Social Sector Working Group

Photo: High Road Social Sector Working Group

The ILR Social Sector Studies Working Group & Engaged Curriculum Project Team, partially supported by Engaged Cornell, consists of:

  • Ron Applegate, Labor Relations, Law, and History
  • Marya Besharov, Organizational Behavior
  • M. Diane Burton, Human Resource Studies
  • Lou Jean Fleron, Cornell in Buffalo
  • Shannon Gleeson, Labor Relations, Law, and History
  • Megan Connelly, Cornell in Buffalo and Partnership for the Public Good

Our goal is to create a new undergraduate program on Social Sector Studies (3S) at the ILR School. The 3S program will provide an overarching academic framework for students to study the dynamic social and cultural sector and the organizations within it.  This study explores the legal and institutional environment; specific problems and issues that the sector seeks to address; the distinctive organizational and leadership challenges associated with generating revenues, managing volunteers, and addressing multiple stakeholders; and the values and perspectives that distinguish the social and cultural sector as an alternative to the for-profit and government sectors.

The 3S program reflects the current interests and expertise of ILR faculty. ILR School research and teaching already feature a wide variety of social and cultural sector organizations: e.g., community organizations organizing and representing unrepresented workers, civic organizations providing employment services to underserved groups in the workforce, business organizations implementing “social entrepreneurship” strategies and legally empowered to pursue social goals, economic development organizations controlled by and for communities. The 3S program will channel these interests and contacts, create a new collaborative community that cuts across departmental boundaries, and provide a mechanism to guide students through a set of educational experiences including coursework, fieldwork, and, for selected students, honors thesis research.

The 3S program is built on the work of the Engaged Cornell grant and our partnership with Buffalo High Road Fellowships and the Partnership for the Public Good in Buffalo.  It will serve the career aspirations of our students by giving them a solid foundation and a set of writing, research, and analytic skills. It will also strengthen our connections to ILR alumni and friends who work in social sector organizations through field placements, guest speaker opportunities, and internships.  

The 3S program will mimic a Cornell undergraduate minor in the level of effort and intensity required.  In 2016, two new courses were developed:

  • A mandatory pre-course focused on preparing for the field placement of High Road Fellowships (Community Controlled Economic Development: The Case of Buffalo NY,       3 weeks, 2 credits)
  • A required summer community placement/engaged learning experience (High Road Fellowships; 8 weekly meetings, completes the 2 credit course above)
  • A seminar-style post-placement research/reflection course (Communities and Equitable Development in the New Economy; 3 credits)
  • Under development for 2017 are:
  • A required multidisciplinary course that is an introduction to the social sector, 3 credits.
  • A suite of electives from which students would choose at least three, organized by theme (e.g., health, environment, education, immigration)