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.
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.
POST participants serve Ithaca area before classes start
For the 22nd year, a group of incoming Cornell undergraduates came to Ithaca for four days of community service through the Public Service Center’s Pre-Orientation Service Trips (POST), Aug. 13 to 18. The program focuses students from all seven undergraduate colleges on a single goal – connecting with and contributing to their new home.
“I wanted to be involved in the Ithaca community and I thought that this would be my best chance to get familiar with it, not just in terms of community service, but also in terms of talking to people in Ithaca and learning more about it,” said Ronnie Dumesh ’21, a biological sciences student from Staten Island, New York.
NY re-entry program awards Cornell $750K for prison education
Cornell’s Prison Education Program (CPEP) has received $750,000 in grant funding from the College-in-Prison Reentry Program, an effort to expand educational opportunities at correctional facilities across New York state.
Cornell is one of seven colleges and universities in New York awarded grants totaling $5 million to provide college-level classes, training and re-entry services at 17 state prisons over the next five years. CPEP operates at the Cayuga, Auburn, Elmira and Five Points correctional facilities.
Announced Aug. 7 by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., the awards are funded by the Manhattan DA’s office through its Criminal Justice Investment Initiative. The initiative backs transformative projects to prevent crime and improve public safety and the justice system with $250 million seized in international financial crime prosecutions.
At Orientation, peers are ‘guide to all things Cornell’ for new students
Approximately 4,000 new first-year and transfer students will begin their journeys at Cornell Aug. 18-27, with orientation events exposing them to academic, social and cultural life on campus.
“Our student volunteers are working very hard to create a great orientation experience,” said Peggy Arcadi, director of New Student Programs. “A lot of this is student-run. Peer-led orientation groups ensure that each new student has a guide to all things Cornell, including student organizations, campus resources and academic opportunities.”
“A new program on Sunday [Aug. 20] focuses on the engaged student experience, with events throughout the afternoon at the Engaged Cornell Hub in Kennedy Hall,” Arcadi said. “For three hours they’ll be offering information and ice cream and tours, highlighting opportunities for students to engage in service, on campus and beyond.”
AguaClara begins construction of water plant in Nicaragua
Since 2005, AguaClara has built 14 gravity-powered, electricity-free surface water treatment plants in Honduras, with a 15th under construction at Zamorano University in Tegucigalpa. These plants bring safe tap water to approximately 65,000 people in the Central American nation.
Now the Cornell-based program, run almost exclusively by engineering students, is expanding its reach in Latin America.
Construction on the 16th AguaClara facility began Aug. 1 for a plant in La Concordia, Nicaragua. The ground-breaking was the result of two years of work by the Honduran nonprofit Agua Para el Pueblo, the U.S. nonprofit Water For People, and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.
“I’ve been dreaming of the day when AguaClara technologies would begin to spread globally,” said Monroe Weber-Shirk, founder and director of AguaClara, and a senior lecturer in the College of Engineering. “The need for resilient, climate-friendly water treatment technologies is mind-boggling, with perhaps 3 billion people who don’t have access to reliable and safe water on tap.”
A new play about borders has found an unusual way to transcend them: by integrating local experiences in each new place it is performed. When it travels Aug. 26 to Akwesasne, the Mohawk Nation territory divided by the U.S.-Canada border, the script will incorporate stories of local Mohawk people, some of whom will join the cast.
“Root Map,” an international collaboration between Cornell University’s College of Arts and Sciences and Jadavpur University in Kolkata, India, interweaves stories from different cultures to explore the similarities people experience when encountering borders. It had its inaugural performance Jan. 27 in Kolkata, India, followed by performances in Ithaca, New York, and El Paso, Texas. In each city, local actors join the production, contributing new material to the script that reflects their experiences with borders.
Measure of America summer research interns explore human well-being
This summer, two interns from the College of Arts & Sciences, Lala Xu ‘18 and Emily Bramhall ‘19, will assist in researching, writing and producing papers and reports on human well-being, freedom and opportunity for the Measure of America project.
They will benefit from an Engaged Cornell grant, which will provide them with stipends to assist with the costs of living in Brooklyn over the summer.
