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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
While many of their friends are off at the beach or elsewhere kicking back this week, a group of Cornell University students is spending their spring break sleeping on a church floor, waking up at dawn, and getting their hands dirty. And they’re enjoying it.
“This is fun for me, I think being able not only to do things you enjoy doing but helping other people and working alongside the community is what’s most important,” said Georgia Grzyawacz, a Cornell freshman.
The program is called Alternative Breaks, and each spring hundreds of Cornell students participate, working on projects all across the country that address issues of social justice.
After traveling through Vietnam’s Mekong Delta in January, examining climate change through the lens of another country, four Cornell students toured the halls of Congress in late March to tell legislators all about it.
“Society is facing huge problems with a changing climate, and it’s important to remind representatives that their actions not only affect Americans and the world today, but these actions can have long-lasting implications for future generations,” said Kerry Mullins ’18, one of the students on the trip.
Ten Cornell students – led by Thúy Tranviet, senior lecturer in Asian studies, and Michael Hoffmann, executive director of the Cornell Institute for Climate Smart Solutions – toured Vietnam Jan. 3-18, as part of an interdisciplinary course, Climate Change Awareness and Service Learning in the Mekong Delta. On March 27-28, four students met in Washington, D.C., with a congressman, as well as legislative aides for representatives and senators, to offer their climate change observations. The Washington trip was developed by Hoffmann and funded by Engaged Cornell.
George Ferrari, CEO, Community Foundation of Tompkins County, will be the keynote speaker at the Community Engagement Showcase 2017. The event, which celebrates outstanding local and global community-engaged projects, will be held Monday, April 24, 5 to 7 p.m., in the Willard Straight Hall Memorial Room.
Ferrari has served as the chief executive officer of the Community Foundation of Tompkins County since August 2005. He has been a committed and active participant in the Tompkins County community since 1980 with a special focus on nonprofit organizations that combine alleviating individual suffering and injustice with working for societal change. Previously he served as the executive director of Catholic Charities of Tompkins and Tioga Counties and worked with families in crisis as the Suicide Prevention and Crisis Service’s crisis line manager. Ferrari was the founding executive director of AIDS WORK of Tompkins County. He has also served in positions with Head Start, a federal family development anti-poverty program, as well as in residence life at Cornell University.
At this time last year, New York state correctional facilities housed 77,227 inmates, resulting in an annual cost of $60,076 – shouldered by taxpayers – per inmate.
Thirty-six percent of the prisoners do not have a high school diploma, compared with 19 percent of those in the general population, and around 40 percent of those released from prison return within three years of getting out – largely due to parole violations.
Some state lawmakers – including New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo – prison reform advocates and educators, such as those with the Cornell Prison Education Program, see education as a path away from the revolving door of incarceration. It has the added benefit of making communities safer and healthier, while decreasing the cost of operating the prison system as it currently exists.
But his title does not mean that Weber-Shirk is calling all the shots. Far from it.
The current model for the highly successful service-learning program has evolved over the last few years, and his role has become more “suggester-in-chief” than head honcho. Much of the heavy lifting involved in the smooth operation of AguaClara falls on the students themselves, especially the three “team leads,” who oversee the group of around 60 students.
And with the opening in January of its 14th plant – AguaClara’s biggest yet, in the town of Las Vegas – the project now serves more than 65,000 people in a country of more than 8 million, half of whom have limited access to clean water. Yet, due in part to what AguaClara program director Monroe Weber-Shirk calls the “economy of scale,” providing clean water to residents in the country’s smallest villages was simply not feasible.
That is, until now. AguaClara’s latest innovation is a free-standing, 1 liter-per-second (1L/s) water treatment system, developed and tested last year in the program’s Hollister Hall lab.
When: Wednesday, March 29, 2017 at 4:00pm to 5:30pm
Where: 3rd Floor, Kennedy Hall
Come by and check out the Engaged Cornell Hub, the new home to Cornell Commitment, Community Learning and Service Partnership (CLASP), Cornell Prison Education Program, Cornell Public Service Center, Education Minor, New York Agricultural Outreach and Education, the Office of Engagement Initiatives and the Office of Undergraduate Research.
This will be a casual gathering with students, faculty, staff, and community members. Refreshments served.
Doña Reina remembers the water that ran from the faucet at her home in rural Honduras. It was yellowish, opaque, she said in Spanish, and “y sucia,” which means dirty. Then, in 2008, her small village of Tamara received its first water treatment plant, a gravity-fed system made of locally sourced materials that was designed by engineering students in the U.S. Today, Reina’s water is clean enough to drink from the tap.
