The Conversations in the Studio practicum at Cornell Tech (CS 5091).
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Conversations in the Studio (CS 5091)

This course features a weekly guest practitioner for a provocative, closed-door discussion with students. The guest practitioners are active entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs, social entrepreneurs, engineers, designers, artists, VCs, lawyers, writers, ethicists, and other diverse leaders who are impacting society through their entrepreneurial efforts.

Conversations take place in the Cornell Tech Studio, and are moderated each week by a randomly assigned group of students that come prepared with questions and discussion topics. This is not a lecture: it's a weekly wake-up call.

Schedule for Spring 2017

The course is held at Cornell Tech in the Studio on Fridays from 10a to 11:30a unless otherwise noted.

  • 1/27 – Venture Capital with John Borthwick, founder and CEO of Betaworks
  • 2/3 – Media with Sara Levinson, Co-founder at Kandu, former President at MTV
  • 2/10 – Design with Rei Inamoto, Founding Partner at Inamoto & Co
  • 3/3 – The Arts with Clive Gillinson, Executive and Artistic Director at Carnegie Hall
  • 3/10 – Marketing with Omar Johnson, VP of Marketing at Apple and former CMO at Beats by Dre
  • 3/17 – Outer Space with Dan Goods, Visual Strategist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory
  • 3/24 – Wildcard
  • 4/14 – Architecture with Thom Mayne, Architect and Design Director at Morphosis Architects
  • 4/21 – Wildcard

Course Objectives

  • To broadly expose students to varying forms of impact, from commercial success to societal good, from engineering to art, from the pure tech sector to the digital economy transforming all sectors, from startups to growth opportunities on and at any stage.

  • To help students understand the value and means of impact. This topic can be understood commercially, societally, and personally.

  • To help students develop personal models of impact that will motivate and aid their own entrepreneurial lives after graduation.

  • To give students first-hand contact with entrepreneurial individuals that can serve as role models and connectors.

  • To give students experience having thoughtful conversations with diverse leaders.

Student Responsibilities

  • Each week an assigned group of students is responsible for moderating the group conversation. This includes researching the guest beforehand, preparing the audience, preparing questions, and leading the conversation.

  • Students must proactively engage the guests and each other, asking attentive questions and making follow-up comments.

  • Whenever a student speaks for the first time in a given week, they should tell the guest their name, degree, and one thing about themselves.

  • Students asking questions from the audience should stand up when called upon.

  • At the end of each Conversation, both the moderating students and several students in the audience volunteer or are called upon to share their personal takeaways in front of the guest.

  • This is a closed-door course: students can tweet (or otherwise mention on social media) general information about a guest's Conversation but cannot quote the guest or share any specific information.

  • Laptop and cell phone use are prohibited during the Conversation (journal use is permitted).

  • Students cannot invite guests to Conversations: these are closed-door sessions for current students only.

  • Respect the guest's time commitment and do not be late to class.


This course is graded S/U. Attendance and participation are required. Students are allowed two unexcused absence.

Past Conversations

Fall 2016

  • 8/26 – Conversation with Greg Pass, Chief Entrepreneurial Officer at Cornell Tech
  • 9/9 – Art with Matthew Weinstein, artist and Cornell Tech ArtFoo Artist-in-Residence
  • 9/16 – Industry with John Elkann, Chairman of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Chairman and CEO at EXOR SpA
  • 9/30 – Entrepreneurship with Chad Dickerson, CEO at Etsy
  • 10/7 – Media with Gina Garrubbo, President and CEO at National Public Media
  • 11/4 – Entrepreneurship with Sarah LaFleur, Founder & CEO at MM.LaFleur
  • 11/11 - Technology with Alfred Spector, CTO at Two Sigma
  • 12/2 – Investing with David Tisch, Managing Partner of BoxGroup and Co-Founder of Spring and TechStars NYC

Spring 2016

  • 2/5 – Art with Matthew Ritchie, artist
  • 2/12 – Enterprise with Charles Phillips, CEO at Infor
  • 2/19 – Social Entrepreneurship with Scott Harrison, Founder at Charity: Water
  • 3/4 – Social Studies with Sherry Turkle, author of Reclaiming Conversation and Professor at MIT
  • 3/11 – Venture Capital with Eric Hippeau, Partner at Lerer Hippeau Ventures
  • 3/18 – Technology with Craig Nevill-Manning, CTO of Sidewalk Labs
  • 4/15 – Entrepreneurship with Biz Stone, Co-Founder and CEO at Jelly, Co-Founder at Twitter
  • 4/22 – Science with Margaret Honey, President and CEO at the New York Hall of Science (NOTE: this is a field trip and will be held at the New York Hall of Science)

Fall 2015

  • 8/21 - Conversation with Greg Pass, Chief Entrepreneurial Officer at Cornell Tech
  • 8/28 - Serial entrepreneurship with Philip Kaplan, Founder at DistroKid, former Founder at F-ed Company
  • 9/11 – Teaming with Steve Conine & Niraj Shah, Founders at Wayfair
  • 9/18 – Entrepreneurship with Eric Schmidt, Chairman at Alphabet (and formerly of Google)
  • 10/2 - Media with Sara Levinson, Co-founder at Kandu, former President at MTV
  • 10/30 - Civic entrepreneurship with Kristen Titus, Founding Director at NYC Tech Talent Pipeline, former Executive Director at Girls Who Code (NOTE: this is from 2:30p to 4:30p)
  • 11/6 - Art with Matthew Day Jackson, Artist
  • 11/13 - Storytelling with Robert Wong, Co-founder and Chief Creative Officer at Google Creative Lab
  • 12/4 - Venture capital with Josh Wolfe, Founder and Managing Director at Lux Capital

Spring 2015

  • 1/23 - Conversation with Greg Pass, Chief Entrepreneurial Officer at Cornell Tech
  • 1/30 - Intrapreneurship with Brad Short, Distinguished Technologist at HP, co-inventor of the Sprout
  • 2/6 - Art tech with artists and Eyebeam Fellows Nancy Nowacek and Torkwase Dyson (NOTE: this is a field trip to Eyebeam, arrive by 9:45a)
  • 2/19 - Fashion tech with José Chan, VP of Business Development at Celect and Mac Bishop, Founder at Wool & Prince and Founder at Native(X) (NOTE: this is on Thursday from 3:30p to 5:30p)
  • 3/6 - Venture capital with Brad Burnham, Managing Partner at Union Square Ventures, and Matthew Prince, Co-Founder at Cloudflare
  • 3/19 - Early entrepreneurship with Cornell Tech alums Aditya Mukerjee, Co-Founder at BoardRounds, Lauren Talbot, Founder at Pull, Todd Kawakita, Co-Founder at 1 Page Party, and Kiran Vajapey and Robert Parks, Co-Founders at Oystir (NOTE: this is on Thursday from 3:30p to 5:30p)
  • 3/27 - Deep web with Alex Winter, actor and filmmaker (NOTE: this is after the Studio Sprint from 2p to 4p)
  • 4/10 - Product with Evan Williams, Co-Founder and CEO at Medium
  • 4/17 - Education with Dan Huttenlocher, Founding Dean at Cornell Tech
  • 4/24 - Entrepreneurship with Arianna Huffington, Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief at The Huffington Post

Fall 2014

  • 9/5 - Intrapreneurship with Tony Melone, CTO at Verizon, and Pramod Kalyanasundaram, VP at Verizon Internet Software and Technology Group
  • 9/12 - Entrepreneurship with Yancey Strickler, Co-founder and CEO at Kickstarter
  • 9/19 - Venture capital with Bob Goodman, Partner at Bessemer Venture Partners
  • 9/26 - Media with Gary Vaynerchuk, Co-founder and CEO at VaynerMedia
  • 10/10 - Futurism with David Brin, award-winning author of science fiction
  • 10/17 - Product with Pramod Sharma, Co-founder and CEO, and Arnaud Brejeon, computer vision engineer, both at Tangible Play
  • 10/21 - Social entrepreneurship with Jennifer Dulski, President & COO at (NOTE: this is during Studio on Tuesday from 3:00p to 5:00p)
  • 10/24 - Storytelling with Raymond Nasr, former Director of Executive Communications at Google
  • 11/14 - Art with artist Martine Syms and Heather Corcoran, Executive Director at Rhizome Foundation (NOTE: this is a field trip to the New Museum, where we will meet at 9:45a)
  • 11/21 - Lessons learned with Scott Belsky, Co-Founder and Head at Behance and VP of Products/Community at Adobe