“This internship gives students who are minors in Inequality Studies the opportunity to develop their quantitative analytic skills, apply what they learned about inequality in their courses, and work for an organization that’s bringing social scientific evidence into the public debate about inequality and poverty in America” said Kim Weeden, the Jan Rock Zubrow ’77 Professor of the Social Sciences and director of Cornell’s Center for the Study of Inequality.
Cornell’s Hudson River conservation work nets DEC award
The Hudson River has been a critical part of New York’s infrastructure since before the country’s founding, linking New York City with Albany, the Erie Canal and beyond.
The corridor is also environmentally rich: The watershed that feeds the Hudson comprises only 13.5 percent of New York state’s land area but contains 85 percent of the state’s bird, mammal, reptile and amphibian species.
Discussion and film screening of documentary ‘Human Again’
A panel discussion and screening of the award-winning film Human Again, produced by Cornell Department of Performing and Media Arts professor Bruce Levitt, will take place on Saturday, June 10, 2017, from 3:15–5:15 p.m. in the Film Forum, Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts.
This joint session with the Cornell Prison Education Program (CPEP) and The Phoenix Players Theatre Group (PPTG) at Auburn Correctional Facility will explore Cornell’s involvement with prison education in three facilities in the region and feature a screening of the documentary Human Again, about the Phoenix Players Theatre Group.
Office Hours | 10 questions with PMA professor Bruce Levitt
For our second installment of “Office Hours,” a series of interviews with prominent personalities on Cornell’s campus, Sunspots writer Andrew Shi talked with with Performing and Media Arts Professor Bruce Levitt, who has taught at Cornell since 1986 and is involved with Phoenix Players Theatre Group (PPTG), a prison theatre group at Auburn Correctional Facility.
Rebecca Stoltzfus, vice provost for undergraduate education and professor of nutritional studies, has been announced as the candidate of choice to become the 18th president of Goshen College, her undergraduate alma mater.
Founded in 1894, Goshen is a private liberal arts college in Indiana affiliated with the Mennonite Church. According to the college, she will be formally introduced to the campus community June 14-15. The search committee then will present a final recommendation to the Goshen College and Mennonite Education Agency boards. It is expected Stoltzfus will take office in early November.
Class gathers oral histories of Caribbean residents in Brooklyn
Students met with Caribbean residents in Brooklyn over spring break to record their life stories as part of an engaged learning course in oral history and urban ethnography.
The four-day field trip was designed for students “to observe and conduct ethnographic research and talk to as many people as possible … so the Caribbean immigrants that remain there can see themselves reflected in representations of their community,” said Oneka LaBennett, associate professor of Africana studies.
Students were able to “see how Brooklyn is changing through gentrification … and how gentrification is affecting the Caribbean community there,” she said, particularly in Flatbush and Crown Heights. “Some once-vital immigrant businesses have shuttered because they can’t afford the increasing rent. Brooklyn is now one of the most expensive places in the U.S. to live.”
Cancer patients and survivors connect with Cornell students
This spring, a unique workshop took place on the Cornell campus that united two very different groups of people—cancer scientists, and cancer patients. The event, titled ‘Social Issues in Community Engagement by Cancer Scientists,’ was organized by College faculty Dr. Robert Weiss and Dr. Kristy Richards, and is part of an ongoing series supported by an Engaged Curriculum Grant. It involved lectures and group discussions, creating a dynamic exchange among people with different, yet intimate understanding of cancer. “This is a unique program where we connect cancer scientists in training and community members on a real on-going basis,” says Bob Riter, executive director of the Cancer Resource Center of the Finger Lakes (CRC), which closely partners with Cornell on the series. “It’s worth noting that nobody else in the country does this.”
Auburn student prisoners debate team of future lawyers
In the Auburn Correctional Facility’s gray stone chapel, 50 incarcerated students and prison staff waited alongside dozens of Cornell faculty and staff Wednesday.
They were eager to hear the results of who won a debate between three men serving time at Auburn and a “dream team” of Cornell Speech & Debate Society alumni now attending the nation’s top three ranked law schools.
The maximum-security prison that opened in 1817 is widely known for housing the first electric chair, producing New York state’s license plates and for creating the “Auburn System.” Many 19th century prisons followed the system, which required inmates to live in silence.
Men serving sentences in Auburn no longer live in silence. Three of them Wednesday showed they have something to say and know just how to say it, in thanks, partly, to their ILR “Argumentation and Debate” class.
