Human Ecology Celebrates Century-Long CCE Partnership

Human Ecology, Spring 2012 | Go to article overview

Human Ecology Celebrates Century-Long CCE Partnership


Since 1911, Cornell Cooperative Extension (GCE) has teamed up with the college to improve the human condition, "not just engage in abstract theory and detached analysis," but to "draw conclusions with real, real impact," said Alan Mathios, the Rebecca Q. and James C. Morgan Dean of the College of Human Ecology, speaking at a 100th anniversary dinner at the Cornell Club in Manhattan last November.

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Students from the Food and Finance High School helped prepare the meal, some of which used ingredients from a fish farm and hydroponics lab that Cornell Cooperative Extension--New York City helps the school maintain through a "community partnership." The hors d'oeuvres, for example, featured tilapia cakes from fish raised at the school.

"The earliest outreach efforts on behalf of the college began with a focus on the complexities of the household and family needs, improvements which could have a multitude of social impacts," Mathios said. "They included education, nutrition, health, aging, and the plain cost of running a household--actually life hasn't changed that much when you think about those things."

Communities have changed, though, Mathios said, particularly in regard to family work life, the dynamics of health and illness, and the aging of America. Such college programs as RTRgist (Gist-enhanced Reducing the Risk), developed by human development professor Valerie Reyna, is an example of how extension uses research findings on risk and decision-making to help teens learn how to make better decisions regarding sexual health, healthy eating, and fitness.

Despite difficulties associated with the economic downturn, Mathios said he was optimistic about CCE's future. "I think the federal government understands now what we've known for a long time: that creating research just to go into academic journals is not enough, and extending it and making it matter is what it's about. …

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