Discover CALS

See how our current work and research is bringing new thinking and new solutions to some of today's biggest challenges.

Our initial goals in five key areas

While we unleash the creativity and collective power of transdisciplinary excellence in the college, we also seek to further our commitment to cultivating a nurturing community that embraces diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging, and to bolster our forward-looking and world-leading advancements across teaching, research, innovation, and extension programs.

We will lead in the “solutions century” by promoting fundamental scientific discoveries and empowering our innovation ecosystem to effect local to global change, with renewed focus on collaborative transdisciplinary scholarship. Our commitment to diversity and inclusion and growing a community of belonging will be the connective tissue in our goal to be the world leader in agricultural, environmental, life, and social sciences in the 21st century.

While we seek to break down systemic barriers to enable a more inclusive environment for all in CALS, we will harness the power of modern science communication to create a society that uses scientific knowledge to make informed decisions. Our overarching goal to globally collaborate and coalesce around the world’s leading challenges into and beyond 2050 will be bolstered by strategic investments of resources and attention in the next decade.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: Ensuring institutional success with communitywide support

Challenge Landscape

Our community spoke intentionally about the need for CALS to prioritize resources supporting actionable and measurable forward momentum for our college’s diversity, equity, and inclusion goals. This vision also requires a detailed analysis of the structures and culture as well as the continued engagement of all perspectives to foster a place of belonging in CALS. Recognizing that our college is also part of the university’s efforts in DEI, we must connect efforts from academic units up through CALS to the broader university. This should be executed in an effective and transparent way that creates maximum impact for historically marginalized, disadvantaged, and underrepresented communities both at Cornell University and within our greater community via our extension programming.

Strategic Action Plan

For us to fully achieve an equitable future, we will generate specific goals and benchmarks for all future CALS DEI efforts and regularly report our progress to the college community. We also will focus our attention on communities that have been disproportionately negatively affected by the design of our current activities and will develop the goals, benchmarks, processes, environments, and experiences to facilitate that understanding. We will recruit, welcome, and sustain employees and students from diverse backgrounds in an equitable and inclusive manner.

  • Goal: Develop a comprehensive CALS-wide system for DEI initiatives that effectively link academic department-level efforts and leadership to college- and university-level efforts and leadership.  
  • Goal: Develop a faculty-led effort to examine evaluation options in research, teaching, and extension for tenure, promotion, and reappointment that reward important efforts such as diversity and inclusion, community engagement, and commercialization.
  • Goal: Create support structures and offer resources to the Inclusive Excellence cohort hire. Also, we will institutionalize hiring practices and faculty development opportunities for future cohort hires across CALS to build an environment that facilitates recruitment and retention.
  • Goal: Prioritize a culture of diversity by creating targeted areas of opportunity for increased cultural sharing among faculty, staff, and students, including an expansion of topics and speakers representing diverse cultural viewpoints.
  • Goal: Establish endowed professorships with a specific focus on working with marginalized communities within agriculture.

Research: Creating answers to the world’s toughest problems

Challenge Landscape

Cornell CALS has a strong track record in securing extramural research support from federal and state entities. Federal funding agencies are substantially shifting the award criteria to prioritize research and innovation as essential elements behind grant success. There is increased focus on real-world outcomes involving the translation of basic agricultural and life sciences discoveries, including measurable implications in areas such as community engagement, policy creation and execution, intellectual property commercialization, and public-private partnerships.

Strategic Action Plan

The shift in the funding landscape recognizes the importance of convergence research and transdisciplinary centers, which bring together teams of researchers to tackle salient challenges in society. CALS recognizes these changes in the funding environment and will adapt our grant and innovation support accordingly, along with our need to focus on hiring strategies that position CALS’ diverse programs for success.

  • Goal: Establish a new Office of Research and Innovation in CALS and recruit/hire an associate dean to direct office efforts and create a strategic vision. This office will support grant activity across the college and ensure increased success from grant application efforts, help advance teams created via the transdisciplinary moonshot process, draw connections from local to global efforts throughout the CALS research portfolio, and engage in infrastructure needs to support research and development. 
  • Goal: Increase the submission of large center/institute cross-discipline federal grants from CALS faculty and increase total college annual research expenditures.
  • Goal: Foster increased research and extension innovation by creating pathways and reducing barriers to establish new public-private partnerships, increasing research funding from industry, and implementing agile commercialization pathways, including but not limited to connecting with Cornell AgriTech in Geneva, New York, Cornell Tech in New York City, and Ithaca-based revitalization efforts. Educate CALS tenure-track faculty and extension faculty on how to navigate the landscape and create mutually beneficial partnerships with the private sector.
  • Goal: Establish a formalized process for active sharing, collaboration, and matchmaking, between faculty and staff of all CALS departments and seek opportunities to expand collaboration with other colleges and campuses at Cornell.

Academics: Creating a future workforce and building global citizens

Challenge Landscape

CALS continues to attract curious, passion-driven students who will work together to ask new questions and discover new answers. In support of Ezra Cornell’s vision of "any person … any study," we are actively facilitating new opportunities for first-generation students and students from historically excluded backgrounds. The complexity of our time requires us to seek new ways of properly preparing students for their future, including through their studies, and increasing their ability to engage in healthy debate and dialogue with others. The global pandemic has increased the urgency around ensuring the mental health of our student body and helping individuals access timely Cornell resources.

