Outreach and engagement work connects the university with communities to find ways to address wicked problems. By their nature, wicked problems are not easily solved. Making progress requires innovative thinking and different ways of looking at an issue. Many perspectives are necessary. Because people learn in different ways, conveying to stakeholders and community the work that needs to be done and the desired outcome in relevant and meaningful ways requires creativity and open minds.
“There is no one approach to solve the urgent problems of today and tomorrow. They demand the inspiration and genius of multiple disciplines and multiple perspectives. Collaboration across the arts and science directly advances [OSU’s] strategic goal to create transformative learning experiences for all Oregonians” (OSU SPARK initiative website).
University Outreach and Engagement is one of six units – along with the Colleges of Science, Education, Liberal Arts, Honors College, and the OSU Library and Press – supporting SPARK, a year-long collaborative initiative to celebrate arts and science. “Through SPARK, OSU hopes to elevate the relationship between the arts and science, their critical interplay with each other, and the rich partnerships and collaborations that make it possible.” Charles Robinson, who has a joint appointment with University Outreach and Engagement, College of Liberal Arts and Graduate School, is leading the SPARK initiative.
An approach to increase success with wicked problems might be “design thinking.” Ask, imagine, design, create, evaluate, refine, and share is the model. Sound familiar? This is art and science at work. Watch this engaging design thinking video (below) created by OSU’s College of Education. Even though the video is focused on helping teachers help students be successful in the classroom, the approach is applicable in many aspects of outreach and engagement work. It is 17 minutes well spent.
Have you used design thinking in your outreach and engagement work? Do you think the design thinking model would work with community problem solving? Share your comments below.
Written by Charles Robinson, University Outreach and Engagement special initiatives, including Extension Reconsidered and Engagement Academy
Art has the ability to connect people, share knowledge and experiences, and serve communities. Teaching art at a land grant university means getting off campus, experiencing the landscape and connecting with Oregonians. And that is especially true for students participating in the Creative Coast as part of ART 406-Community Arts Studio.
In 2014 and 2015, Community Arts Studio students and others headed to the forest. In 2015 and 2016, ART 406 headed to the Oregon coast to take part in the State of the Coast conference and learn about the Marine Studies Initiative.
Creative Coast students from the OSU Art, Music and Theater programs visited Cape Perpetua over two Saturdays in the 2016 Spring term as part of the joint partnership between the College of Liberal Arts and the Division of University Outreach and Engagement. Engagement with Oregon’s people and landscape is a guiding principle of the College of Liberal Arts, and art is a powerful means to realize that educational and social purpose.
On the first Saturday, students learned the cultural history of Cape Perpetua from local historian Joanna Kittel. They also heard the poignant and tragic real-life story of Amanda, as told by Don “Doc” Slyter of Coos Bay, an elder of the Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indian Tribes. Amanda was a blind first-nations woman who was forced to walk over the rocky terrain of Cape Perpetua on her way to the sub-Alsea reservation at Yachats, where she later died. Mr. Slyter played a moving musical piece on his flute for the students, titled “Amanda.”
OSU Extension Service partners at Cape Perpetua and the U.S. Forest Service Rangers also aided students with their research by taking the students on natural history tours of the Cape Perpetua area. The tours enhanced the students’ understanding of the relationship the forest has to the ocean and allowed them to explore the tide pools.
Art student Auna Godinez responded to the story of Amanda and recreated part of the walk by walking 1.5 miles in bare feet to the Cape Perpetua lookout. Back on campus, she planned to create a painting of Doc Slyter playing his flute combined with a dream-like narrative-image of the story of Amanda.
Likewise, student Hanna Gallagher also responded to Doc’s story about the forced movement of the first nations people. She chose to respond by researching Native American basket weaving and, during her second visit to the coast, wove a basket from stalks of grass.
Video artists Courtney Kaneshiro, Courtney Mullis and Victoria Rivoire worked on a collaborative video project using editing techniques to weave together images of the ocean tide pools with images from the forest. They also created a unique soundscape to accompany the video.
