CORVALLIS - A special course at Oregon State University this winter and spring terms will culminate in a video documentary created by the students that explores the dynamics of diversity on campus and in the community.

When completed, the OSU video will be incorporated into a national documentary featuring similar productions from 11 other universities.

The project, supported by the Ford Foundation and other local and national funding, is called "- ism," the suffix of some of the themes students will explore, OSU faculty members say.

"The students will examine the nature of racism, sexism and ageism - and how they are perceived - then look at themselves to see if they hold any of these 'isms', how they came to hold them, and how the 'isms' are reflected in society," said Richard Weinman, a professor of speech communication at OSU and one of five leaders for the two-term course.

"We want students to make the documentary by going into the community first with their eyes and minds, and then going back with the camera lens," Weinman said.

Others teaching the course include Ann Robinson, assistant manager for student media at OSU; Larry Roper, vice provost for student affairs; David Bogan, a local video producer; and Wayne Baseden, a former OSU faculty member who now advises institutions on subjects of cultural diversity.

By the end of spring term, students will have produced a number of 15-minute video documentaries and contributed their work toward a national documentary about diversity. Robinson said she hopes the videos will be shown on Oregon cable stations via local access and made available to human resources managers and other leaders for training.

"The idea is to give knowledge to the students and a new tool with which to communicate that knowledge," Robinson said.

The national documentary project will be coordinated by the Campus Outreach Opportunity League and the Institute for Public Media Arts.

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Richard Weinman, 541-737-6116