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Barbara Mossberg
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Dr. Barbara Mossberg, Professor of Practice, Clark Honors College, University of Oregon, having served as Director and Professor of the Integrated Studies Program at California State University Monterey Bay, is President Emerita of Goddard College, Poet in Residence for Pacific Grove, California, and Founder and Host of the weekly hour news-radio show, The Poetry Slow Down (, podcast at She is Affiliate Faculty of the Union Institute and University for the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Ethical and Creative Leadership, and having served as Scholar in Residence for the Union Institute, has also been Senior Scholar at the James MacGregor Burns Academy of Leadership at the University of Maryland and Poet in Residence for the Lilly Conference on College and University Teaching.

Dr. Mossberg is an activist educational leader who weaves being a poet, lecturer, scholar, author, consultant, and actor into a career that spans college and university teaching and academic administration, community and national service, and federal and international appointments. A dedicated and prizewinning teacher at several universities, with emphasis on promoting creativity and expression for greater consciousness and conscience in how humanity treats each other and the earth, Dr. Mossberg has received international recognition for her work in interdisciplinary American Studies, global studies, and the role of arts and humanities in public policy, leadership studies, interdisciplinary studies, and environmental affairs. She has received academic honors for her scholarship and awards for her poetry.

Dr. Mossberg received her B.A. from UCLA and M.A. and Ph.D. from Indiana University, and began her career and tenure at the University of Oregon in the Department of English, teaching tragedy, comedy, and American literature. Her book on Emily Dickinson was named by Choice an Outstanding Academic Book of the Year. Following her first senior Fulbright award as Bicentennial Chair at the University of Helsinki, Mossberg returned to Oregon to co-found the interdisciplinary American Studies Program (named by College Board International a national model for interdisciplinary approaches to culture studies) and to serve as dean in the graduate school, with special charge of the Individualized Program Interdisciplinary Studies M.A. Mossberg has worked nationally and internationally to advocate both global and interdisciplinary scholarship, teaching, and programs.

She held the first Senior Fulbright Distinguished Lectureship, and a senior Fulbright for the American poetry seminar at the University of Rome, as well as a federal appointment as U.S. Scholar in Residence in Washington, D.C., to represent American higher education in the U.S. and internationally as American Studies Specialist for the U.S. Department of State. In this capacity she has lectured and consulted worldwide and led cultural leadership tours in the U.S. for leaders in education, culture, business, media, politics, and government. For leadership across sectors, she develops mandates for new thinking based on emergent sciences and traditional humanities to integrate deeply humanistic and global arts and science learning into curriculum and public policy.

She has served the American Council on Education as Senior Fellow for the Office of Women and Center for Institutional and International Initiatives, and Founding Director of its Mary Robertson Smith Council of Scholars (“thinking about difference differently”), and the Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies as Mellon Fellow, Resource Fellow, and Moderator for The American Experience; in addition to consulting and lecturing for international organizations with global learning missions, professional leadership groups, and academic institutions, she has been part of the Humanities Institute.

Named as a Danforth Foundation Associate, Dr. Mossberg’s teaching honors include awards such as the Rector’s Medal of Merit at the University of Helsinki and University of Tampere, the William Riley Parker Prize at Indiana University, The Ersted Prize at the University of Oregon for Distinguished Teaching, and the Mortar Board Award. At California State University, she received the Professor of the Month RA award for National Residence Hall Honorary, and John Muir High School named her to its Hall of Fame in the Performing Arts. Mossberg’s scholarship roots her service as senior scholar for the National Council for Research on Women and Distinguished Institute Scholar at Mt. Vernon College. Her scholarship is recognized in awards from the National Endowment for the Humanities, American Council of Learned Societies, and others; a video was made of her research on gender, culture, and creativity, by Mary Helen Burnham. She has won awards for her poetry and regularly gives readings, as well as supports the Monterey High School Poetry Award Program. Her chapbook "Sometimes the Woman in the Mirror Is Not You" will be coming out with the Finishing Line Press New Women's Voices Series.

Mossberg’s academic leadership includes service at colleges and universities as program founder and director (American Studies) and dean at University of Oregon, assistant provost and director of external relations (Hobart and William Smith Colleges), special assistant to the president and dean of arts and sciences (National University), and president and faculty (Goddard College). Mossberg joined the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences at California State University Monterey Bay as founding dean to promote interdisciplinary global studies, and provided leadership for the Integrated Studies Special Major. She also has taught for First Year Seminar (“The Power of Story”) and for the Osher Institute for Lifelong Learning.

Her ongoing scholarship integrates arts, humanities, and sciences. In progress are a Leader’s Reader, a collection of essays on her work interpreting American culture in the U.S. and abroad, and interdisciplinary studies: the power of nobody to change the world (the unlikely role of poetry in war and peace, human and civil rights, and the environment; the art and science of John Muir’s cultural leadership as a writer; and the relevance for “common genius” of classical studies and emergent sciences for global and multicultural American society. Besides her poetry, Mossberg publishes on cultural studies, global studies, and the arts and science of leadership. She has developed original interpretations of chaos and other complexity theories of science to integrate with mythology and literary wisdom. She is also working on a drama musical on the role of poetry in environmental public policy, and towards this end, with schools and community programs to use literary history as a lens into civic and cultural heroics.

