Ecampus Research and Liberal Arts at Oregon State University

My colleague and friend, Dr. Katie Linder, is the Ecampus research director at Oregon State University.   Her work there inspired me to start this blog to help document the research efforts happening in OSU’s College of Liberal Arts.

Ecampus Fellows Program

One of the many things happening at Ecampus Research is their Fellows program.  It’s been a real benefit to CLA faculty. Past recipients include folks from Psychology, History, and Anthropology.  The fellows program seeks “to support the research, development and scholarship efforts of faculty and/or departments in the area of distance/online education.” It’s a great new program, and I advise my readers here to keep an eye on it.  But their fellows program is not the focus of this blogpost.  I want to bring your attention to Dr. Linder’s podcasts.

Liberal Arts Research and Podcasts?

Her podcasts are of particular relevance to me and my work, and can be a great resource for CLA faculty.  Research in Action is a weekly podcast on topics related to all things research. Such a wealth of information in those podcasts, I often just listen in as I am working.  After all, I seized on the idea of Research in Action and sheepishly stole its namesake for the title of this blog, Liberal Arts Research in Action.  The quote “good poets borrow, better poets steal” is often misattributed to T.S. Eliot, and it hasn’t stopped me yet!

You can find a list of past RIA episodes here.  Many provide insight to issues relevant to Liberal Arts research.

A recent RIA podcast highlights the challenges faced by humanities and text-based research, and explores the work of biblical studies scholar, Dr. Nyasha Junior, an Assistant Professor of Hebrew Bible in the Department of Religion at Temple University in Philadelphia.

Highlights from Dr. Junior’s interview:

“It’s difficult to apply for external funding….  I don’t really need things, I don’t need a particle accelerator, or a lab, or… whatever it is that people in science do.  What I need is time and space, and maybe a library assistant to go get me some books.”

Other challenges faced by researchers:

“I’d say finding funding is tough, also communicating what we do to people who are outside of the field.”

Time, space, funding, and communicating are indeed challenges.  Listen to the RIA podcast with Dr. Junior here.  And be sure to listen to the whole podcast; Dr. Junior talks about ways to market your work.

photo courtesy of

What’s the Connection to OSU CLA?

The 60th episode of RIA features an interview with Dr. Christopher McKnight Nichols.  Dr. Nichols is the Director of the Center for the Humanities at OSU.  In this podcast, Dr. Nichols talks about his research, the importance of the humanities, and the Center.

You can listen to the podcast here.  Highlights include:

“… we don’t talk about data, per se, though we clearly have a data set”.

Liberal Arts data doesn’t seem like a thing, but it is.  Often times, Liberal Arts research isn’t valued because it’s not hypothesis driven.  Katie asks a great question very relevant to almost all tracks of humanities research:  “I’m curious to what degree your work, and the different things you’re looking at, is exploratory.”

Dr. Nichols responds with how he had to first come to understand his field of study before he could start asking specific questions.  Research questions, he states, are bound by historical moments.

The Center for the Humanities

“So, one thing that’s important for me as an advocate for the humanities here at this institution is to keep bringing up the amazing work that’s going on here in the humanities.” – Dr. Nichols

Meeting space at Oregon State University’s Center for the Humanities. Photo courtesy of the Center’s website.

Like Dr. Junior, Dr. Nichols acknowledges that time is one of the most important components of developing strong humanities research.  It takes time “to write good humanities work.” And time and space are something that the Center provides.  He then adds that creating institutional infrastructures and a culture of support for humanities work is also vital.

Be sure to listen to the whole episode. There is a bonus clip at the end where Dr. Nichols’ talks about his Carnegie Fellow recognition.

Thanks, Ecampus!

Special thanks to Dr. Katie Linder for running this podcast series and for recognizing the importance of humanities based research. Her efforts of sharing information about her work is inspiring.  She recently welcomed Dr. Mary Ellen Dello Stritto to the Ecampus research team.  Mary Ellen, Katie, and I, together with Susan Emerson, Research Development Associate for the OSU Research Office recently held our first university-wide grant writing workshop.  It was a remarkable success!

What’s next for the LARA blog?

I intend to write a post about my experience at a recent conference where I accessed a wealth of knowledge from other research coordinators.

I have another post forthcoming about the 2017-2018 College of Liberal Arts Research Awards.

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