Skip to main content
  Cornell University

2015 Engaged Faculty Fellows

Our Faculty Programs seek to support those leading or involved with engagement initiatives. Our programming provides spaces to learn how engaged research or service-learning courses can work for you, connect with other like-minded individuals, discover best methods, develop collaborations and new ideas, and explore the resources available. Click name to jump to individual profile.

KATE BRONFENBRENNER | BILL GASKINS | LIZ BRUNDIGE | DARLENE EVANS | JIM LASSOIEALEKSANDR MERGOLD | SCOTT PETERSNOLIWE ROOKS

 


 

Kate BronfenbrennerKate Bronfenbrenner

FIELD OF WORK:

Senior Lecturer in ILR Labor Relations, Law and History/Resident Outreach

BIO:

Kate is the Director of Labor Education Research and a Senior Lecturer at Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations where she teaches and does research on union and employer strategies in organizing and bargaining in the global economy. Bronfenbrenner has also done extensive research on the impact of trade policy on employment, wages, and unionization. Prior to joining the Cornell faculty in 1993, she was an Assistant Professor in Labor Studies at Penn State University and worked for many years as an organizer and union representative with the United Woodcutters Association in Mississippi and with the SEIU in Boston, as well as a welfare rights organizer in Seattle, Washington.Bronfenbrenner, who received her Ph.D. from Cornell in 1993, is the co-author and editor of several books on union strategies, including the following: Global Unions: Challenging Transnational Capital Through Cross Border Campaigns, Union Organizing in the Public Sector: An Analysis of State and Local Elections, Organizing to Win: New Research on Union Strategies, and Ravenswood: The Steelworkers’ Victory and the Revival of American Labor. She has also published numerous articles, book chapters, and monographs on labor policy, employer and union behavior in public and private sector organizing and first contract campaigns, comprehensive campaigns, union leadership development, women and unions and global trade and investment policy. Bronfenbrenner has been the recipient of many awards, most notably one of Cornell’s highest honors, the Carpenter Memorial Advising Award in 2012.

ABOUT THE PROJECT:

In past years, Bronfenbrenner has brought in union speakers to her class, Labor Relations 4000/6000, to talk about their different union organizing models, but the students never got to meet workers or see the organizing campaigns in process. This past year, she was determined to provide the undergraduate and graduate students more of an engaged learning experience in an effort to better meet the needs of students taking the course as well as the unions, social justice organizations, and other community groups with whom these students will work with after graduation.

As an ELR Faculty Fellow, Bronfenbrenner wanted to significantly strengthen the amount of student engagement in her teaching and research. For Organizing 4000/6000, she wanted to make it more of an engaged learning experience so that the students go beyond academic literature to actively learn more about which workers are organizing and which are not. Professor Bronfenbrenner accomplished this by adding a 2 day trip to New York City, where students engaged with the organizing campaign process and the Workers Center. On the first day of the trip, students were able to observe workers from SEIU 32BJ, UNITE HERE, and the police union all using very different strategies in presenting their cases before Port Authority Wage Hearings. Students were also able to talk to the SEIU workers after the meeting, and watch an impromptu union meeting and strike vote in the park across from the Authority. The following day, students went to the Retail Action Network and met with representatives from the Workers Center, organizers from the RWDSU Zara campaign, and organizers from the UFCW Capital Strategies Department. Staff from each group described their organizing work and then took answers from the students. On their way home, each student journaled about their experience. Readings and class discussion before and after the trip were designed to make the experience more valuable.

On top of adding more engagement to Organizing 4000/6000, Bronfenbrenner also wanted to add more engagement to another course she teaches, Contract Administration 4040/6060. Students in this class do weekly problem sets working off three collective bargaining agreements from different unions and industrial sectors in the Ithaca community. The students are divided into three groups, and over the course of the semester meet with the union representative and the workers about current issues in the workplace, observe grievance hearings, and watch bargaining sessions. For the final paper, students pick an issue that they believe would be best for the union to focus on and win. Students then write out the best strategy the union should pursue to win the issue and why it is the best course of action.

WHY SHE DOES IT:

Few in the labor movement or in academia would argue with the concept that labor’s future depends on making dramatic gains in new organizing. Yet, there continues to be a wide range of opinion, both within the labor movement and among scholars studying the labor movement, about the most effective union strategies to increase union organizing success, and whether any success is possible. In recent years this debate has taken on new significance as many, both inside and outside the movement, have begun to question past organizing models and experiment with new and old strategies. . . . In Organizing 4000/6000 and Contract Administration 4040/6060 with the help of Engaged Learning and Research, students haven been able to tackle these issues through completing a series of short papers and one longer research paper in response to readings, video, primary documents, and onsite visits to live union and worker center campaigns.

The results have been rewarding, as Professor Bronfenbrenner has had enthusiastic classes with more active student participation, and most importantly, has witnessed more student learning that she has seen in many years. Students are speaking more in class; they are grasping and retaining more of the lectures, discussions, and readings; and they are becoming better and more fluent writers in journaling about their work with community stakeholders, in their short writing assignments, and in their research papers. Students speak extremely positively about their engagement with workers, labor organizations, and policy makers; and the feeling is mutual. Professor Bronfenbrenner has gotten very positive feedback from everyone with whom the students have interacted in the community and the students have expressed gratitude for the engaged learning experience.

LEARN MORE:
Faculty Profile


Bill GaskinsBill Gaskins

FIELD OF WORK:

Visiting Associate Professor, Department of Art, American Studies Program

BIO:

From a professional base in photography, cinema, non-fiction writing, and an academic foundation in art, design and the history of photography, Bill Gaskins explores questions about photographs, portraiture and the myths of photography and American culture.

Prior to his appointment at Cornell, Bill Gaskins established his profile as an interdisciplinary artist, scholar and engaged teacher as a Visiting Professor in the Department of Photography at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Art and Art History at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. As a professor in Photography, the History of Photography and Media Studies at Parsons School of Design at The New School In New York City, the value and merit of his coursework was honored when he received The New School University Distinguished Teaching Award in 2011. Some of his ideas on curriculum and teaching are featured ion a Routledge Press book titled Photography 4.0: A Teaching Guide for the Twenty-First Century.

ABOUT THE PROJECT:

Precarity and poverty are commonly associated with the outcome of students who seek Bachelor/Master of Fine Arts (BFA/MFA) degrees. The common curricular focus is on producing work to meet the expectations of an exclusive and elite art market or to evade professional development issues completely in the absence of necessary skills and aptitudes that will enable them to create unique platforms for distribution and profit.

The Ghetto Film School located in the Mott Haven section of the South Bronx has developed a public high school for Cinema where students are trained and educated in narrative filmmaking as well as provided with the tools to engage platforms for distribution and profit through the work they create.

Gaskins seeks to use his Engaged Cornell Faculty Fellowship to develop a course that will offer Cornell students in art and media opportunities to increase their professional and social literacies by learning filmmaking and the economics of the cinema industry as well as dismantling the myths of poverty in the United States in tandem with the predominantly Black and Latino students of the GFS. Cinema production is a critical literacy in the twenty first century. The course will introduce Cornell students to the fundamentals of cinema production using mobile phone cameras and lead the students towards the production of a series of short films that challenge the myth of hard work and lack of initiative among the poor as the root cause for poverty in the United States.

WHY HE DOES IT:

The communities that are commonly the object of service learning course proposals are rarely viewed as sites for directly teaching students and learning from community members. Gaskins wants to change that paradigm by developing a unique learning and teaching opportunity through his Engaged Cornell Faculty Fellowship. In the future, his Engaged Cornell Faculty Fellowship goal is to develop the first Advanced Placement Course in Cinema in the United States through the Cornell Department of Performance and Media Studies.

