Engaged Faculty Fellowship Program

Josh Cerra

Josh CerraA 2014 Engaged Faculty Fellow, Josh Cerra is an associate professor in the Department of Landscape Architecture in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Read his faculty profile for more information.

The Story

YardWorks is a community engagement effort associated with a design studio Josh teaches in the Landscape Architecture Department. During a series of meetings, site investigations, and design processes, YardWorks works directly with neighborhood communities to assist them in developing a vision and goals for enhancing the overall urban ecological condition of their neighborhood. YardWorks then generates habitat-friendly design solutions for the properties of each of the participants, consistent with these community goals and the needs of individual landowners. This kind of voluntary, cooperative stewardship effort provides a unique opportunity to be strategic about improving urban ecological conditions at the neighborhood-scale, in locations that are typically divided into many individual, privately-owned parcels.

This project is conducted in partnership with the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology’s YardMap program and Cornell Cooperative Extensions, and is funded by a Smith-Lever grant. Generally, there are three possible outcomes to this initiative: a) engaged learning where students work directly with neighborhood groups and individual “clients” as part of a multi-scale, urban ecological analysis and design process; b) potential community-building around a common goal via engagement between and among community members; c) development of strategies and methodologies for neighborhood-level working with local CCE county offices as partners, and also seek to link participants to related CCE programs and technical implementation assistance over the long term. The Faculty Fellowship allows Joshua to access a community of peers to help identify and navigate areas for improvement he has encountered during his first engagement effort.

The Strategy

  • Seek new strategies, methods and tools for a) evaluating student learning via direct engagement with the community, and b) minimizing the “engagement gap” between students, teams, and community members when the physical distance between them is significant, for example by mixing face-to-face community workshops and individual meetings with other engagement opportunities using interactive communication technologies.

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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