Spring 2014

  • 1/24 - Storytelling with Sam Slaughter, VP of Content at Contently
  • 1/31 - Product design with Gerry Campbell, author of "Demand Horizon"
  • 2/7 - Social entrepreneurship with Jacqueline Novogratz, CEO at Acumen
  • 2/14 - Early entrepreneurship with Marshall Cox, CEO and Co-founder at Radiator Labs, Tim Hwang, CEO and Co-founder at FiscalNote, Vincent Sanchez-Gomez, CEO and Co-founder at PageVamp, all whose companies are in the Dorm Room Fund, and CeCe Cheng, Director of Dorm Room Fund at First Round Capital
  • 2/21 - Art with artist Adam Harvey and Heather Corcoran, Executive Director at Rhizome Foundation (NOTE: this is a field trip to the New Museum, where we will meet at 9:45a)
  • 3/7 - Venture capital with Howard Morgan, Partner at First Round Capital
  • 3/14 - Digital privacy with Brian Chase, General Counsel of Foursquare
  • 3/21 - Entrepreneurship with Uri Levine, Founder at Waze
  • 4/25 - Bootstrapping with Philip Kaplan, Founder at Fandalism and author of "F'd Companies"
  • 5/2 - Lessons learned with Noah Goodhart, Co-founder, and Aniq Rahman, President, both at Moat

Fall 2013

  • 8/30 - Storytelling with Robert Wong, Chief Creative Officer at Google Creative Lab
  • 9/6 - Early entrepreneurship with Carter Cleveland, Founder and CEO at, Elias Roman, Co-founder and CEO at Songza, and Brian Shimmerlik, Founder and CEO at Vengo (all NYC Venture Fellows)
  • 9/13 - Intrapreneurship with Rob Cook, former VP of Engineering at Pixar
  • 9/20 - Art with Paola Antonelli, Senior Curator of Architecture & Design at MoMA (field trip to MoMA)
  • 9/27 - Venture capital with Albert Wenger, Managing Partner at Union Square Ventures
  • 10/4 - Design with Tom Wujec, Fellow, and Jon Pittman, VP of Corporate Strategy, at Autodesk
  • 10/11 - Digital humanism with Douglas Rushkoff, author of Present Shock
  • 10/18 - Teambuilding with Scott Kupor, Managing Partner at Andreessen Horowitz
  • 10/25 - Social entrepreneurship with Charles Best, Founder and CEO at DonorsChoose
  • 11/15 - Product management with Jason Goldman, Co-founder of Obvious and former VP of Product at Twitter
  • 12/6 - Lessons learned with David Tisch, Managing Director at BoxGroup and Co-founder at Techstars

Spring 2013

  • 1/25 - Design thinking with James Tichenor and Joshua Walton, LAB Co-Chiefs, and Julio Terra, Interaction Desiger, at Rockwell Group
  • 2/1 - Intrapreneurship with Peter Hofstee at IBM
  • 2/8 - Venture capital with Fred Wilson, Managing Partner at Union Square Ventures
  • 2/22 - Software intellectual property with Larissa Park, Counsel at WilmerHale, Jamie Clessuras, Partner at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, Sue Purvis, Innovation and Outreach Coordinator for the Greater New York Region of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, and Oskar Liivak, Professor at Cornell Law School
  • 3/1 - Early entrepreneurship with Hursh Agrawal, Co-founder at Branch, Amanda Peyton, Co-founder at Grand Street, and Tim Novikoff, Founder at Vantageous
  • 3/8 - Storytelling with Sara Lidgus, Writer, and Tom Eich, Partner, at IDEO
  • 3/29 - Societal impact with Greg Kieser, Technology Strategy Consultant, Steven Lee, Managing Director, Harish Bhandari, Director, and Eric Mulkowsky, Senior Management Consultant, at Robin Hood Foundation
  • 4/12 - Art with Zach Lieberman, Co-founder at YesYesNo and Heather Corcoran, Executive Director at Rhizome Foundation
  • 4/15 - Social entrepreneurship with Scott Harrison, Founder at charity: water
  • 4/26 - Interactive Media with Jake Barton, Founder at Local Projects
  • 5/3 - Lessons learned with Thatcher Bell, Managing Director at DFJ Gotham Ventures and Steve Greenwood, Founder at Brewster