Burrow, Felippe named provost’s fellows for public engagement

Faculty members Anthony Burrow and Julia Felippe, Ph.D. ’02, have been appointed provost’s fellows for public engagement, to advance Cornell’s public engagement mission and initiatives around community-engaged learning and research.

Burrow and Felippe will work to advance strategies for broader faculty and student participation, specifically within units having fewer existing opportunities for students; and curricular and co-curricular opportunities that will improve the quality of student learning experiences and community outcomes. Their appointments are for three years. They will report to Vice Provost for Engagement and Land-Grant Affairs Katherine McComas, Ph.D. ’00.

Working with the vice provost’s office and Office of Engagement Initiatives staff, collaborators and advisory groups, the fellows will have an active role in helping to develop, implement and evaluate strategy supporting community-engaged learning as a hallmark of the Cornell experience. Objectives include 100% undergraduate participation by 2025 in activities with measurable community impact.

Read the full story in the Cornell Chronicle.

Staff share experiences in community-engaged work

Cornell staff members from across campus took part in the second Community Engagement Staff Institute, Jan. 7 in the Biotechnology Building.

The biennial event, organized by the Cornell Public Service Center (PSC) and the Office of Engagement Initiatives, is for staff working with students and faculty involved in community-engaged learning. More than 70 staff members from Student and Campus Life and various units, schools and colleges attended.

“Many times, students will remember those activities that took place outside of the classroom as being more fundamental to forming who they are and their career options and their identities than necessarily a course that they took,” said Katherine McComas, vice provost for engagement and land-grant affairs. “In all cases, how you encourage students to work with and learn from community members is also important, to ensure that they’re having a positive impact as they learn.”

Read the full article in the Cornell Chronicle.


Engagement grant will help support disability advocacy

When 2019 comes to a close, so will the Yang-Tan Institute’s Partners in Policymaking class, taught for 10 years through grants from the New York State Developmental Disabilities Planning Council.

The program will continue, however, supported through an Engaged Opportunity Grant awarded through Cornell’s Office of Engagement Initiatives, which will fund some of the activities.

“This is critically important work,” project director Carol Blessing said. “Lives are changed because of this program. The end of state financial support does not end the need for quality leadership and advocacy training for New Yorkers living with disabilities.”

Read the full story in the Cornell Chronicle.

West Virginians show Cornellians a new world

Lee Adler never planned to take 11 students on a week-long trip to West Virginia.

In fact, the ILR lecturer who routinely teaches upper-level and graduate courses in employment law and public sector policy had no intentions of creating a new class at all.

All he really wanted was just a little travel money to fund his passion project – interviewing community organizers in Appalachia about the work that was done there in the 1960s and 1970s.

Adler, who worked as a civil rights and labor and criminal lawyer in West Virginia for nearly 20 years before arriving at ILR in the mid-1990s, saw the work being done by those volunteers and activists first-hand. As a young lawyer he helped the underrepresented, the working class and their unions, and widows and coal miners with black lung disease claims. He also won a pair of landmark discrimination cases involving national origin, equal pay and sex discrimination. This was also when he met a multitude of dedicated individuals, many of whom were working through VISTA, established by President Lyndon B. Johnson to fight the War on Poverty.

Read the full story on the ILR School website.

Applications open for community-engaged learning grants

The Office of Engagement Initiatives is accepting applications for grants to fund faculty, staff and students who are launching, advancing or participating in community-engaged learning at Cornell.

The five open funding mechanisms support a wide range of opportunities, including curricular, co-curricular, research and leadership. Previously funded projects have come from every school and college at Cornell, and have included partners from Ithaca and around the world.

Read the full announcement in the Cornell Chronicle.

Cornell’s shelter medicine program brings veterinary wellness to Schuyler County

In 2019, Maddie’s® Shelter Medicine Program at Cornell provided four one-day veterinary wellness clinics to pets of low-income residents of Schuyler County, New York. The goal of these clinics was to provide pets, who might not otherwise have access to veterinary care, with routine wellness checkups, necessary vaccinations and assessment for further care that they might need.

