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  Cornell University

The University Faculty

Office of the Dean

The Three Literacies

Should we have university-wide, “literacy” requirements and if so, what should they look like? This webpage provides a quick  look at three possibilities that are frequently mentioned:

Climate Change Literacy
Digital Age Change Literacy
Cultural Literacy

By studying related undergraduate minors, we can get a sense of how we might “live” off of existing curriculum. Let’s spend some time on this. Forward motion will require coordination between the Faculty Senate, the Senate’s Educational Policy Committee, the Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, and of course, the seven undergraduate Colleges.

Climate Change Literacy


Campus Climate Literacy

Related Minors

Atmospheric Science
Climate Change
Environmental and Sustainability
Science of Earth Systems

Background Reading


Digital Age Literacy


The Radical Collaborations initiative has a task force that is concerned with Data Science. Their report has ideas about undergraduate education that are of interest:

Perhaps the greatest educational challenge for meeting the expanding needs for exposure to data science comes at the undergraduate level. Basic knowledge in data science will be necessary for students to become informed citizens, much less leading practitioners in their respective fields. It will be important to scale existing courses, and expand offerings to enable the creation of an undergraduate minor in data science in each undergraduate college. A more ambitious goal, and one for which initial steps have already been taken, is the creation of a structure under which a new introductory course, co-taught by several departments, serves as the hub for an array of gateway courses. These gateway courses link the foundational material from the introductory course to a wide span of focused application domains. It is intended that this introductory course will provide an entry point for students across the university who have limited or no prior background in computing and statistics. The course will enable them to become critical thinkers in analyzing real-world data, and introduce them to them to relevant tools in computation and statistical inference; in our data-rich world, it is imperative that we educate our students so that they understand how to validate quantitative statements, as well as to reason about the inherent limitations on making such conclusions reliably. Furthermore, the broader goal is to provide the springboard that connects to the subsequent gateway courses, creating the ability for any student, in any study, to apply a cutting-edge data-centric approach to any discipline. This approach of introducing core material in tandem with a broad range of relevant application domains is known to be effective in attracting a diverse student body for STEM disciplines.

New Course: CS 1380/ORIE 1380: Data Science for All

Related Minors

Computer Science
Information Science
Science and Technology Studies

Background Readings


Cultural Literacy


The Presidential Task Force on Campus Climate might have something to say about this. Note that the subcommittee on Campus Experience is charged with finding ways to create a more inclusive environment for our students.

Some college-Level efforts directed at producing culturally-sensitive undergraduates:

Agriculture and Life Sciences has a  Human Diversity requirement.

Arts and Sciences has a Geographic breadth requirement and a Historic breadth requirement.

Industrial and Labor Relations has a Cultural Perspectives requirement.

Existing training and learning opportunities from the Diversity and Inclusion Office

Related Minors

Africana Studies
LBGT Studies
Jewish Studies
Latina/o Studies
Latin American Studies
Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
Asian American Studies
East Asian Studies
Inequality Studies
Portuguese and Brazilian Studies
Religious Studies
Minority, Indigenous, and Third World Studies
Near Eastern Studies

Background Reading

Cornell Related:

SA Resolution 57: Towards a More Inclusive Learning Experience  (2015)
SA Resolution 57: Appendix   (2015)
People’s School       (Cornell Sun, March 2017)
Save Our Programs  (Cornell Sun, May, 2017)
Cornell Sun (Sept 18)
Cornell Sun (Sept 20)
Chronicle of Higher Education  (Sept 21)
Cornell Sun (Sept 27)
Cornell Sun (Sept 28)
President Pollack’s Statement
Provost Kotlikoff and VP Lombardi
Black Student Union demands


Experiences at Hamilton College , U Penn , UCLA , Harvard

The Complicated Process of Adding Diversity to the College Syllabus (The Atlantic, 2016)


Last Updated: January 12, 2018 at 7:30 am