LEARN MORE:

www.billgaskins.com | www.ghettofilm.org


Liz BrundigeLiz Brundige

FIELD OF WORK:

Assistant Clinical Professor of Law and Assistant Dean for International Programs, Cornell Law School

BIO:

Liz Brundige is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Law at Cornell Law School, as well as Assistant Dean for International Programs and Executive Director of the Avon Global Center for Women and Justice. She also founded and directs the Law School’s Global Gender Justice Clinic, in which students engage in local, global, and transnational efforts to address gender-based violence and discrimination.

Prior to joining Cornell, Brundige was a teaching fellow and clinical lecturer at Yale Law School, where she co-taught the Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic. She was previously awarded the Bernstein International Human Rights Fellowship to work with the International Association of Women Judges on programs designed to advance women’s access to justice in southern and East Africa. She was also an Associate Legal Officer in the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and a law clerk for Judge Kermit V. Lipez of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, and Justice Sandile Ngcobo of the Constitutional Court of South Africa.

Brundige received her B.A. from Yale University, an M.Phil. in Development Studies from Oxford University, and a J.D. from Yale Law School, where she was awarded the Khosla Memorial Dignity Prize for her human rights work.

ABOUT THE PROJECT:

With the support of Engaged Learning and Research, Liz Brundige is developing a redesigned clinical course that examines the intersection of gender, violence and discrimination in Central New York. The course will build upon her experience teaching the Law School’s International Human Rights and Global Gender Justice Clinics, as well as directing its Avon Center for Women and Justice. It will culminate in a re-imagined Gender Justice Clinic that includes an expanded focus on local community engagement. Students in this course will examine and engage with local and global efforts to address gender injustice, with a particular focus on gender-based violence. Issues of concern may include intimate partner violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, gender discrimination in employment or housing, and violence against incarcerated women. Local community-engaged cases and projects will be a major focus of the Clinic’s docket. They will be complimented by cases and projects that use international advocacy tools to address gender injustice in other countries.

WHY SHE DOES IT:

Over the next few years, Liz hopes to continue to expand the Clinic’s local community-based advocacy and to explore opportunities to connect this work with similar advocacy efforts in other countries. Through this blend of local and global community engagement, the Clinic will seek to expose students to diverse approaches to understanding and addressing gender-based violence and discrimination, challenge their assumptions, and generate new insights that will help to prepare them to be effective and thoughtful lawyers.

LEARN MORE:

Faculty Profile: www.lawschool.cornell.edu/faculty/bio_elizabeth_brundige.cfm

Global Gender Justice Clinic: www.lawschool.cornell.edu/clinical-programs/global-gender-justice/


Darlene EvansDarlene Evans

FIELD OF WORK:

Senior Lecturer, John S. Knight Institute for Writing in the Disciplines at Cornell University

BIO:

Darlene Evans is a senior lecturer in the John S. Knight Institute for Writing in the Disciplines at Cornell University where she piloted and has taught an outreach course, “Common Ground: Cornell and Ithaca Students in Collaboration” for over a decade. Cross-listed with English and American Studies, the course involves a partnership between participants in her First-Year Writing Seminar and students at local high schools and middle schools. Other work concerning civic engagement at Cornell includes teaching a core course for the Public Service Scholars Program entitled “The Literature of American Social Action Movements,” and serving as faculty director for that program. A member of Cornell’s Public Service Center Faculty Fellows in Service (FFIS) and an Engaged Learning and Research Faculty Fellow, she contributed to the FFIS publication Extending Our Reach: Voices of Service-Learning at Cornell (2007). At Cornell, she teaches a variety of other writing courses and serves as a faculty writing consultant, supporting the OADI Research Scholars and the McNair Scholarship Program. Evans holds an M.A. in cultural anthropology from Southern Methodist University, an MA. in English with specialties in multicultural literature, critical theory, and critical literacy from Georgetown University, and a B.S. in English education from Indiana University (IN).