An Engaged Opportunity Grant (EOG) from the Office of Engagement Initiatives funded this community-engaged project. EOGs are available to Cornell faculty and staff, providing funding of up to $5,000 in support of projects that not only involve collaboration with community partners, but also provide Cornell students with community engagement opportunities. Proposed projects must give evidence of community-identified need, as well as feasibility of addressing this specific need in partnership with the community.

Read the full story on the College of Veterinary Medicine website.

Student engineers to ply their green skills in NYC

Cornell engineering students are working with an Ithaca, New York, engineering firm to help New York City lower its carbon footprint.

Taitem Engineering has partnered with the students on a heating system retrofit project in an apartment building on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

The building will switch from using fuel oil for steam heating to using electricity to power heat pumps. While Taitem Engineering is responsible for designing the new heat pump system, Cornell students, as independent auditors, will quantify the energy and environmental performance of both systems.

Read the full article in the Cornell Chronicle.

Students pair ballet and books in Ithaca outreach program

Most Saturdays during the school year, 4-year-old Gemma Phipps heads to the Southside Community Center with her mom to practice her arabesques, her plies – and her reading skills.

Phipps is one of 32 children participating in Ballet and Books, a program organized by Talia Bailes ’20, who’s studying global and public health sciences in the College of Human Ecology. Bailes started the program, now in its third year, to boost literacy among children from pre-K through third grade.

Bailes danced and taught during high school, and then spent a year after high school teaching young students in Ecuador. She came back interested in child development and literacy, so she worked in a pediatrician’s lab in her hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio, where she learned more about how literacy, race, poverty and other factors affected children’s health.

“I really believe in community engagement so when I came to Cornell, I was looking for ways to get involved and I started working with Southside,” she said. “I wondered how I could be an agent of change and combine the development of children’s minds with dance.”

Read the full article in the Cornell Chronicle.

Cornell support for NY farmworkers wins national recognition

Cornell has received a national award for its support of farmworkers across New York state. The honor recognizes a variety of programs that collaborate with farmworkers, a population facing numerous challenges including social isolation, workplace safety issues and heightened immigration enforcement.

The C. Peter Magrath Community Engagement Scholarship Award, which includes $20,000, was announced Nov. 10 at the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities’ (APLU) annual meeting in San Diego.

“We applaud Cornell for its comprehensive work to improve the lives of farmworkers,” said APLU President Peter McPherson. “Public and land-grant universities play a unique role in serving underserved populations. Cornell’s community engagement work powerfully illustrates the impact an institution can have – not just on a specific population, but across an entire region.”

Read the full article in the Cornell Chronicle.

Play looks at how climate change will impact Ithaca’s future

It is the year 2030 and parts of Ithaca are under water. The future is at stake as the ravages of climate change erode this community’s way of life, leaving a city wondering: Who survives? Who decides?

“The Next Storm,” Nov. 15-23 at the Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts, is a community-based play by the Department of Performing and Media Arts (PMA) in the College of Arts and Sciences, partnering with Ithaca-based theater company Civic Ensemble and playwright Thomas Dunn.

Godfrey L. Simmons Jr., Civic Ensemble co-artistic director and PMA senior lecturer, directs this wry comedy presented in the style of a “living newspaper.” The play was developed over the course of several classes at Cornell and through multiple story circles and interviews with community members, according to Sara Warner, producer and associate professor in PMA.

Read the full article in the Cornell Chronicle.

Symposium seeks to beat back ‘zombies,’ grow sustainable housing

It sounds like a scene from a scary Halloween movie: Neighborhoods are plagued by abandoned, dangerously dilapidated houses that threaten safety, attract crime and sap community spirit.

In fact, so-called “zombie homes” – often left vacant and unmaintained during prolonged foreclosure proceedings – are a serious problem that drew experts from academia, government and nonprofit organizations to Cornell Oct. 23-24 for a symposium focused on revitalizing afflicted communities across New York state.

