Academic Initiatives

School of Public Policy and Super-Departments

Building on the Provost’s Review of the Social Sciences, Cornell has announced it will develop a School of Public Policy as well as new cross-college super-departments in psychology and sociology. The existing super-department in economics will also be expanded. These initiatives will elevate Cornell’s excellence and prominence in public policy and will foster collaboration among faculty in core social science disciplines who are currently based in multiple colleges.

Explore Bolstering Cornell’s Excellence in the Social Sciences

External Education

Cornell delivers a broad range of courses and learning programs to individuals and organizations across the world through online, in-person and blended formats. Through the external education initiative and eCornell, the Provost’s office supports faculty who are interested in developing and designing learning experiences to strategically extend the reach of the university. Cornell faculty from every college and school have designed over 100 online professional certificates and lifelong learning programs available through eCornell. The external education initiative also includes expanding executive education programs tailored to the needs of companies, governments and nonprofits.

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Report of the Provost’s Task Force to Enhance Faculty Diversity

In fall 2017 the Provost convened a faculty task force to recommend new approaches to enhance and accelerate the diversity of the Cornell faculty. The task force conducted an extensive review of current programs at Cornell and researched best practices nationally. Several recommendations for recruiting and retaining under-represented and women faculty and enhancing the climate for faculty at Cornell are outlined in the final report.

Report of the Provost’s Task Force to Enhance Faculty Diversity (PDF)

Celebrating Radical Collaboration in Faculty Research

Cornell is launching an ambitious series of initiatives to enhance faculty hiring and pave the way to new discovery. The focus areas target and elevate strategic, radically collaborative discipline areas that point the way toward the discoveries and solutions of tomorrow: nanoscale science and molecular engineering; genome biology; data science; sustainability; the social sciences; infection biology; and the humanities and arts. Each area will have a dedicated task force led by faculty members. Over the next couple of years, Cornell will be aligning its strategic fundraising initiatives around this investment in academics, both on the multidisciplinary side and in the university’s traditional areas of strength. This will help us recruit the faculty that will ensure Cornell’s future excellence, inspiring our students and creating new knowledge that will influence the world.

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Community-Engaged Learning Initiative

In 2015, the university launched the Community-Engaged Learning Initiative, an effort to grow and enhance community-engaged learning opportunities for Cornell students. The initiative builds upon Cornell’s founding land grant mission and commitment to “knowledge with a public purpose.” Innovation in teaching and learning is the core means of realizing this institutional mission through shared practices that connect students, faculty, and curricula with communities and with the public realm in local, national, and global arenas through meaningful reciprocal partnerships addressing the world’s biggest challenges. The Office of Engagement Initiatives stewards this transformational initiative which was established with a $50 million gift from the Einhorn Collaborative.

Read more about the initiative

Faculty Development and Diversity

The Office of Faculty Development & Diversity (OFDD), provides a range of resources, training, and support for deans, department chairs, and individual faculty members in the areas of faculty development and diversity. The OFDD works with deans, chairs, and search committees to improve recruitment and retention practices and to increase diversity in faculty hiring. It provides guidance to the academic leadership and to individual faculty members on mentoring and the tenure and promotion processes. The OFDD offers a variety of professional development programming and grants opportunities for faculty. The office actively collaborates with the Division of Human Resources, the Dean of the University Faculty, and other offices on campus in its efforts to support the success and well-being of all faculty members.

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Global Cornell Initiative

Cornell is and always has been a global university. International study is a core component of the educational mission. To remain relevant and impactful in the 21st century—and to be a top 10 global university—Cornell must equip students to work nimbly across campuses and continents to solve global challenges.

To prepare students for leadership and service in an interdependent world, in fall 2013, the university launched Global Cornell. The strategies of this initiative are to:

  • Reach out to attract students from around the world.
  • Make meaningful international experiences available to all Cornell students.
  • Support Cornell faculty whose research and teaching is international in nature.
  • Attract the most talented faculty from around the globe.
  • Integrate global literacy into Cornell’s curriculum.
  • Generate new investment in Global Cornell.

During the first three years of this initiative, members of the Cornell community have created new linkages where none existed before, both within the university and with partners around the world. These new connections are helping to mobilize resources, build momentum, and create new opportunities. Through Global Cornell, the university is infusing an international dimension into its curriculum, its culture, and all that Cornellians do.

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The Living–Learning Experience

All first-year students live together on North Campus as part of a living–learning community that fosters academic and intellectual learning, personal development, holistic well-being, and a sense of belonging and connectedness. Faculty-in-Residence (who live in the residence halls) and Faculty Fellows play pivotal roles, encouraging students to make meaningful connections with faculty members, inspiring learning outside the classroom, making the residence halls a space for learning as well as living, and deepening students’ intellectual experiences.

The West Campus House System offers a living-learning experience for sophomores, juniors, and seniors. With the goal of bringing students and faculty together in a spirit of inquiry and active citizenship, the House System promotes meaningful interactions with faculty members; self-governance; intellectual, cultural, and social programming; privacy; and independence. West Campus includes five houses, each led by a House Professor-Dean who lives in the house. Each house also has 30 affiliated House Fellows who interact with residents during meals and programs.

Public Engagement Council

To support Cornell’s strategic goal of “Excellence in Public Engagement,” the Provost established a campus-wide Public Engagement Council comprised of senior staff and tenured faculty. The Council is co-chaired by the Vice Provost and the Provost’s Fellows for Public Engagement and is advisory to the Vice Provost and Provost.

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The Active Learning Initiative at Cornell

The Active Learning Initiative supports departments in redesigning their courses to implement research-based active learning strategies and to create sustainable improvements to undergraduate education at Cornell.

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Innovation Teaching and Learning Awards

Cornell encourages instructors to propose and implement projects that explore new tools and emerging technologies, approaches, and teaching strategies to facilitate vibrant, challenging, and reflective learning experiences at Cornell. This program is administered through the Center for Teaching Innovation at Cornell.

The Provost’s Gateway Initiative aims to improve all aspects of the large introductory courses that serve students from the entire university. These courses serve as gateways to majors and curricular pathways. In particular, the initiative aims to support improvements to learning outcomes, space, organization, and learning management and educational technology.

Explore the Innovation Teaching and Learning Awards