Soup & Hope speaker uses love of languages to push for social change
For José Armando Fernandez Guerrero ’18, two strong women – his grandmother, Apolonia, and his mother, Josefina – believed that his education would open opportunities. A third – a high school French teacher – showed him how to use his education, and the passion for languages and linguistics it inspired, to help him embrace and move beyond his past.
José’s grandmother grew up in a rural village in central Mexico, with no birth certificate or schooling. She spoke Spanish and Otomí, an indigenous language unrelated to any European language, and she could not spell her own name. “But what she did have was a vision. And she had guts,” said José, recounting his family’s background at the Soup & Hope event March 1 in Sage Chapel.
One student performed an intimate improv exercise with someone in Mexico City.
A conversation with university students in Afghanistan veered from their optimism about the future to their views of Americans to their values about making friends and finding partners.
These were among the interactions Cornell students, faculty and staff had with people around the world via an inflatable portal, set up in the Biotech atrium on March 7. The one-day portal offered a preview of what may be in store when a longer-term portal arrives on campus for three months in August.
The portal is sponsored by the Office of the Vice Provost for International Affairs and the Office of Engagement Initiatives, and coordinated by Cornell University Library.
Dejah Powell uses awards to help feed her Chicago neighborhood
The South Side of Chicago, where Dejah Powell ’18 grew up, is known as an urban food desert – a sprawling area that has few grocery stores. While the problem has persisted for decades, Powell has devised a solution that has already provided affordable fresh produce to residents in her former neighborhood.
Last summer, Powell mobilized a team of volunteers to design and plant a community garden at her former elementary school, which offered fruits and vegetables to children, teachers and neighborhood residents. The project won several national awards and was a finalist in the Citizen E competition, which provides grants to individuals creating transformative community projects.
Through her awards and grants, Powell, an environmental and sustainability science major, raised $38,000 to fund the school garden and a weeklong environmental summer camp she created for 14 inner city youth in 2016. Powell organized both projects through a nonprofit organization she founded called Get Them to the Green.
Design Connect projects come to fruition in two upstate towns
The towns of Urbana and Brutus have both received grants from New York State Department of State’s (NYS DOS) Regional Economic Development Councils to continue work on projects that were developed in partnership with Design Connect, the Department of City and Regional Planning’s multidisciplinary student-run design and planning organization.
Each semester, Design Connect participants form small groups that collaborate with stakeholders in upstate New York towns to provide design and planning resources. Grants that support project implementation are largely the result of Design Connect’s contribution of site research, analysis and feasible design plans as well as efforts by administrators and community members to identify funding resources such as the Consolidated Funding Application (CFA).
Design Connect began collaborative research with the town of Urbana in 2015 to work on a portion of the town’s master plan that would improve public access to Keuka Lake’s Champlin Beach. In fall 2016, a new group of students, led by Tess Ruswick ’18, continued site research, analysis and developed plans for an old railway conversion – or “rails-to-trails” project – that would connect two public lakefront parks with a bridge and footpath.
A Cornell education can be a lot more than going to classes. The university offers opportunities for international study, research, fellowships, career development and community-engaged classes – experiences that can change students’ lives and alter career paths.
But students don’t always know how to find these opportunities; one student described searching for them as a “Cornell treasure hunt.”
So program providers across campus have joined to form the Cornell Student Experience Initiative (CSEI) to connect students with thousands of opportunities beyond the classroom. A centerpiece of that effort is the newly launched website experience.cornell.edu that invites students to “find your opportunity.”
Students have eye-opening experiences on Cuba trip
Eleven Cornell students joined a professor and two residence life staff members for a trip to Cuba over winter break that they say forever changed their views of the island nation.
Now many of them are setting out to change the views of others, whether they be students or members of their own families.
“I was able to right all of the misconceptions that Americans have about Cuba,” said Andrea Coleman ’21. “My friends were saying ‘Is it a dictatorship down there? Does everyone have to wear uniforms? It’s not like that at all.”
Rather, the students learned about the Cuban revolution from the eyes of people living there, many who see Fidel Castro as a leader who wiped out illiteracy and racism and improved health care and education.
Remaking the City: Masters Students Build Products for Roosevelt Island Community Organizations
Moving to a new neighborhood can be hard. You have to learn the layout of the local grocery store, find a pharmacy and your go-to pizza place — not to mention adapting to a new community culture and way of doing things.
