Publicly-funded labor-activism at Cornell

The idea seemed radical at the time: Establish a college where faculty and students could grapple with issues roiling the workplace, including the adversarial relationship between labor and management. This daring vision, coming on the heels of the Great Depression and then World War II, led to the founding of the ILR School by the New York State legislature in 1945. The school was charged with a mission "to improve industrial and labor conditions in the State through the provision of instruction, the conduct of research, and the dissemination of information in all aspects of industrial, labor, and public relations, affecting employers and employees."

Given a home at Cornell University, ILR embodied both the intellectual rigor of the Ivy League and the democratic spirit of state universities. It created a multidisciplinary social sciences faculty that valued academic achievement and practical expertise. On-campus offerings promised students a liberal education with a professional orientation while off-campus Extension programs brought insights about the workplace to the wider community.

The centrality of the workplace in an increasingly complex world is the primary focus at ILR. With its diverse and distinguished faculty, the school leads the way towards new insights about current and future challenges. Faculty expertise ranges across the workplace-related social science disciplines, including economics, sociology, history, psychology, political science, law, and statistical analysis. Cutting-edge research, excellence in teaching, and commitment to outreach remain ILR's defining characteristics.

ILR is the nation's only institution of higher education to offer a four-year undergraduate program focused on the workplace, several types of graduate degrees, programs and workshops for adult learners, and customized services. Programmatic specialties include personnel and human resources management; collective representation, labor law, and labor history; labor economics; organizational behavior; international and comparative labor; and social statistics. From our Ithaca campus and additional offices around the state, ILR connects with the region, the nation, and the world.


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