The students were part of a Cornell University program called AguaClara, which focuses on treating water affordably in infrastructure-poor communities, and without using electricity. Since 2005, AguaClara, which means clear water, has helped complete 14 plants in partnership with Hondurans who planned and built the structures. Now locals own and operate these plants, which serve about 65,000 people.
The New York City Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence challenged a team of Cornell Tech master’s students with the following question: How might we create a mobile application that provides comprehensive and multidisciplinary information, tools and resources for domestic violence survivors while also protecting their safety and privacy?
The trip was part of an interdisciplinary course, “Climate Change Awareness and Service Learning in the Mekong Delta,” led by Michael Hoffmann and Thúy Tranviet. In the fall, the students took classes that introduced them to global climate change and Vietnamese language, culture and history.
From Jan. 3-18 the group traveled throughout the Mekong Delta, attending lectures from experts at Can Tho and Ton Duc Thang universities, and engaging in service learning activities in the local communities.
Students can now apply to present and receive monetary awards at the Community Engagement Showcase 2017. The application deadline is March 13.
The annual Community Engagement Showcase celebrates outstanding local and global community-engaged projects. In addition to poster presentations and awards, the event provides space for students, faculty, staff, and community partners to network and foster future connections.
When you’re creating a play about the shared experiences of people encountering borders, 7,837 miles between the collaborators is nothing – at least for Debra Castillo, who’s been co-teaching (with Anindita Banerjee) the Bodies at the Border distance learning class for years.
For Castillo, the solution to having writers and actors on separate continents was simple: hold meetings and rehearsals via Skype. The international collaboration includes academics and artists with diverse cultural heritages across Asia, Africa, Europe, North America and South America, and is supported by the College of Arts and Sciences and Jadavpur University in Kolkata, India.
The result is “Root Map,” which had its inaugural performance Jan. 27 in Kolkata, to be followed by performances March 2 in Ithaca and March 4 in El Paso, Texas.
Fifty student musicians in the Cornell Wind Symphony (CU Winds) traveled to Haiti and the Dominican Republic Jan. 10-17 for a service-learning concert tour that was “genuinely transformative,” said James Spinazzola, director of wind ensembles.
“Our students collaborated with 150 student and professional musicians in four concerts, built institutional relationships that are already leading to related projects, and demonstrated the power of music as a vehicle for global awareness and cultural exchange,” he said.
Amanda Barrett Wittman, associate director of community-engaged curricula and strategy in the Office of Engagement Initiatives, traveled with the group and provided learning support, including preparing students for “going to a place you may have a lot of assumptions about, and comparing that to the reality you see there.”
Peter DelNero, a doctoral candidate in biomedical engineering, has received the 2017 K. Patricia Cross Future Leaders Award. DelNero is one of eight graduate students nationwide to receive this prestigious award out of more than 250 nominees from 127 institutions.
Cornell now has a central location on campus for community engagement. The new Engaged Cornell Hub, on the third floor of Kennedy Hall, opened this month and will house eight programs and units from across the university that serve a range of needs related to public and community service and engaged learning.
Vice Provost Judith Appleton describes the engagement hub as an open, collaborative space, welcoming students, faculty, staff and community partners to learn more about and become involved in a variety of opportunities for engagement on and off campus, including engaged learning and research.
EcoVillage at Ithaca is a “living, learning laboratory” when it comes to living sustainably. The green community has served as a practical example of the triumphs and challenges of sustainable life, to the benefit of students in the region, as well as people all over the globe.
Recently the educational arm of the community, Learn@EcoVillage, and Cornell University received a Town-Gown Award for several partnerships. One partnership that was highlighted is working with faculty in the department of communication to help students learn how to communicate environmental issues.
Liz Walker, who co-founded Ithaca’s EcoVillage more than 20 years ago, said she loves working with students because they come with a fresh outlook, and also get inspired to apply what they learn from the sustainable community elsewhere.
With a grant from Engaged Cornell, a communications intern will work with EcoVillage in the summer to upgrade their website, social media, create brochures and other things, Walker said.
All semester long, students in Noliwe Rooks’s new class, “Race and Social Entrepreneurship: Food Justice and Urban Reform,” have been conducting research, reading about, and discussing issues of food policy, politics, access, and sustainability in Ithaca.
For their final projects, the class split into several groups, many working with residents of Ithaca’s McGraw House, a senior living community, to take some action on food insecurity in our area. One of those groups hosted a film screening of the documentary film “A Place at the Table” Dec. 3 for about 20 residents of McGraw House, followed by discussion and dessert. McGraw House is an independent-living apartment complex for people 62 and older on South Geneva Street.
Having lived through the depression, some of the McGraw House residents said they could relate to the hunger issues described in the movie, but they were surprised to learn the situation is still so bad for many people in the U.S. today.
