Cornell Undergraduate Information Competency Initiative

Contact: Camille Andrews or Thomas Mills
Phone: (607) 255-8673 or (607) 255-5859
E-mail: or

Cornell Undergraduate Information Competency Initiative

Week-Long Institute Explores Ways to Transform Undergraduate Research Instruction

ITHACA, NY -- The Cornell Undergraduate Information Competency Initiative, funded by a grant from Cornell University Library and the Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, will hold its first week-long Institute June 16-20 in Ithaca, NY. The Institute, in support of the university's goal of improving undergraduate education and transforming the curriculum, provides a forum for Cornell faculty to develop creative and effective ways to engage students by integrating research skills into the curriculum through the redesign and creation of authentic assignments for undergraduate courses.

The Initiative, based on a model pioneered by the University of California Berkeley's Mellon Library/Faculty Fellowship for Undergraduate Research, was created as a response to a growing national concern that today’s undergraduates do not possess core information competencies.

“In this exploding information age of Google, Wikipedia, and Web 2.0, students are often adept at using technology for quick answers and entertainment,” said Camille Andrews, co-chair of the Initiative and instruction coordinator at Mann Library. “However, we’ve found that there’s an even greater need to help students find, evaluate, manage and use quality and scholarly information effectively and ethically and to introduce them to the richness of Cornell’s world-class library collections. These skills will help them not only in college but also throughout their personal and professional lives."

Nine Cornell faculty from across disciplines were selected to participate in the Initiative, and each received $1,500 in support of scalable and sustainable changes to their curriculum. During the Institute, faculty will collaborate with consultants from Cornell University Library, the Center for Learning and Teaching, Academic Technology Services and User Support, and the Knight Institute for Writing in the Disciplines, to create or redesign assignments which use the Library's resources –from archival materials on hip hop to scientific article databases – and introduce undergraduates to the practice of scholarly research. After the Institute, faculty will continue to work with these academic partners to develop and refine their courses and assignments throughout the year.

“I am so excited to collaborate with the different constituencies across the university to strengthen the research component of my oral communication course,” said Kathy Berggren, senior lecturer in the communications department, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and one of the faculty who will be participating in the Initiative.

Topics to be addressed during next week’s Institute include student and faculty perspectives on research, digital literacy, crafting research based assignments, effective assessment strategies, and teaching with technology, among many others.

Please see for more information and for a complete schedule of the week-long Institute.