This year, DFA is prototyping a new growth model: hosting a DFA Fellow sponsored by Cornell. Since August, DFA Fellow, Sarah Kurland has been working out of Cornell for both DFA and the office of Engaged Learning + Research (EL+R). Last month, Cornell launched a $150m initiative for the next 10 years called Engaged Cornell, so we thought it would be a good opportunity to catch up with Sarah and hear a little bit about what she has been working on. Read her interview below.
What is ELR and their Role at Cornell?
Engaged Learning + Research cultivates Cornell’s commitment to community engagement in research, teaching, and practice. We are determined to cultivate a spirit of public engagement and critical reflection through our grant programs, on-and-off campus partnerships, faculty fellow program, engaged speaker series, student ambassador program, curriculum development, customized workshops, and more. To me, a land grant university, means that there is a two-way street between university and community. There is a symbiotic relationship between the two.
What is your fellowship role at Cornell & DFA?
I’m working on strengthening the bridge between community engagement and design education. As a representative of both EL+R and DFA, I’m working to support existing and create new opportunities for students at the intersection of design and social change.
How are the missions of DFA and ELR aligned?
Both DFA and ELR believe in the transformative experience that is learning and making impact outside of the classroom. They both see social change as a major collaborative effort that takes buy-in from community, educators, students, policymakers and more.
Tell us about your “I am a Prototype” venture:
Early on in our DFA Fellowship onboarding, we met with the DFA co-founders Mert & Yuri. After explaining my role, Mert looked at me and exclaimed, “YOU are a prototype!” I was overjoyed by this statement as it really resonated with me. I brought up the idea with people while at the Better World by Design conference. It caught the attention of another gentleman named Andrew and after a few phone calls and skypes, we are now starting a venture together: our very very early website prototype