“We are confronted by insurmountable opportunities!” Comic strip character Pogo, as quoted by Vice Provost Scott Reed
Faculty from OSU and Portland State University (PSU) met on November 13 to identify opportunities for community-engaged research and action to address the most pressing issues facing Oregon.
“The two universities have a history of cooperation,” said Scott Reed, vice provost for University Outreach and Engagement, in his opening comments. “Earlier this year, the presidents of OSU and PSU co-committed to the two universities working together. This meeting taps into the collective intelligence of our institutions and begins taking cooperation to a new systematic level. Higher impact outcomes will result when we work together.”
Scott noted that OSU and PSU are the only two higher education institutions in Oregon that carry the Carnegie Community Engagement designation.
Stephen Percy, dean of the College of Urban and Public Affairs at PSU also offered welcoming comments, noting that both universities have an interest in community-building. “Cooperating is an opportunity to bring students into the mix to engage in outreach,” said Stephen. “Working together will be powerful.”
“Toward One Oregon provides a framework for conversation beyond the divides of the state – east/west, rural/urban, for example – and instead helps us talk about connectors,” Scott stated.
Healthy people, prosperous communities and flourishing agriculture and natural resources were the three areas of discussion. Relative to these three topic areas, participants identified what they are currently working on; what they think are critical community issues; and what capabilities exist within OSU and PSU.
Health equity, the transformation of health systems, aging in place using technology, and investing in economic development to create a framework of livability were some of the issues discussed related to healthy people.
When discussing prosperous communities, economy, housing and land use, education and governance are closely linked.
Areas identified as worthy of additional study around agriculture and natural resources include the economics of sustainable agriculture (examining exogenous and endogenous influences); placing a value on ecosystem services; quality versus quantity in the urban and rural environments needs examination on the issue of food access and security (“large farms feed poor people; small farms feed rich people”); and land use and access (aging farmers want/need to use the sale of their land to fund their retirement, whereas, others want to farm, but do not have affordable access to land).
The fund is meant to accelerate opportunities for research collaborations serving Oregon communities. Recognizing that these experiences often require extra resources beyond faculty time, the fund offers seed monies to faculty teams for fiscal year 2015-2016 to support expenses associated with community-engaged inter-institutional projects. Fund details can be found here.
Fund proposals must be submitted via email by December 18 to Patrick Proden, regional administrator for OSU Extension in Multnomah and Washington counties, and Sheila Martin, director of the Institute of Portland Metropolitan Studies at PSU. Grant funds must be expended by June 30, 2016.
“This is the beginning of a conversation we hope will continue,” said Sheila.
The meeting was organized by Patrick, Sheila and Jason Jurjevich, assistant director of the Population Research Center at PSU. Mike Bondi, regional administrator for the North Willamette Research and Extension Center (NWREC) in Clackamas County hosted the event. (Mike noted that NWREC is the only research center in Oregon that is a working farm.)