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The Oregon Extension Takes a Sabbatical

Over the last 40 years, many students have enjoyed a wonderful semester at the Oregon Extension. We hear frequently from alumni that living and studying here was a life-changing experience. For decades every cabin was filled with students eager to get their crack at life on the western edge of the continent, in the woods, with lots of books and new ideas.

Seismic shifts are going on in liberal arts education, and liberal arts colleges wonder where the students have gone. We ask the same question. Tremendous pressures exist to view college as primarily about training for a rapidly evolving job market. The OE has long held that college is more than this. The liberal arts are a rite of passage. College is a safe space to expose young people to the struggles of those who came before, a space where they can mull over those struggles and begin to frame an understanding of what kind of struggles are worthy of their own lives and energies. Thinking about college along these lines has come, in some quarters, to seem quaint—not for us—but it is a view we are up against.

The OE may be a small player in this wider moment of liberal arts introspection. Even so, we need to undertake it ourselves. For this reason we have made the difficult decision to suspend the 2016 fall semester, to rethink how we can continue to provide the life-changing experience for college students that the OE has provided for so many years. We will maintain our liberal arts commitment, and our orientation to a faith that seeks understanding. But we will add something to it. What will that be?

Students who have studied here over the past few years tell us they yearn for guidance in how to shape their lives in ways that sustain the planet and their communities. We help in this quest, but we can do more. We intend to use the coming year to become a place and faculty better outfitted to provide for this aspiration.  While the curriculum is still to be determined, it will be a combination of longstanding OE academic heavy lifting with hands-on engagement in a variety of environmental practices and technologies.

Over the year we will consult with former students, academics, neighbors, and craftspeople to create a college semester that balances the liberal arts with sustainable living. Many colleges attempt this, but we know that we can get our hands dirty in ways that aren’t possible on other campuses given our southern Oregon forest location, already living off of many grids. The OE is a place that lends itself to imagining things over from scratch.

Alongside the OE leadership team, the OE’s largest funders support this move toward environmental sustainability in the OE culture. They are solidly behind the OE as a semester for college students that will increase their knowledge and skills in this direction. As they told us, “We’re all in. We’re in this for the long haul.” We will have a new kind of semester up and running in fall 2017.

We cherish your patience and support during this year of reinvention.  We’ll keep you in the loop.

The Mill: OE alumni blog

UntitledLaunched in January 2016, The Mill is an effort to keep gleaning wisdom, stories, and observations from other OE alumni. In staying connected with each other’s thoughts, we hope to stay connected with the spirit of the Oregon Extension and the habits of attention practiced by its ever-growing band of constituents.
Click the logo to see what OE alum are up to these days!

2016 Campus Visit Schedule

OE faculty and staff will be visiting the colleges and universities on the dates listed below to inform current students about the Oregon Extension Fall semester program.

For more information on campus visits, please contact us or your school’s off campus programs office.

Jan. 12-13 George Fox University Tad
Jan. 19-20 Westmont College Talia
Jan. 25-27 Hope Tad
Jan. 28-29 Spring Arbor Tad
Feb. 1-3 Eastern University Heidi & Becky
Feb. 8-10 Houghton Heidi
Feb. 8-10, 12 Gordon College Becky
Feb. 3-5 Goshen College Matthew
Feb. 8-9 Calvin College Matthew
Feb. 15-17 Eastern Mennonite University Heidi


Fall 2015 Reading List

Lincoln Library

Lincoln Library

A fresh group of students will join us at Lincoln at the end of the month. Here’s an overview of the ideas that will be flying around campus before too long:

Segment 1

Kolbert, Elizabeth. The Sixth Extinction.

Dillard, Annie. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek.

Guthman, Julie. Weighing In: Obesity, Food Justice, and the Limits of Capitalism.

Berry, Wendell. The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture.

Cronon, William. Nature’s Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West.

Williams, Terry Tempest. Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place.

Segment 2

Stevenson, Bryan. Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption.

Morrison, Toni. Beloved.

Girard, René. I See Satan Fall Like Lightning.

Segment 3

Pirsig, Robert M. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values.

Carr, Nicholas. The Glass Cage: Automation and Us.

Byl, Christine. Dirt Work: An Education in the Woods.

Segment 4

Hart, David Bentley. Doors of the Sea: Where Was God in the Tsunami?

Dostoyevsky, Fyodor. The Brothers Karamazov.

Fall 2014 Reading List

Oregon Extension Fall Semester Books 2014

Summer Reading

Duncan, David James. The River Why. Twentieth Anniversary ed. San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 2002.

Wirzba, Norman. Living the Sabbath: Discovering the Rhythms of Rest and Delight. Grand Rapids, MI:Brazos Press, 2006.

Segment 1

Leopold, Aldo. A Sand County Almanac. New York: Ballantine Books, 1986. ISBN: 0345345053

McPhee, John. Encounters with the Archdruid. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1980.

Cronon, William. Nature’s Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West. New York: W.W. Norton, 1992.

Marris, Emma. Rambunctious Garden: Saving Nature in a Post-Wild World. New York: Bloomsbury, 2013.

Gilbert, Elizabeth. The Last American Man. New York: Penguin Books, 2003.

Segment 2

Russell, Mary Doria. The Sparrow. New York: Ballantine, 1997.

Girard, René. I See Satan Fall Like Lightning. Translated by James G. Williams. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2001.

Tutu, Desmond. No Future without Forgiveness. New York: Doubleday, 1999.

Segment 3

De Bottom, Alain. The Art of Travel. New York: Vintage, 2002.

Pirsig, Robert M. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values. New York: HarperTorch, 2006.

Byl, Christine. Dirt Work: An Education in the Woods. Boston: Beacon Press, 2014.

Segment 4

Hart, David Bentley. Doors of the Sea: Where Was God in the Tsunami? Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2011.

Dostoyevsky, Fyodor. The Brothers Karamozov. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 2005.

2015 Campus Visit Schedule

Jan. 22, 23, 26 Hope Melissa
Jan. 27-28 Westmont Tad
Feb. 2-4 Eastern Heidi
Feb. 5-6 Villanova Heidi
Feb. 9-11 Gordon Heidi
Feb. 13 Gordon Global Ed Fair Heidi
Feb, 18-20 EMU Heidi
March 4-5 Goshen Tad
March 9-10 Calvin Tad

The Oregon Extension Fall 2015 Stipend

reading2.jpgOnce again, the Oregon Extension has been awarded a development grant for the fall of 2015 from the Clif Bar Family Foundation.  Under the terms of the grant, any student who applies and is accepted for this coming fall will receive a $2,500 stipend for the semester.  The stipend may be used to pay for room, board, activities fee, books, tuition, travel, or any expenses related to the semester, after the semester begins.  This is a one-semester grant and applies only to the fall 2015 Oregon Extension program.  Spaces for the fall are limited.  The $2,500 stipend will be awarded to all fall students.


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