Rebecca Morgenstern Brenner
Rebecca
Morgenstern Brenner
Lecturer
Cornell Institute for Public Affairs
Office

2114A Martha Van Rensselaer Hall

Phone

Biography

Rebecca Morgenstern Brenner, MPA (pracademic) Rebecca is a Lecturer and Teaching Faculty at the Cornell Institute for Public Affairs, Cornell University. Rebecca is an Atkinson Sustainable Future Faculty Fellow, an Engaged Cornell Faculty Fellow, and a Maurio Einaudi Faculty Associate and part of the Working Group on Disasters. Rebecca as co-lead for the FEMA Higher Education Service-Learning and Leadership Special Interest Group. At Cornell, Rebecca teaches several classes, most with service learning components, including Disaster Policy, Environmental Policy, Environmental Justice, Project Management, Design Thinking, and Consulting for Government and Nonprofit Organizations.

Rebecca holds a newly created role to CIPA, Human Ecology, and the university, as an Academic Advising Coordinator. In this role she is responsible for all matters of academic advising. Some specific requirements of the role include to act as advisor for whole student cohort, discuss strategies for connecting course selection with career goals, connect coursework to build skills or present for practice based jobs, assess course compliance with program requirements and career, developing process for program compliance and assessment, and most importantly to question and look for ways to improve equity in advising. In addition, Rebecca reviews and approves program compliance materials, including academic Plan of Study and Concentration Narrative.

In addition to teaching, starting in 2017 Rebecca built competition program at CIPA creating opportunities and coaches CIPA student teams to compete and network with other MPA programs. Past competitions include multiple years of participation at Shaping Future Governments Global Universities Challenge at the World Government Summit in Dubai UAE, Cyber 9/12 at Columbia University in NYC, and NASPAA Student Simulation Competition, and several other domestic and international competitions.

Rebecca has earned several awards including Town Gown Award 2018 Project Lead and Project Developer where she built community partnership and relationship, designed study, provided opportunities for other Cornell faculty to participate. She also won the 2018 International Women’s Leadership Award by Cornell Women’s Resource Center, she was an invited Member of the 2018 Cornell Faculty Delegation to UN COP 24 in Poland,  and in 2020 was a Finalist for NASPAA Voinovich Public Innovation Challenge for Brenner and Eiseman’s project Pathways for Empowering Community Resilience.

Rebecca has held multiple roles translating values into practice and policy. She works with communities to reduce vulnerability and build resilience and has several projects underway.  Rebecca believes understanding shared goals and bridging disparate disciplines we can find common ground and build effective policy for a sustainable future. 

Rebecca continues to hold roles translating values into practice and policy by working with communities to reduce vulnerability to build resilience. Broader research includes managed retreat and equity, bridging policy with science for wildfire management, climate change education, and disaster communications with vulnerable refugee communities. In addition to her teaching and research, Rebecca has extensive experience as an environmental and organizational consultant in New York and California, working with community organizations, government agencies, business, and nonprofit organizations.

Rebecca Morgenstern Brenner is currently participating on two grants.

  • New York Power Authority and another Atkinson Grant with the Nature Conservancy. New York Power Authority (NYPA) Climate Science Training Program. Part of the faculty team from Cornell University, Clarkson University, and the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry that are building and delivering a comprehensive training program for the NYPA and Canals, with approximately 2,400 employees in New York. Specific role in delivering live lectures and develop the policy and solutions section of the year-long program.

Publications and Presentations

Brenner, R. M. (2011) “Knowledge to Practice in the Vulnerability, Adaptation, and Resilience Literature: A Propositional Inventory”. In Kasperson, R. E. and Berberian, M., eds. Integrating Science and Policy: Vulnerability and Resilience in Global Environmental Change.  London and Washington DC, Earthscan.

Brenner, R.M., Dunn, E., & Walsh, W. (2019 April 30). Interdisciplinary Work in Emergency Management and Service-Learning Courses. FEMA National Training & Education System Higher Education Program, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Brenner, R.M. (2020 September 23). What makes cities and communities vulnerable to climate related disasters? Global Crisis Management Conference. The Walt Disney Company.

Brenner, R.M. & Dunn, E. (2020, May 4). Mitigation Strategies and Adaptation to Disasters: Focus on SARS-COVID-19, Policy Discussion Series. Cornell Institute for Public Affairshttps://www.human.cornell.edu/cipa/cornell-institute-public-affairs/public-engagement/cipa-covid-19-policy-discussion-series

Brenner, R.M. (2021, January 19). Engaging using Miro. Collaboration: ideas for online group and collaborative assignments. Center for Teaching Innovation. https://vod.video.cornell.edu/playlist/dedicated/1_cr6xbgmk/ and https://teaching.cornell.edu/spring-2021-workshops#ESIP

Brenner, R.M. and Eiseman, D. (2021, April 22). Bridging Resilience and Storytelling: A Workshop. SUSTEX, Sustainable Solutions in Challenging Times. Texas A&M University-Central Texas. https://www.tamuct.edu/coba/sustex.html

Brenner, R.M. (2021, April 22). What makes communities vulnerable to climate related disasters? A conversation about climate change, the science, the impact, the future. [Class of 1972 is holding an Earth Day Event for several alumni classes, this was the first in a series leading to their 50 year reunion].  

