Through the decades that followed the College’s founding, the principle of boundary-breaking inclusion
strengthened into a defining feature. In 1911, founders Martha Van Rensselaer and Flora Rose became the first full-time, female professors at Cornell. CHE was the first unit at Cornell to appoint a female dean, Sarah Blanding, in 1942. Flemmie Kittrell, the first African American woman to earn a Ph.D. in nutrition in the United States, completed her studies at CHE; and CHE scholar Josephine Allen became the first African American woman to earn tenure at Cornell.
Today, we are proud of the broad diversity of our faculty body and the efforts of our alumni, staff, and students to create an inclusive and supportive college community. As concepts of diversity, equity and inclusion are embraced and acted upon in higher education, CHE is both aware there is much work to do and committed to leading the way.
NOVEL SOLUTIONS EMERGING AT THE EDGES
In addition to revolutionizing the reality of who could participate in higher education, CHE
transformed the structure and format of higher education itself. From our roots in home economics, CHE has grown into a hub for dynamic departments that cut across traditional academic boundaries. We organize our work around the multilayered contexts that influence human health and well-being: from the molecular to the communal, from our families to our physical spaces, from our food and clothing to the natural and built environment around us. Our faculty are leading experts in their fields, and CHE provides a home where they can come together across disciplines to leverage their expertise and improve human health and well-being.
This combination of breadth and depth parallels the real-world challenges that CHE researchers examine. We are drawn to the questions that lie at the intersections of traditional scholarly disciplines; our research explores the way genes respond to environmental cues, how the design of hospital settings improves well-being, how experiences of discrimination impact physical health, and how our clothes can protect us from infectious diseases.
RESEARCH FOR REAL-WORLD PROBLEMS
Through our work, Human Ecology impacts human health and well-being in many contexts. Throughout our history, CHE has been deeply rooted in rigorous basic science research, and committed to meaningful real-world partnerships with policymakers, practitioners, communities and industry. In doing so, we follow what CHE scholar Urie Bronfenbrenner, namesake of the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research, called, “research for the public good.” Our model of translational research moves from the gene to the person, from the person to the social context, and ultimately, to the design of policies, products and programs that improve human lives, feeding back again into research itself.
Across CHE, our students, staff, faculty and alumni engage directly with local, national and international communities to develop a nuanced understanding of the current challenges people face. As a result, they pioneer novel approaches for improving human health and well-being.
NEW SOLUTIONS THAT IMPROVE HUMAN LIVES
CHE brings together scientific, creative and applied methodologies to explore, discover and create new
knowledge and innovative approaches to enrich human lives at all levels of scale — from the biological to the individual, from the interpersonal to the societal.
We have crafted eminently practical innovations, breathtakingly beautiful creations, and have advanced scientific theories because we know that truly novel approaches tend to emerge where boundaries are not rigid and when different disciplines and modes of research interact. For example, we examine how poverty impacts neurological development; how policies affect human health and nutrition; how fabrics and fashion relate to environmental sustainability; and how physical, social, and virtual spaces shape human cognition, emotion, and physiology.
What might be the next century of creative and scientific collaborations designed to understand and impact human health and well- being? CHE is positioned to lead the way.
Scholarly Areas of Excellence
Scholarly Areas of Excellence
Understand the biological, cultural, environmental, policy and societal factors that allow all humans to lead healthy lives; study the multi-causal factors that create health inequalities, including factors that influence disease risk and mortality, access to care, and quality of life. Develop, test, and evaluate interventions, programs, and policies to reduce health inequalities and to achieve health equity, leading to flourishing communities.
Examine how humans shape, and are shaped by, the climate crisis, both its prevention and responsive adaptations. Develop and evaluate solutions, from the cell to the whole organism to the local community to our global society, to forestall climate change and to foster human resilience in the face of the climate crisis. Focus on how climate change exacerbates existing human health inequities and develop responses to mitigate those effects. Apply the science of behavior change to the evaluation of, and response to, risk. Develop innovative designs, materials, policies, and programs to promote the wise and sustainable use of resources and evaluate human responses to these solutions.
Integrate novel technologies, including the use of big data, to advance the art and science of human cognition, emotion, and physiology. Develop and use technological advances to enhance the human condition.
Strategic Initiatives At-A-Glance
Strategic Initiatives At-A-Glance
Build on existing strengths and increase our excellence and impact in three scholarly focal areas:
- Health Equity
- Sustainability & Society
- Technology & Human Flourishing
Ensure students have exceptional opportunities to spark curiosity, integrate insights across disciplines, create new knowledge, discover passions, and develop novel approaches to improve human health and well-being in our key scholarly areas of excellence.
Engage in mutually beneficial partnerships that break down boundaries between academic, community and industry sectors so that we can work collectively toward improving human lives.
Build upon our longstanding commitment to inclusion and social justice to foster a strong sense of community, connection and trust so that all members of the college community can flourish.
Foster a vibrant, unified network of people and programs that are delivering our mission in New York City.