February 23, 2011

After Closing Department, Cornell Offers Education Minor

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Although Cornell’s Department of Education will be eliminated, the University announced that the education minor and teacher certification program will still be offered.

While the department’s only major, agricultural science education, will no longer be offered, Senior Associate Dean of CALS Max Pfeffer said that students could still receive instruction in agricultural science education by minoring in education and majoring in an agricultural field such as agricultural science.

The University hired an additional lecturer for agricultural education and will hire another in the fall for science education, according to Pfeffer. These lecturers will advise students and faculty, and they will teach courses needed to meet certification requirements.

Although the department will close, Pfeffer said students will be able to take classes in education in other departments, where former education faculty are being transferred.

Pfeffer added that there will still be an office and advisor for the teacher certification program, which gives students accreditation  needed to teach after one year of post-undergraduate study.

While some faculty and students said the department’s closure would hamper Cornell’s ability to provide instruction in education, others expressed optimism for the future of education studies at Cornell.

“It is a bit unusual not to have a departmental home for such a large program. But I think as long as we can maintain an infrastructure for the program, make sure the students receive guidance and the program holds an office, it will do just fine,” Prof. John Sipple, education, said.

Others, however, seemed less convinced.

“The Department of Education consisted of much more than teacher preparation. Education faculty and students are involved in scholarship regarding critical questions about the nature and ethics of education in schools and in diverse community settings,” a graduate of the education program, Tom Archibald grad, stated. “As a land grant institution, such questions should be central to the research, teaching and outreach performed across the University.”

After learning that the education minor will continue to be offered at Cornell, Gila Belsky ’13, an education minor, appeared ecstatic.“Oh my God, you’re kidding,” Belsky said. “When I found the education department at Cornell, after taking my first class, something clicked. We’re building the future of education here.”

Belsky added that the education minor is “a huge part” of Cornell’s land grant mission. According to the University, “Cornell fulfills its land grant mission by providing education, outreach and applied research touching every aspect of life in New York.”

Other students say they were still upset about the closure of the department.

“Doing away with the education department was a huge blow to ed. majors and minors,” education minor Alan Garcia ’12 stated via e-mail. Garcia said maintaining the minor was “the least the University could have done.”

Education minor Jess Beidelman ’12 said that with education faculty moving to new departments, they may face new challenges as education experts in departments that are not specifically geared towards education.

“I think they might be compromising the integrity of the department,” Beidelman said.

Original Author: Erika Hooker