Multidisciplinary Theme Areas

Oregon State is differentiated from other universities in part through its focus, current strengths, and great potential in five multidisciplinary academic thematic areas that integrate the mission of teaching, research, and outreach that is our charge from the people of Oregon. These robust intellectual themes, which respond to the unique challenges of Oregon's future, are integral to our vision, and constitute signature academic priorities that define the University. Accordingly, while OSU will progress in many areas, it will prioritize its academic resources and investments on:

  • Understanding the origin, dynamics, and sustainability of the Earth and its resources. Natural and human-induced changes to the climate of the Earth will have an enormous impact on the economic, political, and ecological systems of the Pacific Northwest. Our experience in studying the atmosphere, the oceans, the earth and its ecology uniquely positions us to create the new knowledge and understanding that will lead to strategies that successfully confront these challenges.
  • Optimizing enterprise, technological change, and innovation. Oregon needs to jump-start high-tech innovations and build an entrepreneurial climate to move those innovations to market. OSU will develop world-class work-ready engineers and spin out new, high impact ideas for products, services, and infrastructure. We will help develop tomorrow's entrepreneurs, who will drive the success of emerging and growing organizations across the natural resource and technology sectors and build the infrastructure for 21st Century Oregon.
  • Realizing the potential of the life sciences and the optimal delivery of public health services in healthy environments. As the cost of health care continues to rise, demand for health promotion and disease prevention will also increase. In addition, increasing population growth and longevity will heighten the demand for health and social services and require new solutions in an era of shrinking state resources. OSU brings a longtime understanding of the interactions between biology and the environment. Around these existing strengths we will build an integrated and novel program focused on the prevention of disease and the promotion of health.
  • Managing natural resources that contribute to Oregon's quality of life, and growing and sustaining natural resources-based industries in the Knowledge Economy. The environmental, social, and economic benefits provided by Oregon's landscapes, beaches, forests, streams, rangelands, ranches, farms, and marine systems shape our quality of life. Industries like forestry, agriculture, and tourism are important components of the state's economy. To compete globally, however, these sectors must become increasingly productive and more environmentally-friendly, changes in which university research and development can play an important part.
  • Building and maintaining a strong curriculum and basic inquiry in the arts and sciences that contributes to all parts of the University. Continuously shifting challenges to Oregon communities require creative public policy responses. The diverse disciplines of the arts and sciences can positively and measurably strengthen Oregon's civic, economic, environmental, and social foundations through multi-disciplinary undergraduate, graduate and professional programs and campus/community partnerships. A strong curriculum and basic inquiry in the arts and sciences is the foundation upon which all great universities are built and is strengthened by interdisciplinary work with the professional programs.

The focused and compelling approach embodied in these five thematic areas will help attract and retain talented students, faculty, staff, and other contributors to our mission. It will help educate a new generation of students who can communicate clearly and effectively, think broadly, address and solve complex problems, and adapt to environments enriched by diversity and characterized by constant change.

Specific strategies will bring together faculty, staff, and students from all appropriate units to increase our impact in Oregon's communities and beyond, encouraging the strong and stable partnerships that can transform the institution. Initiatives that cut across thematic areas and programs, including the University Honors College, International Programs, Extension, the Graduate School, and Extended Campus, will further strengthen the University's impact and contribution to its various constituencies. This plan will help develop our federal research agenda as well as the alignment and synergy of efforts with the Oregon State University Alumni Association and the Oregon State University Foundation. Finally, focusing on these themes will help attract and invest the public and private resources necessary to build academic programs and infrastructure that address the emerging economic and social needs of the people of Oregon.