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Science in the Pub: OSU-Cascades makes learning fun by adding beer to the equation 

A pub might be thought of as a place where you’re supposed to drink, but not talk about matters like science, literature and politics.

A pub might be thought of as a place where you're supposed to drink, but not talk about matters like science, literature and politics. And a classroom is a place where you're expected to talk only about things like science, literature and politic, but not drink. The two places seem mutually exclusive.

But according to OSU-Cascades, that's not exactly true, as evidenced by the university's wildly popular Science Pub events, which have been packing a room at McMenamins Old St. Francis School once a month for more than a year now. This week, a professor from the Corvallis campus will be on hand and he'll be talking about the phenomenon of 20-somethings taking a slower path to adulthood. It won't be a stuffy academic lecture, mostly because the majority of those listening intently will have a beer in hand. The professor might have one, too; who knows.

"Bend has so many breweries and the community is just such an outgoing informal group that it just seemed to make absolute sense. So, rather than holding a lecture in a classroom, a pub environment is much more conducive to these presentations," says Christine Coffin, OSU-Cascades' director of communications, who modeled the series after a similar event at the main OSU campus.

Already this academic year, Science Pub events - which have been full to capacity on several occasions - have covered the Chilean earthquake, forest fires and sea wave energy potential. On Tuesday night, Dr. Richard Settersten, a professor of human development and family services at OSU, will be discussing the changing role of 20-somethings in our society. The lecture will draw on Settersten's latest book, Not Quite Adults, coauthored by Barbara E. Ray that features a decade's worth of research and incorporates almost 500 interviews with individuals of this age bracket.

If you're one of the 20-somethings being discussed, it might be worth stopping by, so you can leave the event, get on the phone and say, "See, dad! There's plenty of us still living in our parents' basements." Or maybe your dad should be the one who attends this lecture.

Coffin stresses, again, that these presentations are not overly academic and can be easily digested by those who might not have a deep background in the subject at hand. But that doesn't mean you'll be listening to a dimwit.

"We definitely look for the best and brightest in what they do and who are able to talk to a lay person in a way that makes sense," says Coffin.

She says they've been pleasantly surprised by the response to the ongoing program's popularity, which has helped the campus - now in its 10th year - to interact more with the community and let Bend residents know that there's a four-year university in their backyard. The series also allows the Cascades campus to bring over professors from Corvallis to interact with this campus.

"It is something of a surprise, a terrific surprise, and it tells us that there's a hunger for this type of knowledge and we can help provide that," says Coffin.

Next month, the Science Pub will expand out to Sisters' Three Creeks Brewery, where a forestry professor will be talking about forest ecosystems. Coffin says this is a chance to further spread the appeal of the event beyond Bend, which they did last year with a night out in Sisters. Back at McMenamins in April, OSU head volleyball coach Terry Liskevych will discuss the changing world of sports, from youth competition to the professional ranks.

Even if you're far beyond your school years, you can get back in the swing of education at one of these Science Pubs. You're never too old to learn. Also, you're never too old to drink a beer. Well, I don't think so, anyway.

Science Pub: Featuring Rick Settersten

5pm doors, 6pm presentation. Tuesday, February 15. McMenamins Old St. Francis School, 700 NW Bond St. For a complete schedule of presentations, visit

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