When nearly 200 Cornell Tech students moved to the Roosevelt Island in August, they faced all these same challenges. A handful of them dived into the Roosevelt Island community head first in a pilot of a new service-learning course entitled “Remaking the City” taught by Associate Professor Tapan Parikh.
Over the course of the semester, student teams were paired with Roosevelt Island organizations like the Senior Center or the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC) to complete two projects: (1) a service learning project; (2) a design thinking challenge. Groups worked with the organizations to understand their needs and challenges and develop technological and design solutions for them.
But, they noted, relationship-building is long term in nature, requiring trust built up over time. How can students successfully engage with local organizations when they are here for only four years or work briefly in the community to complete a class project? How can those who work with students on community-based initiatives help students build trust with that organization, learn from their interactions and, as a result of their engagement, learn how to create change and become global citizens?
Those were some of the topics addressed at the workshop, which was attended by about 85 staff and faculty members from schools, colleges and administrative offices across campus. The panelists were current and former local community organizers: Cornell civic leader fellows Rafael Aponte and Fabina Colon; Mané Mehrabyan ’17, postgraduate program coordinator for student leadership in the Office of Engagement Initiatives (OEI); and Rochelle Jackson-Smarr, OEI’s associate director for student leadership and program manager for student success programs in the Office of Academic Diversity Initiatives.
Tompkins County pets can expect expert care even in the most stressful of times thanks to a new project from Maddie’s® Shelter Medicine Program that aims to educate local shelters about natural disaster response.
Funding for this sort of extra training is often a tremendous obstacle for many small, non-profit animal shelters. MSMP received a 2017 Engaged Opportunity Grant to address this need in the Finger Lakes region.
“This grant has given us the opportunity to provide training that is often too expensive for small organizations,” said Elizabeth Berliner DVM ’03, the Janet L. Swanson Director of Shelter Medicine. “By building on our strong partnerships with area shelters, we can ensure the wellbeing of these animals.”
As the bus carries Cornell’s International Agriculture and Rural Development 602 class through the streets of India, a Cornell student practices her Hindi with an Indian student from Tamil Nadu, as they bop to Ed Sheeran on a shared mobile phone. Shy to use language skills learned at Cornell, she soon finds herself being tutored by other Indian students and Tamil Nadu faculty. “Time for your lesson,” they say every day they board the bus. By the end of the second week, the Hindi/English class at the back of the bus has grown into a chattering group of young people. Many are now fast Facebook and WhatsApp friends, and destined for careers in international development.
Such is IARD602 – Cornell’s longest-running experientially engaged learning course. Run by International Programs in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (IP-CALS), the class turns 50 in 2018. Since 1968, the lives of more than 2,500 undergraduate and graduate students and hundreds of faculty members, from Cornell and partner institutions abroad, have been influenced by IARD602 – the first international course offered at Cornell.
“In the beginning, IARD602 focused mostly on production agriculture in the tropics,” said course director Ronnie Coffman, the Tisch Distinguished University Professor of plant breeding and director of IP-CALS. “IARD602 broadened to include socio-economic and development issues, and then expanded to provide insights into issues of globalization and transnational communities. The consistent thing about the course is that it often represents a life-altering experience for the students.”
Students envision future of Hudson River town confronting flooding
Sometimes, it takes a village – to save itself.
Residents of Piermont are staring down the barrel of climate change, as Hudson River flooding begins to encroach their waterfront streets. Cornell undergraduates presented concepts at a Dec. 12 open house on how to handle the environmental incursion.
“As residents, we don’t usually ask other people for help, but what we’ve found out is that we’re facing problems that we can’t solve,” said Vincent O’Brien, a former village trustee, who attended the Cornell students’ poster session. “We’re seeing these students, these new creative thinkers, put their arms around these problems with us. They’re opening the door to helping Piermont not only see the future, but to lead us into the future.”
The portal, which will be located just outside Olin Library for three months, is part of a global public art initiative bringing people face-to-face with others from different continents and life circumstances. Portals have been installed in more than 20 places around the world, including Afghanistan, Honduras, Germany, Iraq, Myanmar, Rwanda, Newark, New Jersey, and Los Angeles.