ABOUT THE PROJECT:

With the Engaged Learning and Research Faculty Fellows grant, Evans is seeking to enhance the offerings of the Knight Institute to create more First-year Writing Seminars that collaborate with local schools. Her current collaboration with Boynton Middle School has Cornell first-year students partnering with select middle-school students to develop writing skills and perform community research concerning environmental issues. In the Cornell-only sessions, first-year students are investigating the extent to which current school reforms are addressing issues of social inequality that lead to education inequities and what social justice in education would look like. Rather than viewing themselves as “volunteering to help” local students, Cornell students are encouraged to see their partnership as part of their democratic responsibility, within their new community, to help provide schools that are responsive to all students.

WHY SHE DOES IT:

Evans works from a belief that universities should democratize higher education through partnerships with the communities of which they are a part. “Local communities are too often overlooked when it comes to sharing the intellectual life of the university,” she notes. “Engaging university students in courses that collaborate with local schools enables us to share our literacies. Both groups of students have valuable knowledge to teach and learn.”

LEARN MORE:

Faculty Profile: www.arts.cornell.edu/knight_institute/staff/Darlene.htm


Jim LassoieJim Lassoie

FIELD OF WORK:

International Professor of Conservation, Department of Natural Resources

BIO:

Jim Lassoie was educated as a forester and forest ecologist at the University of Washington in Seattle. Joining the DNR in 1976 he has pursued a diverse career at Cornell that included major commitments to the Land Grant’s tripartite mission, as well as administration. The applied perspectives he gained as the NY State Extension Forester (1976-1990) and during the development of his interdisciplinary research program focused on conservation and sustainable development during the 1990s are deeply reflected in his accomplishments as an educator and applied scholar. Jim has been especially successful integrating perspectives on sustainable food, forage, and fiber production into his conservation and environmental management courses, thereby emphasizing their importance for students who might not otherwise take an agriculture course. Most recently, this has included designing collaborative case studies on agroforestry, conservation, ecoagriculture, and sustainable agriculture for the educational website ConservationBridge and developing a service learning course sequence focused on building sustainable community-based alternatives to open-pit copper mining in a mountainous region of Ecuador.

Jim enjoys a wide variety of extracurricular activities with his spouse, Dr. Ruth E. Sherman, which includes travel, eco-tourism, and various outdoor activities. They live on 175 wooded acres south of Ithaca with flocks of wild turkeys; marauding deer herds; periodic coyotes, foxes, and bears; two cats; and no children. He is an avid photographer with experience in both wet and digital darkrooms and has a modicum of published and displayed photographs.

ABOUT THE PROJECT:

As New York’s Land Grant Institution, Cornell’s mandate for ‘public service’ has set it apart from other Ivy League universities throughout its 150-year history. This responsibility is embodied in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ (CALS) long-time commitment to community engagement through Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE). With roots to the agricultural community, CCE now “…puts knowledge to work in pursuit of economic vitality, ecological sustainability and social well-being.…bring local experience and research based solutions together, helping New York State families and communities thrive in our rapidly changing world” (http://www.cce.cornell.edu/Pages/Default.aspx). This research-extension nexus emphasizing the importance of applied, or socially relevant, research has also been historically evident in the institution’s approach to providing students with broad educational opportunities in the “agriculture and the mechanical arts” in accordance with the Morrill Land Grant Act of 1862. However, beyond perhaps a course or two the research-extension nexus is not pedagogically incorporated into curricula in the natural sciences.

Likewise, CALS’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR), with roots as the nation’s first forestry college established in 1898, has focused on the application of interdisciplinary science to societal problems related to the management of natural and environmental resources. Hence, its CCE programs and undergraduate curriculum have evolved greatly over this 115+ year history in response to the changing needs of society. The Department recently discontinued its 65-year-old Natural Resources major after a yearlong effort to recast it as Environmental and Sustainability Sciences (ESS) in order to better address student and worldwide interests in environmental conservation and sustainable development.

Cornell University has pursued its public service mandate through a variety of programs in addition to CCE, which is confined primarily to the institution’s four NY State Contract Colleges, which includes CALS. In particular, Engaged Learning and Research (ELR) and The Public Service Center have connected students to meaningful community-based service-learning opportunities for many years and now, with CCE and The Cornell Commitment, form established pillars supporting the new Engaged Cornell Initiative. It is important to note, however, that community-engaged learning is historically grounded to the early work of John Dewey in experiential education, while CCE lacks a clear pedagogy for incorporating the research-extension nexus into applied curricula like ESS.

