Laurel L. Cornell
Laurel Cornell spent the first two-thirds of her research career working in demography, gender and Japanese studies. She used quantitative historical data from villages in early modern Japan (1600-1868) to examine a variety of comparative questions relating to household structure, marriage, divorce, gender roles, aging, and mortality. This focus on comparative work on the lives of ordinary people in the past arose from her international background: as an undergraduate at Friends World College she spent a year each living in Mexico, East Africa, India, and Japan. She received her Ph.D. from the Department of Social Relations, Johns Hopkins University.
By the mid-1990s this line of research came to an end. She had reached the limits of the data and addressed all the questions with which she began.
Professor Cornell returned to graduate school and received a Master’s degree in Landscape Architecture from the University of Virginia in 2003. She is interested in large public projects --- especially those involving disused industrial sites --- and in public art. Her research centers on the question “How does the built environment influence human behavior?” She is working to develop methods for analyzing the built environment from a sociological point of view.
In her teaching Professor Cornell emphasizes visual methods of learning and student involvement in the community (service-learning). In Bloomington she serves on several community boards and commissions dealing with issues in urban planning, historical preservation, enhancement of natural resources, and public art.