OSU to Host Symposium on Sustainable Rural Communities


CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University will host a symposium Nov. 20 that examines the relationships between universities and small towns in developing sustainable rural communities.

The Sustainable Rural Communities Symposium, which is focusing on the theme “The Engaged University: Building University-Community Partnerships,” will run from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the OSU Memorial Union’s Joyce Powell Leadership Center. It is free and open to the public.

A public lecture by Kenneth Reardon, “Rebuilding the Big Easy: The Challenge of Multi-University Partnerships in Post-Disaster New Orleans,” follows at 7:30 p.m. in LaSells Stewart Center. It also is free and open to the public. The events are sponsored by the Rural Studies Program at OSU, with support from the university’s Extension Service and Department of Sociology.

Kate MacTavish, an assistant professor of human development and family sciences at OSU, says the symposium is part of a larger effort to link universities with rural communities. OSU has a Rural Studies Program and long ties to rural communities. Those efforts received a boost in 2000, when the Kellogg Commission on the Future of State and Land-Grant Universities issued a report called “Returning to our Roots” that called for greater university-rural community ties. OSU President-emeritus John Byrne was executive director of that commission.

The symposium begins at 1 p.m. with a presentation by Byrne on "The Engaged Land-Grand University." That will be followed by a presentation by John Allen of Utah State University titled, “Leveraging Partnerships: Models of Engagement in the Rural American West.” A panel discussion will follow, led by Kathi Jaworski, of Rural Development Initiatives; Megan Smith, University of Oregon; and Annette Johnson, Eastern Oregon University.

A second talk and panel discussion will follow from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. Leading off that session will be a talk by Reardon, who chairs the Department of City and Regional Planning at Cornell University. His lecture is titled “Making Waves along the Mississippi: Lessons from an East St. Louis Community-University Partnership.”

Responding panelists include Ethan Seltzer, Portland State University; Tom Gallagher, the Ford Family Foundation; and Marc Braverman, OSU Extension Family and Community Development.

On Nov. 21, a number of OSU faculty will meet with several rural community members to work on developing strategic plans for effective partnerships, MacTavish said.