From international cinema to environmental humanities, Christopher (Chip) Oscarson has the uncanny ability to rethink and recognize unique connections between unexpected fields. Oscarson’s capacity to make connections in learning will allow him to enhance the general education program at Brigham Young University in his new role as an associate dean in Undergraduate Education.
“I look forward to the involvement in rethinking the general education program that will have a lasting impact on the University,” said Oscarson. “I hope that the General Education redesign will benefit and serve the students better in helping them reach their educational goals. I hope faculty and students will be excited about it and engage with it.”
Oscarson’s ability to make new learning connections comes not only from his strong educational background (receiving a bachelor's in history and a master's in comparative literature from BYU, and a doctorate from the University of California at Berkeley), but also from living abroad as a child.
Born in St. Louis, Oscarson’s family moved often. When Oscarson was young, they relocated to Sweden. His family eventually landed in Boston where Oscarson graduated from high school. He later returned to Sweden as a missionary.
“I think living abroad at a young age helped me be open to different ways of thinking and living,” Oscarson said. “I constantly try new things because I am not scared to. I attribute this to my experiences as a child and that my mom is a voracious reader. She reads everything and instilled that in me. I love learning and enjoy anything, even if it is not in my field. Lately, it is biology. I think this curiosity is something that defines me.”
Aside from a focus on typical humanities courses, Oscarson studies environmental humanities, a field that distinguishes itself through interdisciplinary breadth and interest in important environmental issues currently affecting the world.
Oscarson stated, “I really enjoy it because it shows there are real consequences to the research. The issues regarding our relationship to the environment have important implications for us, our children and future generations.”
Creating this unexpected connection between multiple fields allows Oscarson to build relationships with people in other colleges on campus, which he finds rewarding.
“There are a lot of reasons to work at BYU, but one thing I am thankful for are the students and my colleagues that I get to work with,” Oscarson said. “There is a unique serious atmosphere that is more than just discipline. The students are motivated and interested. I love finding that passion in them. It is exciting to see them make connections between things, which really motivates me. I also love the charity I see from my colleagues and students.”
Oscarson joined the BYU faculty in 2005 as director of the Scandinavian program. A few of Oscarson’s achievements to date include increased engagement of students with international cinema and his work to edit a new three-volume history of Nordic literary culture. He is currently working on the second and third volumes in the series.
“I appreciate the tremendous support that I feel from the administration,” Oscarson said. “I have had really good deans and chairs. I appreciate the leadership the University has given me as a faculty member. I look forward to my new role as associate dean.”