Last summer, students taking Conservation Medicine wandered inside a virtual escape room modeled to look like the New York Museum of Natural History to solve puzzles pertaining to biodiversity. They also dug into case studies and came up with solutions to wild animal care through game theory and role playing.
This year, Robin Radcliffe, associate professor of practice, wildlife and conservation medicine at the College of Veterinary Medicine, will offer the three-credit online class again during Summer Session’s “three-week three” period, July 11 through 29, the only time when the class is offered.
“Summer Session is unique in that students get the opportunity to explore a single topic in great depth for three weeks, combining hands-on experiences—even virtually—with lectures, labs, debates, and other learning activities,” he said. “Our students come away with a new appreciation for the complexities of our world and how a healthy living system is central to the great problems of the day such as climate and social equity.”
Cornell University's Summer Session, which runs May 31 through August 2 and is administered by the School of Continuing Education (SCE), is open to Cornell and visiting undergraduate and graduate students, high school students and any interested adult. Undergraduates can earn up to 15 credits in on-campus, online and off-campus courses before the fall semester.
“Summer Session is the perfect opportunity to enjoy the best of Cornell academics during the most glorious time of year in Ithaca. Summer classes are frequently small in size, and the format makes it easy for students to catch up or get ahead in their studies, or explore new topics, and really get to know their professors and classmates along the way," said Charles W. Jermy, Jr., SCE's interim dean.
“Even though summer courses are identical to fall and spring courses in content, rigor, and intensity, the atmosphere is often less formal. In fact, on occasion, discussions begun in the classroom continue over lunch or dinner. I have often heard both faculty members and students say that the University ought to require a summer term just so every Cornell graduate can benefit from this experience.”
Conservation Medicine is just one example of a class offered only during Summer Session.
During the “three-week two” session, June 21 through July 8, students can take Design Generation(s), a three-credit on-campus course where they learn to think like a designer and create sustainable designs.
“Problem-solving projects and the students’ enthusiasm to come up with creative solutions is the most enjoyable part of this course,” says Nooshin Ahmadi, an architect and researcher in the Department of Design and Environmental Analysis, who has taught the course during the summer for four years. “This course is a great opportunity for the students to clarify their future career path, which makes the course very meaningful to me and the students.”
Other courses take advantage of the summer weather, such as Introduction to Captive Raptor Husbandry, which features hands-on laboratory training with resident birds of prey and facilities of the Cornell Raptor Program in Ithaca, and Field Ornithology, based at the beautiful Shoals Marine Laboratory on Appledore Island, Maine.
Introductory art courses, mostly offered on campus, are also unique to Summer Session. Students from any discipline can chose from a variety of three-week courses working in mediums such as painting, photography, drawing and sculpture.
Nour Ellisy, a student who took Introduction to Painting on campus before the pandemic, said of her Summer Session experience, “It’s a good way to solely focus on one or two courses. I gained a valuable perspective on art relative to life, nature and the world.”
This summer marks Cornell’s 146th Summer Session; the first Summer Session began in 1876 as a way for elementary and secondary school teachers to further their education during summer break.
Shelley Preston is the School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions’ communications and marketing specialist.