Strategic Action Plan

CALS will inject support into the Office of Academic Programs to collaborate on solutions to academic stressors for students, student-facing staff, and faculty; expand investments in first-year student programming; invest in centralized software to allow students and advisors to track degree progress; and increase support for active and innovative learning initiatives. These efforts will allow CALS to continue to enable our students’ further success in their pursuit of academic exploration within a community committed to their personal and professional success.

  • Goal: Invest in centralized student degree tracking/auditing software, allowing students and their advisors to easily track their degree progress and evaluate decisions about changing majors/adding minors.
  • Goal: Expand investments in programming for first-year undergraduate students to develop healthy student communities and build a culture focused on belonging and acclimation. Launch the CALS Navigator program, designed to personalize support for underserved and first-generation college families. Programs will be coordinated across the college to ensure the greatest student success.
  • Goal: Empower undergraduate students to seek experiences outside the classroom, including but not limited to internships, field-based learning, research experiences, and training opportunities. This will involve a robust set of learn-by-doing opportunities through flexible and tailored experiences to teach students how to effectively tackle interdisciplinary challenges in teams and prepare them for a dynamic professional world.
  • Goal: Create solutions to resolve systemic academic stressors for students, student-facing staff, and faculty. Consider new models that elevate incentives to learn. Encourage instructor transparency around academic expectations and improve communication around mental health and wellness, especially in all introductory courses.
  • Goal: Increase support for active and innovative learning initiatives, including the expansion and continuity of funding for active learning postdocs in existing courses. These programs have substantially improved the specific courses under focus, elevating the student experience, deepening student learning and success, and preserving faculty time. Grow the availability and coordination of engaged, experiential, and entrepreneurial (E3) experiences for CALS students to add life-changing opportunities to their academic journey.

Extension and Outreach: Turning knowledge into practice

Challenge Landscape

Our extension and Cornell Cooperative Extension networks are national and international leaders in helping our food and farm community thrive throughout every county in New York state and the boroughs of New York City. Partnerships and collaborations extend our reach throughout the Land-Grant system in the United States. CALS has nearly 100 years of alliances that transcend national borders to support an increasingly connected world and solve stakeholder problems where we find them. Even greater impact is possible when CALS takes scientific knowledge and approaches from New York into the international arena and then applies lessons learned there to our domestic work. A world of global connections necessitates impact on a global scale.

Strategic Action Plan

We will evaluate processes and procedures through which we can reimagine our local to global connections through extension and coordinate activities for greater impact. We will continue to encourage extension appointments in academic departments and further educate our academic community on opportunities to engage with extension. We aim to inspire a culture through which traditional academic programs connect to extension activities, including the translation of knowledge for societal impact, and which appreciates the “translational ecosystem” under which basic sciences are strengthened through deep commitment to applied solutions and vice versa.

  • Goal: Launch a global extension team to begin formalizing global and international engagement that connects with NYS Land Grant and domestic activities.
  • Goal: Organize and coordinate activities with new structures and processes to strengthen Cornell extension and Cornell Cooperative Extension efforts, ensuring new research grants between the Cornell campus and the county CCE offices, and positioning CCE to meet the needs of New Yorkers across the state. Grow CALS programs in New York City and expand expertise in urban agriculture, food systems, and climate resilience.
  • Goal: Increase funding dedicated to partnerships, especially those that enhance our responsiveness to and inclusion of diverse stakeholders.
  • Goal: Identify new opportunities for extension appointments, fostering new connections with our academic programs, and expand extension to explicitly include innovation appointments in CALS and CCE, driving toward a model of “discovery engines” for commercialization, public-private partnerships, and regional economic development.

Fundraising and Communications: Bolstering Resources and Our Message

Challenge Landscape

Cornell University is leading a $5 billion fundraising campaign that aims to enhance Cornell’s world-class academics, research, and engagement, with a special focus on affordability for under-resourced students. Our challenge is to connect with and inspire current and potential CALS supporters in our mission to create a future better than we found it.

Strategic Action Plan

Presenting our news through increased multimedia storytelling and helping academic departments connect to fundraising efforts will only broaden our engagement opportunities. By building our financial capacities, we can further financial aid opportunities for students seeking to afford a CALS education and provide for our faculty and staff as they seek answers to the world’s toughest questions.

  • Goal: Create a strategy for increased coordination among academic departments with the CALS Office of Alumni Affairs and Development to drive fundraising success in the “To Do the Greatest Good” campaign and beyond.
  • Goal: Develop processes to empower issues-based storytelling for improved fundraising agility and donor engagement. Hire digital media strategist to increase video storytelling and content creation that will further engage our existing donor base and expand donor engagement opportunities to new audiences.
  • Goal: Participate with Cornell University initiatives, like the “2030 Project: A Cornell Climate Initiative,” to engage in cross-college and university-wide philanthropy including joint fundraising with other colleges and units.
  • Goal: Prioritize fundraising efforts to create endowed professors for each Transdisciplinary Moonshot area, as well as funding for other initiatives like faculty support, graduate fellowships, priority projects, student career preparation opportunities, and undergraduate scholarships.