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Two named Kaplan faculty fellows for service-learning work

Sandra Babcock, clinical professor at Cornell Law School, and Jon McKenzie, professor of practice in the Department of English in the College of Arts and Sciences, have been named 2020 Kaplan Family Distinguished Faculty Fellows in Service Learning.

The Kaplan Family Distinguished Faculty Fellowship recognizes faculty members who have had a significant impact on undergraduate, professional or graduate education at Cornell by involving their students in service-learning programs. Kaplan faculty fellows receive $5,000 to further develop a community-based learning or research project, to initiate a new effort, or to make service-learning courses a regular part of the curriculum.

Sandra Babcock

Jon McKenzie

Babcock teaches doctrinal and clinical courses on human rights, gender and inequality, and is the founder and faculty director of the Cornell Center on the Death Penalty Worldwide. Since 1991, she has defended prisoners sentenced to death in the U.S. and around the world. As a result of her work and that of Cornell students, more than 160 prisoners are now off death row.

With the Kaplan funds, Babcock – who since 2014 has taken 32 Cornell law students to Malawi and Tanzania to assist prisoners facing the death penalty – will develop a new project to further examine the causes and consequences of imposing the death penalty on women in Tanzania. The project will be conducted jointly with the Legal and Human Rights Centre (a Tanzanian NGO) and other local lawyers.

McKenzie studies and teaches media and design, and is a faculty affiliate at the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research. Building on the undergraduate course Design Thinking, Media and Community and a summer workshop on civic storytelling, McKenzie is working with the Ithaca City School District and Tompkins-Seneca-Tioga Board of Cooperative Educational Services on media resources that will serve teachers statewide.

He also is founder and former director of DesignLab, a design consultancy for higher education. He produces experimental videos, lecture performances and theory comics, and leads workshops on transmedia knowledge for researchers, public schools and community organizations.

McKenzie is the author of “Transmedia Knowledge for Liberal Arts and Community Engagement: A StudioLab Manifesto” (2019) and “Perform or Else: From Discipline to Performance” (2001).

Barbara Kaplan ’59, her husband, Leslie Kaplan, son Douglas Kaplan ’88 and daughter Emily Kaplan Dodge ’91 established the fellowship award in 2002 to recognize and support greater involvement in civic engagement at Cornell.

The Kaplan awards are administered by Cornell’s Public Service Center.

Kristin Kurz is events coordinator at the Cornell Public Service Center.

Media Contact

Rebecca Valli