Cornell’s Community and Regional Development Institute (CaRDI) hosted the program, “From Zombies and Vacants to Sustainable Housing: Building Resilient Communities.” Partners included the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, Rust2Green and Cornell’s Office of Engagement Initiatives. More than 125 participants discussed sustainable housing, community health and success stories, seeking opportunities for new partnerships.

Read the full article in the Cornell Chronicle.

Students to prep youth with disabilities for employment

In 2018, professors Kelly Clark and Thomas Golden of the Yang Tan Institute on Employment and Disability were named Faculty Fellows in Engaged Learning – earning stipends to enhance the institute’s mission of creating courses that take Cornell students out of the classroom to grapple with real-world issues.

With their funding, Clark and Golden developed a partnership with the Tompkins-Seneca-Tioga Board of Cooperative Educational Services (TST BOCES) to teach a new course, “It Takes Work: Innovations in Law and Practice to Advance Employment for Students with Disabilities.”

“Domestically, students and youth with disabilities are less likely to be employed, graduate and be economically self-sufficient than their non-disabled counterparts,” Golden said. “This is not an acceptable outcome in the 21st century.”

Read the full article in the Cornell Chronicle.

Cornell Tech opens computer security clinic for victims of tech-enabled intimate partner violence

Cornell Tech announced today its Computer Security Clinic for Victims of Intimate Partner Violence, a crucial step in sustaining and expanding the clinic’s groundbreaking work with vulnerable people. An interdisciplinary research team at Cornell Tech, with collaborators from Cornell University in Ithaca and New York University, created the clinic to help survivors of intimate partner violence (IPV) determine whether their abusers are using technology as a tool to harm them.

The misuse of smartphone technology, social media websites, and other aspects of digital life by abusive spouses and partners has become an increasingly urgent problem in the United States. Since 2016, a group of researchers at Cornell Tech have been documenting how abusers can misuse technology to track and harass others. In tandem, the group has been running the Computer Security Clinic, which works directly with IPV survivors in partnership with the New York City Mayor’s Office to End Domestic and Gender Based Violence.

Read the full article on the Cornell Tech website.

Bryan Duff receives Racker Community Partner Award

For the past six years, Bryan Duff, senior lecturer in the department of development sociology, has supervised Cornell undergrads interning for Racker’s Partnership Program—a specialized preschool that integrates children on the autism spectrum with typically-developing peers.

On Oct. 10, Duff received the Racker Community Partner Award for Tompkins County, given to someone in the community who works to improve the lives of people with disabilities.

“Bryan Duff has been a wonderful partner from Cornell University,” said Annemarie Mattison, MSW, LSWR, a clinical social worker at Racker. “Bryan carefully identifies students who are interested in learning more about children with autism . Not only does he oversee the work of his students, he visits the classroom often—he truly supports our mission and the kids love him!”

Read the full article on the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences website.

Nominations sought for community-engaged learning awards

Two faculty awards recognizing excellence in community-engaged learning are open for nominations. Both awards are administered by the Office of Engagement Initiatives.

The annual George D. Levy Faculty Award recognizes a faculty member whose community collaborations serve as models for outstanding community-engaged learning in higher education. The Engaged Scholar Prize is given annually to a faculty member whose innovative approaches to connecting community engagement and scholarly activities stand out and serve as inspiration to students, colleagues and community partners.

Read the full article in the Cornell Chronicle.

Students have ‘eye-opening’ experiences at Climate Week NYC

Cornell students met with officials from the Kingdom of Tonga at Climate Week NYC in late September. Lily Bermel ’21, Read Barbee ’20, master’s student Louis Chua, Kevin Li ’20 and Katherine Ratner ’20 will spend October and November creating a report for Tonga and other Pacific nations that can be used at the forthcoming 2019 United Nations’ Conference of the Parties, or COP25, meetings in December in Santiago, Chile.

