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Public Engagement

Brooks School Learning and Leading through Difference Initiative

We proudly launch the Brooks School Learning and Leading through Difference Initiative, supported in part by a generous gift from Brenda Weissman Benn ’02 and Michael Benn ’02. This initiative will help guide us in building on Cornell’s commitment to public engagement, strengthening democracy, promoting civil discourse, advancing conflict resolution, and developing our capacity to be thoughtful, purpose-driven leaders.

Under the umbrella of our Learning and Leading through Difference Initiative, and with seed funds generously provided by John W. Nixon ’53, we are poised to bring to campus the inaugural distinguished policy fellows. You can read more about that program below. We will also bring to campus organizations dedicated to advancing principled debate to solve societal problems, such as No Labels. 

I look forward to growing our Learning and Leading Through Difference Initiative in the coming years and sharing updates as it progresses.

— Dean Colleen L. Barry


Two former congressmen speaking at No Labels event

Searching for the Center

Fred Upton (left) and Max Rose discuss strategies to increase civil discourse, compromise, and bipartisanship in Congress. (Cornell University does not endorse or oppose candidates for elected office.) Upton, a Republican from Michigan, and Rose, a Democrat from New York, both served in Congress and led a Cornell conversation sponsored by the Brooks School. 

Read the full feature here


John W. Nixon ’53 Distinguished Policy Fellows Initiative at the Cornell Jeb E. Brooks School of Public Policy

This initiative brings senior decision makers and thought leaders in public policy to Cornell University to engage with our campus community on critical issues from varied political viewpoints with a focus on fostering constructive dialogue and advancing evidence-informed policy.

Julián Castro, former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, and former Congressman Tom Davis (R-Virginia) will serve as the inaugural John W. Nixon ’53 Distinguished Policy Fellows.

Fellows are invited to campus to guest lecture, participate in symposia, host student office hours to talk about careers in public policy and contemporary policy issues, and meet with faculty on research aligned with their expertise. 


Two headshots side-by-side

Castro, Davis named Brooks School Distinguished Policy Fellows

Learn more about their backgrounds and plans for Cornell events here

Martin Ginsburg ’53 and Ruth Bader Ginsburg ’54 program

The Brooks School, in partnership with Opera Ithaca, presents Scalia/Ginsburg, a comic opera about the differences between Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg ’54. The performance will be Saturday evening, September 23 in the Memorial Room of Willard Straight Hall.

This is one of the signature events of our Learning and Leading Through Difference Initiative. The Supreme Court Justice was a deeply devoted opera enthusiast. The Brooks School has been given an endowment gift to help celebrate her love for the art form and produce programming which reflects her legacy.

We are looking forward to joining forces with Opera Ithaca to celebrate the life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her love of opera.