Jason Wu/Sun Assistant Photography Editor

A student walks past Ives Hall, the building where the ILR School holds most classes.

September 14, 2022

ILR School Implements New Curriculum Changes

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Starting this fall, the School of Industrial and Labor Relations implemented a substantially altered curriculum for first-year and transfer students, which includes a diversity and inclusion requirement, updated writing seminars and an increased emphasis on statistics and data analysis skills.

The update reinforces the college’s mission to positively impact individuals and society through teaching, research and outreach.

Originally proposed in Spring 2017, this change was approved by the New York State Education Department and the State University of New York system in the summer of 2021.

According to Bentley Wong ’25, a student ambassador in the ILR school, the curriculum change aims to provide students with both intellectually stimulating courses. 

“The new curriculum presents so many great opportunities for new students to broaden their perspectives on not only social science research, but also the world as a whole as they begin their journey at Cornell,” Wong said. “The newly introduced course requirements encourage [ILR students] to apply their learning to their own personal lives and local communities.”

As a student under the pre-2022 curriculum, Wong voiced that the changes made reflected input of students under the old curriculum. Although students under the old curriculum have the freedom to take the newly-introduced courses, it is not required to graduate. 

The updated curriculum also includes a reorganization of pre-existing course requirements. This includes restructuring the organizational behavior and human resource management requirements into four separate half-semester courses, requiring an international and comparative labor course as opposed to being offered as an elective and increasing the number of data science and statistics sequences available to students.

One of the most polarizing aspects of the curriculum changes has been the abolishment of the ILROB 1120: Introduction to Organizational Behavior course — a well-liked, required course among the ILR students. In place are now two half-semester courses in both psychology and sociology each, emphasizing a focus on theories and applications as it applies to the intersection between work and labor and organizational structure.

“Organizational Behavior was probably my favorite class that fall,” said Sawyer Tierney ’25, who took the now-discontinued course his freshman year. “Prof. Rissing has been teaching it for a while. His lecture was probably the most engaging out of all the lectures I have taken at Cornell. It was a class that I really looked forward to going to.”

Alyssa Armenta ’24 said that the new course provides a much clearer introduction to labor, providing a basic understanding of core concepts.  

“It discusses, ‘this is what labor is about, this is what the ILR major is about’ and clearly explains it for first year students,” Armenta said.”I think it would have helped me by touching on all aspects of the major and exposed to what labor relations is all about.”

Andres Castellanos ’25 echoed Armenta’s sentiments, but said that he felt the ILR school was a bit late in implementing the curriculum change. However, he believes that changes are a move in the right direction. 

“There are a lot of new requirements [in the updated curriculum] within the workplace that are consolidated with technology and information science to bring ILR into the modern workplace,” Castellanos said. “It’s integrating a lot of the technological side of this new workforce.”

In regards to the course load, Castellanos also argued that the breadth of the material they cover outweighs the heavier workload. 

“The new courses do seem awesome. The classes I took didn’t go fully in depth to the course material, and the new course seems more insightful education-wise,” Castellanos said. “I’d rather have a heavy workload knowing that I’m at least going into depth into these topics, rather than have a light workload with a more broad perspective.” 

For new students enrolling in the ILR school beginning in 2022 and beyond, the new curriculum aims to not only serve the academic interests of students, but also prepare them to tackle global, multidisciplinary challenges.

In the school’s announcement of the changes, ILR School Dean Prof. Alexander Colvin, Ph.D. ’99 stated, “These modifications will ensure that ILR students continue to be prepared to address new challenges in the world of work, while maintaining core strengths as a broad disciplinary major.”

Jiwon Estee Yi ’24 and Jiwook Jung ’25 contributed reporting.