What impact can theater have on the lives of incarcerated men in a maximum security prison? Bruce Levitt, Cornell professor of performing and media arts, is working with inmates to find out. Honored as the inaugural recipient of the Engaged Scholar Prize for his work as a facilitator for the Phoenix Players Theatre Group at Auburn Correctional Facility, Levitt delivered a lecture on his time with the troupe and his corresponding documentary, “Human Again,” Oct. 28, 2016.
Following the lecture, Levitt participated in a panel discussion with Roadside Theater Artistic Director Dudley Cocke, who has taught theater at Cornell as an artist in residence; and Sandra Folasewa Oyeneyin ’14, a production coordinator for National Geographic Studios, who volunteered with the Phoenix Players as a Cornell student.
The Engaged Scholar Prize honors a distinguished faculty member who inspires students, colleagues and the community through innovative projects that integrate community engagement with scholarly activities.
The sixth annual Cornell Town-Gown (TOGO) Awards ceremony, held Nov. 19 at Ithaca High School, celebrated the connections between Cornell University and local communities and highlighted the achievements of local leaders who have left or are leaving high-profile positions.
Kate Supron, Engaged Cornell Cooperative Extension Liaison and former mayor of Cayuga Heights, was among the community leaders recognized this year.
In addition to the partnerships receiving TOGOs, Cornell Interim President Hunter Rawlings noted several other town-gown collaborations, including those that Engaged Cornell has made possible: a project that mentors girls and underrepresented minority students in Ithaca middle and high schools interested in computer coding; a legal research clinic that provides pro bono work by law students; and a course that includes a project to develop new exhibits with Ithaca Sciencenter staff.
In his Tompkins Weekly column, Gary Stewart, associate vice president in the Office of Cornell Community Relations, highlights Engaged Cornell projects with local community ties.
Months and years of research were showcased Oct. 28 at the Engaged Cornell grant recipients’ poster session, where students and faculty had the opportunity to share research projects supported by grants from the Office of Engagement Initiatives.
The office provides a number of different grants for curriculum development, research, scholarship, travel, leadership and other community-engagement projects. The event showcased projects ranging from empowering youth through writing to addressing health disparities among rural women.
What impact can theater have on the lives of incarcerated men in a maximum security prison? Bruce Levitt, Cornell professor of performing and media arts, is working with inmates to find out.
For the past six years, Levitt has served as a facilitator for the Phoenix Players Theatre Group (PPTG) at Auburn (N.Y.) Correctional Facility, a program described as “transformative” by the inmates who organize and participate in it. In his weekly visits to the prison, Levitt collaborates with the men as they express themselves through theatrical performances that range from Shakespeare to personal narratives.
Honored as the inaugural recipient of the Engaged Scholar Prize for his work with the troupe, Levitt delivered a lecture on his time with the Phoenix Players and his corresponding documentary, “Human Again,” Oct. 28 in the Physical Sciences Building.
Bruce Levitt, professor of performing and media arts and inaugural recipient of Cornell’s Engaged Scholar Prize, will deliver “Human Again: Prison Theatre and the Possibilities of Redemption” Friday, Oct. 28, at 3:45 p.m. in 120 Physical Sciences Building. The lecture is free and open to all.
These days, many universities incorporate community-engaged experiences into their curricula and cocurricula. At Cornell University, working with neighboring communities is not a novel concept; in fact, it’s been a part of the university’s mission since its founding as New York’s land-grant institution in 1865. A new program, Engaged Cornell, is focusing on bringing community-engaged experiences to a wide range of undergraduate students, updating the university’s longstanding commitment to community engagement for the twenty-first century. Continue reading on the Association of American Colleges & Universities website.
In their roles, they will work with staff members in the Office of the Vice Provost and Office of Engagement Initiatives, and with administrators in Student and Campus Life, Undergraduate Education and Global Cornell, to contribute to the broad mission of public engagement at the university, with a focus on Engaged Cornell.
The fellows report to Vice Provost Judith Appleton, who announced the appointments.
“Gerard and Diane are wonderfully suited to their roles because of their academic backgrounds and scholarship,” Appleton said. “Gerard studies colonialism, and we’re delighted to have a faculty voice in public engagement who comes from the humanities. And Diane Burton is a social scientist who is very embedded in the business world and entrepreneurship, with a strong interest in the social sector.”
Fourteen new projects funded with 2016 Engaged Curriculum Grants are underway. With an additional eight teams receiving renewal funding, these grants involve 93 faculty and staff team members, 29 academic departments and nearly 60 community partners. The 37 planned and active courses are expected to reach more than 1,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students.
Proposals for 2017 curriculum grants are being accepted, as are proposals for other grants supported by Engaged Cornell.
