Course Roster

Week one: July 9 – 15  |  Week two: July 16 – 22


Week one - July 9-15

  • CAU Summer
    How to Build a University

    Corey Ryan Earle '07, Visiting Lecturer in American Studies

    Evan Fay Earle '02, MS '14, Dr. Peter J. Thaler '56 University Archivist

    Put yourself in the shoes of Ezra Cornell as he commits to “found an institution where any person can find instruction in any study.” Throughout this class, you will explore the different facets of building and operating a university from both a modern and historic perspective. This course will compare the experiences of Ezra Cornell with current university leaders, discussing Cornell’s place in the context of American higher education more broadly.

    You will be immersed in the University Archives and Rare & Manuscript Collections of Kroch Library, where you will view historic archival materials related to the founding of Cornell University. Current university leaders will serve as guest speakers, highlighting the challenges and opportunities of their positions.

    Topics will include curriculum, campus development, faculty recruitment, admissions, alumni affairs and development, budget and finance, university relations, student life, and more.

  • CAU Summer
    Sculpting Wearable Art with Free Draping

    Catherine K. Blumenkamp, Lecturer in Human Centered Design

    Drawing inspiration from the historical dress and traditional techniques of garment construction, free draping is the process of sculpting cloth into clothing. In this studio course, you will improvise with materials through hands-on activities, experimenting with the interplay of fabric, shape, and silhouette. In the spirit of sustainability, the course will source and up-cycle old garments and textiles, cutting, molding, marking, and joining fabric to create our own original clothing designs. Together, we will visit special collections, including the Cornell Fashion + Textile Collection, to find inspiration in the work of designers who came before us and understand the value of material culture through the centuries. This week-long course will culminate in an exhibit of our work together.

    Previous sewing or design experience is not required. A beginner’s mindset and willingness to experiment are encouraged!

  • CAU Summer
    Sensory Explorations in Physics

    Erik Herman, Lecturer in Physics, Physics Bus Visionary, and Founder of Free Science Workshop

    Are you captivated by unusual physics phenomena? Do you catch yourself staring at beads of water dancing on the hood of your car, or marvel at the ways a blanket can produce a crackling light show in the dark? Do you like to create things with your hands? This summer, take a deep dive into some of the elusive effects of physics by designing and building an interactive exhibit for Ithaca’s Physics Bus, a science museum on wheels.

    You will begin with a survey of existing physics exhibits and their contexts. Together, we will follow instructions for building a simple exhibit to familiarize ourselves with some basic wood fabrication skill building (cutting, drilling, and fastening). With instructor guidance, you will propose a project of your own and—with a treasure trove of available resources—begin physically exploring how to build, create and convey the intended effect. The remainder of the week will involve “packaging” the experience into a standalone exhibit.

    This course assumes no formal experience in physics, engineering, electronics, or a technical-related field. An eagerness to work with hand tools is required, but prior experience is not.

  • CAU Summer 2023
    Cages and Creativity: The Arts and Incarceration

    Bruce Levitt, Professor of Performing and Media Arts

    The carceral state has become a major civil rights issue in the 21st Century. Over the past decade, Cornell has provided students with ever-expanding access to the study of mass incarceration and the prison-industrial complex. The Crime, Justice, Education, and Prison minor lists over fifty related courses, and the Prison Education Program offers an associate degree in four state prisons in which Cornell students serve as teaching assistants. No fewer than eight campus student organizations are actively involved in issues ranging from lobbying for reforms to assisting with parole preparation to providing a forum for relief from the isolation of prison life and an outlet for creative self-expression.

    Together we will explore Cornell’s role in addressing the issues surrounding mass incarceration through the lens of the creative arts practiced in prisons—art, music, dance, theatre, and writing—and see how the arts critique the system and hold out the promise for reform. We will examine scholarship around the impact of practicing the arts while incarcerated and discuss the ethical issues surrounding the artwork produced by incarcerated people.

    During this interactive class, artists, activists, formerly incarcerated individuals, and academics, all working at the intersection of the arts and the criminal justice system, will share their efforts and hopes for creating programs that address the root causes of incarceration and reduce society’s reliance on the prison-industrial complex.