The ESS curriculum is relatively new and rapidly evolving as we test various approaches to learning and adapt to newfound insights. Although administratively centered in the DNR, faculty members and courses supporting this major are distributed across 20 academic departments in four different colleges.

The collective hope is that this new curriculum will yield graduates capable of addressing the many complex environmental problems currently facing societies worldwide. However, despite the implied central role for community-engaged learning in meeting this objective, the disciplinary diversity represented by the major’s multi-department faculty has slowed the integration of this pedagogy into the curriculum beyond a single course or two.  Even those who see community-engaged learning as a possible trademark for ESS, do so from the research-extension nexus rather than the education pedagogy supporting service learning. This is further complicated by the lack of a clear tie to education and teaching in the research-extension nexus. Furthermore, ESS faculty in bio/physical disciplines often see community engagement as being irrelevant or a distraction to the educational process. The net result is that the ESS curriculum currently lacks (1) a pedagogical framework for community-engaged learning, (2) the curricular continuity needed for students interested in community service, and (3) programmatic linkages to the Engaged Cornell Initiative.

Jim accomplished three objectives as a 2015-16 Engaged Learning and Research Faculty Fellow that will significantly influence his effectiveness as a contributing member of the Cornell faculty. First, he enhanced his various teaching activities by acquiring a sound understanding of the application of educational concepts underpinning community-engaged service learning. This will have direct positive effects on student-learning outcomes associated with his courses. He also greatly expanded his network of other ELR professionals across campus and is now in a better position to assist ESS colleagues interested in adopting community-engaged service learning pedagogies. Secondly, Jim’s work leading up to and after producing the report and giving a seminar will stimulate discussions among the ESS faculty about the possible role for community-engaged service learning in the curriculum. He hopes that this would prompt and support a faculty team to pursue a Community Engaged Curriculum Grant in the future focused on enhancing engaged learning opportunities for ESS majors interested in domestic environmental problems.

Lastly, CALS, being grounded in the research-extension nexus, has numerous majors in the natural sciences that likely are facing curricular issues similar to ESS. Perhaps the insights Jim gained as a Faculty Fellow will serve as a resource for enhancing community-engaged service learning in these majors. He remains open to discussing how to enhance such an approach in these programs.

WHY HE DOES IT:

Lassoie has worked with undergraduates for over four decades and has come to realize that they are often our most undervalued and least appreciated classroom resource. His enjoyment and effectiveness as a teacher greatly improved when he started focusing on what students were contributing and learning rather than what he was assigning and teaching. Lassoie believes that these aren’t empty vessels waiting for us to fill them up with facts…instead we should be providing a catalyst for student learning, awareness, and reflection associated with real-world relevance. He now appreciates that the tenets underpinning engagement and service learning provide a pathway for developing an ‘authentic learning’ environment that captures the creative strength embodied in the research-extension nexus that is unique to Land Grant Universities like Cornell. Hopefully, the Engaged Cornell Initiative will open new opportunities for students majoring in applied interdisciplinary disciplines, such as Environmental and Sustainability Science.

Students coming to the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ new major in Environmental and Sustainability Sciences are concerned about the future of our planet and its people. They want to “do something real” as students and hope to “make a positive difference” later as professionals. Fortunately, the home for ESS is the Department of Natural Resources with over 100 years of experience focused on promoting applied scholarship and engaging its students in building the interdisciplinary skill set needed to understand and manage contemporary real-world environmental problems. Unfortunately, both DNR and ESS are currently rather disconnected pedagogically from the emerging Engaged Cornell Initiative. This limits opportunities for our students and lessens our ability to support other applied curricula across the College.

