Located in the Eden-like Cascade Mountains of southern Oregon, an Eastern study-away program called the Oregon Extension provides students with a place to retreat and personally investigate deep questions of gender, faith and reconciliation.
The May term of the program runs from May 17 to June 10. The course focuses on women’s studies. Everyone in the program takes a two-credit course entitled: The Struggle for Self and Voice in Community: Women in Literature and Theology, in which they study literature by prominent female authors.
The students also take a two-credit research course in a field of their choice. Choices include socioloy, Bible, psychology, philosophy, science, political science, education or history.
As part of the research course students produce writing projects based on their field of study, according to English professor Dr. Betsy Morgan. This program is designed to foster confidence in women and an understanding of women’s issues in men.
“Women [students] return to their campuses more confident to…engage the academic, social and spiritual life of their colleges and their world, [and the] men gain greater responsiveness to women’s issues,” according to the Oregon Extension’s website.
Morgan has taught at the Oregon Extension May term for all ten years of its existence.
“I recommend [the Oregon Extension] to students who want time out from the regularized academic structure of 18 credit hours a semester,” she said.
Junior Brie Menut, who attened Oregon Extension’s fall 2004 semester, agreed the course is different from a normal college semester.
“While vigorous and a challenge, it was a refreshing challenge,” she said.Morgan said one of the greatest things about the May term is that “students design their own projects, which allows them to read the things they’ve wanted to read but haven’t had the time to.”
The program offers a 7 to 1 ratio of students to faculty. This ratio gives students plenty of time every day for one-on-one discussions with professors.
With classes from only 9:00 to 12:45, the program allots plenty of time in the afternoon and evenings for reading, dialoging, researching and relaxing in the wilderness.
“It was the most encouraging and spacious environment I’ve ever been in,” Menut said.
“They give you the space to ask questions that bother you without anyone judging you or laughing at you,” Menut said.
The goal of the Oregon Extension is “for all of us-faculty as well as students-to embrace the hope of the gospel as it grounds justice in reconciliation and celebrates the humanity of all persons as full participants in the life of the world,” their website said.
The Oregon Extension May term is only offered every other year.
The Oregon Program offers students the chance to gain a greater awareness and sensitivity to all of life, according to Menut.
“I love people more deeply now,” she said. “I see more in people now.”