  • CAU Summer
    Wine and Food: The Principles and Pleasures of Pairing

    Kathleen Arnink, Senior Lecturer, Viticulture and Enology

    Annemarie Morse, International Wine Judge, Educator, and Manager of the Johnson College of Business' Student Learning Center

    We all must eat and drink for survival; for most of us, both activities can be a highly pleasurable experience. Pairing wine with meals and cooking with wine can increase our enjoyment of food and the healthfulness of the experience. In this course, you will enhance your wine and food pairing knowledge, and indulge your passion for exceptional wines, artisanal cheeses, gourmet chocolates, and other regional foods.

    In this class, you will explore the principles of flavor chemistry and sensory science to explain what we experience as we eat food and drink wine. Together, we will discover the important flavor chemicals that we appreciate in wines and learn how they develop. Different flavor chemicals are created by the grapevines and the microbes that ferment juice into wine. Then we will investigate how our wine flavor perceptions interact with our perceptions of different foods. Why do people believe cheese works so well with wines? We will discuss both the misconceptions and the scientific explanations for this and other pairings. You will learn to understand why you like what you like, understand how your senses and your brain perceive different flavor chemicals and experience the ways your perceptions are influenced by pairing different flavors together.

    There will be lectures each day to inform our daily sensory activities. Sensory activities will include standards we will prepare to illustrate some flavor and sensory principles. The standards will help students understand the wine and food pairings we will sample every day. We also plan a cooking session, to illustrate how cooking with wine can change a dish and enhance your enjoyment of it, and a winery visit for a food and wine experience. You must be 21 years of age or older to participate in this course.

  • CAU Summer
    Chile, the Pacific, and the World

    Raymond Craib, the Marie Underhill Noll Professor of American History

    A “thin country” with a “crazy geography.” The England of South America. A South American exception. The Republic of Poetry. Birthplace of neoliberal shock therapy. The descriptions for and of Chile abound. This course simultaneously reveals how those descriptions arose as well as the truths and the falsehoods they contain.

    Chile does have a crazy geography—it is more than 2,600 miles long but on average only 100 miles wide—but all nation-state boundaries are in some sense fictive. Chile’s geography means it has one of the longest coastlines on the Pacific Ocean, with a reach that extends to Rapa Nui (Easter Island), a place linguistically closer to Tahiti and the Marquesan Islands than to the native or settler communities of the continent. Immigration over the course of the 19th century transformed Chile as it moved from a colonial backwater to a center of agricultural and industrial production. At the same time, Chileans traversed a broader world—they were some of the first to arrive in the small port of San Francisco as news of the gold discoveries circulated, bringing with them knowledge, biota, and ideas.

    The first woman to win the Nobel Prize for poetry was a Chilean: Gabriel Mistral. Her compatriot Pablo Neruda would also win the same prize decades later, although he would die shortly after receiving the award during a violent coup d’etat that saw the overthrow of the western hemisphere’s first democratically elected Marxist president. In the wake of the coup, Chile would become an economics laboratory for Milton Friedman and his Chicago Boys to experiment with what would soon become labeled ‘neoliberalism.’ Tens of thousands of Chileans went into exile in Venezuela, Sweden, the Netherlands, Spain… and Ithaca, New York. We will examine the history of Chile from roughly 1800 to the present, always with an appreciation for its place in a broader world and attention to its regional and national specificities.

  • CAU Summer 2023
    Natural History Collections: A Crucial Cornerstone for Science and Society

    Vanya Rohwer, Curator of Birds & Mammals, Lab of Ornithology

    Natural history collections are archives of the living world, from rocks and fossils to rhododendrons and flamingos. They document global biodiversity, provide essential time-series data about natural populations, and help solve unanticipated conservation problems.

    Through discussions, tours of Cornell’s renowned and vibrant vertebrate collections of birds, mammals, fishes, amphibians, and reptiles, and an outing to collect our own scientific data by capturing, measuring, and handling birds, this course will introduce you to the hidden world of natural history collections. You will explore the ethical dilemmas inextricably linked to scientific collecting, see how natural history collections are used for research and conservation, learn about the history and personalities involved in scientific collecting, and discuss the future of natural history collections.

  • CAU Summer
    The Golf Clinic for All Players

    Matt Baughan, Head Varsity Coach for Men’s Golf with Kelly Baughan and staff of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Course

    Improve your game with intensive instruction tailored to your needs! Male and female golfers at every level, from novice to experienced, will benefit from this comprehensive clinic.

    Grouped by skill, you will be led through daily exercises and individual instruction that will help you advance your game. After the morning instruction, you will enjoy free afternoons to practice what you’ve learned on Cornell’s legendary Robert Trent Jones Golf Course.

    Note: Use of your own clubs is strongly encouraged, but rental clubs will be available.

