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Charlotte Shoup Olsen

Contact Information


  • Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction, Kansas State University
  • M.S. in Family and Child Development, Kansas State University
  • B.S. in Home Economics Vocational Education, Kansas State University

Credentials and/or Certifications

  • Certified Family Life Educator
  • National Council of Family Relations (1994-present)

Area(s) of Specialization

  • Marriage and couple relationships
  • Stepfamilies
  • Cultural and family diversity
  • Family communication/family well-being
  • Mindfulness in everyday living
  • Farm families in business together

Research, Scholarship, and Creative Endeavors

Over the years, much of Dr. Olsen's research, scholarship, and creative endeavors has focused on the development, implementation, and evaluation of Extension programming. Specifically, she has used a family systems approach to addressing family dynamics created by everyday family interactions and communication. More recently, she is beginning to integrate a research-based mindfulness perspective into her Extension programming to increase long-term impact. Furthermore, she is committed to assisting Kansas Research and Extension in developing cultural competency skills amongst its workforce, thus increasing its capability for working with diverse audiences. 

Courses Taught

FSHS 881: Practicum in Family and Community Services

Professional Biography

Dr. Charlotte Shoup Olsen holds the position of professor and cooperative extension services specialist in family systems with the School of Family Studies and Human Services at Kansas State University and is the faculty coordinator for the online master's program in Family and Community Services through the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance (GPIDEA). She also is co-director of the NIH-funded Kansas Bridges to the Future Baccalaureate Program. Her Extension responsibility is to create research-based community programs that focus on strengthening family relationships in the context of their individual family units and the communities where they reside. She has been involved in creating a national model on relationship education that was recently released to the cooperative extension systems nationwide.

In addition, her scholarship of engagement includes the role of family dynamics in intergenerational farm family businesses and families coming from diverse backgrounds. She is co-coordinator of K-State Research and Extension's statewide initiative in cultural competency training. Prior to her current faculty appointment, she was the director of K-State's Upward Bound and Educational Student Services programs, funded by the U.S. Department of Education. In the international arena, Olsen worked as a Peace Corps volunteer in Liberia, West Africa, where she served as a K-State Research and Extension agent in family and consumer sciences. Her role evolved into the acting National Extension Leader in that field for the Liberian Ministry of Agriculture. Since that time, she has been a Kellogg Fellow with the Partners of the Americas International Fellowship Program in Community Development.

Dr. Olsen was named the recipient of the 2014 National Family Life and Human Development Extension Specialist Career Impact Award and was featured in a webinar produced by the USDA/National Institute of Food and Agriculture Family and Consumer Sciences Child and Family Development Division.

Personal Information

Dr. Olsen comes from an agricultural background in southern Kansas where her family homesteaded in the 1870's. Although she was raised in a rural community atmosphere, she has always had a sense of wonder about the rest of the world. Her first adventure was stepping out of her comfort zone immediately after college to become a summer camp counselor for children from Harlem who lived with their families in the projects. She then went on to Peace Corps in Liberia and backpacked around the world when returning to the U.S. Her blood runs purple as she received all of her education at K-State and has had much of her career experience through the university. She is known to frequently comment, "I love my job with K-State Research and Extension!" She is an avid reader in trying to more fully understand the life experiences of persons from underprivileged backgrounds and the social ecology in which they live(d).

She works in her own small ways for equality and continues to value living in a rural Flint Hills setting where she and her husband raise cattle along with a family garden as their way of contributing to the global food system. Also very important in her life are their two adult children and one grandchild and her extended family in Colorado and Kansas. Last, but not least, she likes to play the piano and to cook so that others can feel a sense of fellowship around the family dining room table.

Vita (pdf)