Rebecca Q. and James C. Morgan Dean Professor, Policy Analysis and Management THE MISSION: Every time I walk into my office, I am inspired by our mission statement: Improving lives by exploring and shaping human connections to natural, social, and built environments. Our multidisciplinary approach recognizes all these overlapping influences—social and natural sciences, design, nutrition and health, public policy, society, family, and community. The key word is ‘shaping’—applying our findings to improve society and human lives. It’s a powerful mission that everyone in our college can identify with. HIS WORK: My research focuses on how the federal government regulates the information we receive about food, tobacco, and other products. It goes back to when I was an economist with the Federal Trade Commission. It fits the Human Ecology mission because if we’re not truthfully informed about products in the marketplace, there may be harmful consequences to health and well-being. THEN AND NOW: [College co-founders] Martha Van Rensselaer and Flora Rose were pioneers in creating educational opportunities for women, and today our undergraduate population is more than 70 percent female. We are supporting women to take prominent roles in science, medicine, law, and government, which we owe to Martha and Flora’s vision. Another of their insights was to join experts from different disciplines around common themes. This structure is part of Human Ecology’s DNA, and it’s why the college can adapt and evolve as society and families change. THE STUDENTS: In addition to their classroom work, our students are fully engaged in research and outreach. Of all the Cornell colleges, Human Ecology has the highest rate of student participation in research with a faculty member, and the highest rate of public service by students. These experiences end up being very meaningful for students, helping prepare them for careers and shaping their worldviews. THE FUTURE: I am excited to continue to grow the Cornell MRI Facility, a new university resource based in Human Ecology. We’re attracting a group of incredible scholars who will use the tool to answer fundamental questions about human behavior. We are advancing public policy education and research that will bring together assets from many different units and colleges. We’re also working on a new institute focused on health care and design, and a fashion master’s program in New York City. And we will continue to build the strengths of our academic departments, centers, and institutes. There’s so much growth in the college right now. We have a spectacular faculty and spectacular students and staff, and we’re all ready to roll.
Published on Oct 8, 2014
On a Mission, Vol. 42, No. 2, In this year of Cornell University’s sesquicentennial, Human Ecology professors, students, staff, and alumni r...