LEARN MORE:

Faculty Profile: http://dnr.cals.cornell.edu/people/james-lassoie


Aleksandr MergoldAleksandr Mergold

FIELD OF WORK:

Assistant Professor, AAP, Department of Architecture

BIO:

Coming from a family with two generations of architects, Aleksandr Mergold was trained at Princeton and Cornell. Since 2008 he has been a partner at Austin+Mergold LLC (A+M), an architecture, landscape, and design practice, that is also testing ground for Mergold’s research agenda focused on a “design-and-adapt” modus operandi, the contemporary interpretation of spolia, by repurposing all that is mundane, common, cheap, and, most important, available and disposable in today’s construction — be it objects, infrastructure, images, technology, or resources. Prior to A+M, Mergold worked at Pentagram in New York on a variety of architectural and design projects.

Mergold taught at Parsons the New School for Design in New York City and at Listaháskóli Íslands/Iceland Academy of the Arts in Reykjavik, and was a visiting assistant professor at Department of Architecture and a lecturer at Design and Environmental Analysis, College of Human Ecology at Cornell.

Mergold’s work has been published in Thresholds, Mnemeio & Perivallon, 306090, BLDGBLOG, Specialle-Z, The Architect’s Newspaper, Domus, The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Residential Architect Magazine, and The Cornell Journal of Architecture. Mergold is a registered architect in New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and New Jersey, member of the American Institute of Architects, American Institute of Graphic Arts, and is a LEED accredited professional.

ABOUT THE PROJECT:

In the school of Architecture, where Mergold is an Assistant Professor, people have come to embrace engagement with a community of stakeholders as fundamental to architecture as a creative service profession. It is the user who ultimately occupies the architecture – and the longer an edifice is in use, and the more flexible it is to be re-used for different purposes, the more sustainable is.

Mergold recently began engaging the ideas of user-centered design, the participation of community in the design process, and learning to engage, to listen and interpret the input from the stakeholders. In the last six years, Mergold has tried several approaches to conduct an engaged design studio. The studio format remains the foundation of architecture education – and the studio, while it allows for peer-to-peer learning, experimentation and discovery, can be an insular experience. Continuity of a project from semester to semester is also challenging (if not virtually impossible). Travel (if necessary) is costly, complicated and ultimately too short to fully understand a specific community. There are time, budget and legal limits on how “engaged” students can become in construction of a project.

Yet, Mergold has noticed that engaged design studios open up the students to completely different ways of experiencing architecture and built environment, which makes them more passionate about their own work as it has a specific relationship to real places and people, and above all, introduces the students to the idea of ethical responsibility to the end-user – that they are not alone with their design work. Mergold realizes that now, as the profession is experiencing a major paradigm shift in how architecture is practiced, it is ever more important to teach the students of architecture how to ethically engage and learn from the stakeholders of the work they are creating.

Despite this acknowledgement, the range of disciplines and complexity of material required in a 5-year Professional Bachelors or a 3.5-year Masters degrees means that the systematic introduction of architecture students to the tools of engagement – direct, indirect, observatory, inquisitive, etc. ways of bringing the stakeholders and their input into the design process – has not been systematic.

The goal of this project is to study our own past: the recent Cornell Architecture studio outcomes to synthesize and learn from our mistakes and successes, and the experience of other design institutions, and it would be greatly aided by the input from other disciplines in this Fellowship – and their experience in education through engagement.

WHY HE DOES IT:

In the future, Mergold hopes to see engaged design learning become an inextricable part of architects’ education at Cornell. The hope is Mergold and his fellow architects will be able to show to the organizations that steward the profession of architecture, such as the AIA, NAAB and the NCARB, the importance of engagement and introduction of it in the early design education as part of the (ever-expanding) tool kit of a young architect.

