to dive deep into the issue of loneliness and its impact on mental health here in Tompkins County.

Some of the stories included in this project have covered how social media negatively and positively impacts mental health; how local colleges are handling students in crisis; what parents and schools are doing to curb bullying; and what local resources are available.

As part of this collaborative project, our goal was also to empower the young journalists working with us to explore why suicide and loneliness are on the rise. Throughout the series, student and professional journalists have talked to peers and experts to break down stigmas surrounding suicide, loneliness and mental health to find better ways to combat the epidemic.

The project has been funded by Engaged Cornell and the Sophie Fund.

Read the full story in the Ithaca Voice.

Students, faculty shape global effort to cool a warming world

Cornell students at COP24In a whirlwind of seminars, speeches, plenary sessions and corridor conversations, 17 Cornell students and six faculty sought to cool a warming planet.

The 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change – better known as COP24 – was held Dec. 3-17 in Katowice, Poland, as the Cornell students and educators spoke at press conferences, organized side events, spoke to climate change professionals from hundreds of countries and absorbed volumes of scientific detail.

Caroline Dodd ’19 met Fekitamoeloa Katoa ‘Utoikamanu from Tonga, the United Nations’ High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States. Dodd and other Cornell students Skye Hart ’18, MRP ’19, Zeyu Hu ’19, Carly Shonbrun-Siege ’18 and Venus Dulani ’19, worked remotely with ‘Utoikamanu and other Tongan officials during the fall semester in Cornell’s Global Climate Science and Policy class taught by Allison Chatrchyan, director of the Cornell Institute for Climate Smart Solutions and a COP24 Cornell trip organizer; Natalie Mahowald, professor of earth and atmospheric sciences and a faculty director at the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future; Linda Shi, assistant professor of city and regional planning; and Sharon Sassler, professor of policy analysis and management.

Read the full article in the Cornell Chronicle.

Prison Education Program Aims to ‘Change the System’ for Incarcerated Individuals

Cornell Prison Education Program classAfter being arrested for an unlawful altercation, Darnell Epps ’21 and his brother Darryl served 17-and-a-half years in prison. They had “little reason to be optimistic,” they told the Cornell Chronicle, until they enrolled in the Cornell Prison Education Program.

The program, which provides college courses to inmates at maximum and medium security prisons in upstate New York, aims to “counter a culture of punishment that predominates in the correctional system today,” said Robert Scott, executive director of the Cornell Prison Education Program.

In the program, students enroll in courses covering topics ranging from immunology and science fiction to the Supreme Court and algebra. Scott stated that the program, which has been running for several years, is also helping to launch computer labs.

“Imagine taking a Cornell class where you couldn’t even use an encyclopedia to look something up, let alone the internet,” Scott said. “This might seem basic but in prison people are still using typewriters and cassette tape players — Walkmans.”

Correctional education programs have been found to boost post-release employment and reduce recidivism, according to a 2013 study sponsored by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Some students decide to continue higher education after their release; Epps now studies government in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Read the full article in the Cornell Daily Sun.

Historic building is hub for Cornell in NYC

ILR building in NYCCornell is extending its reach in New York City while creating new opportunities for collaboration.

On Jan. 2, the School of Industrial and Labor Relations’ new NYC headquarters and conference center opened in the historic General Electric building (formerly the RCA Victor building) at 570 Lexington Ave. in midtown Manhattan. Rebuilt with state-of-the-art technology, the new space will enhance ILR’s service to individuals, businesses, unions, government and other institutions, and expand its educational outreach to the thousands of people who take ILR classes in New York City or participate in its training sessions each year.

In addition, nine other colleges, units or programs are moving their New York City operations into the ILR space, while Weill Cornell Medicine has had offices in the building since July 2018.

“This new Manhattan hub creates a shared home for a wide range of Cornell programs and offices in New York City, strengthening our downstate presence, the connections between our upstate and downstate campuses, and the connection between Cornell and New York state more broadly,” said Cornell President Martha E. Pollack. “It will support expanded opportunities for faculty research, student learning and public engagement, all in a wonderful new space that encourages collaboration across many disciplines.”

Read the full article in the Cornell Chronicle.