Lecturing and consulting in over 30 countries, Mossberg has represented the U.S. as a cultural studies scholar and is a frequent keynoter to national and international organizations ranging from the Council for the International Exchange of Scholars (CIES) to IONS to Phi Beta Kappa. She is a Featured Presenter at the Lilly Conference on College and University Teaching where Dr. Mossberg speaks on the “genius of empathy” and other “lessons from Professor Sphinx,” the literature of aging, learning, and resilience, integrated thinking, the relevance of history, chaos theory for learning organizations, and other topics, and is on the Editorial Board of Journal of Excellence in College Teaching.

Dr. Mossberg speaks on medicine, law, ethics, teaching, leadership, global thinking, and science for colleges, universities, and organizations. In the summers Mossberg lectures at the LeConte Memorial Lodge at Yosemite National Park on the role of arts and humanities in developing public values and policy on the environment. Dr. Mossberg advises and serves on national and community boards promoting arts, scholarship, and the environment, and performs as well in community dramatic arts programs including her own original works, including on Emily Dickinson, John Muir, a drama musical on trees through poetry and music, and thirty years of her poetry and photography in “Fat Lady Flying.” Recent leadership scholaship includes Transforming Leadership (“On Mattering”), Ensouled Humanities, and a meditation on Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, Alfred, Lord Tennyson and chaos theory for leaders. Other recent publications include articles in John Muir: Family and Friends on the role of arts and humanities in leadership for U.S. public policy, Chaos Theory and Higher Education, “Chaos: Leadership’s Natural Ally,” and The Joy of Teaching, “Teaching as Leadership, Love, and Forgiveness/Comedy and Tragedy.” Dr. Mossberg is a frequent keynote lecturer on the international, national, and community levels, including for Phi Beta Kappa, The Forest Hospital, Council for the International Exchange of Scholars (CIES), the Institute for Noetic Sciences (IONS), and others. As Poet in Residence for Pacific Grove, her goal is to promote poetry as a democratic civic art that promotes civil culture, conscience, and consciousness.

Entries by Barbara Mossberg

The Good News of Poetry That Can Win the Day

(0) Comments | Posted October 6, 2014 | 1:17 PM

--Liberal arts as life and death in the fate of the earth: the role of poetry of epic verve for a culture of hope

--A class assignment explores the literature of moxie

The news is not all discouraging. We hear from scientists that, in spite of the fact that the...

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Restoring the Lovely Hetch Hetchy Valley Restores More Than A National Park

(2) Comments | Posted December 16, 2013 | 1:51 PM

For days of infamy -- Pearl Harbor and Newtown school -- December has a handful. In remembrance of other national anguish, two anniversaries loom. One hundred years ago, on December 19, 1913, Congress passed 43-25 (with 29 abstentions) The Raker Act, drowning the natural twin of Yosemite Valley in Yosemite...

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The Uncoincidence of John Muir's Birthday and Earth Day

(0) Comments | Posted April 20, 2013 | 2:18 PM

Earth Day is John Muir's birthday. Coincidence? No way!

John Muir is one of the most exuberant, exhilarated, enthusiastic earth-lovers, earth-celebrators who ever lived. He was shamelessly a lover of earth. His love was romantic, loyal, heroic, utterly sensual. My children used to tease me, on my fear of...

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Poetry Superbowl Roster Part III

(0) Comments | Posted February 4, 2013 | 12:50 PM

So far we have Ralph Waldo Emerson as Coach, spelling out in "The Poet" just what a poet needs to do, to say, to be. Assistant Archibald Macleish tells us a poem should not mean but be. Billy Collins agrees. We have Dante as referee, and a defensive line we're...

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A Poetry Super Bowl Roster Part II: Defensive Lines

(0) Comments | Posted February 3, 2013 | 11:14 AM

While our nation sits rapt before a tale of two brothers for our national ritual of a football game, I'm thinking of a roster of poets for a Super Bowl. Football gives us a way to think about what's going on in the field of poetry, where it seems there...

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A Super Bowl Poetry Roster

(1) Comments | Posted February 3, 2013 | 11:08 AM

A moody child and wildly wise/
Pursued the game with joyful eyes
--Ralph Waldo Emerson, "The Poet"

As we gather 'round our national campfire for the Super Bowl, of course it seems like poetry -- for one thing, the Ravens are named for Baltimore's tragic own poet-in-residence, Edgar...

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Will We Still Need Him When He's (1)74?: How and Why to Celebrate John Muir's Birthday on Earth Day

(2) Comments | Posted April 20, 2012 | 7:17 PM

As communities program song and speech for Earth Day, we are reminded that it is also John Muir's birthday on April 21. Coincidence? I think not.

Our civic shout-out for earth this week is not something to take as a given. Our nation has not always conceived earth as...

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John Muir's "e" Purple Prose Carols

(0) Comments | Posted December 30, 2011 | 6:09 PM

John Muir: 100 years on, his "purple" prose suits the holiday on which he died.

John Muir, the man of such currency in our culture that California's quarter features him, died almost 100 years ago today, Christmas Eve, at a hospital here in Los Angeles. On his death certificate, his...

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I'm Nobody! Who Are You?

(29) Comments | Posted December 10, 2011 | 11:45 AM

Today, Dec. 10, would have been Emily Dickinson's 181st birthday.

I'm Nobody! Who are you?
Are you-Nobody-too?
Then there's a Pair of us?
Don't tell-they'd advertise -you know!
How dreary to be Somebody!
How public-like a frog-
To tell one's name the Livelong June

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