The 14 newly funded projects are summarized below, with abstracts posted on the Engaged Cornell website …
The Office of Engagement Initiatives is pleased to announce the 2017 Request for Proposals (RFP) available to Cornell faculty, students, and staff. To browse the opportunities and apply for funding for community-engaged work, visit engaged.cornell.edu/funding.
Proposals currently being accepted:
- Engaged Curriculum Grants | Letter of intent (new applicants) deadline January 17, 2017
- Undergraduate Engaged Research Programs | Application deadline January 18, 2017
- Engaged Research Grants for Faculty | Application deadline February 1, 2017
- Engaged Scholar Prize | Nomination deadline February 28, 2017
- Engaged Opportunity Grants | Fall application deadline October 17, 2016; spring deadline February 15, 2017; summer deadline April 10, 2017
- Community-Engaged Student Travel Grant Program | Application deadline for winter break travel October 10, 2016; application deadline for summer travel March 1, 2017
- Engaged Graduate Student Grants | Application deadline January 18, 2017
The Office of Engagement Initiatives supports the creation of new community-engaged curricula, research, and opportunities, as well as the further development and curricular integration of current community-engaged teaching and research initiatives through several grant programs. If you have specific questions about any of these, please get in touch with the Office of Engagement Initiatives through this contact form.
Twelve faculty members from seven Cornell departments have been named Engaged Cornell faculty fellows for the 2016-17 academic year. This selective program supports faculty who do community-engaged teaching or research and use their scholarship to address challenges in the world beyond campus.
“In this yearlong learning cohort, fellows collaboratively explore cutting-edge theories and practices of community-engaged learning and research,” says Anna Sims Bartel, associate director of community-engaged curricula and practice in the Office of Engagement Initiatives. “They advance their own courses and projects as they build relationships with each other across disciplines, weaving a network of engaged scholarship across communities and curricula.”
Some fellows’ projects span the globe, while others have a local focus, addressing such topics as climate change, racial justice, cybersecurity and social-impact investing.
The Engaged Curriculum Grants bring a new wave of community-engaged learning and discovery to Cornell. The twenty-two funded projects involve ninety-three faculty and staff team members, thirty-five academic departments, and more nearly sixty community partners. The thirty-seven planned and active courses will engage more than 1,000 undergraduate, graduate, and professional students once all curricula are implemented.
For more information and a complete list of 2016 Engaged Cornell Curriculum Grant Recipients, click here.
Kate Supron has begun as the Engaged Cornell Cooperative Extension Liaison and is focused on increasing opportunities for community-engaged research, learning, and service projects. The liaison position was created to strengthen collaboration among Cornell students, faculty and staff, and the 57 CCE association offices across the state.
The organic graham crackers must stay fresh in the packaging, the wine-infused mustard requires shelf stability, and the all-natural frozen Greek yogurt needs a safety plan. Welcome to Food Science 4000, the capstone course where Cornell seniors draw on their knowledge to aid New York food businesses and strengthen enterprises.
This course is supported by a 2015 Engaged Curriculum Grant.
The seven Cornell student projects that were presented at the Clinton Global Initiative University annual meeting in April have received additional funding from Engaged Cornell. The funds will support students as they seek innovative solutions to pressing global challenges in education, environment and climate change, peace and human rights, poverty alleviation, and public health.
Professor of performing and media arts Bruce Levitt is the inaugural recipient of Cornell’s Engaged Scholar Prize, Vice Provost Judith Appleton announced May 11.
Administered by Engaged Cornell, the annual prize recognizes a faculty member who inspires others with innovative integration of teaching, learning, and research involving public or community-based partnerships. Levitt was nominated for the prize by the Department of Performing and Media Arts (PMA).
In his teaching, Levitt has developed classes around community-based theater as a catalyst for social change, exposing his students “to the integral relationship of theater to its cultural context, helping them to grow through enhanced understanding of civic engagement and social action,” PMA department chair Nick Salvato said in his nomination letter.
Since 2011, Levitt has been the lead facilitator for the Phoenix Players Theatre Group (PPTG) at Auburn Correctional Facility, a program initiated by inmates in 2009 with assistance from Stephen Cole, late professor emeritus of theater arts.
Professor Rebecca Stoltzfus, the provost’s fellow for public engagement and key member of the Engaged Cornell leadership team, has been appointed vice provost for undergraduate education for a five-year term effective July 1, 2016. She will oversee initiatives enhancing undergraduate instruction and related programs, in collaboration with academic leaders and units across campus.
Rob Scott, executive director of the Cornell Prison Education Program (CPEP), was honored April 27 as a Champion of Change by the White House for giving prison inmates a fair chance at earning a college degree. Read more about Scott’s award.