"Cornell students dream bigger dreams."

--Frank H.T. Rhodes, Cornell University Commencement, May 28, 1995

Monday, June 23, 2014

49. Harry Surden

Boulder, Colorado · Arts and Sciences

Twitter: @HarrySurden

Tell us about what you're doing with your life.

I am a law professor at the University of Colorado Law School.  Prior to studying law, I was a software engineer for several years.  My current teaching and research focuses on the intersection of technology and law.

After stints living in New York City and the San Francisco Bay Area, I now live in Boulder, Colorado with my wife and daughter.

What was your favorite class at Cornell, or the one you found the most useful?

I took a few philosophy classes, and those seem to have made a big impression on me. I particularly remember courses in the philosophy of science and the philosophy of the mind fondly.  I also enjoyed Psychology 101 in my freshman year.  Finally, I really appreciated an undergraduate class entitled "The Nature, Functions, and Limits of the Law" at the law school.  That influenced my decision to attend law school and ultimately become a law professor.

What advice would you give to a student starting at Cornell this year?

I would advise an incoming student to take a wide range of classes in a broad array of substantive areas.   It is hard to know what subject areas are going to be of interest, or what topics are going to turn out to be useful later in life. I would also suggest studying abroad.

Finally, I would recommend that students take some time to appreciate the experience of being in college.   It is a comparatively short and rare moment in life to be able to devote one’s time to learning, self-improvement, and fun.  

How has your time at Cornell influenced you since you graduated?

My time at Cornell certainly influenced my career path.   I am currently a professor living in a beautiful university town that is similar, in many respects, to Ithaca.  As a student at Cornell, I truly enjoyed my classes and the setting of a beautiful college campus with a vibrant intellectual atmosphere.   This positive experience influenced my decision to become an academic.

I also studied abroad in France in my junior year and this experience gave me the confidence to subsequently live abroad on two other occasions (in Argentina and Australia) later in life.