Our faculty engage with the broader public by:

  1. participating in research projects in support of the community,
  2. collaborating with practitioners in research,
  3. publishing in non-academic venues,
  4. providing online resources to support community needs,
  5. collaborating with corporate organizations to enhance teaching, and
  6. incorporating community service projects in seminar, lecture and studio classes.

Community-based Research Projects

The outcomes of HCD faculty community research projects range from guidelines provision to building construction. Partners include other Cornell entities, as well as international foundations. A summary of community-based research projects in the recent five years.

Excellence in Public Engagement

As the relationship between practice and research has strengthened through the development of research-informed design, alliances between researchers and designers/architects have become more desirable. Examples of recent projects by HCD faculty and practitioners include the current study by So-Yeon Yoon and Hessam Sadatsafavi in collaboration with Delos Living LLC regarding the impact of WELL design features on workplace outcomes and Mardelle Shepley’s research on mental health design in collaboration with Architecture+ and Shepley Bulfinch.

Publishing in non-academic venues—As part of our program mission to conduct translational research, we serve as a link between practice, academia, and work to share our creative endeavors and scholarly research findings with practitioners and the public. Our faculty members take advantage of university opportunities that support these activities. For example, the Provost’s Office of Faculty Development and Diversity at Cornell has supported approximately 20 university-wide faculty per year since 2015 to participate in the Public Voices Fellowship Program, an initiative of the OpEd project “to increase the public impact of Cornell’s faculty.” The fellowship provides resources, training, and access to media venues to support their efforts to shape public conversations. Every year since its inception, a member of the HCD faculty has received the honor of being made a fellow and given the opportunity to strengthen Cornell’s voice of under-represented scholars. Our faculty’s published work includes: 

“When designing a workplace, here’s why diversity matters,” - Ying Hua in We News

“Mental health hospitals have an unpleasant reputation,” - Mardelle Shepley in Brattleboro Reformer

“U.S. nature policies and human health—what we can learn from Sweden,” - Nancy Wells in The Hill

Collaboration with Corporate Contacts to Enhance Teaching

A hallmark of HCD is the variety of external organizations engaged in teaching activities via lectures, design critiques, and reviews. When financial support for corporate and industry meetings and travel is not available from the client, the department and college often augment or provide support to ensure a strong educational experience and archival reporting. The list of corporate/business interactions has grown quantity, and the typology of projects ranges from healthcare to workplace strategy to education. Recent alliances during the past five years include those described in Appendix 6-C

One of our main industry engagement endeavors is the leadership role HCD plays in the Cornell Institute for Healthy Futures, the first academic center in the country to combine health, hospitality, and design into a broad-based platform to improve service in healthcare, wellness, and senior living. To achieve this goal, the institute develops and supports multidisciplinary educational programs; sponsors and disseminates research; and hosts conferences, roundtables, meetings, and practicum projects. Individuals and industry supporters are invited to participate in research projects, industry seminars, roundtables, symposiums, and other special events.

Extension & Outreach Projects

Joseph Laquatra directed the Consumer Education Program for Residential Energy Efficiency (CEPREE) for 13 years. CEPREE was a CCE program funded by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, and it provided over 6,000 workshops in New York State from 2003-2016, reaching nearly 75,000 residents. 

Faculty from HCD have generated materials that can be accessed by the community. In a recent project, Rana Zadeh and D+EA post-doc Hessam Sadatsafavi initiated a two-part study to monitor and improve sleep for individuals during end-of-life. Cornell students and researchers completed a literature review, then conducted interviews and focus groups with palliative care facilities across New York State. As a result, researchers developed an extension program for care providers on the impact of sleep. 

Joseph Laquatra (professor emeritus) co-chaired CCE’s FERM Program work team. FERM is a statewide effort through Cornell Cooperative Extension to improve financial well-being for individuals in New York State. 

Gary Evans has held workshops for Head Start families across New York State, Golden Opportunities workshops for retired teachers in the Ithaca School District, and in-service workshops for the Madison County Head Start program. 

Intypes, initiated in 1997 at Cornell University, creates a typology of contemporary interior design practices that are derived from reiterative historical designs that span time, style and cross-cultural boundaries. The project produces a new knowledge base from practice-led research by creating the first typology of contemporary design practices that are derived from historical sequences. The research identifies design traits that have not been named, generates a design-specific vocabulary and publishes a digital database of interior architectural photographs. Between 2007and 2010, it was awarded two Cornell Faculty Innovation in Teaching Grants. In 2009, a free and open website was developed. New knowledge is visualized in 85 icons and over 500 photographs.

CCE and HCD partnered with the New York State Department of Health to provide information on residential energy efficiency and carbon emissions to limited-resource households throughout New York State. Joseph Laquatra provided training to Extension educators, county and city health department personnel, and other public health officials. This program was funded by a competitive grant from Smith-Lever. 

Nancy Wells served as a principal investigator for this project, helping to test and create a manual for the program—an environmental education program for older adults. 

As an Extension project, Nancy Wells’ school garden study involved county Extension educators in nutrition, youth development, and horticulture in approximately 30 counties in four states. Extension educators implemented the gardens, collected data, and delivered garden-based lessons in elementary schools in Washington, Iowa, Arkansas, and New York. Additionally, several Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) interns assisted with the research from 2011- 2013. 

This is the county’s anti-poverty agency, which administers Head Start, affordable as well as emergency housing, food pantries, energy assistance programs and other federal and state programs targeted to low-income families. Evans is on the Board of Directors for Tompkins County Action. 

Nancy Wells serves on CCE’s Youth, Nature, and Outdoor Environment Program Work Team. YNOE links 4-H Natural Resources with Cornell curriculum and research to be applied to environmental education programs.