Making a Difference

Cornell intentionally cultivates engaged citizenship, beginning with Service Day during New Student Orientation and continuing through graduation. Each year 80 percent of students participate in community service projects, with many going deeper to gain valuable leadership skills while building community on campus and in the wider world.

Building a better world

Locally, you'll find students mentoring teens, joining elementary students on the playground, interacting with local seniors, and lending a helping hand to many other organizations. Many students take their commitment to service to a deeper level by volunteering 300+ hours per year as part of the Iowa Campus Compact AmeriCorps Program, assisting distant communities during highly popular Alternative Spring Break service trips, or organizing the award-winning Relay for Life fundraiser that annually raises thousands of dollars for cancer research. Cornell even offers an academic minor in civic engagement, which integrates social justice studies with hands-on service learning.

Neighbors learning to lead

Leadership training is an integral part of a Cornell education, and many students take advantage of opportunities to learn and serve with their residence hall neighbors. First-year theme floors provide a structured way for students to practice leadership and service, and Living Learning Communities allow upperclass students the freedom to tackle causes of their own choosing. Others build a strong residential community by serving as resident assistants (RAs) or as Hall Council representatives.

Cornell Leadership Certificate Program

The Social Change Model is built on the understanding that leadership is a process not a position, and it forms the basis of the Cornell Leadership Certificate Program. Each semester Cornell students can earn certificates in any of the program's seven "Cs": Consciousness of Self, Congruence, Commitment, Collaboration, Common Purpose, Controversy with Civility, and Citizenship. Those completing all seven components are eligible to complete a capstone project related to civic engagement.

Peer mentoring

Students benefit from an array of faculty and staff mentors at Cornell, but frequently students assist one another to navigate academic and social challenges. During their first semester on campus, students are guided by a peer advisor (PA). For assistance with writing, quantitative reasoning, and other skills, they can rely on peer consultants in the Center for Teaching and Learning. And the Intercultural Life Office sponsors the P.A.L.S. and Each One Teach One programs to help minority students of all types assimilate quickly into the campus community.

Creating a sustainable future

Students are at the forefront of making Cornell a greener and more sustainable campus. Based on a blueprint developed by Alyssa Borowske '07, students in recent years have helped lead efforts to establish a full-service recycling center, create a community garden, use energy more wisely, and switch to a dining service provider that purchases for local farmers, composts its food waste, and honors healthy farming practices.