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  Cornell University

2016 Recipients

The Engaged Curriculum Grants enhance community-engaged learning at Cornell. The 22 funded projects 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 once all curricula are implemented.

Planning Grants

Development Grants

Advancement Grants


Planning Grants

Communicating Psychological and Brain Science to the Public

Keywords: psychology, brain science, psychological science, communication, science museums, exhibits, children and families, museum curation

Major, minor, and/or courses: Undergraduate and graduate students in psychology and in science and technology studies

Abstract: New discoveries about psychological science regularly appear in the news, but students typically receive little training on how to communicate this research to the public. This project will develop a course to teach students how to inform general audiences, and in particular children and families, about psychological and brain science. Students in the course will work with the Ithaca Sciencenter to develop two prototype exhibits on psychology or brain science. While preparing these exhibits, they will learn how to choose topics that are engaging to children and families, how to design exhibits, and how to install them. The Sciencenter will benefit from the partnership by collaborating with students who have the expertise in a field that is not regularly highlighted in the museum but has the potential to attract significant public attention.

Team members:

Community Partners: Ithaca Sciencenter


Community-Engaged History

Keywords: history, community-engaged history, oral history, reflective-learning, public history, historical narrative, mass incarceration, refugees, immigrants, rural poor, political activists, anarchist communities, sugarcane workers

Major, minor, and/or courses: Undergraduate majors in history

Abstract: All communities around the world have histories, but many lack the skills and tools to recover, preserve, and document their past. This project will develop a curriculum that will allow students to help research and produce history for local or global communities. History faculty will create a series of courses that will train students in oral history, reflective-learning, and public history methods so that they can create formal historical narratives in diverse settings. One focus of the project will be recording the history of marginalized communities in the Ithaca area, such as mass-incarceration survivors, refugees and immigrants, the rural poor, and political activists. Courses will also be developed to build on partnerships faculty have already created with anarchist communities in Spain and with sugarcane workers and activists in rural Jamaica.

Team members:

Community Partners: History Center in Tompkins County, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County

Food Systems for Global Health

Keywords: food and water systems, food security, food and water safety, public health, nutrition, sustainable agriculture, Zambia, Africa, Tompkins County

Major, minor, and/or courses: Graduate students in the new Master of Public Health program

Abstract: Food systems around the globe are being threatened by climate change, growing rates of crop failures, and population increases; and the public’s health is being threatened by a triple burden: insufficient access to food and water in some places, over-indulgence of food in other places, and consumption of food that lacks balance in the micronutrients that are vital to health in many places. To provide a new generation of leaders to improve food and water security, and the related health benefits, Cornell is launching a Master of Public Health that will draw on the expertise of faculty from across campus. After taking required coursework, students in the program’s Food Systems for Health concentration will collaborate with community partners on public health projects in either New York State or Africa. The students could work on any number of projects, including helping farmer networks in Zambia track health improvements related to a re-focus of their practices, or helping to assess and expand nutrition education programs alongside the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County. Students will present results of their projects at an annual public health symposium held at Cornell.

Team members:

  • Sarah Giroux, development sociology, Agriculture and Life Sciences
  • Rebecca Nelson, integrative plant science, Agriculture and Life Sciences
  • Alex Travis, biomedical sciences, Veterinary Medicine
  • Gen Meredith, population medicine, Veterinary Medicine

Community Partners: Community Markets for Conservation, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County


International Migration Course: Integrating an Engaged Learning Component

Keywords: international migration, farmworkers, migrant workers, labor, immigrants’ rights, migration studies, Mexico, Central America

Major, minor, and/or courses: Undergraduate majors in industrial and labor relations, undergraduate and graduate minors in Latina/o studies; course: Crossing Borders: Migrations in Comparative Perspective

Abstract: In contrast to those in major American cities, immigrant workers in rural upstate New York are largely hidden from public view. Yet, Cornell is surrounded by dozens of dairy and crop farms that rely on the labor of workers from Mexico and Central America. In this project, students taking a newly redesigned course, Crossing Borders: Migrations in Comparative Perspective, will conduct field research at farms in the region and work with farmworkers to help them advocate for themselves to improve their conditions. The students will collaborate with the Cornell Farmworker Program to develop research projects in the field and strategies that will support the farmworkers. The course will be offered in the fall of 2017, and students will work on their research projects during the winter intersession and spring semester.

