Proof Points: College of Liberal Arts

Through the College of Liberal Arts’ involvement in OSU’s Rural Studies Program, its researchers have helped to define Oregon’s ongoing hunger problem and the growing threat of “food insecurity” in this state and elsewhere.

  • Sociologist Mark Edwards’ groundbreaking research on why some states are more “hungry” than others studies has helped crystallize public policy thinking around food insecurity issues in Oregon – often at the top of the national list of hungriest states.
  • Joan Gross and Nancy Rosenberger research hunger issues as they pertain to rural Oregonians, with a special emphasis on hunger and the local food movement.
  • Norma Cárdenas is a national expert on Latino culture and food and the importance food plays in Latin American cultures. Her upcoming book will focus on the Latino/a food industry in the United States.

At the heart of the College of Liberal Arts’ expanding focus on environmental humanities is an interest in making a difference in environmental policy and practice at the national, regional and state level.

  • The Spring Creek Project at OSU brings together environmental writers and scientists to explore new ways of finding common ground among disparate groups and communicating about scientific issues as a first step toward problem-solving.

Liberal Arts programs in social policy, environmental policy, international policy and rural policy address issues of governance, community problem-solving and the impact of local, regional, national and international policy decisions.

  • Headed by Project Vote Smart creator and political scientist Brent Steel, OSU’s Master of Public Policy program is unique nationally with its focus on rural policy and environment policy. MPP students have gone on to work for members of Congress in Washington D.C., as well as with nonprofits and government agencies, on issues ranging from water management to Oregon’s foster care system.
  • Criminal sociologist Michelle Inderbitzen was the first professor on the West Coast to teach a class inside a maximum security prison, bringing OSU students and incarcerated men together in a critically acclaimed learning experience on the American criminal justice system. Inderbitzen was named Volunteer of the Year in 2006 by the Oregon Criminal Justice System and teaches several classes in different prison facilities each year, all with the aim of allowing OSU students and prisoners to learn from each other’s experiences.
  • The M.A. in Contemporary Hispanic Studies through the Department of Languages and Literature is unique in the nation, with its focus on the real social/economic issues facing Latino communities rather than on literary criticism or linguistics.
  • In the Dept. of Sociology, Denise Lach publishes and advises widely on water resource management, including recent research for the City of Portland on its water supply. Colleague Roger Hammer researches wildland/urban interfaces and forest fire suppression policy that guides the U.S. Forest Service and rural communities in decision making. And Mark Edward’s work in food insecurity leads to regular policy consultation with sate lawmakers, agency leaders and non-profits agencies.
  • Anthropologist Bryan Tilt is part of an ongoing National Science Foundation-funded project to study the impact of dam construction in China. Tilt and fellow researchers are building a model that can be used by policy makers to determine the various impacts that removal or a creation a dam might have.
  • Each year during spring term, Ethnic Studies faculty members Kurt Peters and Dwaine Plaza take OSU students to research and meet with stakeholders from a community in Oregon. In 2009, students spent five days with the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, listening to and interacting with different rural community stakeholders to get a sense of the complex cross-cultural issues that face Native American populations in rural Oregon today.

The College of Liberal Arts creative arts offer regionally distinctive and nationally prominent opportunities in the areas of music education, art education and creative writing.

  • Guggenheim fellow, Oregon Book Award winner and Distinguished Professor Tracy Daugherty’s 2009 biography of writer Donald Barthelme has earned universal critical acclaim, from such quarters as The New York Review of Books and TIME. Liberal Arts colleagues have drawn praise for other books on American pop culture, including former NFL lineman/Distinguished Professor of English Michael Oriard’s scholarship on the history of football and film professor Jon Lewis, whose work on the movie industry has been featured in three documentary films.
  • The Department of Art’s Jumpstart Program, a precollege visual art workshop, has, since 1995, offered more than 700 talented students concentrated study in the visual arts, making it the most prominent such program in the Pacific Northwest.
  • Under the leadership of Steven Zielke, OSU’s choral studies program has become one of the most prestigious in the region. Zielke is the current president of the Oregon Music Educators Association and serves on the Governmental Relations National Task force for the Music Educators National Conference. Choral student Nickoli Strommer, a senior from Baker City, was one of only a few Americans selected to go to Salzburg, Austria, in 2009 to work with internationally recognized music teachers, and Nathan Kondrat was hired before graduation to sign with the Portland Opera.

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