Ithaca Community Contributes to the Global Conversation on Climate Change

City and regional planning (CRP) students enrolled in a cross-disciplinary class titled Global Climate Change Science and Policy recently helped organize a public Talanoa dialogue for Ithaca and Tompkins County. According to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), “The process of Talanoa involves the sharing of ideas, skills, and experience through storytelling    . . . Talanoa fosters stability and inclusiveness in dialogue by creating a safe space that embraces mutual respect for a platform for decision making for a greater good.”

CRP students included Venus Dulani (B.S. URS ’19), Rhea Lopes (M.R.P. ’19), Khyati Rathore (M.R.P. ’19), and Syke Hart (M.R.P. ’20). The class worked primarily with one of their instructors, Allison Chatrchyan, director of the Cornell Institute for Climate Smart Solutions, and the Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative (TCCPI) to hold the dialogue and collect stories from the community about the local impacts of climate change.

Approximately 20 people attended the Ithaca event and shared their stories in response to three main questions posed by the students: “‘Where are we?’, ‘Where do we want to go?’ and, ‘How do we get there?'” According to the summarizing report, community members voiced concerns related to extreme weather events, the gradual loss of green spaces that help keep temperatures down, toxic algal blooms in Cayuga Lake that can be tied to rising water temperatures, and possible solutions to these local problems.

Read the full article on the College of Architecture, Art & Planning website.

Summit keynote outlines peril climate change poses for indigenous peoples

Shorna Allred, Keynote at 2018 Sustainability SummitIn this era of rising atmospheric temperatures, Shorna Allred worries about preserving the world’s indigenous societies.

“Indigenous people around the world are incredibly important when we think – in terms of climate change and impact – about what is happening to our planet,” said Allred, associate professor of natural resources, in her Dec. 6 keynote address at Cornell’s 2018 Sustainability Leadership Summit. Each year leaders across campus gather to discuss and find ways to make the campus sustainable.

Allred, who is also associate director of Cornell’s Center for Conservation Social Sciences, discussed her work with indigenous populations and their vulnerability due to climate change

Indigenous territories hold 80 percent of the world’s biodiversity and cover 24 percent of the Earth’s surface, she said. “But when you look at economic indicators, indigenous people are 5 percent of the world’s population and represent 15 percent of the world’s poor,” said Allred, who received Cornell’s third annual Engaged Scholar Prize last April.

Read the full article in the Cornell Chronicle.

Undergrad’s project part of effort to save Javan rhinos

Rhinoceroses are instantly recognizable by their rumpled gray skin, immense snouts and iconic horns, but not so much their voices.

That could change thanks to the efforts of Montana Stone ’19, who is working to document the vocalizations of Javan rhinos through a collaboration with the Lab of Ornithology’s Bioacoustics Research Program and Indonesia’s Ujung Kulon National Park.

Stone’s project began in summer 2017, when she visited West Java as part of the Conservation with Communities for One Health course. Funded through Engaged Cornell, the One Health course sends multidisciplinary teams of undergraduate and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine students to Indonesia, Uganda and the Republic of the Congo to collaborate with groups like the Jane Goodall Institute in Africa and the Alliance of Integrated Forest Conservation in Indonesia.

Working with course leader Robin Radcliffe, senior lecturer in wildlife and conservation medicine, Stone began analyzing the sounds of rhinos captured on archival video recordings from Ujung Kulon and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) over the last decade. While the park uses camera traps to monitor the size of the critically endangered rhino population, no one had focused on the vocalizations before.

Read the full article in the Cornell Chronicle.

Moseley receives Engaged Cornell faculty award

Jeanne Mosely 2019 Levy Award winnerJeanne Moseley, director of the Global Health Program and senior lecturer in the Division of Nutritional Sciences, has been awarded Cornell University’s George D. Levy Faculty Award. The honor, part of Engaged Cornell, recognizes a faculty member whose collaborative efforts within the community have resulted in exemplary and sustained community-engaged projects. Moseley was honored for her leadership of the division’s Tanzania Summer Program, which she helped create in 2007. Katherine McComas, vice provost for engagement and land-grant affairs, named Moseley the 2019 recipient Dec. 3.