“We’re excited to be collaborating on this project,” said Laura Spitz, vice provost for international affairs. “One of our Global Cornell priorities this year is ‘global-at-home’ – the portal will help bring the world to Cornell and Cornell to the world, within a project focused on making connections from right here on campus.”
Engaged Faculty Fellows connect classroom and community
As fires rage across southern California, upstate economies struggle and teenagers crave educations that matter, Engaged Faculty Fellows are asking what they can do to help – and designing courses that do. The seven faculty members in this year’s cohort are developing community-engaged classes that give students hands-on experience and empower them to be global citizens – all while advancing community partners’ missions and contributing solutions to some of the world’s biggest challenges.
During the yearlong Engaged Faculty Fellowship Program, participants become a community of learning and practice, focused on designing, refining and enhancing engaged courses and curricula. They grapple together with theory and practice of engaged learning; meet monthly to discuss readings, projects and challenges; and expand the idea of what it means to teach at Cornell. This year’s fellows represent seven departments in five colleges.
“Every year, faculty from across the university bring projects and passions unique to their disciplines,” said Anna Sims Bartel, associate director for community-engaged curricula and practice in the Office of Engagement Initiatives. “We provide them with frameworks, techniques and resources to improve their community-engaged teaching. Even more importantly, this program creates a powerful network of skilled academics working with communities – and each other – for the public good. It’s exciting what happens when brilliant, motivated scholars get to teach and learn from one another like this.”
It’s impossible to place a value on the Hudson River or Mount Beacon, or the cultural significance of the city that lies between the two — or is it?
Municipalities in New York state are increasingly cataloging their environmental and historical assets through Natural Resource Inventories, and they’re being rewarded by the state for doing so. In Beacon, the city’s Conservation Advisory Committee, a panel of 10 volunteers (with two open seats) expects to complete its NRI next summer.
NRIs are generally comprised of maps and information about significant natural resources such as forests, streams, wetlands and rocky ridges. Cultural resources like historic, scenic and recreational assets are often included, as well.
Empowering Workers: Worker Institute collaborates with Cornell Law on worker app
Created by Cornell Law School students in collaboration with ILR faculty and New Immigrant Community Empowerment, an application that helps workers identify wage theft received the best overall app award in the inaugural Cornell Immigration Innovation Challenge on Monday.
The Reporte App was developed for New Immigrant Community Empowerment, a nonprofit in Queens, N.Y, using artificial intelligence from Neota Logic. It helps workers calculate their wages and create a record of their employment history.
The app project used funds from a Littler Foundation grant to the law school, and drew on the expertise of the Worker Institute at Cornell, said Maria Figueroa, institute director of labor and policy research.
Max Zhang: Local engagement yields ‘real social impact’
Engineer Max Zhang makes a concerted effort to improve the world through collaboration. “Ideas will only stay in my lab, will only stay on paper, if we don’t engage or work with the community.”
Zhang, associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and the winner of Cornell’s 2017 Engaged Scholar Prize, delivered the keynote address at the 2017 Sustainability Leadership Summit Dec. 4, hosted by the President’s Sustainable Campus Committee (PSCC).
In his talk, “By the Community, for the Community and With the Community,” he recalled an early career moment as a participant in a workshop, mingling with regulators and local groups aiming to mitigate air pollution problems. After listening to all sides, he realized a fundamental problem was timescale.
Cornell student tells COP23 delegates: ‘Face up to reality’
On the world stage, Etinosa Obanor ’18 minced no words. Representing global youth constituencies at the high-level segment at the Conference of the Parties (COP23) in Bonn, Germany, Nov. 6-17, the student delivered a strong statement to the convention delegates as they negotiated and wrestled with climate change.
“In the past, you’ve never stopped promising action,” Obanor said. “But there is no need to keep talking endlessly in closed rooms, if you don’t face up to reality and act accordingly. Distinguished delegates, it is your choice if you want future generations to remember you as heroes of the century.”
Connecting researchers to federal and state policymakers. Supporting children affected by the opioid epidemic. Sending students to the United Nations climate conference. Offering disaster workshops to regional animal shelters. Collaborating with cooperative businesses for experiential learning.
These are among the 22 projects that received fall 2017 Engaged Opportunity Grants.