  • CAU Summer
    Outdoor Adventures

    Mark Holton, Lindseth Co-Director of Cornell Outdoor Education

    Escape from the ordinary with an unforgettable adventure this summer! Visit Cornell’s Lindseth Climbing Wall, navigate the Hoffman Challenge Course, and explore secluded gorges. As you scale sheer walls, zip over the canopy, and paddle pristine local waters, you will learn about each other by bonding through various challenges.

    Guiding you will be a seasoned outdoor education master who will provide the necessary expertise and state-of-the-art safety systems to ensure your success through various team exercises.

    For this rigorous program, you need to be in good health and ready for action.

    The course is intended for one adult enrolling solo or one adult enrolling with one or more teens 15 years old or older.

Week two - July 16-22

  • CAU Summer
    The Personal Essay: A Writing Workshop

    Charlie Green, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Literatures in English

    Writing a personal essay—the informal or familiar or genuine essay—is a wonderful means of exploring what really matters to you. In this class, you will write about events in your life that have moved you and mull over those questions about the human experience that most compel your interest. You will strive for conversational frankness and cultivate a high tolerance for uncertainty, writing not so much to prove ideas as to weigh their merits in your experience. In the process, you will deepen your own and your readers’ understanding of your life story.

    As part of the course, you will also read a selection of published essays to discuss their structure, tone, and immediacy. Time will be devoted to workshopping our essays, either with Charlie, in small groups, or with the class. Come to complete a piece or to shape your writing into a formal memoir.

  • CAU Summer
    Nature Photography

    David Todd, eCornell Course Facilitator and Visiting Lecturer, Art as Experience, Department of Art

    Jennifer Gioffre Todd, Art and Photography Studio Manager

    Grab your camera and join us outside as we explore Ithaca’s natural beauty through the lens! No matter your experience, Jennifer and David Todd will help you advance your skills to the next level. Each day you will visit a new location and focus on one aspect of nature photography. Afternoons will be devoted to editing and critiquing our work. Technical exercises and on-the-fly personal instruction will answer any question you’ve ever wanted to ask a professional photographer. Together, we will complete the week by sharing our final print exhibition with the entire CAU community.

    Topics include close-ups, landscapes big and small, B&W versus color editing, the night sky, sunsets, waterfalls and more!

    Note: Students must be able to carry their own camera equipment on dirt paths over a variety of distances. Students must bring their own laptop or tablet with their preferred editing software installed.

  • CAU Summer
    Art for Its Time: Reflections of Recent American Movements

    Nancy Green, Gale and Ira Drukier Curator, Johnson Museum of Art (retired)

    Maryterese Pasquale-Bowen, Assistant for School Programs, Johnson Museum of Art

    Starting in the 1930s—the decade that was defined by the Depression, FDR’s New Deal, and the emigration to New York of many of Europe’s leading artists and intellectuals—this course explores fifty years of art through the lens of social and political changes, from the Works Projects Administration and the Mexican muralists, through the emergence of the American Abstract Artists, the McCarthy era, Pop Art, Feminism, and the Black Power movement of the 1960s and 1970s.

    You will examine these topics as they affected the Cornell University campus and the surrounding community during these decades. Together, we will explore archived materials and key artifacts housed at the Johnson Museum of Art, Kroch Library, and Catherwood Library.

    There will be short reading assignments to accompany each class meeting, and we anticipate lively and wide-ranging discussions based on our reading and viewing experiences.

  • CAU Summer 2023
    Jews on Film: Movie Musicals

    Elliot Shapiro, Senior Lecturer of the Knight Institute and the Knight Foundation Director of Writing in the Majors

    Since sound came to the movies, movie musicals have been among the most visible and lucrative products of the American film industry. American Jews played key roles as composers and lyricists of the music that emerged from Tin Pan Alley; appeared front and center on the Broadway stage; and helped define the collective body of work known as the “Great American Songbook.” Stage musicals and film musicals developed in parallel, with many areas of overlap. Both fields of entertainment have been deeply intertwined with cultural production by—and sometimes about—Jewish Americans. This has sometimes included musical adaptations of literature by and about Jews and Jewishness.

    In this class, you will focus on six movie musicals that engage with questions of Jewish visibility, Jewish identity, and Jewish cultural production. Our advance reading will include several of the short stories that were adapted into musicals, including two of the Sholom Aleichem stories that were incorporated into Fiddler on the Roof and the I. B. Singer story that was adapted for Yentl. Some additional advance reading will be assigned to provide context for the films.