In New York City, the students – participating in Cornell’s Global Climate Change Science and Policy class – met with Tonga’s Mahe Tupouniua, secretary of foreign affairs; T. Suka Mangisi, deputy chief of mission; Rose Kautoke, assistant crown council; and Siosiua Utoi’kamanu, Tonga’s representative for the U.N.’s Law of the Sea convention.

Read the full article in the Cornell Chronicle.

Zombies breathe life into sustainable housing summit

Policymakers, municipal officials and state agencies aim to bring New York state’s unused housing – downtrodden dwellings and distressed vacant eyesores – back from the dead.

To do that, Cornell’s Community and Regional Development Institute (CaRDI) hosts “From Zombies to Vacants to Sustainable Housing: Building Resilient Communities,” a symposium Oct. 23-24 at Warren Hall on the Cornell campus. The symposium will feature talks, panels, workshops and discussion on strategies, trends and policies.

Read the full article in the Cornell Chronicle.

Cornell tackles ‘migrations’ global challenge

Researchers from every corner of Cornell are mobilizing to tackle one of the grand challenges of the modern era.

The new initiative – Migrations: Researching, Teaching and Building for a World on the Move – was officially launched Oct. 1 with a panel discussion and interactive tour of a special exhibit on migration, how the light gets in, at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art.

Cornell’s inaugural Global Grand Challenge grew out of a symposium held last November and a subsequent task force of 16 faculty members, representing nine colleges and schools, who identified focal areas and activities of interest.

The topic of migrations is both timely and in keeping with the university’s mission and values, according to Provost Michael Kotlikoff.

“From our founding more than 150 years ago as the land-grant university of New York state, all the way to the present, our mission has always included bringing knowledge to bear for public benefit, and to meet the world’s major challenges,” Kotlikoff said. “Perhaps no issue today is more pressing and more complex than the movement of humans, plants, animals and resources across a planet that is increasingly fragile – environmentally, economically and socio-politically.”

Read the full article in the Cornell Chronicle.

CCE summer interns extend and explore

What may have felt like a short amount of time was long on influence for the 29 Cornell undergraduates who spent their summer working and conducting research in communities across New York state as Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) interns.

“It’s probably the most impactful summer I’ve had as a Cornell student,” said Adjoa Fosuhema-Kordie ’20. A senior human development major in the College of Human Ecology (CHE), Fosuhema-Kordie’s internship took her to New York City where she worked with Cornell University Cooperative Extension – NYC on a project teaching teens how to deliver health and nutrition classes to youth participants.

“It was really impressive to see how much of an impact we had in a couple months on the teens,” she said. “And personally, I learned that with work like this there will be unexpected turns, twists and challenges, but how we handle those curveballs is what matters.”

Read the full article in the Cornell Chronicle.

Pilot course partners students with incarcerated learners

Cornell undergraduates are deepening their knowledge of Cornell University Library’s abundant scholarly resources by helping those with no access to them: incarcerated students at Cayuga Correctional Facility.

The new Prison Partners Library Research course (WRIT 1100) aims to transform Cornell students into research experts as they provide guidance and research support for individuals completing their certificate in liberal arts through the Cornell Prison Education Program (CPEP).

“Research is often collaborative, and it requires a scholarly conversation,” said class instructor Heather Furnas, an American studies librarian and instructional lead in Cornell University Library’s Department of Research and Learning Services.

Read the full article in the Cornell Chronicle.

Two dozen Engaged Faculty Fellows announced

Twenty-four faculty members, representing six colleges and the Cornell University Library, have been named to the Engaged Faculty Fellowship Program.

The 2019-20 cohort, the largest in the seven-year history of the program, joins more than 50 other faculty fellows dedicated to advancing community-engaged learning at Cornell and within their respective fields.

“I’m delighted to welcome these brilliant and committed Engaged Faculty Fellows to the network,” said Anna Sims Bartel, associate director of community-engaged curricula and practice in the Office of Engagement Initiatives.

