One of the benefits that is supposed to come from attending an Ivy League university is a vast network of resources. Cornell students are ostensibly privileged with all the guidance and mentorship they can ask for, all at the tip of their fingertips. For the most part, this is true. If we truly need help with a particular problem, we can almost always seek it out. And at the core of this support network is the advising system.
I am a graduate of the Design and Environmental Analysis program within the College of Human Ecology. I was attracted to the program, and to Cornell, because of its multidisciplinary aspects, and the ideal of Any Person, Any Study. This was a key factor in my decision to attend Cornell and select DEA as the foundation for my future. After graduating from Cornell in 1990, I attended New York University and was awarded a Master of Urban Planning from the Wagner School of Public Service. Now the Director of Regional Planning for the County of Los Angeles, I am arguably the epitome of a public policy leader you are striving to develop.
If university leadership were to implement the recommendation to disband the College of Human Ecology, they would lose a center of interdisciplinary, community-engaged and diverse research excellence. After months of deliberation, the Social Sciences Implementation Committee issued its final report. The ten voting members of the committee were narrowly divided with a 6 to 4 majority favoring the “re-envisioning” of the College of Human Ecology into a College of Public Policy and the creation of “super-departments” in economics, sociology, and psychology. This recommendation, though, ignores issues reiterated during numerous public listening sessions by stakeholders within the college as well as the broader Cornell community. Three quarters of CHE faculty are not in Policy Analysis and Management and have made it loud and clear that the switch to a policy college would not reflect their research interests, professional expertise and teaching.70 percent of current CHE students are not in a policy-related major and have voiced similar concerns.
Like any true fan of young adult literature, I wanted to go to Hogwarts but had to settle for Cornell. I set out to make this idyllic campus my mystical academic home, and after four years here, I have to say things have gone according to plan … for the most part. I’ve watched Quidditch practice on my way to the A.D. White Library while listening to Hedwig’s Theme blasting from McGraw Tower, but I never thought I’d find myself engaging in a Dumbledore’s Army-like feat: opposing the illogical proposal to turn the College of Human Ecology into a College of Public Policy. To those unfamiliar with Prof. Urie Bronfenbrenner, human development and psychology, the professor who brought acclaim to my College through his work in creating the Head Start program, the human ecology college might seem vague, but it’s not. The College of Human Ecology encompasses our various environments, contexts and communities’ impacts on us, and in turn how we can impact and improve them.
I am a fashion design management major, and I wouldn’t trade my experience for anything. Yet, some tension in my education exists. I’m grateful for the support of the College of Human Ecology but unsure of fashion’s placement in it beside majors like nutritional sciences and human development. I have loved my fashion management classes and have wished there were more. I have benefited from the opportunity to concentrate in communications but have been disheartened when one of the courses felt more similar to neuroscience.