Since joining the division’s Global Health Program in 2006 as a program coordinator, Moseley has worked closely with faculty and staff in the division and in other Cornell colleges to develop global service learning and internship programs to promote student engagement in global and public health. She is currently responsible for the direct administration and implementation of Global Health partnerships and summer programs in the Dominican Republic, Tanzania and Zambia.

“Jeanne is an enthusiastic, collaborative and dedicated colleague, who cares deeply for her students, her colleagues and for the sustained development of meaningful and reciprocal partnerships,” said Dr. Rachel Manongi, associate professor in the Institute of Public Health at Kilimanjaro Christian Medical University College (KCMUCo) in Tanzania, which partners with the Global Health Program to enhance the cross-cultural competence of Tanzanian medical students and Cornell undergraduates.

Read the full article in the Cornell Chronicle.

Engaged Cornell grants support BCTR youth research

BCTR researchers have just received grants from Engaged Cornell that will help to connect their youth research and learning to local communities.

portrait of Jane Powers in a black turtleneck

ACT for Youth Director Jane Powers received a $5,000 Engaged Opportunity Grant to work with undergraduate design students and two Tompkins County organizations on interior designs for a new youth homeless shelter.

And Max Kelly, an undergraduate Human Biology Health and Society major and research assistant with ACT for Youth, received a $1,000 grant to analyze how gender and sexual identity affect youth’s access to health care.

The grants are part of a university-wide program to build community engagement by creating partnerships between students, faculty and local organizations.

Read the full article on the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research website.

NYS partnership liaison facilitates community-Cornell collaborations

Dhyana Gonzalez - Trustee Council Annual MeetingA new position in the Office of Engagement Initiatives (OEI) is supporting units across the university and community partners to increase access to statewide community-engaged learning and research experiences.

Based in Ithaca, Dhyana Gonzalez is OEI’s New York partnership liaison, and can be a first point of contact for faculty, staff and community organizations interested in building new or advancing existing university-community collaborations.

“Cornell has a deep history of public engagement and many models of strong, reciprocal partnerships throughout New York,” said Gonzalez. “I’m excited to be working with and learning from these long-established programs and also facilitate opportunities for new or enhanced collaborations across all Cornell’s colleges.”

Read the full article in the Cornell Chronicle.

Grad Students Prepare for Community-Engagement Experiences

To help fulfill what Cornell President Martha E. Pollack describes as Cornell’s determination to serve the greater good through public engagement, the inaugural Engaged Graduate Student Institute brought students from programs across campus together Nov. 9 to learn how to conduct research while making a positive impact on the community.

The Engaged Cornell event on community-engaged learning and research had interactive sessions that focused on best practices in community partnership, critical reflection, how to include community voice in research, and standards of practice in community engagement.

“At its core, it’s about being involved, building relationships, collaborating with off-campus partners in some way to benefit the public good,” said Mike Bishop, director of student leadership in the Office of Engagement Initiatives, which organized the institute.

Read the full article on the Graduate School website.

Student Spotlight on Anthony Poon: Improving High School Graduation Rates in Cameroon

Anthony PoonCameroon, like much of sub-saharan Africa, is facing the prospect of educating and employing an unprecedentedly large generation of young people. According to the CIA World Factbook, 42 percent of the Cameroonian population is 14 years old or younger. Anthony Poon, a Cornell Ph.D. student studying information science, is working on test preparation technology initiatives to improve high school graduation rates in Cameroon.

“The baccalaureate exam is super critical to getting professional jobs and higher education,” Poon said, referring to the Cameroonian equivalent of a high school graduation exam.

Poon said he wanted to give students regular messages to motivate them to study during their unstructured study month between the end of high school and before the baccalaureate exam.

Practice multiple choice questions for the exam were sent a few times a week to students from the three schools participating in the initial pilot program. The goal of this system was to provide “study materials, a constant, regular reminder, and feedback on their scores,” Poon said.

Read the full article in the Cornell Daily Sun.

Linguistics grad student partners with Mayan speaker for preservation research

Cornell PhD candidate Carol-Rose Little has had a long-standing fascination with languages of other cultures. “I’ve had an interest in languages since I knew other languages existed in the world,” Little said. “During my undergraduate time (at McGill University), I started working with a community out in Eastern Canada and that’s what really opened my eyes to how my love of language can be beneficial to communities that are trying to preserve their language.”