“They represent a diversity of projects and programs that will lead to rich conversations and collaborations among us and – even more importantly – will have important positive benefits for their students and community partners,” she said. “From community-engaged deer management to public interest data science to collaborative case studies of small African agrobusinesses, the work of the fellows is contributing to their disciplines and to the world in powerful ways.”

Read the full article in the Cornell Chronicle.

Science communication storytelling class at Cornell University

Communicating science to the public is a skillset many scientists require, but few are professionally trained in. There is a disconnect between learning science and being an effective communicator of it. Through a collaboration with Cornell University, TST BOCES, Engaged Cornell and WSKG, a new science communication class was born focused on storytelling and relating content to the general public. This unique partnership has led to Cornell University being the first collegiate student reporting lab for the PBS NewsHour. Through mentorship and skill building, students learn the art of how to storyboard, film, interview and edit, creating their own science stories.

Watch the videos on WSKG.org.

Unemployment course gets Engaged Curriculum funds

Ian GreerUnemployment is a cause of many social ills, but U.S. public policy has been notoriously ineffective in preventing it or blunting its effects.

That is the foundation upon which Ian Greer, M.S. ’03, Ph.D. ’05, a senior research associate in the ILR School, built a class – Unemployment: Causes, Experiences and Responses – with the help of a $10,000 Engaged Curriculum Grant from the Office of Engagement Initiatives (OEI) during the 2017-18 academic year.

“There’s not another course at Cornell like it,” Greer said. “It’s an interdisciplinary course that has guest lectures from the legal aid community, the U.S. Department of Labor and the trade union movement, as well as different schools at Cornell. It mobilizes a lot of different expertise from different practical and academic angles for students to learn about many aspects of unemployment.”

In August, Greer’s team – which includes Paul Davis of the ILR School; Michaela Azemi and Steward Schwab from Cornell Law School; and community partners LawNY, Harold Oaklander and Miller Mayer, LLP – was awarded a $46,000 development grant from OEI to implement a few changes and continue with the course.

Read the full article in the Cornell Chronicle.

First Rural Humanities showcase spotlights Cornell-community projects

Poetry and performance – as well as more traditional presentations – comprised the first Rural Humanities Showcase, held Sept. 6 in the A.D. White House. The nine projects represented Cornell faculty engagement, teaching, and research around “rural humanities,” which uses the tools of the humanities to both address the rural-urban divide and the realities of rural America, particularly in Central-Western New York.

In addition to supporting new projects, the four-year Andrew W. Mellon Foundation-funded Rural Humanities initiative in the College of Arts and Sciences also aims to enhance the already existing projects at Cornell, such as those presented at the Sept. 6 showcase, and form them into a visible program

The Rural Humanities is “an experiment in expanding the reach of the humanities at Cornell,” Paul Fleming, co-director of the initiative, professor of German Studies and comparative literature as well as the Taylor Family Director of the Society for the Humanities, said in his introduction. “We want to encourage public and engaged projects, work which ranges from public-facing scholarship to directly collaborating with community partners in the co-creation of research and teaching agendas,” such as the History Center, local libraries, community colleges, and indigenous communities.

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

Cornell University selects Ossining for Climate-Adaptive Design Studio

The Cornell University announced the fall 2019 Climate-adaptive Design studio, to be held in the Hudson River waterfront community of Ossining, NY. The Climate-adaptive Design (CaD) Studio is a semester-long course created by Cornell Department of Landscape Architecture Associate Professor Joshua F. Cerra that links students with Hudson riverfront communities to explore design alternatives for more climate resilient and connected waterfront areas. Offered in collaboration with the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation’s Hudson River Estuary Program, the fall CaD studio will feature the work of third-year graduate students and will take place from September through December of 2019.

The Town and Village of Ossining have been selected to host the fall 2019 CaD studio through an application process that was open to all Hudson River Estuary waterfront communities. Letters of interest were solicited during the spring of 2019, and Ossining was chosen as the host site during a thorough review of all applicant communities.

Read the full article in River Journal.

