From at least as early as the Renaissance, our lives are increasingly being played out in what Jürgen Habermas famously dubbed the “public sphere.” Yet, even as the 21st century unfolds, much of academia remains behind closed doors. This needs to change. Consider how little has been made public over the years. For example, university catalogs have traditionally provided short blurbs devoted to professors. Mine, for example, explains that
Ken Hiltner is a professor in the English and Environmental Studies Departments at UC Santa Barbara. He received his PhD from Harvard University, where he garnered a number of distinctions as a researcher and Teaching Fellow, including the Bowdoin Prize. He has written a number of books and articles, mostly on Renaissance literature, ecocriticism, and the intersection of the two. Prior to becoming a professor, he made his living as a furniture maker (view image).
In addition to including short biographies like these, annual catalogs often listed recent and upcoming courses, perhaps even with a sentence or two of description. Beyond that, however, little else has traditionally been made public by colleges and universities. Part of the problem, of course, was that publishing and updating more detailed information was prohibitively expensive in the age of print. With the advent of the Internet, however, that promised to change. In some ways, that promise has been realized; in other ways, not. For example, universities will now often make available online a professor’s curriculum vitae (résumé). The difficulty, however, is that the print versions of these contain few details for the most part. If you visit my online CV, you will see that much more detail is now possible. Apologies for the fact that most of it will be excruciatingly boring; my hope is that it might nonetheless be of some use to students, parents, colleagues, and others.
Many, many thanks to the students that helped create this website: Luis Arinaga, Jennelle Fong, Billy Hall, Tayler Heuston, Katie Morris, Lauren Wittenberger, and Andrew Ta. Without them, this site would have never come into existence.
Why are there images of cities on this website?
Landscapes have fascinated me since childhood – perhaps because, growing up on a farm, many of my days were spent out in them. Like many people, I found myself drawn to landscape art that seemed to epitomize nature, such as the striking wilderness photography of Ansel Adams.
However, over the years I have come to realize that, environmentally, the landscapes that are often the most interesting (and sometimes most beautiful) are inhabited ones. Over half the planet’s population now lives in cities; by midcentury it will be nearly three quarters. This is a good thing, as the carbon footprint of city-dwellers is generally significantly smaller than those in suburban or rural areas. Why? Fewer cars and smaller living spaces for a start. For more on this fascinating topic, check out “Green Manhattan” by David Owen or the chapter in Edward Glaeser’s Triumph of the City entitled “Is There Anything Greener Than Blacktop?”