Open to all faculty and staff, these grants fund off-campus student leadership programming, conference travel to present on engaged scholarship, and myriad other projects and programs that advance community engagement at Cornell. The Office of Engagement Initiatives awards Engaged Opportunity Grants three times a year, and upcoming deadlines are Feb. 9 and April 9, 2018.
Hop growers face challenges to meet rising brewery demands
The New York craft beer industry is really hopping. From 2012 to 2016, the number of breweries more than tripled, from 95 to 302, according to the New York State Brewers Association, and the industry contributes $3.5 billion to the state’s economy annually.
Lawmakers seeking to tap into the industry’s economic potential have passed new policies that provide incentives for New York hop growers to jump on the bandwagon and supply the growing demand for local ingredients. As these growers have learned, cultivating hops has its challenges, mainly from pests and two pervasive diseases, and Cornell researchers are lending a hand.
Plant disease experts David Gadoury and doctoral student Bill Weldon, both at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, are providing expertise to help everyone from hops hobbyists to professional farmers through outreach materials, public presentations and field visits.
New collaborative theatre course focuses on climate change in the Finger Lakes
Climate science, theater, and civic engagement come together in an interdisciplinary setting in a new performing and media arts course that culminates in a multimedia performance this week.
This Engaged Cornell project is presented in collaboration with the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences climatologist Toby Ault, assistant professor of earth and atmospheric sciences, and Ithaca-based theatre company Civic Ensemble’s Sarah K. Chalmers, “Theater and Social Change: Climate Crisis” brings together students interested in applied theater, climate change and socially engaged performance, under the instruction of PMA senior lecturer Godfrey L. Simmons, Jr., and associate professor Sara Warner.
This year’s class of seven undergraduate and five graduate students are focusing on the impact that climate change has had on the Finger Lakes region. The students have a diverse background of majors, interests and theater experience.
Cornell students meet, learn from COP23 world leaders
For the first week of 2017’s Conference of the Parties (COP23) in Bonn, Germany, Nov. 6-17 – the annual global United Nations negotiations where countries grapple with climate change – seven Cornell students seized a rare opportunity to mingle with key figures from leading non-governmental organizations, businesses and governments around the world.
Cornell was one the few U.S. universities with a large formal presence, said Michael Hoffmann, executive director of the Cornell Institute for Climate Smart Solutions (CICSS). The Cornell delegation was organized by Allison Chatrchyan, director of CICSS, and Natalie Mahowald, the Irving Porter Church Professor of Engineering. Ten students from the Global Climate Change Science and Policy course taught by Mahowald and Chatrchyan this fall were chosen to attend. Support was provided by the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future and CICSS, while the Office of the Vice Provost for International Affairs, and an Engaged Cornell grant helped cover the students’ travel funding.
Searching for the role empathy plays in our history
Professor Gerard Aching encouraged students to think of the ways that empathy (or the lack of it) has impacted people’s actions throughout history and affects our individual actions toward others during a Bethe Ansatz talk Nov. 1.
“Empathy is different from sympathy, which is compassion and pity toward another,” said Aching, professor of Africana and Romance studies. Rather than feel sorry for another person, people often describe empathy as “putting yourself in someone else’s shoes,” Aching says, but that can also be problematic. “How do you position yourself in that situation? Do you need to feel what the victims of a disaster are feeling in order to understand their plight?”
Aching examined the role of Richard Robert Madden, an Irish abolitionist who played an active role in carrying out emancipation laws in Jamaica and in taking charge of liberated slaves in Havana on behalf of the British government.
Students share global and public health projects, solutions to problems
More than 40 student teams gathered Nov. 3 to present their experiences with global and public health learning as part of the Global and Public Health Experiential Learning Symposium, hosted by the Cornell Global Health Program and its Student Advisory Board. Held in Martha van Rensselaer Commons, the teams used poster boards to present on a variety of international and domestic health issues.
The Global Health Program, managed through the Division of Nutritional Sciences, offers students from any field of study the opportunity to explore and apply global health knowledge through experiential learning.
Student’s work spanned 10 countries and addressed topics ranging from maternal death rates in northern Ghana to malnutrition in young Tanzanian children. A number of teams traveled abroad to their country of study as a part of their project, while others had visited their country of focus prior to selecting their topic and were inspired to study health issues within the country as a result.
