OSU class eyes nature philosophy close up - on the river


CORVALLIS - Oregon State University will offer a special course this summer on the philosophy of nature and rivers that will feature unusual teaching props and a rather exotic classroom - wooden drift boats on the Grande Ronde River.

Course participants will float a 35-mile stretch of the scenic Grande Ronde from Minam at the foothills of the Wallowas to Troy. They will learn about the natural history, ecology and wildlife of the river and the surrounding area, though the focus of the course will be on writing and philosophy relating to rivers and nature.

The Grande Ronde, which flows through basalt canyons and wilderness forests, has a handful of class-three rapids, but participants need no river experience. The drift boats will be piloted by professional guides and all equipment except sleeping bags will be provided.

"We're looking for people who love rivers, who write about rivers, or who just want to think about rivers," said Kathleen Dean Moore, who chairs the Department of Philosophy at OSU and is one of three course leaders. "We hope to see deer, elk and other wildlife, and gain new insights and deeper perspectives on the relationships between humans, nature and the written word."

The educational float trip will run from June 21-25 and is worth two credits. Persons taking the course for an additional credit hour will return to campus for a five-day classroom session. Participants may take the course with a graded or ungraded option.

The course will be led by Moore, who is the author of a popular book of essays called "Riverwalking"; her husband, Frank Moore, a professor of zoology at OSU and a natural history expert; and Jeff Wallach, author of "What the River Says" and contributor to numerous outdoor and travel magazines.

Enrollment for the course, called "Rivers: Reflections on Moving Water," will be limited and on a first-come, first-served basis. The cost of the trip is $617.50, plus $189 for tuition and fees.

For more information, call the OSU Department of Philosophy at 541-737-2955.