Fall 2021 Guidance/COVID-19 Information

Cortland Applied Learning Practitioners: CALP

CALP Spring 2020 Proposal Instructions (Phase 2)

CALP Fall 2019 Proposal Instructions

Introduction to the Community for Applied Learning Practitioners: CALP

Three SUNY Cortland programs that support faculty development in applied learning are Problem/Project-Based Learning (PBL), coordinated by the PBL Team (contact person is Beth Klein), Common Problem Pedagogy, whose principal investigator is Bruce Mattingly, and the new Community of Applied Learning Practitioners (CALP), coordinated by John Suarez.

In October of 2018, a six-member Advisory Panel chose five faculty members’ proposals to be supported by the CALP program. Those faculty members, their community partners, and their campus mentors will receive stipends to support development of their applied learning projects.

Mentors, in sharing their applied learning expertise, form a “community of practice.”  The five CALP faculty members named below will serve as mentors for faculty a year from now. 

In this way, the members of SUNY Cortland’s CALP program are a resource for those who want to design or refine their applied learning courses. They will also be part of the SUNY-wide Community of Practice program.

SUNY’s program helps expand and hone applied learning across the SUNY system so that graduates are well-prepared for a basic job- interview question:  “So, what experience do you have?”

Applied Learning’s real-life, authentic-learning experiences give students the opportunity to answer that question clearly and confidently.

The descriptions of these five “inaugural” CALP courses demonstrate the breadth and depth of these courses. Students will engage in unique multicultural projects; they will partner with not-for-profit organizations and with a government offices.

Assistant Professor Amanda Tepfer will integrate service-learning into her Lifespan Motor Development course. Students will create and implement developmentally-appropriate motor activities for children from different cultures.

Tepfer explains that students will apply their course learning in small groups as they design activities that “will help children maintain motor skill development across their life-spans. These activities will help those children keep their mobility into later life.”

Students in this Physical Education course will, then, be able to craft activities that take into account the developmental “arc” of people’s typical motor-competence, from childhood to adulthood. To help her students work with students from a variety of backgrounds, Tepfer is partnering with three organizations: 

The Cortland/Homer Afterschool Motor Program (CHAMP), the YWCA, the SUNY Cortland Day Care Center, and the Franziska Racker Center.

Tepfer will partner with Janice Meyer (a SUNY Cortland alumna) at the YWCA; Associate professor Tim Davis, Adapted Physical Education, will serve as mentor for Tepfer.

Davis will also serve as mentor for Assistant Professor Erica Pratt, who is partnering with International Programs to develop a new applied learning course that, like Tepfer’s course, involves children in a multicultural context: International Studies in Physical Education.

Pratt’s course provides students with a team-based approach to the teaching, analysis, and assessment of activities.

“Students must be able to work early-on with children from cultures different than their own,” Pratt says, so she is developing this new course as a way for first-year students to have culturally diverse teaching opportunities before student teaching.

Students will work and study in Dublin, Ireland, with Project Fun Direction as they develop a community physical literacy program for urban youth, especially girls, with special needs, are underserved, or who are displaced. 

“Physical literacy” is the ability improve one’s holistic health by moving effectively in many different situations.

International Programs is facilitating the course’s travel-abroad logistics, and it is providing the stipends for Pratt and her community partner in Ireland.   


Alex Balas, Director, Clark Center for Global Engagement, is also taking an international approach as he redesigns his course, The Making of the Modern World.  Balas will ask his students to create an aggregate needs-assessment for foreign-born people in Cortland County, based on students’ blending of course-based knowledge of immigration policy and interviews with Cortland-area immigrants.

Immigrants living in Cortland County are from countries such as the Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria, India, Brazil, Mali, Mexico, Iran, Egypt, Turkey, France, and China.

Balas notes that, “as students interact with their immigrant partners, they’ll develop an understanding of the role of immigration policies on culture shock and shifting cultural identities.”

Students’ community partner will be Interfaith Works of CNY, whose mission statement is, “InterFaith Works of Central New York, through education, service and dialogue, affirms the dignity of each person and every faith community and works to create relationships and understanding among us.”Val Widdall, Childhood Education, will serve as Balas’ mentor.


Kent Johnson. Assistant Professor, Sociology/Anthropology is developing a new course, Advanced Forensic Anthropology, in which students will partner with the Cortland County Coroner’s Office. 

Johnson says that, in the course’s culminating experience, students “process a mock crime scene staged at Hoxie Gorge. They’ll search for, recover, and document ‘human remains,’ such as a plastic skeleton or pig carcass that I will bury months in advance.”

Back at the college, students will be assigned a set of unidentified human skeletal remains from the Anthropology Department’s teaching collections. Students will apply laboratory skills including determination of sex, age at death, stature, and ancestry from skeletal remains.

Among other actions, students will develop a search and recovery protocol based on their experience to be used for future consultations.

The Coroner’s Office investigates all deaths in Cortland County, regardless of the cause of death. The Office works with law enforcement agencies, as need be. Professor Greg Phelan, Chemistry, will mentor Johnson

Melinda Shimizu’s course takes us from below ground (in Johnson’s course) to tree tops.  Shimizu, an Assistant Professor of Geography, is developing the “Cortland Tree Canopy Project.” 

Her Advanced GIS Techniques students will partner with the city’s Landscape and Design Commission (LDC) to update LDC maps of plantings and to create tree-planting options. 

To do so, students will conduct spatial overlay analysis, and they will use teamwork skills as they work with LDC employees.

Through a Department of Environmental Conservation grant, City of Cortland property owners can apply to LDC for a tree to be planted on their property at no cost to them. The owner promises to maintain the tree. Shimizu points-out that “these maps and these options are important because the LDC will be able to determine the kinds of trees to plant.

“LDC will consider concerns such as utilities, site conditions, and tree availability. They’ll also listen to the property owner’s ideas.”  Assistant Professor of Geology, Christopher Badurek, will serve as Shimizu’s mentor.