History of the Rural Studies Program
Oregon State University, as Oregon’s land grant university, has focused on rural issues since 1868 through its academic programs, Agricultural Experiment Stations and Extension Service Offices. In 2001, OSU created the Rural Studies Program within the Agricultural and Resource Economics Department of the College of Agricultural Sciences. Emery Castle was appointed as the first director and upon his retirement Bruce Weber was appointed director. In 2005, OSU made a significant strategic investment in the Rural Studies Program that will enhance the capacity of the program to serve the needs of rural people and places.
The Rural Studies Program is multi-disciplinary and teaches classes, conducts research and provides extended education with faculty from many colleges at OSU. The Rural Studies Program relies on many individuals and organizations involved with rural issues.
The overall goal of the Sustainable Rural Communities Initiative is to improve
environmental, economic, social and cultural well-being in Oregon’s rural communities by
establishing the premier program for rural community sustainability in the Land Grant University
system. This Initiative would achieve this goal by pursuing four objectives:
- Generate new knowledge through multi-disciplinary research and policy analysis about
the challenges facing rural communities and potential pathways to sustainability.
- Prepare a new generation of citizens, professionals and scholars to take on the kinds of
complex situations that emerge as rural communities seek economic and social viability.
- Expand citizen and policymaker understanding about the contributions of and
constraints faced by rural communities and the impacts of federal and state policy on
- Engage rural communities in learning collaboratively about their strengths and
opportunities and empower them to develop strategies to support long-term sustainability.