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Rachel Bezner Kerr: A farmer-led approach to food justice
April 13, 2021 — A collaborative research program led by Rachel Bezner Kerr, professor of global development, has united agricultural communities across Malawi and Tanzania — culminating in a nonprofit with 10,000 members, several farmer-led training programs and internationally acclaimed expertise in agroecology.
Bezner Kerr has involved dozens of Cornell undergraduate and graduate students in her work. Teaching courses such as Just Food and Agriculture, Food, Sustainability and Social Justice, Bezner Kerr introduces students to community-based approaches alongside analyses of the historical, political and social roots of local food systems. It was this framework that inspired the creation of the Community Food Systems minor, which Bezner Kerr directs and co-founded in 2018 with support from the Office of Engagement Initiatives.
Nominations sought for faculty community-engaged learning award
April 2, 2021 — The Office of Engagement Initiatives (OEI) is accepting nominations for the George D. Levy Faculty Award through May 3. This annual award recognizes a Cornell faculty member whose community partnerships serve as models for outstanding community-engaged learning in higher education.
“Through the Levy Award, we celebrate faculty who approach community-engaged learning with creativity, commitment and a spirit of collaboration,” said Basil Safi, executive director of OEI. “The relationships they build and the projects they lead advance student learning and have a positive impact on communities around the world.”
Students ‘serve in place,’ reflect on community action
March 31, 2021 — In a year when the COVID-19 pandemic has changed so much for the worse, Cornell students are still committed to making positive change.
In collaboration with community partners, students spent winter break addressing issues from police reform in Western New York to women’s rights in Africa.
This year, the Office of Engagement Initiatives (OEI) offered grants and support for community-engaged learning projects that followed COVID-19 safety guidelines. Since launching its Serve in Place Fund last summer, OEI has funded 213 students from every undergraduate school and college, Cornell Law School, the Graduate School and Cornell Tech.
Newman Civic Fellow works for meaningful change
March 24, 2021 — Growing up in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, Sherell Farmer ’22, named this month by Campus Compact as Cornell’s 2021-22 Newman Civic Fellow, was well aware of the inequalities so sharply juxtaposed in New York City.
“It was everywhere,” said Farmer, a student in the ILR School whose commitment to working toward equality was first nurtured in her family’s home. Every day, she was expected to read a page from a Black history book on a living room table. “My dad would say, ‘OK, tell me what you learned today,’ and I would sit down and recite it back.”
In school, Farmer saw her classmates – primarily students of color – kicked out of class for days, despite the fact that would worsen problems, but heard from her father about wealthy students in Manhattan traveling the world and receiving private tutoring.
“Something about that is uncool,” she remembers thinking.
The power to change the world
March 4, 2021 — Throughout his Cornell career, Dustin Liu ’19 was deeply involved with the community-engaged learning initiative (CEL)—a university-wide effort to involve every Cornell student in learning with and from communities.
Dustin says that his engagement with the larger Ithaca community started from the moment he first set foot on the Cornell campus to take part in a pre-orientation service trip. His team worked together on service projects at Ithaca High School and Ithaca Children’s Garden.
He says his teammates “came in as strangers, but left as family who became connected through service,” adding, “It was because of these experiences that I began to call Cornell, and the greater Ithaca community, home.”