On Nov. 2 we held an all-day Mountain Studies workshop aimed at developing a Mountain Studies initiative. We had a strong turnout of over 40 faculty and students from six colleges — and several faculty from the OSU-Cascades campus in Bend. The morning presentations started with a broad overview of mountain characteristics from the biophysical to the socio-cultural/economic. Sarah Halvorson described the development and specific aspects of the Mountain Studies program at the University of Montana. She reviewed the requirements of their Minor in Mountain Studies, describing the 3 categories of coursework, core courses, field courses, and international coursework options.
The “Lightning Talks” were GREAT and helped us see the diverse interests and expertise in mountain-related research. They covered snow hydrology, rivers, dams, rural energy systems, volcanology, wildfire, climate change, rangelands, social-ecological systems, agriculture, surface-atmosphere energy exchanges, and much more.
As part of an exercise meant to help us envision our mountain community, workshop participants were asked to place themselves along two axes: 1) a continuum along a biophysical-social sciences axis; 2) disciplinary-interdisciplinary-transdisciplinary. It’s clear that we have great strength in the biophysical side of things but adequate representation in the social sciences (though this might be an area where we’d want to expand). Participants aligned themselves with interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research — no one was strictly disciplinary in their work.
The working lunch and breakout groups focused on three areas: fostering interdisciplinary research in mountain studies, developing graduate and undergraduate education opportunities, and exploring programmatic options for a Mountain Studies initiative. We decided to move forward with exploring the idea of developing a Minor in Mountain Studies.
We will continue continue these “catalyzing conversations” at monthly coffee gatherings for the rest of the academic. Stay tuned for more mountain greatness!