Oct. 11, 2006

Cornell Library studying Berkeley model for collaboration with faculty to get undergrads more involved in research

Patricia Maughan
Lindsay France/Univ. Photography
Patricia Maughan of the University of California-Berkeley tells a group of faculty and librarians on Oct. 5 how Berkeley's library works with faculty to redesign large-enrollment undergraduate courses so that students do more undergraduate research-based activities involving the library. Copyright ©

How did the University of California (UC)-Berkeley redesign its high-enrollment, high-impact undergraduate courses to offer more opportunities for students to get engaged in research by using the university's libraries? To find out, about 60 Cornell University Library (CUL) staff and faculty attended a special presentation by Berkeley librarians Oct. 5 in G10 Biotechnology Building.

The answer: The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation supports a four-year initiative at Berkeley to promote collaboration between the library and faculty that strengthens the connections between undergraduate research, information literacy and library collections.

CUL and campus committees are looking into implementing a similar program at Cornell, said Karen Calhoun, associate university librarian for Technical Services at Cornell.

Elizabeth Dupuis and Patricia Maughan, project director and project manager of the Mellon Library/Faculty Fellowship for Undergraduate Research at UC-Berkeley, explained that the program involves a competitive selection process to choose faculty fellows. The chosen faculty then participate in a six-day institute that brings together several campus partnerships to collaborate on how to modify courses and develop effective undergraduate research-based activities and assignments.

"We looked at a lot of programs throughout the country and determined that the Berkeley approach is closest to our context -- they are a research institution with a renewed emphasis on teaching and undergraduate education," said Kornelia Tancheva, team leader of the CUL Priority Implementation Team on Information Fluency, which sponsored the event with the library's Academic Assembly.

"They are also very decentralized, and they have this fabulous support from Mellon to offer a true partnership and collaboration across campus for the benefit of the students," Tancheva added.

Graduate student Sandra Holley is a writer intern at the Cornell Chronicle.