Engaged Faculty Fellowship Program

Chris Schaffer

Chris SchafferA 2013 Engaged Faculty Fellow, Chris Schaffer is an associate professor and director of graduate studies in the Nancy E. and Peter C. Meinig School of Biomedical Engineering in the College of Engineering. Read his faculty profile for more information.

The Story

Professor Chris Schaffer and post-doctoral scholar Dr. Catharine Clark co-developed the interdisciplinary senior level course, Science Policy Bootcamp: From Concept to Conclusion.  Offered for the first time in Fall 2013 to students training in engineering as well as the physical and biological sciences, the course aims to show students the myriad opportunities and desperate need for scientists to participate in public policy making.

“As scientific and technological discoveries continue to change our world and society at a rapid pace, it has become imperative that our policymaking approach be informed by science.  From energy policy to climate change, from health care to bioterrorism, from science education to technology innovation, it has become critical to have professional scientists and engineers actively engaged in the policymaking process.  However, a fundamental issue facing today’s government is the fact that too few scientists have experience with the inner workings of public policymaking and too few policymakers have significant science or engineering knowledge.  This large gap between the two fields needs to be bridged if we are to have a society where science influences the course we take.”

The Strategy

  • Emphasized real-world science policy work throughout the class
  • Student teams identified an issue at the intersection of science and public policy and researched it deeply
  • The teams identified the current problems, long term goals, and paths to get there
  • They then produced the documents necessary to drive policy change: reports, draft legislation, op-eds, social media, etc.
  • Toward the end of the semester and continuing now, these teams then implemented their strategy in an attempt to prove policy

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Broadening Experiences in Scientific Training (BEST) Program


Engaged Faculty Fellowship Program

A yearlong cohort program in which faculty dive deep into the theory and practice of engaged learning; meet monthly to discuss readings, share projects and workshop challenges; and help transform what it means to teach at Cornell

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