Barbara Mossberg

Profile picture of Barbara  Mossberg
Professor of Practice in Literature
Clark Honors College
Phone: 541-346-8752
Office: 310 Chapman Hall
Office Hours: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 11-am-noon Wednesdays, 1-3 pm either in person or by Zoom Chapman 310.


Curriculum Vitae | Website

ACADEMIC AREAS: Poetry, Leadership, Drama, Humanities Advocacy, Chaos Theory, Deep Ecology, Eco Lit and Cultural History, American/British Postcolonial and Transatlantic Literature, Women’s Literature, American Studies, Creativity Across Disciplines

Teaching Philosophy

It is my honor and privilege to teach what matters: you, for we have high stakes in your learning and leadership, and the knowledge and skills vital for your life journey. It is also my joy, for each lecture, assignment, reading, and discussion is a design experiment to create conditions that result in your excited, exciting, meaningful learning. For innovative high-impact curriculum, I am grounded in education’s root word “educe,” to draw forth: I want to be an encouraging force to cheer on your learning. Our studies of the greatest literature, inspiring history, and examples of creativity, illuminate the transformational purpose of study itself - to recognize, inspire, honor, and develop your own inner genius and way to serve. Thus, my commitment as mentor and advisor for your greater life goals and purpose is core to my teaching: agency to your discovery of how you contribute to and are essential to our civic life.

Past Courses

GEO: The Genius of Study Abroad: A Tale of Two Cities

HC 221H That's EPIC!

HC 221H EPIC! Or, My Life as The Odyssey

HC 221H Epic and Leadership

HC 221H That's Wild! Eco-Epic and the Green Imagination

HC 222H: Eco Literature

HC 222H Eco Lit and Genius Loci: Humanity and Nature

HC 421H John Muir's Backpack

HC 421H Emerson and Einstein, Interdisciplinary Artist Activists: An Inquiry into Genius

Opportunities for Students

Professor Mossberg and students on study abroad

Professor Mossberg leads the dynamic Genius of Study Abroad course each summer. Students earn the equivalent of two upper division colloquia (8 credits) and develop their own portfolio of writing and projects organized around their own academic and life interests and goals. Students engage in active, activist global learning that considers the interactive, international, and interdisciplinary aspects of creativity in revolutionary imagination  - new ways of thinking and seeing - as seen in movements in architecture, landscape, literature, arts, science and technology, and legislation on human rights and equality in adjacent cultures. Students tour Dublin, London, Oxford and Paris, researching, mapping, and retracing the literal and intellectual paths of historical figures who developed new ways to conceive of and express our world. Activities include lectures, discussions, interactive performance, journal and walking excursions, and activities creatively engaging with the environment.

Learn More About The Genius of Study Abroad »

Academic Background

Ph.D., English, Indiana University, 1977
M.A., English, Indiana University, 1972
B.A., English and History, University of California - Los Angeles, 1970

As a professor of practice, Dr. Mossberg has enjoyed a distinguished worldwide career in teaching and educational leadership before rejoining the University of Oregon to serve the Clark Honors College mission. She has taught at public, private, large, small, traditional and innovative colleges and universities, including Indiana University, Union Institute and University, Mt. Vernon College (Distinguished Institute Scholar), Pacifica Graduate Institute (Engaged Humanities Faculty), and the University of Helsinki, where she twice was Senior Fulbright Distinguished Lecturer and Bicentennial Chair of American Studies. She has also held administrative and leadership positions at Hobart and William Smith Colleges and National University. She has held both teaching and leadership positions at California State University - Monterey Bay, as founding dean of the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences and Director of the Integrated Studies Special Major; at Goddard College, as President and Professor from 1997-2001, and where she was awarded the title President Emerita in 2001; and at the University of Oregon, where as tenured professor in the English Department she co-founded and co-directed the American Studies program, as well as served as acting dean of the graduate school and director of the graduate Individualized Studies: Interdisciplinary Program. Mossberg has also held distinguished national and federal appointments, including representing the University of Oregon and United States as U.S. Scholar in Residence to the U.S. Department of State (American Studies Specialist), and Senior Fellow to the American Council on Education. 

