Western Kentucky University

Diversity & Community Studies

Image for the Master of arts in Social Responsibility and Sustainable Communities


(ICSR 590)
Personal Webpage
jane.olmsted@wku.edu

I'm the coordinator and advisor of the Social Responsibility & Sustainable Communities Master's program, director of the Gender & Women's Studies Program, and department head of Diversity & Community Studies, which houses those programs, along with African American Studies and Gerontology/Aging Studies.

The SRSC is a cohort program, which means that our students move through the degree requirements together. The core courses emphasize "learning in action" and the electives allow students to emphasize areas of interest—gender, aging, community planning, environment, and (crucially) sustainability as it relates to social networks and long-range, ethically sound thinking.

It's conventional wisdom that "online courses can't replace f2f courses." Maybe, but online courses offer many benefits—if they're done right, and for many people. I enjoy the range of students we get in our online courses—from all over the country and with widely divergent backgrounds and interests. Our discussions are challenging and stimulating. As someone trained in literary studies, I've also been impressed with how well our written discussions proceed—reflection, response, questioning, disagreeing, changing—it's very rewarding.

I earned a Ph.D. in English, with a minor in feminist studies, at the University of Minnesota, in 1996. My scholarly work has focused on American, African American, and Native American literature, with an emphasis on race and gender, and I have articles in Contemporary Literature and African American Review, and another about Langston Hughes' fiction that originally appeared in Black Orpheus and was reprinted in Short Story Criticism. My colleague Elizabeth Oakes and I founded and edited the Kentucky Feminist Writers Series, which led to three volumes, of poetry, fiction, and life writing: Writing Who We Are, Telling Stories and I to I.

I love my profession and believe strongly that social change is best served by people with a sound education, with a keen understanding of how gender, race, class, and other elements of difference shape us as individuals and the worlds in which we live. My chapbook, Tree Forms, was published in 2011 by Finishing Line Press. I keep a blog at http:www.janeolmsted/wordpress.com

I'm married to a professor of philosophy and religion at a nearby community college. We have three sons, the youngest of whom was killed in October, 2009. Our oldest son recently completed his MFA in ceramics at the University of Florida and is now in Georgia at an art residency, and our middle son is about to start a culinary arts program in Pasadena. We have two granddaughters and one grandson.

 Last Modified 9/3/13