During Jamila Michener’s years at Cornell, she has demonstrated profound commitment to community engagement in both research and teaching. She invests in building long-term relationships with community partners, and her approach centers their perspectives and input.
Using the institutional resources and knowledge gained through the Engaged Faculty Fellowship Program, she has led community-engaged learning courses and research projects on the criminalization of poverty, pathways to health equity and barriers to reentry for formerly incarcerated people. In one project, her students conducted more than fifty interviews with formerly incarcerated residents of Tompkins County, learning about the barriers people face when trying to reintegrate into society. Community partner Ultimate Reentry Opportunity (URO) then brought local leaders together to discuss ways to address the challenges that the research revealed. Eventually, the work that started out as Michener’s class engagement project was shared with the county legislature and other organizations. This helped push the county to invest in housing for people with criminal records through a local initiative called Sunflower Houses.
Michener has also helped to build out curricular engagement opportunities across Cornell. She was one of the founding faculty who created the minor in Crime, Prisons, Education, and Justice (CPEJ) through an Engaged Curriculum Grant. Student engagement is a core requirement of that minor. Even further, during her time as an advisory board member of the Cornell Prison Education Program (CPEP), she helped developed the curriculum for a certificate of liberal arts for incarcerated students.