The Public Service Studies Minor

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The Department offers a Minor in Public Service Studies to undergraduate students in any college at Cornell. The Public Service Studies Minor provides students with intellectual frameworks for developing and sustaining commitments to community engagement and global citizenship. Students gain critical thinking tools for reflecting about and promoting social change.

No specific advisor is required; all departmental faculty are available to discuss students’ plans for completing the Minor. Students can apply for the Minor at any time before the March 31st prior to their graduation; to be certified for the Minor, a student must submit a completed Minor Form and transcript to the Director of Undergraduate Studies by this date.

Specific criteria for the minor are:

  • 15 credits plus at least 160 hours of engaged/service learning experience that is set within a pre-agreed framework for reporting, reflection, and assessment.
  • ANTHR 1900: Global Engagements: Living & Working in a Diverse World  (4 credits)**
  • Capstone course for Public Service Studies (1 credit)
  • One Anthropology course at the 2000 level or above drawn from Anthropology’s Activism and Social Justice Pathway (3-4 credits)
  • Remaining credit requirements toward the minor may be satisfied with electives drawn from the interdisciplinary list of approved courses. (6-7 credits). These courses feature public service/community engagement components and provide skills, concepts, and knowledge critical to understanding public service, engagement, and social justice. Students may also use one area studies course relevant to their engaged/service learning experience to contribute to the elective credit requirement.
  • No S/U classes will be accepted; all classes must be taken for a letter grade.
  • Students must achieve a C- or better in all courses taken to fulfill the minor.
  • One of the courses for the minor may be taken as transfer credit and one may be taken through study abroad. A minimum of three of the five required courses must be taken at Cornell.


**  In addition to ANTHR 1900, students participating in study abroad or engaged learning experiences are encouraged to also take:

ANTHR 3901: Going Global: Preparing for Engaged Learning (2 credits)
ANTHR 3902: Coming Home: Making the Most of Engaged Experiences (2 credits)

More about the Public Service Studies Minor

Fieldwork: Engaged/Service Learning Experiences
Engaged/Service fieldwork must be undertaken in consultation with a supervising faculty member and a fieldwork supervisor from the off-campus organization. The Public Service Center is one valuable resource for linking students to service learning opportunities. Engaged Cornell can also help to connect students to potential experiences in the Ithaca area and around the globe.

Student fieldwork is expected to reflect a coherent and sustained commitment to a community partner. It may not be assembled piecemeal from multiple unrelated experiences. Students may count hours of service experience obtained in the course of regular coursework as long as they are part of the same sustained service experience that will be the basis for the fieldwork component of the minor.

Students will work with both the faculty and fieldwork supervisor in advance to specify the appropriate means of reporting, reflection, and assessment that qualify the experience for academic credit. Students will complete a fieldwork contract that stipulates both expectations and outcomes for any service/engaged learning experiences that take place outside of structured classroom settings.

In most cases, assessment will be on a Pass/Fail basis. Assessment will the shared responsibility of the faculty and fieldwork supervisors. At the end of the fieldwork, the fieldwork supervisor will complete an evaluation form  in order to provide detailed feedback that can contribute to assessment.

Faculty supervisors may be from the Anthropology Department or any other unit on campus, with approval of the Anthropology DUS. Supervisors should in most cases be identified, and fieldwork contracts completed, before 25% of the fieldwork hours to be claimed for credit have been completed.

A minimum of 160 hours of engaged/service learning is required for the minor. Students are responsible for keeping track of and documenting the hours in consultation with the faculty supervisor and community partner. Service/engaged opportunities pursued as part of coursework may count toward the 160 hour requirement, as long as they are part of a sustained commitment to a community partner and as approved by the supervising faculty. Students may count up to 8 engaged/service hours per day.


For additional information, please contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies Sofia Villenas.