Team members:

  • Maria Lorena Cook, international and comparative labor, Industrial and Labor Relations
  • Debra Castillo, comparative literature, Arts and Sciences
  • Kate Griffith, labor relations, law, and history, Industrial and Labor Relations

Community Partners: Cornell Farmworker Program


Financial Stewardship, Sustainability, and Impact Investing: Using the Tools of Finance to Meet Social Needs

Keywords: impact investing, socially responsible investing, environmental finance, corporate responsibility, sustainable finance, Costa Rica, community finance

Major, minor, and/or courses: Undergraduate majors in finance

Abstract: The recent financial crisis has drawn criticism to the financial industry for its role in precipitating the economic downturn. What has been overlooked by the public is the recent development of investment products that meet social and environmental needs. This project will expose finance students to the field of impact investing and create opportunities for them to engage with companies that are developing such products. A field-based experience will be integrated into the existing finance curriculum that will allow students to work with financial institutions specializing in impact investing. Faculty will also explore establishing engagement opportunities in Costa Rica, where students could work with organizations to improve their community development activities in the finance arena and help strengthen their overall business plans.

Team members:

Community Partners: (NA)


Interdisciplinary Accounting and Law Student Course Providing Specialized Tax Services to Low-Income Immigrants

Keywords: immigrant workers, farmworkers, low-income taxpayers, documented and undocumented workers, tax compliance, Internal Revenue Code, Statements on Standards for Tax Services, ethics, legal assistance, accounting, law, upstate New York, access to justice, consumer protection

Major, minor, and/or courses: Undergraduate majors in the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management with a concentration in accounting, graduate students in the Dyson School Master of Professional Studies program, students in the Law School

Abstract: Immigrant workers in the U.S. are required to pay taxes, yet many fail to file returns. When they seek help with their taxes, they may fall prey to preparers who charge high fees and often provide services that don’t meet certain legal or ethical standards. In this project, a set of courses will be developed to train accounting and law students to prepare tax returns for low-income immigrants in upstate New York. While some tax preparation firms offer these services, they are only available during the traditional filing season of January to April. Low-wage immigrant workers, however, need language-accessible tax preparation services year-round, especially if they want to change their immigration status or if they work in the U.S. beyond the filing season. Faculty will collaborate with regional and national partners to design the courses and determine where services are needed.

Team members:

Community Partners: Volunteer Lawyers Project of Onondaga County, Worker Justice Center of New York, La Posada Tax Clinic


Learning the Professional Practice of Entrepreneurship by Being an Entrepreneur

Keywords: international agriculture, hydroponics, entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship, economic development, curriculum, service learning, local foods, aquaponics, food security, Chile

Major, minor, and/or courses: Undergraduate majors in biological and environmental engineering; undergraduate minor in entrepreneurship; Entrepreneurial Management for Engineers (BEE 4890)

Abstract: Students will learn about entrepreneurship by engaging in a single social entrepreneurial enterprise — one that involves working with a SOS Children’s Village for abandoned and physically or otherwise traumatized children in Puerto Varas, Chile. The contribution to the community will be to eventually create a functioning aquaponics system that produces vegetables and fish. Using their engineering expertise and developing expertise in finance, marketing, management, cross-culture communication, for example, the students will develop a food source that will serve the village residents and potentially be sold at local markets. Faculty team members will visit Chile in the summer of 2016 to establish mutual-needs agreements with the Fundación Chile, a nonprofit that fosters innovation, and SOS Children’s Villages, a worldwide charity for abandoned children. They will subsequently teach a service-learning course during the fall 2016 semester. The long-range plan is to help the village become more self-sufficient by expanding the aquaponics operation so that it can generate an ongoing revenue stream.

