Values of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Male Painted Bunting with gold, green, red, and blue plumage at water Painted Bunting by Suzie McCann/Macaulay Library.

Our values are the set of core beliefs, philosophies and guiding principles that drive the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. These values help us define what motivates us, what qualities are worth striving for, and what is important. They serve as guiding principles for our ideas, goals and courses of action. Please also see our Commitment to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice and Land Acknowledgment.

Delight in Nature and Birds

Connections with nature and birds motivate, ground, and inspire our work. We champion the countless ways people connect with and find joy in the natural world, and strive to ensure every person’s right to access and experience the outdoors freely and safely.

Keep Asking Questions

Through organized curiosity—science—we learn about natural systems and translate science into conservation action. We are imaginative in choosing the questions we ask, deliberate in collaborating with people to help answer them, and inclusive in envisioning the impacts of our work.

Respect People and Their Ideas

Every person deserves to be valued and respected, and we welcome people of every race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, gender, gender expression, gender identity, physical or neurological ability, sexual orientation, and age. We are committed to addressing the persistent challenges and harms of discrimination and hate speech, and work hard to build understanding and empathy by seeking out and valuing others’ perspectives.

Listen Up and Link Together

We connect with others by listening as much as we talk, and by valuing the knowledge and contribution of each voice in the room. We partner expansively and extensively, from the local to the global, to integrate these contributions into our work to build a better world for people and for birds.

Continuously Share and Learn

We commit to making our work as accessible as possible so that together we can adapt and innovate quickly and wisely. Our commitment to openness is grounded in the belief that this attitude will lead to brilliant applications and outcomes.

Build Trust Through Integrity and Honesty

We value evidence-based decision making and hold ourselves and each other to the highest levels of integrity. Honesty, transparency, and accountability are celebrated in all our work and interactions.

Dream Big and Keep at It

Our entrepreneurial spirit spurs us to explore big ideas and to innovate without fearing failure. We acknowledge that today’s challenges to the natural world are enormous, which underscores the urgency of establishing bold visions and working to achieve successes at global scales.

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