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Cornell University

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

A COE Mountaineering class on an Adirondack summit

Where We Stand

Cornell Outdoor Education (COE) believes in the power of the outdoors and adventure-based programming as a means to create transformational experiences in the lives of individuals and groups. Through our programs and partnerships, COE continually strives to expand opportunities for all students to challenge themselves and grow as leaders. We believe that as we prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion, COE will become an on-campus focal point for all students to develop practical leadership skills. We are committed to guaranteeing access to the full COE experience for all students.

COE broadly defines diversity as the variety of cultures, world views, values, and personal experiences that may result from differences including but not limited to, race, ethnicity, national origin/immigration status, gender, age, religion, abilities, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, and gender identity. We believe that the students, instructors, and staff engaging in COE programs should be representative of the full diversity that exists at Cornell University and that COE as a whole should epitomize the university’s central motto of ‘Any person… any study’.

As an organization, we strive to become more equitable by continually seeking and ensuring the fair treatment of everyone, securing equal opportunities for participation, and guaranteeing fair and equal access to the full breadth of the COE experience.  We recognize that achieving and sustaining equity requires a continuous effort of identifying and breaking down of social, financial, and structural barriers and obstacles. 

Lastly, for COE, inclusion means building a culture of belonging that intentionally embraces differences and actively invites the contribution and participation of all people. We believe that developing respect, compassion, and dignity for ourselves and towards others is central to the COE experience and fundamental in achieving our organizational mission of ‘developing teamwork, leadership, and personal growth’.  To this aim, COE provides the tools, resources, and a safe space for people to explore nature, define their own adventure, and benefit from outdoor experiences.

Our Work to Date

  • Establishment of the David Moriah Endowment for COE for financial aid assistance to cover physical education course fees in order to guarantee equal access and break down financial barriers to participation on COE educational programs for financially disadvantaged students.

  • Intentional hiring, promotion, and retention of diverse professional staff, student coordinators, and student & community instructors. 
  • Active participation and standing seat at the Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Committee of the Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education.
  • Held on-campus event series with the Brothers of Climbing at the Lindseth Climbing Center.
  • COE sponsored speakers: James Edward Mills and Joe Stone.
  • Adaptive Climbing training for the Lindseth Climbing Center in partnership with Paradox Sports.
  • For the Win monthly climbing events for women-identifying (cisgender, trans women, others) and non-binary individuals.
  • Climb the Rainbow climbing wall event for members of the Cornell LGBTQ community.
  • Year-round programming with the Office of Academic Diversity Initiatives, including the Pre-freshman Summer Program.
  • Collaborations with the office of First-Generation & Low-Income Student Support and the Kessler Scholars.
  • Annual programming at the Hoffman Challenge Course with pre-college diversity initiatives such as Cornell STEP, Upward Bound, Currie Academy, and Catalyst Academy.
  • Consent Ed training at Fall All Staff Training for all COE instructors. This organization engages Cornell students in essential conversations about sex, alcohol, consent, and social responsibility.
  • Annual rock climbing programming with the TST BOCES Smith’s Schools Career Skills for people with developmental disabilities.
  • Collaboration with the OADI (Office of Academic Diversity Initiatives) to offer affinity classes in canoeing, day hiking and rock climbing.
  • Started the Emerging Leader Program in Fall 2023 to develop student leadership through outdoor pursuits with students from OADI.
  • Monthly community building series where student instructors and staff lead activities and skill sharing sessions to promote inclusion and belonging across program areas at COE.

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