By Gary Stewart
Engaged Cornell continues to enhance and empower area organizations and residents, as reflected in this year’s curriculum grant recipients that included 22 funded projects involving 93 faculty and staff members, 29 academic departments, and nearly 60 community partners.
The 34 planned and active courses are expected to reach more than 1,000 undergraduate, graduate, and professional students, and will cover 30 majors and seven minors.
Among several projects with local ties supported by grants from the Office of Engagement Initiatives:
— Legal Research: 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 grant will allow the clinic to more than double its capacity and enroll up to 15 second- and third-year students per semester. Community partners include the Human Services Coalition of Tompkins County and Rev: Ithaca Startup Works.
— Food and Health: The challenge of eradicating hunger is a complex issue. One approach is accessible in every community: Gardening. “Seed to Supper” will focus on programs encouraging statewide residents to grow a portion of their own food on a limited budget. The students will also have internships at food banks throughout the state, including Food Bank of the Southern Tier. Related, food systems around the globe are being threatened by climate change, growing rates of crop failures, and population increases. In response, Cornell is launching a Master of Public Health. Students in the program’s “Food Systems for Health” concentration will collaborate with community partners on public health projects, both here and abroad. Locally, they will assess and expand nutrition education programs in concert with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County.
— Sustainability-plus: Another Engaged Cornell grant that was highlighted at the annual Cornell Town-Gown Awards earlier this month is an initiative engaging university staff, faculty and students, and Learn@EcoVillage. In this unique collaboration involving EcoVillage, Cornell’s Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, Cornell Cooperative Extension and other community partners, students will learn about communicating environmental and sustainability issues and apply these strategies while working with a campus, community, or national organization.
This past year, Liz Walker, director of Learn@EcoVillage, met with Cornell University Infrastructure, Properties and Planning staff to see how EcoVillage programming and expertise might be tailored to help Cornell better track campus sustainability metrics. Meanwhile, Walker and colleagues have developed a new strategic plan for Learn@EcoVillage that prioritizes increased engagement with higher education, and local youth, including under-represented, minority youth in the greater Ithaca area.
For more information about 2016 Engaged Cornell grant recipients and 2017 grant opportunities, visit engaged.cornell.edu.
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East Hill Notes are published the second and fourth Mondays in Tompkins Weekly. Gary Stewart is associate vice president in Cornell’s Office of Cornell Community Relations.