Team members:

  • Michael Ben Timmons, biological and environmental engineering, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
  • Richard Evans, Engineering Communications Program, College of Engineering
  • John W. Sipple, development sociology, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences; New York State Center for Rural Schools; Cornell Community and Regional Development Institute
  • John Callister, Harvey Kinzelberg Entrepreneurship in Engineering Program, College of Engineering

Community Partners: Fundación Chile; SOS Children’s Villages

Development Grants

Coding for All

Keywords: coding, computer science, computational science, engineering, programming, women, underrepresented minorities, middle school students, high school students, mentoring

Major, minor, and/or courses: All undergraduates; new course: Introduction to Computational Science and Engineering

Abstract: This project addresses the issue that women and minority students earn so few bachelor’s degrees in computational science in the United States. For girls, the most critical grades for interesting them in computational projects are 6th through 8th. So, this project will encourage girls and underrepresented minorities to participate in computer coding projects through the Ithaca Sciencenter’s Future Science Leaders Program. Cornell students will help the Sciencenter develop coding project ideas by mentoring high school and middle school students to create educational activities in the Sciencenter program. A new introductory freshman course in computational science and engineering will be created, and a minor in that discipline — open to any Cornell student— will be established. It’s expected there will be interplay between participants in the freshman Introduction to Engineering course and Sciencenter coding projects.

Team members:

Community Partners: Ithaca Sciencenter

Cornell Legal Research Clinic

Keywords: legal education, law school, experiential learning, legal clinic, pro bono legal services, legal research, legal experience, skills, foreign law, international law

Major, minor, and/or courses: Law school students

Abstract: Over the last decade, the legal academy has faced increasing pressure to produce skilled, practice-ready graduates. In the fall of 2015, Cornell Law School accepted this challenge by launching the Legal Research Clinic, which provides pro bono legal research services for local nonprofit organizations, public interest attorneys, low-income individuals, and startup businesses. This project will allow the clinic to more than double its capacity and enroll up to 15 second- and third-year students per semester, who will in turn provide services to significantly more clients in the local community who cannot afford legal representation. In addition, the clinic will further expand its services on an international level to provide legal research assistance to foreign judges from around the world to promote access to justice. Finally, another possible application of this experiential learning model will be to broaden its reach in the law school’s curriculum by integrating real world research into the first-year research and writing class of 200 students.

Team members:

Community Partners: Human Services Coalition of Tompkins County, Rev: Ithaca Startup Works

Environmental and Sustainability Communication: From Theory to Engagement

Keywords: environment, sustainability, climate change, communication, environmental communication, public opinion, community awareness

Major, minor, and/or courses: Undergraduate majors in communication or undergraduates interested in environmental and sustainability communication

Abstract: As environmental risks from climate change have become increasingly clear in recent years so has the need to effectively communicate science-based information about this issue to the public. In this project, students will learn about theory-driven and research-based approaches to communicating environmental and sustainability issues and then apply these strategies while working with a campus, community, or national organization. After taking select communication courses in the fall, students will enroll in a seminar during the spring semester designed to prepare them for a summer internship with an organization that is a leader in the sustainability movement. Students will then present a TED-style talk on campus that will assess the outcomes achieved in engaging the public on environmental issues during their internship.

Team members:

Community Partners: Cornell University Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, Cornell University Campus Sustainability Office, Environmental Defense Fund, EcoVillage, Sustainable Tompkins, Cornell Cooperative Extension


Food Systems Approaches to Food Safety

Keywords: food safety, food-borne illness, contaminated food outbreaks, food science, food processors, public health, food systems, infectious disease, epidemiology, New York State, prevention, detection

Major, minor, and/or courses: Graduate and professional students in the Food Science Department and in the Masters in Public Health Program; new course, Food Systems Approaches to Food Safety

Abstract: Each year, 48 million people experience a food-borne illness episode in the U.S.; 3,000 of these people die due to these food-borne infections. In this project, students will partner with a state agency and a nonprofit organization to improve the detection and prevention of food-borne illnesses throughout New York State. A new course, Food Systems Approaches to Food Safety, will train students to identify and address food safety concerns throughout the farm-to-table continuum. The students will help alleviate a state shortage of professionals trained to interview patients infected by contaminated food. They will also collaborate with the state health department on investigating outbreaks of food-borne illnesses and work with the New York State Association for Food Protection to develop educational materials to teach food processors how to detect and prevent the problem.

