On Monday, The David M. Einhorn Center for Community Engagement shared its collaborative mission in a virtual panel with college deans and guest Prof. John Saltmarsh, higher education administration, University of Massachusetts.
Saltmarsh led a discussion with Linda Barrington, associate dean of the SC Johnson College of Business, Nancy Wells, senior associate dean of the College of Human Ecology and Julia Felippe, provost’s fellow for public engagement in the College of Veterinary Medicine. Saltmarsh discussed topics including transformative learning and creating an environment with diverse academic thought.
The Einhorn Center works with the SC Johnson School of Business and the College of Human Ecology to connect faculty and students with local and international communities. The center opened last year as a merger between the former Office of Engagement Initiatives and the Public Service Center. It offers three year foundational block grants, consultations and academic courses.
“This is really interesting and important work, and we don’t often do that well enough,” said Saltmarsh. “The goal is that every student has the opportunity in the major at least once or twice to have a community engaged experience.”
According to the panelists, the Einhorn Center has already taken some steps toward its goal of opening new pathways for Cornellians to better communities at home and abroad by forming an engaged college advisory committee and hiring student ambassadors to promote the program in September of 2020.
Wells noted the College of Human Ecology’s increased focus on engaged learning since it partnered with the Einhorn Center, as well. It launched a new website, formed an advisory board and awarded grants to faculty and students. According to Wells, the college plans to host a community engagement forum in the near future.
“I think the College of Human Ecology being designated as a community engaged learning college is an opportunity for us to elevate, fortify and further institutionalize our commitment to community engagement,” Wells said.
Saltmarsh discussed the importance of students applying what they learn to their lives and the global community. He recalled struggling to remember material from classes he took that did not have practical applications.
“It didn’t stick with me,” he said. “It wasn’t embodied. It didn’t change me in any way; I didn’t live it.”
According to the panelists, the Einhorn Center seeks to bring the embodied learning experience that Saltmarsh lacked. The center actively works to provide transformative education which impacts students personally by encouraging related work outside the classroom, both interpersonal and community focused. .
Barrington advised undergraduate students who are interested in community-engaged learning to talk to an academic advisor and get involved with the center.
All courses currently tagged “CEL” integrate a community-engaged learning aspect. These courses include ANSC 4510: Dairy Herd Business Management , STS 4721: Peace Building in Conflict Regions: Case Studies Sub-Saharan Africa Israel Palestinian Territories and HIST 2006: Understanding Global Capitalism Through Service Learning.
The Einhorn Center plans to continuously collaborate with different colleges at Cornell to further enrich the University’s commitment to community engagement, according to the panelists.
“This is about shaping the future of this college: being able to signal to the world clearly this is what we care about,” said Saltmarsh. “This is what we value.”