Will Focht

 Associate Professor


Contact Information

226 Murray Hall
(405) 744-1097

Research Interests

Political Communication
Public Opinion
Biology of Political Behavior
Teaching & Learning

Ph.D., Environmental Science, Oklahoma State University, 1995

Current Position
Dr. Focht is an associate professor of political science at Oklahoma State University. He currently serves as the director of the Graduate Program in Fire and Emergency Management Administration, which awards both MS and PhD degrees. The enrollment in this 17 year-old program currently stands at 120, about a third of whom are doctoral students. He is one of the five founding faculty members of this program.

Previous Positions
From August 2002 until August 2011, he worked in OSU's administration as director of these four programs:

    • Oklahoma Water Resources Research Institute. OWRRI is one of 54 state and territorial water research institutes in the United States created by federal law in 1964. Each institute is charged with sponsoring water research and education that serves the host State's needs. The funds to provide these services are provided by Congress through the US Geological Survey.
    • Institute for Sustainable Environments. ISE was a program housed with OSU's Division of Research and Technology Transfer. Dr. Focht managed a competitive interdisciplinary research program aimed at sustainable development. ISE sponsored annual competitions among OSU inter-college research teams to receive funding for the development of research proposals to submit to external funding agencies.
    • Environmental Science Graduate Program. This 36-year old interdisciplinary program is housed within the Graduate College. The program awards both MS and PhD degrees and offers courses at both the Stillwater and Tulsa campuses. As Director, he revised and expanded its curriculum to include five specializations, grew its enrollment, assembled an external advisory board, created an alumni association, revitalized its student association, sponsored several awards (teaching, research and service) and instituted an annual awards ceremony, and standardized its policies and procedures.
    • Certificate Program in Environmental Studies. This undergraduate program is housed within the College of Arts and Sciences. The program enrollment grew from zero to more than 40 during Dr. Focht's tenure as director.

From 1997-2002, he was an assistant professor of political science focusing on environmental policy. From 1994-1997, he was an assistant professor of geology focusing on hydrogeology and environmental risk assessment.

Before joining the faculty at OSU, he worked nine years as an environmental engineer for the US Environmental Protection Agency in Atlanta, Dallas, and Washington, DC in its water, hazardous waste, and Superfund programs. He also worked eight years for environmental consulting firms based in Ohio, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Florida.

Professional Service
His professional service has included leadership positions in various environmental organizations. He was elected President of the National Institutes for Water Resources, the national organization of state and territorial water research institutes, from 2009-10, as well as an officer on its Board of Directors from 2008-11. He was a member of the national Council of Environmental Deans and Directors and served as chair of its Curriculum Committee, which led a four-year study of US environmental program curricula that identified sustainable development at the human-nature interface as a core mission of the field. He also served as co-chair of the environmental education working group sponsored by the Interdisciplinary Environmental Association, which conducted workshops across the country on interdisciplinary environmental curricula. He served as an associate editor of the Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences, the flagship journal in the interdisciplinary environmental field, and is now a member of its Editorial Board.

He also served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Oklahoma Academy for State Goals (including a year on its Executive Committee), which sponsors public Town Hall meetings to formulate policy recommendations that are delivered to the Oklahoma Governor and Legislature. Finally, he is a graduate of Class XXI of Leadership Oklahoma.

Academic Background
Dr. Focht holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology from Ohio University, where he also completed two years of post-graduate study in Microbiology. He then earned a Bachelor of Engineering degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Vanderbilt University. Finally, he earned a Master of Arts degree in Political Science and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Environmental Science from Oklahoma State University.

Dr. Focht has taught graduate courses at OSU in public policy analysis, public program evaluation, environmental risk analysis, emergency and disaster risk analysis, conservation and sustainable development, environmental law and regulation, safety regulation, community relations, and pedagogy. His undergraduate courses have included public policy, American government, and introduction to geology. He also taught an environmental and safety regulation course at the University of Oklahoma's campus in Tulsa.
He has taught graduate courses and seminars at several international venues as well, including the National Fire Academy in Cheonan, Korea; Istanbul Technical University in Istanbul, Turkey; Prince of Songkla University in Hat Yai, Thailand; and various locations in Costa Rica.

His research has focused on interdisciplinary education, watershed management, risk assessment, and stakeholder involvement in decision-making that involves risk to human health and the environment. His research projects have been funded by the National Science Foundation, US Environmental Protection Agency, US Department of Energy, National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences, US Army Corps of Engineers, US Geological Survey, US Department of Agriculture, US Department of Defense, National Council for Science and the Environment, Integrated Petroleum Environmental Consortium, and Oklahoma Water Resources Board. He has delivered presentations concerning his research at professional conferences in Norway, England, Venezuela, Brazil, Korea, Canada, and throughout the U.S. He has co-authored a book on public participation and published journal articles and book chapters on topics related to his research.

He was born in Dayton, Ohio and graduated in 1969 from Woodrow Wilson High School at the Ohio Soldiers and Sailors Orphan's home in Xenia, Ohio. His interests/hobbies include running, wine, piano, and philosophy.

Recent Publications

    • Mike Reiter, Will Focht, Paul Barresi, Susan Gill, Richard Smardon, Susan Baker, Kimberly Reiter, Eric Fitch, Terry Rolfe, and Sue Bumpous. "Making Education for Sustainability Work on Campus: The proposals of the Roundtable on Environmental Systems and Sustainability." In Sustainable Development at Universities: New Horizons, ed. Walter Leal. Frankfurt, Germany: Peter Lang Scientific Publishers.