LEARN MORE:

aap.cornell.edu/people/aleksandr-mergold | www.austin-mergold.com


Scott PetersScott Peters

FIELD OF WORK:

Civic Studies, Public Philosophy, Democratic Theory, Narrative Inquiry and Analysis, History of American Higher Education

BIO:

Scott Peters is a professor in the Department of Sociology at Cornell University. He also serves as faculty co-director of a national consortium of over 100 colleges and universities, called Imagining America: Artists and Scholars in Public Life. At Cornell he has established an innovative, publicly engaged teaching and research program that interweaves development theory and political and educational philosophy with historical, sociological, and narrative methods. His research agenda centers on a critical study of the social, cultural, and political dimensions of higher education’s off-campus engagement work. His most recent book, Democracy and Higher Education: Traditions and Stories of Civic Engagement (Michigan State University Press, 2000), contributes to a new line of research on the critically important task of strengthening and defending higher education’s positive roles in and for a democratic society.

An internationally recognized scholar, Peters has designed and pursued independent research projects with significant support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the National Endowment for the Arts, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, and the Kettering Foundation. He is currently serving as co-principal investigator for “Performing Our Future,” an action research initiative that is exploring how the interweaving of two development paradigms–one from community arts and the other from agency- and asset-centered economics–can help struggling communities break out of bounded imaginations about their identity and potential.

ABOUT THE PROJECT:

During the Fall 2015 Semester, Peters taught DSOC 4700, which is the capstone course for undergraduate majors in Development Sociology. The purpose of this course is to provide seniors in the major an opportunity to synthesize–and bring to bear–the theoretical knowledge, research skills, and intellectual interests they have acquired as students. Peters used engaged pedagogies in his approach to this course. Students participated in a community-initiated action research project called “Ripples of Change,” in partnership with a group of diverse grassroots community leaders connected to the Natural Leaders Initiative (NLI). The project sought to discover and analyze the theories and practices of grassroots leadership development, civic engagement, and community capacity-building that are at play in NLI graduates’ lives and work, and to impact how the larger community understands, prioritizes, practices and funds community capacity-building. Students helped NLI graduates develop rich narratives about  their leadership development. The class met at least three times during the semester with the community leaders, and engaged in reflective conversations about what those narratives can teach us about the processes of grassroots leadership development, civic engagement, community development, and social change. They also explored the practice of developing effective, respectful, inclusive community-campus partnerships that democratize participation in the creation of new knowledge.

WHY HE DOES IT:

Scott Peters’ rationale for pursing an Engaged Learning and Research Faculty Fellowship was to build his own knowledge, skills and capacities for utilizing engaged learning and research approaches in an undergraduate course. Peters enjoys being a part of a learning community of other faculty who are working with undergraduates. He hopes to continue to learn new methods and skills that will help him to productively engage undergraduates in engaged, community-based learning and research.

Learn More:

Faculty Profile: devsoc.cals.cornell.edu/people/scott-peters

Other Links: cornell.academia.edu/ScottPeters | imaginingamerica.org/


Noliwe RooksNoliwe Rooks

FIELD OF WORK:

Africana Studies

BIO:

As a faculty member in Africana Studies, a field born of campus protest and demands that institutions of higher education respond to the relevant and real-world issues and concerns of communities often excluded from power, Noliwe Rooks, like others in the field, regularly teaches courses that look at social justice issues through the lens of race. As part of these classes, students have been asked to work with community groups and non-profit organizations in both Ithaca and New York City in order to further immerse themselves in the thinking, best practices, issues and perspectives of community groups and local leaders as they work on final research papers that propose solutions to problems that their partner groups have identified as pressing.

ABOUT THE PROJECT:

To Feed the People Body and Soul: Food Justice and Environmental Equity is an opportunity to develop connections and relationships with local community members whose work in Ithaca revolves around food dignity, justice, and access. The goal is to ultimately redesign a previously taught course that focused on food justice and environmental equity in the South Bronx to include a more local focus. The redesigned course, To Feed the People Body and Soul: Food Justice and Environmental Equity, will be offered in the fall of 2016 and focuses on the issues of race, inequality and poverty relative to food in the Ithaca area.

WHY SHE DOES IT:

Noliwe Rooks believes that liberal arts can transform communities at the same time that community engagement can transform a liberal arts education and that interdisciplinary fields such as Africana studies are well poised to participate in this transformation.

LEARN MORE:

www.asrc.cornell.edu/people/rooks.cfm