Students in Anna Fidler’s foundation arts class chose to work with sea water to create dye-effects on fabric. Back on campus, they planned to add a crochet element to the artwork.
Reaching beyond the boundaries of the Corvallis campus provides vital inspiration for novel ways to integrate Oregon landscapes into student creative and community projects, and to provide guided access and practice for building the collaborative relationships so crucial to community work.
As Scott Reed, Vice Provost of University Outreach and Engagement points out with an observation by Marcel Proust, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” The Creative Coast and courses like Community Arts Studio offer students an opportunity to see with new eyes and share their inspiration with others.
Written by Ann Marie Murphy for the fall edition of O&E —
The Hopkins Demonstration Forest is a 140-acre, privately-owned forest and operating tree farm where family woodland owners and the public can learn about forest management. The forest is operated by Forests Forever, Inc., a nonprofit organization with the mission “to promote science-based education to enhance understanding of and appreciation for the complexities and benefits of woodland management.”
Although the forest is in Oregon City and part of the Portland metropolitan area, it is still a challenge to attract new audiences and a larger cross-section of society to experience and learn from the forest’s example of sustainable forestry.
In response, Hopkins Forest of Arts was launched in 2013 as a collaboration between Forests Forever, Inc., Three Rivers Artists Guild, and Oregon State University Extension Service. The event, led by OSU Extension faculty with the help of volunteers from both the arts and forestry communities, brings together music, environmental interests and art that is created from, in or about the forest—all while offering educational experiences about forest management.
In 2014, OSU Extension Forester Glenn Ahrens engaged faculty and students from OSU’s College of Liberal Arts to participate in the Forest of Arts event. The collaboration resulted in a “Creative Forest” program in 2015 that inspired five OSU Liberal Arts faculty and 36 OSU art and music students to think creatively about the forest and its meanings to the communities, families and people who live in and are supported by forests. Results can be seen in this video: https://vimeo.com/146518978.
To tinker is to study. To fail is to be human. To make is to empower.
OSU Extension Service is evolving as the world changes. The Division of Outreach and Engagement (O&E) is on the evolutionary frontline, thanks in part to Charles Robinson’s exploration of cross-college collaborations. One such collaboration explores how the “maker” culture can support OSU’s land grant mission. (You can learn more about another of his collaborations by reading the blog posted January 25 titled: Arts Engagement Inspires Innovative Partnerships.)
This year O&E is once again supporting a two-day maker celebration with a focus on education and engagement. Organized by The CO• (more about the organization in a moment), the event will take place Friday, April 8, and Saturday, April 9. Mark your calendars!
Last year, this free community event brought over 1,000 visitors (including more than 150 K-8 students) to OSU’s Corvallis campus and had more than 45 interactive exhibits, including robotics, 3D printing, costume design and laser etching. This year, as in the past, visitors will come for hands-on demonstrations and insightful discussions. Or, if you’re a maker, a tinkerer, an artist, a builder, an engineer, a craftsperson, a machinist, an innovator, etc., etc., you might like to share your craft with visitors and other makers. If so, here’s a link to exhibitor information. Or volunteer! Volunteers are needed on both days of the event.
“Maker” culture is a popular movement honoring craftsmanship and technology and the sharing of knowledge, skills and resources. The maker events offer the OSU community and the general public the opportunity to collaborate, innovate and create. It also provides a forum for research and teaching the value of hands-on learning in K-20 classrooms.
A new addition to the annual event is the Friday “STEM to STEAM” symposium featuring Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici and five other noteworthy panelists. The free event will be held in the Learning Innovation Center, Room 100, from 4 to 6 p.m. It’s an opportunity to bring together the makers of policies and the makers of objects to examine the challenges and rewards of integrating the Arts – the “A” – into STEM education. More about the panelists can be found at The CO•’s website.
On Saturday, kids and adults alike will enjoy the maker fair with more than 40 exhibitors offering hands-on learning experiences, including an interactive session on making skateboards. The maker fair will be held in the MU ballroom and Student Experience Center plaza.