Student work in Italy and upstate N.Y. informs intergenerational communities
City and regional planning students presented community-engaged research and case studies from Rome, Italy, and Sullivan County, New York, at a workshop on campus Sept. 22, focused on the factors that make communities hospitable to children and the elderly.
The students observed that social aspects of communities and neighborhoods – libraries, schools, markets and community-oriented organizations – can improve conditions for children and senior citizens, especially where the physical landscape presents deficiencies or limitations, whether in land-use planning, housing, transportation, services or public space.
“The Rome Workshop: Building Child and Age Friendly Communities: Lessons From Rome … for New York” was organized by professor of city and regional planning Mildred E. Warner, M.S. ’85, Ph.D. ’97. The half-day event in Milstein Hall, attended by planners from around the region and several of the students’ family members, included a research poster session, a panel of regional planners and community leaders, and Warner and doctoral student Xue Zhang presenting national survey data on multigenerational planning.
Student teams advise small businesses in Africa to help them thrive
Lufefe Nomjana, a young entrepreneur from Khayelitsha township outside Cape Town, South Africa, is the Spinach King.
With tasty, gluten-free spinach bread and a vision to bring healthy food to low-income South Africans, his company has attracted international media attention. Nomjana’s marketing commitment is uncompromising: He named his son, now 3, Spinach Prince Nomjana. His café in a refurbished shipping container feeds locals and a steady stream of tourists.
His problem is right next door. A chain supermarket in the same shopping center sells white bread for half the price to hungry, cash-strapped families.
Nomjana’s company is one of four African social enterprises that partnered in 2017 with Cornell’s Student Multidisciplinary Applied Research Team(SMART) program, now in its 15th year. Part of the Emerging Markets Program in the Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, SMART sends teams of undergraduate and graduate students to consult with small businesses as they face new marketing challenges in developing economies.
West Campus course fosters dialogue on race, campus climate
Across Cornell’s diverse student population, many individuals have expressed how race influences the way Cornellians make friends, socialize and affiliate on campus.
A new two-credit Learning Where You Live (LWYL) course this semester on West Campus, ENGL 1605: North/West Campus Dialogue on Race, addresses that and “gives students the opportunity to learn from and with each other about issues of racial conflict … in an atmosphere of openness, mutual engagement and respect,” the course description reads.
The course came about as a direct response to needs expressed in a student campus climate survey conducted in fall 2013, said Alice Cook House Assistant Dean Jennifer Majka, co-instructor with English professor Shirley Samuels.
Education innovator advocates for transdisciplinary ‘StudioLab’
A 21st century learning approach requires more than rows of fixed seats, says Jon McKenzie. In a new transdisciplinary pedagogy that encourages active learning, McKenzie has combined the kinds of conceptual, aesthetic, and technical learning found in seminar, studio, and lab spaces into an approach he calls “StudioLab.”
“In traditional liberal arts, different learning spaces are siloed into the areas of humanities and social sciences, art and design, and science and engineering. My StudioLab approach uses media studios that convert quickly from seminar to studio to lab, enabling students to integrate critical thinking, aesthetic creation, and media production,” says McKenzie, the Arts & Science Dean’s Fellow for Media and Design and visiting professor of English.
UPR is the main public university system in Puerto Rico, with 11 campuses and 5,300 faculty members serving 58,000 students. The university is open but not operating at full strength.
Four weeks after Hurricane Maria, blasting winds of up to 155 miles an hour, knocked out power to the entire island, 80 percent of Puerto Rico still does not have electricity, The New York Times reported Oct. 20.
“These young people, and nearly everyone in Puerto Rico, have gone through a terrible trauma. This is our way of reaching out to them and our university colleagues in Puerto Rico to show we stand with them and their families during this difficult time in their academic, professional and personal lives,” said Cornell President Martha E. Pollack.
Near Eastern studies offers Middle East series to local teachers
A new initiative by Cornell’s Department of Near Eastern Studies (NES) to provide continuing education opportunities for local K-12 teachers launched Sept. 26. The collaboration with Tompkins-Seneca-Tioga Board of Cooperative Educational Services (TST-BOCES) offers teachers a six-session professional learning opportunity focusing on the relationship between the United States and the Middle East through the lenses of politics, migration, religion and literature.
The first session of “America and the Middle East” included teachers from three school districts, representing a wide range of fields, including Spanish language, world history and English as a second language.