As a cultural studies specialist, Dr. Mossberg has lectured and consulted in over twenty countries, as well as worked with and led programs for leaders from around the world in "campuses" of cities and nature, institutions, and organizations. She is an active contributor and featured speaker for fundraisers and professional conferences ranging across Phi Beta Kappa, Sierra Club, Western Respiratory Medicine, Council for the International Exchange of Scholars, International Leadership Association, as well as schools of law, medicine, education, and leadership. She teaches for the Osher Institute of Lifelong Learning, and is on the editorial board of scholarly journals, and a founder and Vice President of the Emily Dickinson International Society. Mossberg gives annual public lectures at Yosemite National Park on "Purple Prose Strategies to Save the World," she founded and hosts a weekly hour radio show - "The Poetry Slow Down" and recently completed a five year term as Poet in Residence (now City Poet Emerita) for the city of Pacific Grove, California, and is currently Poet in Residence for the Lilly Conference of College and University Teaching.

Research Interests & Current Projects

Dr. Mossberg teaches, preaches and writes about the power of language to engage our hunger, and develop our capacity, to matter utterly to our world - the topic of one of her books in progress. She is dedicated to humanities leadership invoking artistic expression in civic life. Her work as a scholar reaches beyond traditional academic boundaries to humanities advocacy in the public realm, so that as she publishes academic and professional studies and serves on boards, she also broadcasts weekly on AM and internet radio, writes cultural criticism for newspapers and the Huffington Post, performs as actor, is a dramatist and dramaturg, gives public lectures in parks and theaters, teaches sonnets in the schools, and does poetry slams, poetry readings, and FlashMob poetry events on YouTube. The connective tissue for her endeavors is a commitment to advocate what is at stake for humanity and earth itself in how we express and see our world.

As both prizewinning poet and practicing scholar, Mossberg publishes on figures such as Emily Dickinson and John Muir, transformational leadership and cultural studies, and philosophical intersections of science and humanities in creativity and learning.

Over the past forty years, Dr. Mossberg has published poetry and literary and interdisciplinary studies on cultural, transformational, and integral leadership of ecology and the human spirit, creativity and identity, resilience and sustainability in the natural and social worlds, and learning. Her work ranges from the role and increasing relevance of classical writers in society, to chaos theory as a transdisciplinary interpretive tool of leadership and expressive arts. A Reader at the Huntington Library, she has three current research projects: a cultural history, "the power of Nobody to change the world - the unlikely role of the poet in war and peace, civil and human rights, and environmental policy," including an analysis of John Muir as a writer; an eco lit anthology and essay collection; and, based on her radio essays, a study of the arc of creativity in poets and scientists from childhood to so-called old age. Additional ongoing work includes a drama musical that explores how the ways artists and writers portray trees influences civic conscience and public policy, and the teaching of epic and heroic literature in this day and age, including her experience with honors college students.


  • 2016: 42nd Literary Arts Award New Millennium Writers Finalist
  • 2010 - Present: Poet Laureate, Lilly Conference on College and University Teaching
  • 2010: Alumni Hall of Fame, John Muir high School
  • 2004: Firestone Scholarship, Lilly Conference on College and University Teaching
  • 1985: Jane Grant Award, University of Oregon
  • 1984: American Council of Learned Societies Research Award
  • 1982: Outstanding Academic Book of the Year, Choice
  • 1981: National Endowment for the Humanities, Research Award
  • 1979: University of Oregon Summer Research Award
  • 1979: Mortar Board Award, University of Oregon 
  • 1978: Ersted Award, Outstanding Teaching, University of Oregon
  • 1974: William Riley Parker Distinguished Teaching Award, Indiana University


  • 2015 - Present: City Poet Emerita of Pacific Grove, California
  • 2012: Visiting Scholar, Department of Biochemistry, UCLA
  • 2010 - 2015: Poet in Residence, City of Pacific Grove, California
  • 2001 - 2002: Senior Consultant, American Council on Education, Center for Institutional and International Initiatives 
  • 1992 - 1996: Senior Scholar, American Council on Education, Office of Women
  • 1991: Mellon Fellow, Executive Seminar, Aspen Institute 
  • 1990-91: Senior Fulbright Distinguished Lecturer, Bicentennial Chair of American Studies, University of Helsinki
  • 1988 - 1990: Senior Advisor, American Council on Education
  • 1986-88: U.S. Scholar in Residence, United States Information Agency - U.S. State Department
  • 1984: Mellon Fellow, Executive Seminar, Aspen Institute 
  • 1982-83: Senior Fulbright Lecturer, Bicentennial Chair of American Studies, University of Helsinki

Selected Publications

Cover of Emily Dickinson: When a Writer Is a Daughter

For a complete publication list see Professor Mossberg's Curriculum Vitae.


Selected Book Chapters

Selected Articles