Skip to main content

Portal at Cornell: Coming Fall 2018

This is a project led by the Cornell University Library and sponsored by the Office of the Vice Provost for International Affairs and the Office of Engagement Initiatives.

Please visit us again as we will be adding information soon, or contact us at:



1. What is a Portal?

A Portal is a gold shipping container equipped with immersive audio and video technology inside. When you enter one, you come face-to-face with someone in a distant Portal and can converse live, full-body, and making eye contact, as if in the same room.  For more details about Portals see: Shared Studios..

2. Where will the Portal be located on the Cornell Campus?

The Portal will be located adjacent to Olin Library on the side of the Arts Quad closest to McGraw Hall.

3. When will the Portal be at Cornell?

The goal is to open the Portal in mid-September 2018 and will remain on campus for about 3 months.

4. What can I do in a Portal?

Portals create a private space for conversations with strangers in another part of the world. It can be approached like art with no specific purpose or message, but rather creating a moment and a certain space to let conversation develop spontaneously and unencumbered.

5. Can I use a Portal for my course?

Yes!  Classes can schedule and reserve time to use the Portal. In some universities, courses have structured assignments or relevant course-material using the Portal.

Faculty will be able to reserve times and connections to specific locations that are relevant to their courses’ needs (the Portal coordinator on the other end will serve as a translator as needed). We are collaborating with Center for Teaching Innovation and Engaged Cornell on developing support for faculty who want to use the portal in their coursework.  If you need more information, please contact Jessica Withers at

6. What are other locations of the Portals in the US and around the world?

Portals are located in at least 20 sites around the world, including Afghanistan, Honduras, Germany, Iraq, India, Jordan, Mexico, Myanmar, Palestine, Rwanda and in the US.  For a complete and up-to-date list look here:

7. How do I choose a location to connect to?

The portal will have a schedule and you can choose to visit that location or sign up for a time when it is connected to a different location.  The schedule will be available online closer to the arrival of the portal on campus.

8. What if I don't speak the language of the location we connect to?

Each portal around the globe has a "portal curator" who will help start the conversation.  Portal curators are members of the local community and are knowledgeable about their community, customs and language.  The portal curator at each of the international sites acts as a translator when needed.

9. Have other questions or need more information?

Please contact us at: