Prof. John Cawley, policy analysis and management, is now the next director of the Cornell in Washington program. As he takes the reins of the 41-year-old program, he hopes to take it a step further, improving outreach and working toward increased participation.
Cawley is an economist whose research focuses on health economics and policy. He has conducted studies observing the effects of taxes on sugar-sweetened drinks, calorie labels on restaurant menus, the state expansion of Medicaid and physical education requirements in schools.
This research has allowed Cawley to collaborate with government agencies and co-author papers with researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Institutes of Health. He has also served on committees such as the Institute of Medicine and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Cornell in Washington allows students to spend a semester in Washington, D.C., where along with taking 12 or more course credits, they also complete an internship that allows them to gain experience and expand their professional network. While in D.C., students are also offered museum trips and tours of government agencies.
“Students engage in experiential learning, applying what they’ve learned in the classroom in a D.C. internship,” Cawley said. “They also continue to take Cornell classes, so they are continuing to make normal progress toward graduation.”
The ability to work with and mentor students attracted Cawley to the role of director. After spending a memorable college summer interning on Capitol Hill, Cawley became dedicated to helping other students have similar experiences.
“When students return from the program, they are enriching the classroom experience in Ithaca because they now have first-hand experience with the things that they are learning about,” Cawley said.
Cawley said he hopes to increase participation, improve outreach by taking advantage of Cornell in Washington alumni as resources and ensure that the program offers a diverse range of courses.
There is currently no financial aid available to students who participate in the summer session of the program, but Cawley said he plans to seek financial support for those students by making fundraising a priority.
Cornell in Washington, previously a part of the School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions, will now be a part of the Brooks School of Public Policy. One of Cawley’s main priorities coming into his position is to facilitate this smooth transition into the new school, planned to launch in fall 2021.
“Even though the program’s in great shape, you have to focus on continuous quality improvement, and you have to stay current with the times,” Cawley said. “That’s going to require integrating with a bigger and a different college and a new leadership structure.”
Still, the core of Cornell in Washington will remain the same, giving students a chance to immerse themselves outside of the classroom.
“[Cornell in Washington] is a great example of Engaged Cornell, proof that we’re not just secluded in an ivory tower,” Cawley said, “but that we take what we’re learning in the classroom and apply it to make the world a better place.”