Team members:

  • Martin Wiedmann, food science, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
  • Randy Worobo, food science, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
  • Renata Ivanek Miojevic, population medicine and diagnostic sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine
  • Alphina Jui-Jung Ho, food science, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
  • Gen Meredith, international programs and public health, College of Veterinary Medicine

Community Partners: New York State Department of Health and New York State Association for Food Protection


Gateways to International Learning: An Anthropology Curriculum for Teaching Inter-Cultural Engagement

Keywords: anthropology, field-based learning and research, inter-cultural experiences, global engaged learning, ethnographic writing

Major, minor, and/or courses: Undergraduate majors in anthropology. New courses: Global Engagements: Living and Working in a Diverse World; Going Global: Preparing for Engaged Learning; and Coming Home: Making the Most of Engaged Experiences.

Abstract: Inter-cultural learning experiences, whether around the corner or around the globe, are essential to anthropological education. This project will develop a multi-year curriculum to teach the skills of global citizenship. First- and second-year students will learn the basic tenets of global engagement; students who have returned from field-based experiences will join the class in the first half of the semester to mentor their peers; students preparing to leave for learning projects will participate in the second half of the semester. Students will interact with international students at Cornell through the English Language Support Office and with faculty in the field via teleconferencing.

Team members:

Community Partners: Cornell University English Language Support Office


Seed to Supper

Keywords: garden-based education, gardening, food security, hunger, food banks, food systems, nutrition, plant science, New York State

Major, minor, and/or courses: Undergraduate majors in plant science and horticulture

Abstract: The challenge of eradicating hunger is a complex issue. One approach is accessible in every community: gardening. Seed to Supper is a new two-semester course sequence that will teach students how to collaborate with community partners to prepare residents across the state to grow a portion of their own food on a limited budget. Students will teach novice gardeners and prepare facilitators to educate others about the skills of gardening and, equally as important, the nuances of other kinds of growth it can foster. Partnering with local food banks and other agencies, students will lead this facilitator preparation using video conferencing and electronic presentations in three upstate New York regions. The students will also learn about food security issues while working on summer internships that will be offered at food banks throughout the state.

Team members:

  • Marvin Pritts, integrative plant science, Agriculture and Life Sciences
  • Neil Mattson, integrative plant science, Agriculture and Life Sciences
  • Marcia Eames-Sheavly, integrative plant science, Agriculture and Life Sciences
  • Lori J. Brewer, integrative plant science, Agriculture and Life Sciences

Community Partners: Food Bank of the Southern Tier, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tioga County, Foodlink, The Food and Health Network

Advancement Grants

Human-Environment Relations: DEA Engaged Learning from Local to Global

Keywords: design and environmental analysis, human-environmental interaction, built environment, healthcare, health impact assessment, Ithaca, Honduras, recovery, anti-poverty activities, neonatal care

Major, minor, and/or courses: Undergraduate majors in design and environmental analysis

Abstract: Innovative design in the built environment can improve the health, functioning, and well-being of individuals in diverse settings. In this project, students enrolled in one of four courses in design and environmental analysis will apply concepts they learn in the classroom to a range of community projects in both Ithaca and Honduras. Students in one course will work with a local nonprofit organization to design a warm and inspiring meeting environment for people recovering from addiction, behavioral problems, and incarceration. In another course, students will travel to Tegucigalpa, Honduras, to continue collaborating with a nonprofit that is expanding a neonatal intensive care unit for frail newborns. In addition, a course will be developed to teach students how to conduct health impact assessments (HIAs) to promote the inclusion of health implications when new projects, programs, or buildings are being considered in communities. In a fourth course, students will conduct post-occupancy evaluations (POEs) to assess the impact of current design on occupants’ functioning, comfort, and well-being.

Team members:

Community Partners: Town of Ithaca Planning Department, Ithaca Community Recovery, Inc., Tompkins Community Action, Little Angels of Honduras

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