“The program is part of a larger vision in Near Eastern studies to become more involved in the broader community. We are particularly interested in finding engaged learning opportunities for Near Eastern studies students, in conjunction with the broad outreach initiatives on campus,” said Deborah Starr, associate professor of NES. “We seek to foster tolerance. We want to replace the hegemony of negative images in the press. We’re striving to fill out the picture with depth and breath, taking a long view.”
Cornell, community partners reflect on engagement for the greater good
Provost Michael Kotlikoff led a panel of faculty and community partners Oct. 20 to discuss collaborative work and community efforts that engage students in addressing local and global public health challenges, including issues of food insecurity and health equity.
Dr. Monika Safford, M.D. ’86, the John J. Kuiper Professor of Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine, discussed lessons learned from working with communities, relating them to the mission of the new Cornell Center for Health Equity, which “at its fundamental core is a community partnership,” she said.
As a diabetes researcher at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, she worked with communities in impoverished areas of the state that had stated a need for diabetes programs. Hearing the concerns of diabetes patients led to trials addressing related health issues: pain management and high blood pressure.
From an ocean away, students design a girls’ school in Ghana
About 5,287 miles from Ithaca, near the banks of Ghana’s Volta River, a primary and junior high school for girls is rising from the collective imagination and brain power of the Cornell University Sustainable Design (CUSD) team, under the university’s Systems Engineering program.
With a thoughtful blueprint and an allegiance to sustainability, the Voices of African Mothers Girls’ Academy soon will educate, nurture and inspire about 500 girls annually, with plans to open in 2018.
“It’s not just concrete blocks. We’re not just putting up a building. Care went into the building’s design for education; it was designed for the students,” said Claudia Nielsen ’18, who led the Sustainability Education Ghana project team with Arielle Tannin ’18. Voices of African Mothers, a United Nations-affiliated nongovernmental agency, funded the project.
When we started graduate school five years ago, we were determined to learn everything we could about cancer. We spent all our time in the lab developing an arsenal of experimental techniques. However, in our daily work with petri dishes and microscopes, we felt that something was missing. We learned all about tumor biology, but we knew very little about the human dimensions of cancer. Even though our research is far from the clinic, we believed that interacting with patients and survivors would improve our understanding of cancer and the quality of our science.
With permission from our advisers, we contacted the director of a local cancer center to find out whether he might be interested in working with us. He was enthusiastic about connecting scientists-in-training with the cancer community; in fact, he was already discussing this idea with another group at our university. Together, we started hosting monthly seminars where researchers and patients interact and learn from each other. Some months, a graduate student gives a lay-language presentation about an important aspect of cancer research. Other months, community members describe their experiences of living with cancer. We also organize informal activities that promote patient-researcher dialogue, such as lab tours, book clubs, and participation in cancer support groups. One lung cancer survivor even spent a summer conducting experiments with us. Our relationship with the cancer center has created a continuous stream of new opportunities.
Public engagement has been a pillar of Cornell’s mission for more than 150 years. Today, through highly acclaimed initiatives such as Engaged Cornell, the university is bringing together students, faculty, staff, and community members to seek solutions to some of the world’s greatest challenges. Join Provost Mike Kotlikoff, and a panel of engaged Cornellians and community partners, as we discuss how these partnerships are providing unique engaged learning opportunities for Cornell students, while simultaneously addressing complex societal issues, both in Ithaca and around the globe.
Moderator: Michael Kotlikoff, Provost
Michael Berlin, MD, Program Director – Internal Medicine Residency, Cayuga Medical Center
Gen Meredith OTR MPH, Lecturer, Department of Population Medicine and Diagnostic Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine
David Pelletier, Professor, College of Human Ecology, Director, Cornell in Washington
Dr. Monika M. Safford, John J. Kuiper Professor of Medicine, Chief, General Internal Medicine, Weill Cornell Medicine
Randi Lynn Quackenbush, Advocacy and Education Manager, Food Bank of the Southern Tier
Extension summer interns recount helping New York businesses, communities
Stepping up to the podium at the 2017 Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) internship reception Oct. 11, at Cornell Biotech, 26 students shared their experiences of working at CCE county association offices across the state this summer. One theme emerged from each presenter: an enhanced appreciation for purpose-driven research through hands-on community engagement.
