Every year, I teach a sequence of three large lectures: Eng 22 in the Fall, Eng 23 in the Winter, and Eng 24 in the Spring. As each of these courses has an enrollment of 860-student lectures, I teach over 2500 students per year. Here are course descriptions for all three:
The Climate Crisis, Part II: Local and Global Perspectives
(English 24, a.k.a. Climate Crisis 101, Part II)
Eng 24 introduces students to a variety of perspectives on the climate crisis. In order to do so, each year more than twenty scholars and activists speak to the class about their work on the crisis. Hence, Eng 24 is an unusual class. Unlike a conventional lecture, where a single instructor speaks to the class, students in Eng 24 learn from a range of exceptionally knowledgeable individuals. Eng 24 also has a significant personal component. Indeed, if you really want to jump in and do something about the climate crisis but are not quite sure where to start, Eng 24 is designed to not only offer the examples of people who are making a difference in a variety of interesting ways, but also introduce local initiatives, such as the Eco Vista project. Eng 24 also introduces a variety of UCSB professors and the courses that they teach addressing the climate crisis, as well as a range of UCSB environmental programs.
Here are a few of our speakers from the Spring of 2022
- Bill McKibben has been called “probably the nation’s leading environmentalist” by The Boston Globe.
- Kim Stanley Robinson, a New York Times bestselling author and winner of the Hugo, Nebula, and Locus awards, is the most respected cli-fi (climate fiction) novelist writing today.
- Sarah Ray is a professor of Environmental Sciences, Studies, and Policy, as well as the author of A Field Guide to Climate Anxiety: How to Keep Your Cool on a Warming Planet.
- Patrick Bond is a scholar specializing in climate justice from South Africa who authored or edited more than a dozen policy papers for the Nelson Mandela administration.
- Shrishtee Bajpai is a climate activist from India who is an executive committee member of the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature.
- Ram Veerabhadran is a climate scientist, who, because of his close affiliation with Pope Francis, was influential in the creation of Laudato Si, the Pope’s encyclical on climate change.
- Sister True Dedication is a monastic at the Plum Village Community of Engaged Buddhism in southwest France and co-author of Zen and the Art of Saving the Planet.
- Anitra Nelson is an Australian author and editor of a range of books including, Small is Necessary: Shared Living on a Shared Planet and Food for Degrowth.
- Rupert Read is the author of This Civilisation is Finished and the Eastern Region Green Party’s lead candidate for the European Parliament elections in 2009 and 2014.
- A number of UCSB students who are dedicated climate activists.
The Climate Crisis, Part I: What It Is and What Each of Us Can Do About It
(English 23, a.k.a. Climate Crisis 101, Part I)
In one sense, the climate crisis is being caused by a rise in atmospheric CO2 and other so-called greenhouse gases. Science can address this cause. However, approached in another way altogether, this crisis is being caused by a range of troubling human activities that require the release of these gases, such as our obsessions with endless consumer goods, cars, certain food, lavish houses, fast fashion, air travel, and a broad range of additional lifestyle choices. The natural sciences may be able to tell us how these activities are changing our climate, but not why we are engaging in them. That is a job for the humanities and social sciences. In this course, we will see anthropogenic (i.e. human-caused) climate change for what it is and address it as such: a human problem brought about by human actions. In other words, we will be exploring why we do what we do, even when these actions are disastrous for our planet and our species (and most other species on the planet).
What do students think of this course? All of the student evals for Eng 23 for last year (2020-21) are published to this website.
Introduction to Literature and the Environment
(English 22, a.k.a. Ecocriticism 101)
This course is a sweeping survey of Western literature and culture from an environmental perspective. In much the same way that feminist critics are interested in literary representations of gender and women, ecological literary and cultural critics (or simply “ecocritics”) explore how our relationship to nature is imagined. As with changing perceptions of gender, such literary representations are not only generated by particular cultures, they play a significant role in generating those cultures. Thus, if we wish to understand contemporary America’s attitude toward the environment, its literary history is an excellent place to start. While authors such as Thoreau and Wordsworth may first come to mind in this context, literary responses to environmental concerns are often as old as the issues themselves. Deforestation, air pollution, endangered species, wetland loss, animal rights, and rampant consumerism have all been appearing as controversial issues in Western literature for hundreds – and in some cases thousands – of years.
What do students think of this course? All of the student evals for Eng 22 for last year (2020-21) are published to this website.