Seed to Supper connects students with the community
By the time Andrew Pochedly came to Cornell last fall to pursue a Master of Professional Studies degree in horticulture, he already had a great deal of professional experience under his belt. As a Peace Corps volunteer, he helped to develop sustainable agriculture practices in West Africa. He worked with the Cleveland Botanical Garden’s Green Corps program, which helps teenagers build academic, workplace and life skills by immersing them in urban agriculture and business.
But when he came to Cornell and took horticulture senior lecturer Marcia Eames-Sheavly’s Seed to Supper two-semester course sequence, he realized there was a deeper level of community building and engagement that he had not tapped when he was in the field.
“I have the luxury of being able to look back,” Pochedly said. “I see lessons I learned in this class that I could have applied in my career. Going forward, I’ll take those with me.”
Showcase celebrates Cornell students’ public engagement
More than 200 people gathered in Willard Straight Hall April 24 to honor the civic engagement of Cornell students. The 2017 Community Engagement Showcase highlighted several dozen projects, each in partnership with a local or global community, and Student and Community Excellence in Community Engagement Awards and the George D. Levy Faculty Award were given.
The event also featured a panel discussion with student representatives from the Cornell Sober Housing Initiative, the Climate Change Awareness in Vietnam course and the ILR School’s High Roads Fellowship. George Ferrari ’84, who received the Community Engagement Trailblazer Award, gave the keynote address.
Students’ green thumbs help Harlem Grown’s garden thrive
While many college students see spring break as a chance to rest, celebrate and gear up for the push toward semester’s end, a few use the week off to make a difference in the lives of people for whom small acts of kindness can mean so much.
Such was the nature of Alec Martinez’s week off, spent with five fellow Cornell undergraduates helping to create a sensory garden for children in collaboration with Harlem Grown, a New York City nonprofit. Martinez and his friends were in the city April 3-6 as members of the Alternative Breaks (Alt Breaks) program, which promotes service-learning through direct engagement with various communities.
“The work was definitely tough, but it was incredibly satisfying,” said Martinez ’18, an urban and regional studies major from Laredo, Texas. “The great thing about Alternative Breaks is, it’s not just a ‘drive-by’ volunteer opportunity, something we can put on our résumés and we’re done. These relationships matter.”
A program of Cornell’s Public Service Center (PSC), Alt Breaks aims to heighten social awareness, enhance students’ personal growth and advocate lifelong social action. Alt Breaks’ inaugural Harlem Grown trip was one of 10 New York City projects involving more than 70 Cornell students this spring.
Cornell, Boynton students find common ground through writing
At Boynton Middle School on a recent Thursday, a few kids are shooting hoops on basketball courts outside the cafeteria, but sixth-grader Ja-kai Correio is inside, focused on his computer.
“For English, I had to make up my own God, like the ones in Percy Jackson, and now I need to write five paragraphs about what he can do,” Correio said as he types away, all under the watchful eye of Rebecca Burd ’20, a student in the Common Ground freshman writing seminar at Cornell taught by Darlene Evans, senior lecturer and director of writing outreach for the John S. Knight Institute for Writing in the Disciplines.
Every Tuesday and Thursday this spring, students in Evans’ seminar meet for class, where they read and write about various texts related to education, including “School: The Story of American Public Education,” “The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education” and “Education Is Politics.” Then they climb into a van to head to Boynton, where they work with their middle school partners on writing and reading skills.
Engaged Graduate Student Grants fund 16 Ph.D. students
Sixteen Cornell doctoral students will collaborate with community partners from Ithaca to India on research projects supported by 2017 Engaged Graduate Student Grants. The cohort includes doctoral students from Cornell Ithaca and Cornell Tech in 12 fields of study.
The grants support and enhance partnerships while providing opportunities for Cornell doctoral students in all fields of study to conduct critical research and scholarship relevant to their doctoral dissertations. Applications for the 2018 grants will be announced in the fall.
Max Zhang, associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, who has devoted his career to the development of sustainable communities, is the recipient of Cornell’s second annual Engaged Scholar Prize, Vice Provost Judith Appleton announced April 6.
Administered by the Office of Engagement Initiatives in support of Engaged Cornell, the annual award recognizes a faculty member who inspires others with innovative integration of teaching, learning and research involving public or community-based partnerships. The award review committee comprises undergraduates, graduate students and faculty.