Dunn, E. and Brenner, R.M. (2021, June 8). Conversations that Matter: Service-Learning and Curriculum Design. 23rd Annual Emergency Management Higher Education (HiEd) Symposium. Untangling Unprecedented Uncertainty: What Emergency Management Leaders and Educators Need to Know, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Brenner, R.M. and Patel, S.S. (2021, June 8). Inclusive Practices and Ethical Considerations in Community Engaged Service-Learning Projects. In Dunn, E. and Brenner, R.M. (2021, June 8). Conversations that Matter: Service-Learning and Curriculum Design. 23rd Annual Emergency Management Higher Education (HiEd) Symposium. Untangling Unprecedented Uncertainty: What Emergency Management Leaders and Educators Need to Know, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Emmitsburg, MD. https://training.fema.gov/hiedu/educonference21.aspx

Velotti, L., Brenner, R.M. and Dunn, E.A. (Under Contract 2021). Service-Learning for Disaster Resilience: Partnerships for Social Good. Springer.

Brenner, R.M. (Under Contract 2021). “Building Community Resilience through Academic and Practitioner Partnerships”. In Velotti, L., Brenner, R.M. and Dunn, E.A. (Under Contract 2021). Service-Learning for Disaster Resilience: Partnerships for Social Good. Springer.

Kupietz, K., Brenner, R.M., Velotti, L. (Under Contract 2021). “Interdisciplinary Approach to Emergency Management Service Learning" In Velotti, L., Brenner, R.M. and Dunn, E.A. (Under Contract 2021). Service-Learning for Disaster Resilience: Partnerships for Social Good. Springer.

Brenner, R.M., Dunn, E.A., and Velotti, L. (Under Contract 2021). “Introduction”. In Velotti, L., Brenner, R.M. and Dunn, E.A. (Under Contract 2021). Service-Learning for Disaster Resilience: Partnerships for Social Good. Springer.

Brenner, R.M., Eiseman, D. Dunn, E. Cummings, A. McKean, M. (Submitted for Peer Review 2021) "Decision-making Drivers for Pandemic Response for Institutes of Higher Education"

Rebecca Morgenstern Brenner brings experience working with environmental policy. Rebecca has more than twenty years of experience in New York and California as a professional consultant working with government agencies, business, and nonprofit organizations. Her consulting experience focus is environmental but also extends to reorganization, budget management, and building consensus among diverse stakeholders with disparate interests such as community partners, non-profits, industry, and local, state, and federal officials.  Projects include analyzing the socioeconomic and environmental impacts, assessing potential impacts, and how to mitigate them. Her work also includes implementing environmental policy such as the National Environmental Policy Act, The New York State Environmental Quality Review Act, and the Clean Air Act.

Rebecca Morgenstern Brenner holds a role with FEMA. Rebecca serves as Co-lead for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Special Interest Group (SIG) on Service-Learning and Leadership (SLL). The SIG focuses on academic preparation for faculty in the discipline of emergency management to be able to incorporate opportunities for students to bridge the gap between academia and practice with fostering an environment for service-learning and leadership. This SIG is a space to collaborate, develop innovations, share teaching strategies, and expand research that looks at how to combine higher education with organized service to the community with an emphasis on civic engagement, reflection and the application of learning. Incorporating service-learning in academic courses allows students to provide a service that meets an identified community need pertaining to the field, enhances the students’ learning, allows reflection on experiences, provides a forum for leadership development, and encourages civic responsibility. https://training.fema.gov/hiedu/specialinterest/sllsig.aspx

At Cornell, Rebecca Morgenstern Brenner teaches classes that have an enaged component, taking the skills learned in classroom and connecting them with real community partnerships locally, domestically, and globally. She builds long-term community partner relationships to have service-learning projects that have regular internship and publishing opportunities for students. Research interest includes roles translating values into practice and policy by working with communities to reduce vulnerability to build resilience.  

In addtition Rebecca has held unique roles with Cornell Universiy Office of Engaged Initiatives https://oei.cornell.edu/participants/brenner/

Teaching Statement: As a global community, we know we are changing. Our climate is changing and disasters are becoming more intense and frequent. We can either purposefully lead the change, or continue to react to it. My goal is to teach students the skills and tools they need to direct a more resilient future.

