"This project’s goal is to provide the students with an enriched learning experience that helps them make the connection between corporate volunteerism and improved local community health. When they graduate, my hope is that they will bring these ideals into their workplace and communities throughout the world."
Jeanne Varney is a lecturer in properties design and management in the School of Hotel Administration in the SC Johnson College of Business. Her areas of interest include building facilities management, sustainable development and sustainable operations within a hospitality industry context. Read more on her faculty profile page.
About the Project
What better way to understand a subject than to teach it to someone else (and still be a student without even realizing it)? Cornell students will have the opportunity to switch roles and become the teachers in this community-based learning project with a local elementary school. The students develop and design a sustainability education session, and the teaching style is a combination of introducing concepts and then having fun with an activity that uses the elementary students newly found knowledge. When the Cornell students are not in the group facilitating an education session, they become participants themselves and assist in the tutoring of the elementary students.
For our community member, the goal is to bring new education, developmental skills and friendship to the students and school community and for them to feel a connection with their Cornell neighbors. Although the framework is for the Cornell students to bring education to the local elementary school, it is expected that the learning experiences will be mutually beneficial.
The purpose of the community-engaged project in the class is to help the students understand the relationship of community-engaged service with corporate social responsibility (CSR) programming and why it is such an important component in a balanced CSR strategy. We can teach this concept in a classroom; however, if we bring the students into the community where they experience both the challenges and the joys of enriching a community member’s life, the experience becomes personal and far more enriching. Integrating reflective journal writing into the project also allows the students to take the time to enrich their ability to extract meaning from their experiences.
In Her Own Words
“When most students hear the word ‘sustainability,’ they think of environmental concerns. This is true, but it is only a part of the critical work in today’s sustainability movement. Community engagement is an essential part of well-balanced Corporate Social Responsibility strategy. Most students understand the value of volunteering as individuals, and this class will take it one step further. This project’s goal is to provide the students with an enriched learning experience that helps them make the connection between corporate volunteerism and improved local community health. When they graduate, my hope is that they will bring these ideals into their workplace and communities throughout the world.”
Engaged Faculty Fellowship Program
A yearlong cohort program in which faculty dive deep into the theory and practice of community-engaged learning; meet monthly to discuss readings, share projects and workshop challenges; and help transform what it means to teach at Cornell