[MUSIC PLAYING] STEPHEN F. HAMILTON: Cornell has always been a university where the scholarly and the practical came together.
GARY EVANS: Every state has a land grant university, and Cornell's the land grant for the state of New York. Part of that mission is to translate.
JAMES GARBARINO: To see that there is a dynamic, interactive relationship between social policy and practice and research.
JOHN ECKENRODE: It's been a focus of the college's efforts right from the beginning, from the days of Martha van Rensselaer.
JAMES GARBARINO: Well, I think it's appropriate to name the center after Urie Bronfenbrenner because he embodied the highest aspiration of the land grant college, to bring knowledge to the people.
JOHN ECKENRODE: Urie was a translational researcher before people thought of the term translational research. He really set the groundwork for many people to follow.
ELAINE WETHINGTON: He thought that public policy was more important to science than science was to public policy, that social scientists, social and behavioral scientists, should be engaged in making their findings relevant, solving the problems that we have in the world.
STEPHEN F. HAMILTON: Simply saying, I'm going to do this research and someday it may prove useful to people, isn't convincing Congress that they ought to pay for that research anymore.
JOHN ECKENRODE: People really want to know that their dollars are being well spent, that programs and policies are based on evidence, that things that we think work actually do work.
STEPHEN F. HAMILTON: They want to know, how do you know this is going to make a difference? What are you doing so that it is more likely to make a difference? Do we have to wait 15 or 20 years?
ELAINE WETHINGTON: Some people estimate it to be on average at least 17 years before findings from basic research are translated to human health. And translational research right now is about discovering methods to speed up that process.
GARY EVANS: So I think it becomes more and more critical that more people involved in research and scholarship see that they have a stake in translation.
JOHN ECKENRODE: All disciplines and all fields of inquiry face these same challenges. How do we both produce new knowledge and new research? And then how do we take that research and actually move it to be actionable knowledge?
STEPHEN F. HAMILTON: And that's not a simple one-two process. There are many stages along the way. And translational research covers all of those stages. Plus, it has to do with doing research on that process itself to improve it.
JOHN ECKENRODE: There is a need to not only just generate new knowledge, but to synthesize it and to have a mechanism for distilling the bits of truth out of the various kinds of research that goes on. That's something Urie was very good at, by the way. He was just an extremely good synthesizer of research and knowledge for the field.
JAMES GARBARINO: Urie taught us that if the question is, does x cause y, the best scientific answer is almost always, it depends.
GARY EVANS: If you want to understand people, you want to understand people's lives, you have to take a systems approach.
URIE BRONFENBRENNER: Modern family life has become quite complex. But we're still the same human beings that we were. We still have the same needs. And those are the needs that used to be met by large families, by neighborhoods, by people whom you knew all your life. Now we don't have that anymore. We have to invent it. And child care is one of the inventions that works.
ELAINE WETHINGTON: He's considered to be one of the founders of Head Start. He gave a lot of testimony to congressional committees over the years. He was honored for being a major contributor to the science of society.
STEPHEN F. HAMILTON: He was known for his teaching in the classroom and widely revered for that. But he was also an outstanding teacher one-to-one.
JOHN ECKENRODE: Urie, like many professors in a stereotypical way, could be distractable. And he had 10 things going at once and so forth. But when he engaged with you, he was really there.
GARY EVANS: Urie's the smartest person I've ever met. And I thought that before I knew that all the things that he had written were in his third language.
JAMES GARBARINO: He was a role model to the point where I just assumed every professor got on an airplane once a week and went somewhere.
JOHN ECKENRODE: Urie was a great citizen of the world, not just a scientist. And he made it a point as a part of his professional life to get outside the walls of the university, to interact with parents, interact with program administrators, interact with policymakers.
STEPHEN F. HAMILTON: I hope the center will become an exciting place where people find each other, where projects are mounted that couldn't have been done from a single department or by a single investigator.
ELAINE WETHINGTON: We're going to be working through cooperative extension. We're going to be working through other university outreach programs. We're going to be engaging sociologists and economists, psychologists, communications experts, bringing different ideas together to solve problems.
JOHN ECKENRODE: I think that's a very important part of what we as a center of translational research need to do and will do.
STEPHEN F. HAMILTON: So we formally declared the center operational the first week of July. And I changed my email address to say Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research. That affected me emotionally more than I had anticipated.
I found that I really liked identifying myself with Urie and his legacy. I liked being able to put out the banner of translational research and say, this is what we are about now.
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This video was produced to introduce the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research (BCTR) and its mission and to illustrate the importance of Urie Bronfenbrenner's legacy.
The BCTR, a merger of the Bronfenbrenner Life Course Center and the Family Life Development Center and housed in the College of Human Ecology, was officially founded on July 1, 2011.