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Pacific Islands Studies

The Pacific Islands Studies Program offers individualized programs of study and research emphasizing Pacific island cultures. The University of Oregon has a long-standing educational and scholarly interest in the Pacific islands involving active researchers and teachers in many fields. The committee began as a formal body in 1987 and has worked since to coordinate instruction, research, and exchange programs at the university that are related to the Pacific islands. Interdisciplinary perspectives essential for understanding natural and cultural environments, cultural history and change, and educational and modern socioeconomic issues in the Pacific are stressed.

A wide range of faculty members of the University of Oregon conduct research and do teaching and training programs related to the Pacific Islands. Their expertise and inter-related interests provide an interdisciplinary perspective essential for understanding natural environments, cultural background and change, and modern socio-economic issues in the Pacific area.

Courses on Pacific subjects are taught at both the undergraduate and graduate level and cover diverse topics. Students can enroll in undergraduate courses and advanced degree programs in various departments and through the Asian Studies Program. Pacific Islands Studies participates in the Asian Studies Program’s B.A. and M.A. degree programs by providing courses that may be used to satisfy degree requirements, e.g., in developing as secondary cultural or geographical area with Southeast Asia. Undergraduate- and graduate-level courses are available in anthropology and archaeology, art history, biology, geological sciences, international studies, political science, and sociology.

William Ayres, Anthropology, teaches classes on Pacific Islands archaeology and anthropology and organizes the program’s interdisciplinary Pacific Islands Studies class. Aletta Biersack, Anthropology, gives several courses on social anthropology, especially about New Guinea. Andrew Goble, History, has taught on Japan’s presence in the Pacific Islands. An interdisciplinary class on Pacific environments and resources is taught by William Ayres. Stephen Johnson integrates sociology and political science in his class on sociological patterns in developing Pacific countries. Richard Sundt, Art History, regularly offers a two course sequence on Pacific Islands art and works with students to exhibit their Pacific-inspired creations in the Krause Gallery.

The Pacific Island Archaeological Project, directed by William S. Ayres, offers students opportunities to participate in archaeological and anthropological study in the Pacific. Through several means, students visit the Pacific to carry out consulting and research projects in a variety of areas.

Training in selected Pacific Island languages is possible through individual study using tutors and materials developed at the Yamada Language Center. The center now has language-study modules for Pohnpeian and Kosraen.

I. Pacific Islands Studies Committee
  • William Ayres, Professor, Anthropology. Pacific archaeology and anthropology; research in Micronesia and Polynesia.
  • Aletta Biersack, Professor, Anthropology. Pacific ethnology and socio-cultural anthropology; research in New Guinea and Tonga.
  • Shirley Coale, Research Assoc., Education, Special education consultant, Micronesia.
  • Maradel Gale, Assoc. Professor., Ret., Professor, Planning, Public Policy and Management. Public policy and management training, Micronesia, Samoa, Fiji.
  • Richard Hildreth, Professor, Law. Micronesia and Australia, environmental law.
  • Adria Imada, Asst. Professor, Ethnic Studies/Anthropology. US Empire, performance and popular culture, Hawaii, Pacific Islands, and Asian America.
  • Kathy Poole, Overseas Program Coordinator, Office of International Programs. Coordinating programs in the Asia/Pacific region. Pacific experience in Fiji and Palau.
  • Judith Raiskin, Associate Professor and Director, Women’s Studies Program. Women’s studies and Pacific Islands post-colonial literature.
  • Greg Ringer, Adj. Asst. Professor. Planning, Public Policy and Management. International tourism, protected areas and sustainable community development.
  • Paula Rogers, Asst. Professor, East Asian Lang. and Lit.. Austronesian languages, Taiwan.
  • Richard Sundt, Associate Professor, Art History. Pacific art, traditional and contemporary.
  • Hilda Yee Young, Academic Advising. Pacific Islands; Hawai’ian Studies and student groups.
  • Dick Zeller, Research Assoc/Co-Director, Western Regional Resource Center: Special Education consultant; Micronesia and SamoaAffiliated Members:
  • Virginia Butler, Assoc. Professor, Anthropology, Portland State University; Pacific ecology/faunal studies.
  • Anne Chambers, Ph.D. Anthropology, Southern Oregon University.
  • Keith Chambers, Ph.D. Anthropology, Director of International Services, Southern Oregon University.
  • Rufino Mauricio, Ph.D. Anthropology, Chief Archaeologist, Federated States of Micronesia Historic Preservation Program. Pacific archaeology and traditional culture, Pacific Islands Studies.
  • Dick Dewey, School of Extended Studies, Portland State University; Palau ecology and resource conservation.
  • Osamu Kataoka, Assistant Professor, Kansai Gadai University, Osaka, Japan. Ph.D. Candidate, Anthropology, Micronesian archaeology.
  • Suzanne McMenis, Graduate student, Education, University of Oregon. Western Micronesia
  • Gwen Scott, Graduate student, Geography, University of Oregon.
  • Joan Wozniak, PhD. Candidate, Anthropology, University of Oregon