Cornell’s food systems students detail experiences in book

Community Food Systems MinorThe students in Cornell’s first two cohorts of the community food systems minor now have global experience in the world of sustenance, which they’ve shared in a book, “In the Field: Student Perspectives on Community Food Systems Engagement.”

The minor, which started in Fall 2016, is a multidisciplinary course of study that explores the agricultural, ecological and ethical dimensions of sustenance. While several students stayed in the U.S. for their summer 2018 practicum, others traveled to India or China. They collected memorable, meaningful and engaging reflections for the book, which published May 15.

For Marquan Jones ’20, growing up in a Chicago food desert inspired him to study development sociology. Jones spent his summer 2018 practicum as a project director for the Proviso Partners for Health in Chicago. There, he worked on programming for the Giving Garden, part of the Food Justice Hub that strengthens the local food system through urban gardening, farm stands and a fresh food subscription program.

Read the full article in the Cornell Chronicle.

The simple way Apple and Google let domestic abusers stalk victims

One morning a couple of weeks ago, I handed my iPhone to my wife and asked her to help with a privacy experiment. She would use my handset to track my location for the next few days, and with only the software I already had installed. Like a lot of couples, my wife and I know each other’s phone PINs. So I left her with the device as I walked into our bathroom to take a shower, simulating an opportunity that I figured would present itself daily to snooping spouses.

I’d barely turned on the water before she handed the phone back to me. A few seconds had passed, and she had already configured it to track my location, with no notification that it was now telling her my every move.

I’d embarked on this strange exercise with the blessing of a group of researchers who focus on the scourge of “stalkerware,” a class of spyware distinguished by the fact that it’s typically installed on a target device by someone with both physical access to the phone and an intimate relationship with its owner. Often explicitly marketed as a way to catch a cheating husband or wife in the act, these programs have become a tool of domestic abusers and angry exes—a breed of hacker who often possesses practically zero technical skills but does have plenty of opportunity for hands-on tampering with a victim’s handset. Perpetrators can install these apps, also sometimes known as spouseware, to monitor where their targets go, who they communicate with, what they say, and virtually every other part of their life the phone touches.

Read the full article on Wired.com.

ILR program fellows spend summer with NYS lawmakers

ILR Buffalo Co-Lab NYS lawmakersFor more than 10 years, the Cornell ILR Buffalo Co-Lab has sponsored High Road Fellowships, which give undergraduate students an opportunity to participate in research, engaged learning and service in community-based economic development in Buffalo.

Since 2009, more than 180 students have spent a summer working on grassroots projects such as a citywide living wage ordinance; hiring and pay equity policies tied to tax incentives; and paid family leave legislation. The success of High Road has led to a new program: Working on Democracy: Buffalo Summer Fellowships with NYS Legislators.

The inaugural class of fellows – Emily Blanchard ’21 and Tamara Palms ’22 from the ILR School, and Wendy Lau ’22 from the College of Arts and Sciences – spent the past two months working with state lawmakers from the Buffalo area. Palms worked with Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes, D-141st; Blanchard worked with Assemblyman Sean Ryan, D-149th; and Lau worked with state Sen. Tim Kennedy, D-63rd.

Read the full article in the Cornell Chronicle.

Grants create engagement opportunities for students

The Office of Engagement Initiatives has awarded $1,307,580 in Engaged Curriculum Grants to 25 teams of faculty and community partners that are integrating community-engaged learning into majors and minors across the university.

This year’s awards involve 99 Cornell faculty and staff from 46 departments. The 39 community partners are from 10 countries; 11 projects are based in New York state.

Read the full article in the Cornell Chronicle.

Students hunt for maple seedlings in the name of science

Future Forests Engaged Undergraduate Research GrantThis summer, a small team of citizen scientists – including two students from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences – bushwhacked their way through dense forest growth and clouds of biting insects.

Their mission: gather scientific data about tree growth that could be key to the long-term health of New Hampshire’s sugar maples.