As part of the teaching faculty for Cornell Institute for Public Affairs, has a ignificant role in teaching by developing new core courses aimed specifically at nonprofit and government management, including Project Management and Design Thinking. Also built new track of courses in pedagogical field of environmental policy including Disasters, Environmental Policy, and the new cross-listed course Environmental Justice. In addition, built an innovative approach to the existing course Consulting for Government and Nonprofit Organizations by building new rubrics, lectures, methods, and independently building and maintaining long-term community partner relationships to have service-learning projects that have regular internship and publishing opportunities for students.

The Academic Advising Coordinator is a newly created role to CIPA, Human Ecology, and the university, and is responsible for all matters of academic advising and career counseling. Some specific requirements of the role include to act as advisor for whole student cohort on advising matters, hold regular office hours, discuss strategies for connecting course selection with career goals, connect coursework to build skills or present for practice based jobs, assess course compliance with program requirements and career, developing process for program compliance and assessment, and review program compliance materials, including academic Plan of Study and Concentration Narrative. In order to make Advising more equitable and transparent,  built a new, Canvas online system that gives equitable access to information and clarity.

As a member of the Teaching Faculty at Cornell University in the Cornell Institute for Public Affairs, developed and wrote six courses to build the Environmental Policy curriculum to include a focus on community vulnerability, climate change, disaster management, and environmental justice. This included designing courses, syllabi, reading selection, and developing learning objectives.  

PADM 5414: Project Management: This is a hands-on, skill-building graduate-level course for Project Management. The focus is on how to best manage public sector projects including but not limited to government agencies, nonprofits, consulting firms, and think tanks. The class focuses on how to effectively build and manage project budgets and timelines in addition to soft skills such as leadership, critical thinking, and conflict resolution.

PADM 5734: Policy Issues in Disaster Prevention and Recovery. This graduate-level course addresses some of the key topics in disaster prevention and recovery. Students build skills in assessing vulnerability and strategies to build resilience in communities at risk. The course focuses on problems and trends in the disaster field and discussing challenges and likely outcomes. Students analyze some of the most important themes in disaster prevention and recovery to leverage the lessons learned from academic research and past experiences for more effective management of natural and manmade disasters.

PADM 1734: Disasters: Policy, Prevention, and Recovery: The focus of the course is on developing an understanding of problems and trends in disaster policy, disaster planning, and disaster management. The class discusses challenges, likely outcomes of innovative policy interventions, and key topics in disaster prevention and recovery. To understand disasters, students will also learn about climate change, as well as the fields of vulnerability, resilience, and adaptation. 

PADM 5142: Environmental Justice: This hands-on seminar course addresses key topics and themes in environmental justice. This course investigates the disproportionate impacts of climate change and related adaptation and mitigation efforts on vulnerable groups, especially communities of color and indigenous communities.  In addition, this course looks at policy drivers and levers that may carve opportunities for change for the future. This course is for upper level undergraduates and graduate students. This course has been co-developed and will be co-taught with Professor Dr. Shorna Allred, faculty in Department of Natural Resources.

PADM 5499: Meeting the Policy Challenge. This hands-on course is designed to provide students with practical experience in developing an innovative public or private solution to a local community problem. Students engage as team members to work together on a policy proposal to address a real problem in the community with an innovative solution. Students engage with elected officials and academic literature about problems and needs, select, and frame the policy challenge and design a solution using Design Thinking, and develop community engagement, marketing, funding, and evaluation plans for implementation.

PADM 5730: Comparative Environmental Regulations. This course focuses on US and international Environmental Policy. The course builds a foundational core of US Environmental Policy including, but not limited to, the National Environmental Policy Act, the Clean Air Act, and the Clean Water Act.  Then students apply mechanisms in these key policies to evaluate other US and international policies to be more effective and to build innovative approaches to address climate change and improve other social and environment conditions.

PADM 5900: Consulting for Government and Non-Profit Organizations. In this engaged course, students put into practice the skills from in their coursework to address policy or management problems for real clients in local to international government or nonprofit agencies. Student teams, with direct instructor supervision, work with these clients in small consulting teams to answer a well-defined policy or management problem posed by their client. Role includes building projects with clients, maintaining client relationships, and teaching students foundational skills to become successful consultants. This course has been taught by several different faculty in the past, however I invested major revisions to run the course based on extensive personal consulting experience and professional relationships.  This included fully developing interactive rubrics and reorganized grading, independently building and maintaining international and domestic client relationships, adding management components.

Awards Include: Town Gown Award https://www.human.cornell.edu/cipa/about/news/cornelltowngown and Engaged Opportunity Grant: https://oei.cornell.edu/recipient/implementing-redd-in-peru/

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