    Class time will be devoted to close reading and discussion of the films on the curriculum, and the relevant source texts. In advance of class, participants will be asked to view the six main films being discussed: Duck Soup (1933), Take Me Out to the Ball Game (1949), Funny Girl (1968), Fiddler on the Roof (1971), The Jazz Singer (1980), and Yentl (1983).

  • CAU Summer 2023
    Delicious and Nutritious: Food for Healthy Living

    Emily Wilcox Gier, Associate Professor of Practice and Dietetic Internship Director for the Division of Nutritional Sciences

    Are you curious about the evidence behind popular diets promoted for better health? Are you challenged by confusing diet recommendations to manage cardiovascular health, weight, or diabetes? Are you interested in honing your meal preparation skills to prepare quick, tasty, and healthy meals using local ingredients? Join us in Cornell’s new Discovery Kitchen where we’ll explore the science and practice the art of preparing delicious and nutritious food for healthy living.

  • CAU Summer
    Nature’s Rhapsody: How Animal Sounds Can Advance Conservation

    Holger Klinck, John W. Fitzpatrick Director of the K. Lisa Yang Center for Conservation Bioacoustics at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology

    Laurel Symes, Assistant Director of the K. Lisa Yang Center for Conservation Bioacoustics at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology

    In this course, you will gain exclusive insights into how scientists collect and interpret sounds in nature to inspire and inform the conservation of marine and terrestrial wildlife and habitats. Together, we will listen to animal sounds and learn how organisms use sound to communicate with each other, detect prey, and navigate their environments. You will explore topics such as animal sound production and reception, acoustic recording equipment, and sound analysis technologies. In addition, you will identify ways in which the increasing human noise footprint impacts ecosystems and examine the plethora of acoustics applications advancing conservation efforts.

  • CAU Summer
    Gorgeous Gorges: The Prehistoric Past of the Finger Lakes

    Warren D. Allmon, Hunter R Rawlings III Professor of Paleontology and Director of the Paleontological Research Institution

    Hike stunning gorge trails and learn about Finger Lakes fossils and geology! Ithaca's spectacular gorges are windows into our prehistoric past. Their 380-million-year-old rocks started in a shallow sea and have been sculpted over the past 2-3 million years by water and ice, revealing how this part of North America has evolved.

    In this course, you will join us on an exploration of the area’s rocks, fossils, and past and current flora and fauna led by Warren Allmon, geologist, paleontologist, naturalist, director of Ithaca's Paleontological Research Institution and the Museum of the Earth, and the Hunter R. Rawlings III Professor of Paleontology in Cornell’s Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences.

    Daily field trips to dramatic sites—including Buttermilk Falls, Taughannock Falls, and Watkins Glen State Parks—will require the ability to wade a stream and climb steep steps without difficulty.

  • CAU Summer
    Bicycling the Byways: Ithaca and Beyond

    Mark Holton, Lindseth Co-Director of Cornell Outdoor Education

    Take a two-wheeled vacation in the beautiful surroundings of the Finger Lakes! Enjoy the support and camaraderie of the group as we pedal past gorges, waterfalls, farmlands, lakes, and vistas with Cornell Outdoor Education’s expert bike leaders. Along the way, we will break for picnic lunches, hiking, and contemplative awe.

    Participants need not have competed in the Tour de France, but reasonable physical fitness and biking ease are essential.

  • CAU Summer
    The Sailing Clinic

    Ivan Sagel, Director and Senior Instructor of the Merril Sailing Center

    Learn the ropes (literally!) and everything else you need to know for safe sailing! All the fun of this class takes place at Cornell’s Merrill Family Sailing Center, one of the finest sailing centers in the country, located on Cayuga Lake. Led by the staff of the Sailing Center, you will learn the skills you need for skippering and crewing on a variety of small and large sailboats, enjoying the beauty of the outdoors while skimming over the waters of Cayuga Lake.

    For this program, you need to be in good health and able to swim.

    The course is intended for one adult enrolling solo or one adult enrolling with one or more teens 15 years old or older.

Frequently asked questions

Register now

  • “It was a fun and stimulating vacation. Being on a campus, living in a dorm, and learning something new, while spending time with interesting folx, was a great way to spend some time in the summer.”
    —Mark Kelland P’18, CAU Summer 2022

Contact us

  • CAU Summer 2023

    Cornell’s Adult University
    Cornell University Alumni Affairs and Development