Little went on to earn a master’s degree from Cornell’s linguistics department, and now spends her time researching and preserving Ch’ol, a Mayan language spoken by around 220,000 people in Southern Mexico. Little works with speakers to document and analyze its linguistic features by recording, transcribing and translating the language. Little’s research focuses on the structure of Ch’ol grammar and how context affects the interpretation of sentences.

Little attributes the success of her research to the guidance provided by Cornell’s linguistics department.

Read the full article on the College of Arts & Sciences website.

Cornell, community partners help drive Buffalo’s revival

Buffalo West Side

In 2005, Buffalo’s West Side was in rough shape. Aaron Bartley saw a need for action on community development, and set about building a base of support among the neighborhood’s residents.

“We were up at around 20 to 25 percent vacant housing,” said Bartley, a Buffalo native who co-founded PUSH Buffalo to address the problem. “Once you hit 30-35 percent, neighborhoods become very vacant very quickly. There’s a threshold point at which things just spiral.

“Everywhere you turn you have talented individuals and you also have this incredible built landscape of Victorian homes that have become vacant, and the nexus of those needs and interests and passions was the genesis of PUSH,” he said.

PUSH, which stands for People United for Sustainable Housing, has worked with Cornell in Buffalo and the School of Industrial and Labor Relations (ILR) since 2007. Since then, the nonprofit group has improved 120 parcels of land on the West Side, rehabilitating derelict and abandoned properties into sustainable housing and creating community gardens and urban green spaces on vacant lots. The improvements, including developing 102 new units of rental housing and four commercial units on the West Side, are a source of pride for people living in the culturally diverse neighborhood.

Read the full article in the Cornell Chronicle.

Pollack highlights Cornell, Rotary similarities

President Pollack - Rotary 11082018In her first remarks to the Rotary Club of Ithaca Nov. 7, Cornell President Martha E. Pollack noted the ways the university’s key priorities – especially its commitment to diversity and engagement – intersect with the mission and priorities of Rotary.

As a land-grant institution, Cornell improves not only the lives of its students, but also the communities and nations where they live and work, Pollack said, noting, “Our goal is to support a thriving culture of open-mindedness and intellectual rigor.” By encouraging creativity, teamwork and problem-solving, Cornell prepares students to be responsible citizens and leaders, she said.

“Like Rotary, Cornell has a foundational commitment to diversity,” Pollack said. “The value of diversity goes far beyond equality of access, whether to the worldwide network of Rotary, or to a world-class education at Cornell.” This focus on diversity and inclusion – welcoming students and faculty from all backgrounds and working to create a campus climate in which every member is valued – does more than create a better environment for Cornell students, Pollack said; it reflects and prepares them for the “global community that is more connected today than it ever was before.”

Read the full article in the Cornell Chronicle.

Trustees and Council members hear student stories during TCAM 2018

Students were the focus of the Trustee Council Annual Meeting (TCAM) Nov. 1-3 on the Ithaca campus. More than 650 of Cornell’s most engaged volunteers—members of the Cornell University Council and the Cornell University Board of Trustees—gathered to learn about and connect with students and, through this lens of the theme “Student Stories,” stay up to date on the state of the university.

The meeting gives trustees and Council members, who serve as ambassadors for Cornell, an annual update and inside look at the university. These alumni volunteers were excited to hear about the university from students themselves, said Laura Denbow, senior director of the Office of Volunteer Programs. She added that many personal connections started between alumni and students throughout the three days.

“I felt a story line,” she said. “Everyone wanted to contribute to the story. Everyone wanted the students to tell the stories.”

Read the full article on the Alumni Affairs and Development website.

Research Aimed at Improved Health Care

Nikolaus Krachler MS/Ph.D. ’20 knows what it’s like to be a health care worker with ideas for improving patient care, but with no one willing to listen.

“When I was a paramedic in Austria, I observed how hospitals and medical practices worked and how their policies affected patients with chronic conditions,” said Krachler, a doctoral candidate based in ILR’s Department of International and Comparative Labor.

“I also noticed there were big differences in status among health care workers, and being paramedics, we were looked at as pretty low in the health care system’s status hierarchy. That showed me that status differences between occupations are an important dimension in understanding how health care works.”

