Newswise — Like all other course instructors in the College of Arts and Sciences, Corey Ryan Earle ’07, instructor of The First American University (AMST2001), the popular course about Cornell’s history and unique role, has had to modify his class in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Among other adjustments – like turning the course into a webinar that is now open to up to 1,000 Cornellians each week – a new assignment gives enrolled students the chance to contribute to the Cornell archives by writing about their experiences during this extraordinary time.

“As a historian of the university, I think it’s important that we document events that affect the university,” Earle said. “This is an opportunity for my class to participate in preservation of that history.”

Students may choose to write about their emotions and personal experiences during the coronavirus outbreak. They can also reflect on how various decisions at the national and local levels played out, and whether they agreed or disagreed with those decisions. Prompt questions will also ask students to consider the long-term effects of the worldwide epidemic: How might they see Cornell or the world changing?

Earle and his students are collaborating on this project with the Cornell University archivist, Evan Earle ’02, M.S. ’14 (Corey Earle’s brother) and with the History Center in Tompkins County.

“News is often preserved,” Corey Earle said. “The emotions and thoughts of people aren’t necessarily recorded, so it’s important to get an archive like this.”