The two undergraduates – funded by a Cornell Engaged Undergraduate Research Grant – are helping lead the project, which will track the progress of sugar-maple seedlings in four patches of New Hampshire forest over seven years. Their goal is to determine whether enough seedlings are likely to survive to replace the mature trees currently tapped for maple syrup production.

Not only are the two students – Katie Sims ’20 and Alex Ding ’21, both environmental and sustainability sciences majors – doing much of the fieldwork, they’re forging ties to the public along the way. Said Sims: “We’re trying to understand the pathways of information between forest research and the people who see the land in different ways.

Read the full article in the Cornell Chronicle.

Farmworker initiatives earn community engagement honor

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation has named Cornell University the winner of the 2019 Northeast Region Community Engagement Scholarship Award. Given by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), the award recognizes extraordinary community outreach initiatives by its member universities.

Cornell was recognized for its interdisciplinary farmworker research and collaboration initiatives, which collectively benefit thousands of farmworkers in 40 counties across New York state and beyond.

The work began with the Cornell Farmworker Program, established in 1966 to support migrant farmworkers, a vital part of New York’s agriculture economy, through housing improvements, education, health and pesticide training.

Today, Cornell’s support of farmworkers and farmworker-focused organizations involves faculty in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cornell Law School and the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business; Cornell Cooperative Extension associates; and 24 community partners. More than 300 students participate each year, through 28 community-engaged learning courses across 11 departments.

Read the full article in the Cornell Chronicle.

Atkinson Academic Venture Fund awards $1.3M to 10 projects

New York apple farmers, wastewater treatment facilities, new energy technologies, rural-urban systems and leopards in Nepal all stand to get a sustainability boost from the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future’s 2019 Academic Venture Fund (AVF) awards.

The center has awarded more than $1.3 million in AVF seed grants to support 10 interdisciplinary research collaborations that address global sustainability challenges. This year’s awards involve 36 researchers from seven Cornell colleges and 20 academic departments, tapping university expertise in crucial sustainability areas like food security, carbon sequestration, building climate-positive environments and One Health.

The Atkinson Center is also partnering with the Office of Engagement Initiatives (OEI) in support of Engaged Cornell, which provides grants for AVF projects that incorporate undergraduate research opportunities and community engagement.

Read the full article in the Cornell Chronicle.

Eighteen receive Engaged Graduate Student Grants

Aravind Natarajan, Ph.D. ’19, center, of the Science Blender podcastEighteen Cornell doctoral students have received 2019-20 Engaged Graduate Student Grants totaling $269,397, which will support community-engaged research relevant to their dissertations.

Coming from 13 fields of study, grantees are collaborating with communities around the world, including artists of color in Chicago, deported migrants in Guatemala, women homeworkers in India and young people in New York City.

Seven New York state counties and eight countries are represented in this year’s projects.

Read the full article in the Cornell Chronicle.

Project designs success for local elementary students

Groton Space Station classroom collaborationA new learning space for Groton fifth-graders is out of this world.

The Space Station is the first of three auxiliary classrooms in the elementary school to be redesigned by a multidisciplinary crew of Cornell undergraduates. These rooms are meant to inspire and support older elementary students in practicing intellectual, interpersonal and planetary responsibility.

With minimal adult supervision, fish and plants to care for, and space-age furniture, décor and supplies to accommodate a range of interests and work styles, The Space Station is a prototype. After current fifth-graders use it and give feedback, the Cornell team will tweak the design and use the data to redesign other rooms.

The connection to Cornell was critical to the success of the project, said Groton Superintendent Margo Martin.

Read the full article in the Cornell Chronicle.

Grants fund 15 community-engaged research projects

Cornell Raptor Program Assessment projectCornell student and faculty researchers and their community partners will use this year’s Engaged Cornell research grants to study Cornell’s socio-economic impact on Tompkins County, whether mobile research labs effectively engage underrepresented populations, and whether farmer-led research in Malawi influenced student learning and development.

This year’s grants, 15 in all, were announced earlier this month by the Office of Engagement Initiatives.

Read the full article in the Cornell Chronicle.

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.