That experience planted the seed for Krachler’s research into improving care coordination programs that track medical and social services care for people with chronic conditions in the United States and United Kingdom – and how health care workers can play a critical role in breaking down communication barriers facing those patients.

Read the full article on the ILR School website.

New Podcast Released by Cornell Students Aims to Increase Climate Change Literacy

New forms of science communication are constantly emerging. While books, journals, and newspapers still contribute to furthering science literacy, members of younger generations are now turning to online sources to educate themselves on the latest scientific developments. One of the more popular online sources are podcasts: a hands-free way of absorbing concise information in the car, at the gym or walking to class. For college students, this form of media is especially appealing due to the lack of reading required ­— a refreshing break from the often cumbersome amount of pages assigned to students on a weekly basis.

This semester, the Cornell Institute for Climate Smart Solutions has joined the podcast trend with the release of its new student-run podcast, Down to Earth: Cornell Conversations About… The podcast is meant to serve as an open discussion about climate change led by students who are both interested in and knowledgeable about various relevant topics such as sustainable development, climate justice issues and biodiversity threats.

The idea is to “bring the conversation back to climate,” said Danielle Eiseman, the podcast’s faculty supervisor, in its premiere episode. Eiseman also serves as program director of CICSS. The podcast first began development last November after Eiseman pitched the idea to Engaged Cornell. After receiving funding and holding tryouts for members of the student community at the end of last semester, five undergraduate students of various years, majors, backgrounds and interests were selected to participate.

Read the full article in the Cornell Daily Sun.

Job posting: OEI Domestic Logistics Coordinator

Administered by OEI, the Domestic Logistics Coordinator is charged with supporting colleges and units throughout Cornell to facilitate access to US-based, off-campus educational opportunities for students, faculty and staff.

The Domestic Logistics Coordinator will serve as Cornell’s chief liaison for providing, compiling and maintaining resources that support operations associated with domestic off-campus learning experiences, including those in community engagement. The Coordinator will play a key role in removing barriers for student participation in off-campus experiences throughout the US and streamline operational processes to facilitate this involvement. The Coordinator will leverage off-campus resources and connections to clarify and provide consistency on issues related to risk management, transportation and housing for students, faculty and staff involved in these efforts. The Coordinator’s responsibilities will also include: the identification of necessary resources; cultivation of best practices; and the promotion of helpful tools to expand opportunities for domestic off-campus learning.

Full job posting for external candidates.

Full job posting for internal candidates.

Portal connects Pollack to Afghan girls who code

Cornell Portal - President PollackOn a crisp and sunny morning, President Martha E. Pollack and a small group of Cornell leaders walked into a gold-painted shipping container outside Olin Library and were instantly transported to Herat, Afghanistan.

Known as the Cornell Portal, the shipping container helps “bring the world to Cornell and bring Cornell to the world” and offers the university community opportunities to share experiences and ideas with different cultures, according to Gerald R. Beasley, the Carl A. Kroch University Librarian. It is part of the Portals project, an immersive public art experience created by Shared Studios, with installations around the nation and in other countries – from Andover, Massachusetts, to San Pedro Sula, Honduras.

Joining Pollack and Beasley on Oct. 5 were Katherine McComas, vice provost for engagement and land-grant affairs, and Wendy Wolford, vice provost for international affairs. In the portal in Herat, Afghanistan, were representatives from Code to Inspire, which teaches girls computer coding, web developing and app making. The school was founded in 2015 after Herat broke free from Taliban rule, and it has taught an estimated 150 students to date, according to its website.

Read the full article in the Cornell Chronicle.

Extension interns share experiences with NY communities

Tyler Brewer CCE presentationsFrom New York City and Long Island to western New York and the north country, 28 Cornell undergraduates spent their summer making a Big Red impression all across the Empire State.

As part of the Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) internship program, the students gained valuable applied research experience while helping to fill the essential role Cornell plays in New York communities as the state’s land-grant university.

The 2018 internship projects, proposed by faculty and staff from the College of Human Ecology (CHE) and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS), ranged from tick management and local food communications to mapping opioid addiction resources and helping farmers respond to climate change. Faculty members and CCE educators oversaw and supported the projects while students administered them from local CCE offices.

