Eastern Oregon University > Academics > Incoming faculty member brings expertise to new program

Incoming faculty member brings expertise to new program

Incoming faculty member brings expertise to new program

May 27, 2020 LA GRANDE, Ore. –  Shannon Donovan, Ph.D., is one of the first Sustainable Rural Systems (SRS) professors at Eastern Oregon University. As a founding faculty member, Donovan will help shape the program as it grows. 

The SRS program implements a project-based learning model designed to give students hands-on experience and training in all aspects of a rural community. 

The innovative nature of the new program attracted Donovan. 

“I love the idea of bridging the gap between academia and community,” she said.

Donovan plans to give students project-based experience while working with community members, aligning university needs with community needs, and providing students with the knowledge and tools needed to complete projects. 

Donovan received a bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Management at the University of New Hampshire, a Master of Science in Recreation and Forestry at West Virginia University, and a doctorate in Environmental Science at the University of Idaho. Her experience extends to bioregional planning, working with animals, forestry, recreation and tourism, education and outdoor education, geography and environmental studies. 

She also worked in Costa Rica with coffee growers and analyzed ecosystem services.

Donovan is looking forward to coming to La Grande. After working at the University of Alaska, Anchorage for 11 years, she is ready for change. 

“Particularly during these challenging times, things are hard for a lot of people and it presents a lot of challenges and a lot of opportunities to do things differently, address needs, and figure out how to meet them,” Donovan said. 

The SRS program includes environmental biology, economics and project leadership courses. Students will apply environmental science, resource ecology management and environmental policy to implement sustainable practices in rural communities.

After being awarded a $500,000 federal grant for its Brownfield Program, Baker Technical Institute will continue its restoration efforts of a historic central school building in Baker City. The SRS program has already established a meaningful partnership with BTI, and both programs will work to restore former industrial and commercial sites affected by environmental contamination.

Students will take on real-life rural challenges alongside community and industry partners. Projects might include restoration, refurbishing a historical building, analyzing industry changes after a timber mill closes, or exploring new methods of delivering healthcare in rural areas.

For more information, visit eou.edu/sustainable-rural-systems.

Written by PR Intern Briana Rosenkranz.