Administered by the Office of Engagement Initiatives, the prize recognizes a faculty member’s innovative approach to community-engaged scholarship that inspires students, colleagues and community partners alike.
“It serves as a reminder that a solely classroom-based education is incomplete, as lectures cannot replace actual observation or participation in the topics I cover,” Burrow said. “Students learn the most about the world – and will eventually contribute more to it – by thoughtfully interacting with more of it.”
Burrow’s research focuses on topics related to youth purpose, identity processes and race-related experiences encountered by ethnic minority adolescents and young adults. His work examines the role of purpose in the lives of young people and how a sense of purpose can promote positive adjustment and development.
“Dr. Burrow’s scholarship is an ideal mix of science and engagement,” said Karl Pillemer, the Hazel E. Reed Professor of Human Development and senior associate dean for research and outreach in the College of Human Ecology. “Since arriving at Cornell, he has taken his careerlong research program on youth purpose and applied it in real-world contexts with outstanding results.”
Burrow was instrumental in securing funding for PRYDE, through which he has spread awareness of the importance of purpose for young people, Pillemer said. PRYDE, based in the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research, aims to make the New York State 4-H Youth Development Program a “living laboratory” for research and evaluation, using science to determine the best ways of promoting optimal youth development in the state.
As program director, Burrow is developing opportunities and approaches to involve his colleagues and their students in community-engaged research practice and partnerships. In his partnership with the 4-H Youth Development Program, he is working with the Cornell Cooperative Extension network to understand and improve the lives of youth in New York state.
Said June Mead, association issue leader for Children, Youth and Families at Cornell Cooperative Extension – Broome County: “Through my personal involvement on the PRYDE Work Team, I have witnessed a deeper, more vibrant and meaningful level of collaboration with campus faculty – and this can be directly attributed to Tony’s leadership and vision for PRYDE.
“These opportunities for campus-county connections are energizing and vital to ensuring Cornell Cooperative Extension and New York State 4-H can deliver high-quality, research-based programs that meet the complex issues young people and communities face today,” Mead said.
By using a community-engaged learning pedagogy with his students, Burrow has them reflect on the real-world implications of what they’ve learned. Through this practice, Burrow is mentoring the students in his lab and facilitating healthy collaborations with community partners.
The program provides third-year undergraduates the opportunity to learn how applied research interventions to help young people are developed in collaboration with experts in youth practice. Scholars then apply their new skills to community projects of their choice.
“Tony’s approach to his scholarship and his work with students is truly helping undergraduates learn how to apply their scholarship in the larger world, embrace leadership roles, and have a positive impact on real-world problems,” said Andrew Turner, director of NYS 4-H Youth Development. “His research and scholarship on youth purpose, combined with his ability to arouse the curiosity and passion of students and extension community-based educators, have been a driving force in the birth of this successful model of community engagement.”
The Engaged Scholar Prize carries an award of $30,000 to expand and deepen community-engaged activities through support to essential participants, including community partners, the faculty member and Cornell undergraduate, graduate or professional students.