Read the full article in the Cornell Chronicle.

Master of Public Health Program plans local nutrition, disease prevention projects

Students in the newly-launched Master of Public Health (MPH) program at Cornell are working to put their public health education into action in the local community, with three projects focused on addressing food accessibility and vector-borne disease in Tompkins County.

These projects are part of the program’s Engaged Cornell-supported course, Public Health Planning, in which students apply and extend their classroom learning in tangible ways by working on real needs with community partners. “The MPH program promotes equitable and sustainable advancements in health and wellbeing for the people of New York and around the world,” said associate director Gen Meredith. “This course gives our students a chance to put that mission into practice.”

Read the full article on the One Health @ Cornell website.

Service fair promotes campus-community engagement

A service fair highlighting the work of a range of groups, from the Youth Farm Project to the Advocacy Center of Tompkins County, Challenge Workforce Solutions and Mayor Potencial, will be held Oct. 3, 3:30-6 p.m. on the Cornell Arts Quad. The fair is free and open to the public.

The fair will give Cornell students, staff and faculty the opportunity to learn how to become engaged with the work of about 50 off-campus organizations, either as volunteers or interns – or just to learn about the wide range of change efforts underway in the Tompkins County area.

“I hope that, by attending the fair, students gain an understanding of the wide array of organizations found in Ithaca and just how many opportunities there are for them to get involved,” said Samantha Lustig ’21, chair of the City and Local Affairs Committee of the Student Assembly. “These organizations deal with many different issues, so no matter what a student is interested in they should be able to find something they’re passionate about. And, by serving the local community, students can gain a greater appreciation of their roles and responsibilities as members of the Ithaca and Tompkins County communities.”

Read the full article in the Cornell Chronicle.

$1.7 million Mellon grant fortifies prison education

Five Points graduation - May 2018The Cornell Prison Education Program (CPEP) has received a grant for $1.7 million to ensure the success of ongoing efforts to accelerate degree completion for incarcerated college students, to look at the benefits of college-in-prison in the broader society, and facilitate Cornell students’ education and engagement in criminal justice reform.

The grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation allows CPEP to build upon work initiated with the support of the foundation – specifically, the program will optimize its educational offerings across four prisons, increase the number of courses offered and enhance programming and curricular engagement for Cornell student contributors.

CPEP aims to provide a model for prison education statewide and nationally, and to contribute in the long term to a reduction in the number of incarcerated Americans.

The grant would not only fortify the existing effort, but allow the study of outcomes and impacts of the program in prison and on campus, said Robert Scott, CPEP executive director.

Read the full article in the Cornell Chronicle.

Grants create community-engaged opportunities for students

The Office of Engagement Initiatives has awarded nearly $840,000 to 21 teams of faculty and community partners that are integrating community engagement into majors and minors across the university.

The 2018–19 Engaged Curriculum Grant teams include more community partners and Cornell departments than ever before – 77 and 48, respectively. Fourteen projects include partners from New York state communities – from Rochester to Ithaca to New York City – while seven projects include international partners.

“Infusing community engagement into the curriculum is a key way for all Cornell students to engage with local and global communities,” said Katherine McComas, vice provost for engagement and land-grant affairs. “We’re especially excited that a quarter of this year’s projects provide opportunities for first- and second-year students. Many current community-engaged learning courses are open to upperclassmen and graduate students, so it’s wonderful to support increased opportunities for all students to engage with communities.”

Read the full article in the Cornell Chronicle.

Cornell, Tanzanian students share knowledge in new exchange program

Cornell Tanzanian exchangeA new exchange program will present biomedical students from Cornell and the Arusha Technical College (ATC) in Tanzania with unique opportunities from opposite sides of the globe.

Beginning in the spring 2019 semester, the program will allow students from Cornell’s Meinig School of Biomedical Engineering to travel to Tanzania and work with ATC engineers to repair equipment in medical facilities.

“The students at ATC have great skills and a lot of knowledge of how devices work and how they sometimes fail in clinics and hospitals,” said Nozomi Nishimura, assistant professor of biomedical engineering and co-founder of the program along with Chris Schaffer, associate professor of biomedical engineering.

Read the full article in the Cornell Chronicle.