Working on projects ranging from winery establishment and expansion in New York’s north country to enhancing children’s play and parents’ knowledge in Suffolk County, Long Island, the interns learned how applied research from Cornell, the state’s land-grant institution, benefits citizens across New York state. Sixteen of the students are in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) and 10 are from the College of Human Ecology (CHE).
“This program is a wonderful representation of the powerful and effective collaboration between CCE, CALS, CHE and the Office of Engagement Initiatives,” CCE director Chris Watkins said. “Our internships are unique in that students work on projects proposed by faculty and staff from CALS and CHE and are hosted by extension educators at local extension offices in counties and boroughs all over New York state.”
Civic Ensemble and Cornell to investigate climate change through theatre
This fall, Civic Ensemble and Cornell University’s Department of Performing and Media Arts continue their partnership with a new version of PMA’s Theatre and Social Change course.
The course, originally developed and taught by Professor Sara Warner, has been reimagined, and with funding from Engaged Cornell, is now being co-taught by Professor Warner and Senior Lecturer, and Civic Ensemble Artistic Director, Godfrey L. Simmons, Jr. Additional collaborators are Civic Ensemble Artistic Director Sarah K. Chalmers and Cornell Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Assistant Professor Toby Ault.
The course teaches students how to use theatre to initiate dialogue and change around a vital issue of our times. This semester, that issue is climate change here in Tompkins County and the greater Finger Lakes area.
Cornell Commitment interns reflect on summer experiences.
As an undergraduate intern in the emergency room of New York City’s Bellevue Hospital, Rachel Marks ’19 glanced down at the stump of a homeless man’s amputated leg. “His injury was infected and swarming with maggots, hundreds of them, completely covering the wound and crawling over his sheets,” she said.
“A doctor then approached the man and began talking to him. The resident was polite and kind,” Marks said. “I watched in awe as the doctor removed them, one by one, and cleansed the infected area.”
Marks, a biology major who aims to become a doctor, explored several specialties last summer at Bellevue, including its level 1 trauma center, where she was placed with an emergency medical team and handed gauze and other materials to the physicians.
The middle schoolers attended a concussion and the brain workshop on July 17th at the LRDM lab in Martha Van Rensselaer Hall led by David Garavito (JD/PhD) and Joseph DeTello ’18. The group participated in a research project on concussions and decision-making and then took part in an interactive program about concussions. Students shook eggs to demonstrate how you don’t need to crack a shell (their skulls) to damage a yoke (their brains). Then they compressed and stretched gelatin brains to see how diffuse damage to neural fibers (axons) in the brain can occur after the impact of a concussion.
Community engagement initiatives deliver reciprocal benefits
In the three years since its inception, Engaged Cornell has inspired new and deepening partnerships between Cornell and local organizations in Tompkins County and beyond. To date, 122 Engaged Cornell grants have been awarded, collaborating with more than 60 Tompkins County partners in community-based learning and research.
On Sept. 27, a forum in downtown Ithaca with faculty, staff, and partners offered stories of experiences and answered questions about implementing community-engaged initiatives. The forum was cosponsored by the Office of Community Relations, the Office of Engagement Initiatives in collaboration with the Community Foundation of Tompkins County.
“Transmedia knowledge is knowledge created and communicated across different media forms, including books, presentations and community installations,” said co-organizer Jon McKenzie, the College of Arts and Sciences dean’s fellow for media and design, and visiting professor of English.
In this communication course, scientists are the storytellers
Mark Sarvary wanted to create an opportunity for Cornell undergraduates to start building a mindset for communicating their scientific work to nonscientist audiences: funders, employers and colleagues in other disciplines.
“In this course, I want students to learn the importance of being well-rounded scientists who can communicate their work effectively and translate information through storytelling,” said Sarvary, who is teaching the course with Kelee Pacion, librarian in Cornell’s Albert R. Mann Library, and Kitty Gifford, program director of Science Cabaret and a professional in the field of integrated marketing communications.
In just a click you’ll find reusable bottle water filling stations, bike share and car share locations, environmentally friendly trails, electric car charging stations, campus sustainability centers and institutes, and reuse centers.