The CO• is an OSU campus-Corvallis community collaboration that brings together makers from across campus, Corvallis, and the whole state of Oregon to celebrate and share their methods for hands-on learning. From the creative problem-solving skills so crucial to education in the 21st century to the benefits of quick prototyping tools needed to drive an innovative economy, every discipline and every individual has something to learn and something to teach.
“The CO• is also is a concept,” said Charles Robinson, a director of The CO• who also works on special initiatives for O&E, College of Liberal Arts and the Graduate School. “The CO• is the start of a larger conversation around the educational, socioeconomic and cultural benefits of hands-on learning. It’s a gateway for anyone in the Willamette Valley who is interested in learning more about the power of making.”
Do you have a maker talent? Share it with us! (In case you’re shy about sharing, I make mosaic art and stupendous banana bread!)
Because it is humbling and astounding at the same time, I wanted to share The CO•’s Manifesto with you. It will give you a better sense of what’s to come at the April event – and beyond.
The CO• Manifesto
At The CO• we believe that hands-on, creative exploration helps encourage risk taking, cement learning, boost self-confidence, connect individuals and communities, and serve as a guide for understanding our individual and collective place in the world. As a space and a concept, The CO• makes the room necessary for the uncertainty and experimentation of the learning process. This process has many labels such as making, tinkering, exploring, creating, hacking, building, and prototyping. It occurs across various mediums—digital, technological, industrial, domestic, analog, and artistic. However, neither the label nor the tool is the most critical piece of this innovation equation. Rather, it is the time allotted for discovery, the self-directed time spent thinking critically and honing hands-on problem-solving skills, which cultivates innovation. Trying, failing, and trying again is a fundamental component of learning. At The CO• we advocate for an equitable distribution of time devoted to making, tinkering, creating, building, hacking, sharing, questioning, and connecting. We champion the liminal space where such exploration resides and the critical discourse that follows. We must ensure that all engaged in this creative process work through prejudice. Experimentation must be open to all regardless of race, class, gender, sexuality, abilities, age, geography, education level, and discipline.
Students learn how art can work hand-in-hand with Oregon communities
The mission of OSU Extension Service essentially is to understand the needs of Oregon communities then develop collaborative partnerships to find ways to solve community challenges with research-based solutions. Historically, much of the outreach has been based in agriculture, but that has been changing. This blog introduces you to Extension Reconsidered.
Extension Reconsidered (ExtRe), an Outreach and Engagement initiative introduced at OSU in 2014, addresses community needs via the arts, humanities, design and humanitarian engineering. By working with new and traditional partners, ExtRe explores the ways in which the OSU Extension Service can evolve to best support the people of Oregon.
In fall 2015, the Art 406 course was offered for the first time. The course — a partnership between OSU Extension and the College of Liberal Arts — teaches both arts engagement methods and studio art techniques in a single class. The course is designed as a collaborative arts experience that engages and supports OSU arts students, Tillamook High School students and the Tillamook County Pioneer Museum.
The innovative course involved mentoring partnerships between the OSU and Tillamook students and culminated in a joint art exhibit curated by all the students at the Pioneer Museum. Coastal identities experienced as residents of Tillamook and the Oregon Coast emerged as themes in many of the high school students’ art pieces.
In tune with OSU’s Marine Studies Initiative, the OSU students built on a tradition of arts involvement in coastal discussions. They took part in the State of the Coast conference, which brings together communities of people that live, work or study the Oregon coast. Through their participation as artists, resulting work and subsequent inspiration, the OSU students contribute to the evolving understanding of Oregon’s coastal environment.
OSU plans to offer Art 406 again in spring 2016.
To learn more about the innovative approach Extension Reconsidered takes to engage and serve the needs of communities, talk with Charles Robinson. We’ll be hearing more from him as we approach the dates of the maker fair in April. Charles works with the College of Liberal Arts, the Division of Outreach & Engagement, the Graduate School and The CO.