Call for Proposals

The Advisory Board for the University Courses program invites proposals and/or statements of interest for courses designed to help undergraduates from across the university engage with the breadth and depth of intellectual inquiry at Cornell. These courses may be any size, and may be offered in any department at any level of the undergraduate curriculum. They may be existing courses or pilots. Courses are more likely to succeed if they satisfy department or college distribution requirements.

Instructors teaching University Courses in a given year will be members of the program’s Council of Instructors. This group meets periodically throughout the academic year to engage with pedagogical issues and strategies related to University Courses.

We particularly invite proposals that involve collaboration among faculty members and/or between faculty members and campus or community organizations. We strongly recommend that anyone considering proposing a University Course discuss the proposal with Rebecca Stoltzfus and/or Elliot Shapiro before the submission deadline.

Application Process

We are currently considering statements of interest for 2017-18 and beyond on an ongoing basis. Please contact Elliot Shapiro at

Statements of interest:

Because we recognize that certain courses take time to develop we also invite statements of interest. Statements of interest describe courses that could be developed and offered within the next three years. University Courses can assist with the development of courses that may not be offered immediately. Statements of interest can include any of the information and/or supporting materials included in a proposal (described in more detail below), with the understanding that these materials will be more tentative than will those submitted with full scale proposals.

Department Support:

Completed proposals should all include a letter of support from the chair of each participating faculty member's department. During the application and review process, this letter may be updated as needed to reflect specific terms of agreement, such as teaching credit accrued by participating faculty and/or resources committed by the University Courses Initiative. 


Proposals should include a brief description of the proposed course (which may be an existing course) and a discussion about the course’s potential engagement with the goals of the University Courses program. Proposals should also indicate:

  • whether the course will be team taught,

  • who the instructors will be,

  • which departments will list the course,

  • which department will host the course,

  • who the likely undergraduate audience will be,

  • whether the course will satisfy department or college requirements (and, if so, which requirements it will satisfy).

If the course has been taught before, the proposal should include information about enrollment. Supplementary materials—such as a syllabus or possible writing assignments—will also be helpful in evaluating the course’s potential. These supplementary materials may include a combination of documents from previous offerings and drafts for a future course.

If a course will be team taught, please indicate who the primary faculty contact will be.

Proposals should also include a preliminary request for funding support from University Courses. University Courses can support (but is not limited to) the following: teaching assistants (or other course assistance); guest speakers; and special events. University Courses can help publicize courses and events associated with courses, and may be able to provide additional administrative and instructional support.


Proposals and statements of interest can also include possible highlights of the course. Highlights are special features of the course that might attract students. Examples of highlights can be found on the University Courses web site.

Assessment opportunities:

As part of the program, we are committed to gathering information about the student experience in University Courses. Please indicate whether your course already includes tools for assessing student engagement and/or performance. Please indicate if you have have ideas for assessment strategies that we could work with you to design and implement.

University Courses Support:

As noted above, University Courses funding can support a range of activities and modes of instructional support. However, it cannot fund faculty release time. For this reason, all proposed courses should be offered with the support of the faculty member’s home department(s).

In general, funding for Teaching Assistants will be offered only to courses that also receive support for at least one Teaching Assistant from the home department (or departments). University Courses will not support more than one Teaching Assistant per course. If support for a TA line is part of a proposal, please indicate what support a department or departments are expected to provide.

Duration of support:

The program will commit to particular courses with the expectation that this support will continue for three years. (If a course is taught in alternate years, or is not offered three years in a row for some other reason, support may be distributed across non-consecutive years).