New engaged learning curriculum offers gateway to the world
Launching this fall, the Department of Anthropology’s new Global Gateways course sequence will give students the opportunity to prepare for, and make the most of, Cornell’s off-campus opportunities, from engaged learning programs to study abroad. The Global Gateways three-course curriculum uses techniques of active learning and peer mentorship to promote hands-on, practical development of intercultural engagement skills. The curriculum development was supported by a 2016 Internationalizing the Cornell Curriculum grant, and grants from Engaged Cornell and the College of Arts and Sciences’ Active Learning Initiative.
“Whether you are heading to another continent or out your door, the most important skill for thriving in today’s global marketplace is the ability to connect, collaborate, and create across lines of social and cultural difference,” says Adam T. Smith, the Goldwin Smith Professor of Anthropology. “As recent events have shown, the skills of intercultural engagement have never been more critically in need than they are today.”
Engaged Cornell offers leadership certificate program
Treating others the way they want to be treated can now be a certifiable skill, according to Engaged Cornell.
Introduced in the Fall of 2016, the Certificate for Engaged Leadership program gives Cornell students the opportunity to use their leadership skills to “address areas of public concern” in the local community.
Twenty-four Cornell students formulated the Certificate in Engaged Leadership program in the spring of 2016. The program aims to “challenge students to bring about the world they wish to see — now and throughout their lives,” said Mike Bishop, director of student leadership in the Office of Engagement Initiatives.
Bishop stressed that the Certificate on Engaged Leadership focuses on the importance of “critical reflection as a prerequisite for life-long leadership development.”
Bishop also noted that the Certificate in Engaged Leadership is “meant to support one in integrating one’s interests in leadership and public involvement.”
Undergraduates lead summer film camp for middle school kids
Fifteen students from the Dryden and Spencer-Van Etten middle schools made movies at Cornell this summer in a program that emphasized visual interpretation and expression, and technical and teamwork skills needed to develop a story from idea to film.
The Summer Film Academy is run by Cornell students in the education minor in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS). Four undergraduates spent the spring semester preparing the curriculum and field trips, learning CPR and mastering filmmaking equipment.
The program, now in its second summer, is a spinoff of the afterschool film club that senior lecturer Bryan Duff and students in the course Engaging Youth in Learning run each semester in Ithaca. For the summer program, “we focus on youth from rural areas because their access to summer enrichment tends to be limited,” said Duff, who directs the education minor.
Fun, hands-on course teaches science communication
When the 11 students in Psych 4500 – Psychology at the Sciencenter – first walked into their classroom in Uris Hall, instead of chairs they found a “maker” space: walls lined with shelves of crafts supplies like glue, string, foam board, nails, marbles and the ever-versatile duct tape.
Their first assignment: Create a science exhibit based on a simple description.
In groups, the students constructed a hot air balloon, a roller coaster, a windmill and more. And while creating the exhibit was a challenge, recalled doctoral student Samantha Carouso Peck, “it paled in comparison to the next task: to write a clear description for a demo ourselves, when we were provided only with a scientific concept we needed to convey.” Her group’s topic was transfer of energy through a fluid medium. Their solution was an activity that asked participants to construct a vessel and find two different techniques to propel it across a tub of water without using their hands.
“This is by far the most rewarding and challenging course I’ve ever taught,” said Michael Goldstein, associate professor of psychology. His usual research focuses on the evolution and development of vocal learning in birds and babies, and learning about science communication was a whole new field for him and Khena Swallow, assistant professor of psychology, whose research focuses on attention and memory in adults.
Connecting people with jobs: Cornell alum, staff, students team with community members to build software
Susan Porter ’14 was trying to help a man in his 20s, who has disabilities, find a job.
“I asked him what he did well, and he couldn’t think of anything,” she recalled. “It’s so sad. Many of my clients within this population have never been told that they can do anything well.”
But, the young man could do some things very well. Slowly, gradually, Porter, who is an employment specialist at Linking Employment, Abilities and Potential, known as LEAP, based in Cleveland, Ohio, coaxed answers out of the man.
She began by asking him what he liked to do for fun, then figuring out with him how those interests, talents and skills could transfer to the workplace.
“It takes a lot of work upfront,” said Porter, who noticed a pattern. “When I ask my clients what they need, they all have a similar answer: I need a job; I need money.”
Porter, an active member of the Cornell Club of Northeast Ohio, shared that as she joined forces with other Cornellians who are part of developing a job search software application for people with disabilities that conducts conversation via audio or text.