The Ozarks Studies Institute seeks to preserve the heritage of the Ozarks, its culture, environment and history by fostering a comprehensive knowledge of Ozarks' peoples, places, characteristics and dynamics. The Institute promotes a sense of place for residents and visitors alike and serves as an educational resource by collecting existing and discovering new knowledge about the Ozarks and by providing access to that knowledge. The Ozarks Studies Institute meets its mission by:
- Using traditional, innovative and emerging technologies to preserve and present the Ozarks' heritage.
- Sponsoring speakers, professional conferences and workshops.
- Developing multi-disciplinary programs with the purpose of fostering an appreciation of the beauty and complexity of the Ozarks.
- Encouraging scholarly research focusing on the Ozarks.
- Being an educational resource, particularly for the region's elementary and secondary schools.
- Collaborating with partners from outside the university including other institutions focusing on the Ozarks such as folk-life centers, museums, historical and cultural societies and other universities and colleges.
- Making related collections at the university (i.e., Lederer Collection of African-American Heritage in the Ozarks, Ozarks Labor Union Archives, Max Hunter Folk Song collection, McCann Ozarks Folk Music collection) more visible and accessible.
A comprehensive view of the Ozarks is enhanced through a multi-disciplinary, university-wide effort. Nearly all academic departments and colleges have some role to play in improving our understanding of the Ozarks, ranging from the natural and built environments, to performance and visual arts, to history, folklore, economics, politics, and religion. The Institute enables the university to focus its programs relating to the Ozarks, serve as a clearinghouse for knowledge of and about the Ozarks, and promote scholarly activities that increase our understanding of the Ozarks.