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Since its inception, CURW has provided programs and projects that stimulate and expand the religious imagination of Cornell students, faculty and staff. OSMM has built upon this tradition by creating new programs and expanding the reach of existing programs to a broader audience. Some of these programs have been developed and sustained by generous benefactors, while others are collaborative efforts between OSMM and various university departments.

All of them are open to the entire university community and the general public. These programs include:

Beggs Lecture

This lecture is named in memory of the Rev. Robert W. Beggs, an Episcopal priest and CURW affiliate, and Mabel Beggs, a co-founder of the Foundation of Light Spiritual Center in Ithaca. They bequeathed to CURW an endowment for a lectureship on science, spirituality and society in consultation with Science and Technology Studies and Religious Studies. Emphasis is placed on ethics and public policy, comparative religions and the interplay between science and religion to illustrate, in Rev. Beggs’ words, “science and religious spirituality can work hand in hand for a better world society.”

Cornell Sermon Contest

The 9th Annual Harold I. Saperstein '31 Cornell Student Topical Sermon Contest challenges you to address: The Ethical Economic Issues of Today. The contest is open to all Cornell University undergraduate and graduate students.

Frederic C. Wood Lecture

Frederic C. Wood was a member of the Class of 1924 and a former member of the University Board of Trustees (1956-1966). This occasional lecture was established by Frederic C. and Emma Wood in 1984 to “bring scholars dedicated to innovative religious thought” to Cornell’s campus. Previous lecturers included Elaine Pagels, Martin Marty, Lloyd Steffen, Karen Armstrong, Michael Eric Dyson, Mark Noll, Bishop Gene Robinson, Phillips Jenkins, and Eboo Patel.

Please contact the Director of Cornell United Religious Work for further information or to recommend future Wood Lecture speakers.

Office of Spirituality and Meaning-Making and Cornell United Religious Work (607) 255-6003

Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemoration Event

Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Lecture
Featuring: Yusef Salaam
Mon, Feb 17, 2020
7 p.m. Sage Chapel (700+ capacity)
Cornell University

A Conversation with Yusef Salaam
For over two decades Yusef Salaam, Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana and Korey Wise were known as “The Central Park Five.” All five men (then boys) were wrongfully convicted in the infamous 1989 Central Park jogger case, and Salaam spent over six years in jail. He was exonerated in 2002. Now known as one of the “Exonerated Five,” Salaam has committed himself to educating the public on issues of mass incarceration, police brutality and misconduct and the disparities in America’s criminal justice system, especially for young men of color.As we commemorate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., join us in a conversation with Yusef Salaam led by Anna Haskins, assistant professor in sociology. Q&A to follow.

Free, open to the public and accessible.

This event will NOT be recorded or livestreamed.

The annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemoration at Cornell aspires to be a cross-campus and community partnership that makes accessible the life and legacy of Dr. King for contemporary times. The King commemoration seeks to bring together Cornellians, Ithaca College and Ithaca community colleagues to plan and participate in this event. The Commemoration seeks to bridge the gap between memory and history: the memory of an earlier generation that participated in or lived during the black freedom struggle of the 1950s and 1960s; and the history of a faraway time for persons born after this period.Speakers for the King Commemoration have included those who worked directly with or knew Dr. King and scholars, activists, journalists and religious leaders whose work is informed by and a continuation of his legacy. These speakers have highlighted the continuity between past and present, providing critical examination of King's legacy and contemporary issues. the issues with which Dr. King grappled — racism, poverty and income inequality, war, militarism, imperialism, governmental abuses of power, barriers to community based on ethnicity, religion, creed — remain with us today. These very issues currently constitute a greater threat to American democracy than at any time since his assassination in 1968. The manner in which these issues are addressed will determine our collective future as a society.A cross-campus/community partnership to commemorate Dr. King, a composite of the "Beloved Community" central to his thought and action, can be a local example of collaboration across real and perceived stratification to promote moral values and social justice.

Podcast Perspectives

The Office of Spirituality and Meaning-Making and Cornell United Religious Work have partnered with Vennly to share spiritual wisdom and inspiration with the Cornell Community. Click the links below to listen to short podcast perspectives from our staff and affiliates.

Oliver Goodrich, "Meaning-Making in the Time of Coronavirus"

David Larson, "Searching for Answers"

Soup & Hope

Due to the university’s updated event restrictions regarding the concern over COVID-19, the remaining Soup & Hope talks scheduled for March 12 and March 16 are canceled. Thank you to everyone who attended these events. We hope to see you next year!

For more than a decade, dozens of Soup & Hope speakers have touched, inspired, motivated, and stirred the hearts of those who gather during the winter months at Sage Chapel. Stories come from a wide range of Cornell staff, faculty, students, alumni, and community members. They reflect diverse personal, cultural, religious, political, and philosophical beliefs and experiences. Each story is shared among friends and colleagues, over bowls of hot soup & bread.

2020 Winter Series Soup & Hope talks take place in Sage Chapel from Noon to 1PM on alternate Thursdays throughout the winter. This year's talks will be offered on: January 16, January 30, February 13, February 27, March 12, March 26. View the 2020 Soup & Hope speaker bios. 

Future Speaker Nomination

If you have a suggestion for future speakers who could speak to the idea of hope by sharing a personal story or perspective, please email a member of the Planning Committee and tell us:

  • The name of the person you'd like to recommend
  • How this person is connected to the Cornell community
  • Why you feel they have a great story to tell
  • Your name, and how we may contact you to learn more

Soup & Hope Planning Committee

  • Christopher Lujan, Co-Chair - LGBT Resource Center
  • Oliver Goodrich, Co-Chair - Office of Spirituality and Meaning-Making
  • Jennifer E. Austin - Cornell Health
  • Tracey Brant - Cornell Engineering, Kessler Fellows Program
  • Karen M. Brigham - Cornell Health
  • Kelly Chan - Academic Technologies
  • Kristine DeLuca - Cornell Commitment
  • Linda Falkson - University Ombudsman
  • Linda Mikula - University Relations
  • Doreen Silva - Cornell United Religious Work
  • Karen Williams - Cornell Health
  • Amanda Barrett Wittman - Office of Engagement Initiatives
  • Victor Younger - School of Hotel Administration, Cornell College of Business

Co-Sponsors and Supporters

Soup & Hope is sponsored by the Office of Spirituality and Meaning-Making and Cornell United Religious Work, Cornell Dining, and Cornell Health. Additional support comes from Academic Technologies, the Office of Alumni Affairs, Cornell Commitment, Cornell Engineering, Kessler Fellows Program, Engaged Learning + Research, the Office of the Ombudsman, School of Hotel Administration, and University Relations.