(A.K.A. CLIMATE CRISIS 101)
This is the official syllabus for Eng 23 for the Winter of 2021.
Lecturer: Ken Hiltner, always “Ken,” never “Professor Hiltner,” he/his/him. Everything on this page and website was written by Ken. Hence, if something is written in the first person (i.e. “I hope this helps…”), it is Ken’s voice that you are hearing.
If your last name begins with A-O, your TA is Margaret Fisher (email@example.com), she/her/hers.
If your last name begins with P-Z, your TA is Leila Stegemoeller (firstname.lastname@example.org), she/her/hers.
Week 3) Denying the undeniable
Week 5) Making waste (of the planet)
Week 6) Drawing down the climate crisis
Week 7) The Green New Deal
Each week there is an assigned reading of one or more texts. Since these are all available free online, there is no Course Reader (and hence no need for you to purchase anything for this course). Links to the readings can be found on the weekly pages of this website.
Ken has recorded a short introductory talk for each week’s reading(s). These stream from YouTube, though can also be viewed (streamed) on this website on the weekly pages.
After doing the weekly reading and watching Ken’s introduction of it, please go to YouTube to make a comment on Ken’s talk. Since Ken’s talks are designed to give context to the readings, you may want to watch the weekly talk prior to doing the reading. However, you are free to do the readings first if you would rather.
If you do not have access to YouTube, these videos have also been uploaded to GauchoSpace (GauchoCast) and a forum will be open every week on GauchoSpace for you to make your comment.
Please note that, in addition to making a comment on the readings, there will be questions on the readings on the weekly quizzes (as well as on the midterm and final exam).
Please see below for more on the comments, quizzes, and exams.
With the exception of Week #1, each of the ten weeks of the quarter you will generally watch videos of one or two short lectures (around ten minutes in length) and two longer lectures (the “deep dives,” which are about an hour each) by Ken. These lectures all stream from YouTube to this website. They can be accessed via the above “Weekly Schedule.” If you do not have access to YouTube, these videos have also been uploaded to GauchoSpace (GauchoCast).
You do not need to comment on any of these talks. However, material from these talks will show up on the weekly quizzes (as well as on the midterm and final exams).
Please see below for more on the quizzes and exams.
Each of the ten weeks of the quarter you will watch one or more films (i.e. documentaries). Film details can be accessed via the above “Weekly Schedule.” These films either stream from GauchoSpace (GauchoCast) or are available free online.
Ken has recorded a short introductory talk for each week’s film(s), which stream from YouTube but can be viewed (streamed) on this website on the weekly pages. After watching the weekly film and Ken’s introductory talk, please go to YouTube to make a comment on Ken’s weekly talk.
If YouTube is blocked in your country, Ken’s short introductory weekly talk will also be uploaded to GauchoSpace (GauchoCast) and a forum will be open every week on GauchoSpace for you to make your comment there (rather than YouTube).
Please note: As with the weekly readings, you may well find the films more interesting if you first watch Ken’s talk contextualizing them. Then, after watching the film(s), you can go to Ken’s talk on YouTube to comment.
Please see below for more on the comments, quizzes, and exams.
1) Weekly Quizzes are worth 50% of the total course grade.
There will be one quiz per week over the 10-week term with ten questions per quiz (i.e. 100 total quiz questions). Therefore, as there will be 100 questions total over the term, each quiz question is worth one half percent (.5%) of the total course grade. The quizzes are all multiple-choice. You will generally be selecting from five possibilities.
The weekly quiz will become active on GauchoSpace at 6am (PST) each Thursday. You have until 6am the following Monday to take the quiz, at which point it will close.
The quizzes will ask questions about the course readings, Ken’s Introductory videos (i.e. the ones that you comment on), and the lectures. The quizzes (and exams) will only ask about the weekly documentaries if everyone is watching the same film(s) that week. In other words, if some people are watching the documentary Cowspiracy and other people are watching Wasted, you will not be asked about either film that week. However, if everyone is watching the same film, such as Happy, it may well show up on the quizzes (and exams). You are, however, required to make a film comment each and every week.
Note that some questions will also come from the deep dive lectures. In other words, Ken will introduce new material during the deep dive lectures that was not on the regular lectures. You are responsible for this material and will be tested on it. Therefore, do not skip watching the deep dive lectures! If you do skip them, there will be questions on the quizzes and exams that you will not be able to answer.
The quizzes are automatically (and randomly) created in GauchoSpace, as the ten questions that you answer on each quiz will come from a large pool of questions and will be randomized in order. Therefore, there will be dozens of different versions of each weekly quiz. This is being done to discourage academic dishonesty. It would make little sense to share the questions that you receive with anyone else, as they will be taking an entirely different quiz. While this could mean that the quiz that you take one week may be somewhat more (or less) difficult than someone else’s quiz, because there are a total of 10 quizzes throughout the term, everything should balance out in the end.
Note that while the previous week’s quizzes will become inactive when the new quizzes drop, the YouTube lectures will remain up. This is so that you can refer back to them when preparing for the midterm and final exams.
The quizzes are all ten minutes long. Therefore, you have an average of one minute to complete each of the ten multiple choice questions. Once you start a quiz, you need to finish it, as pausing is not possible.
Once you answer a question and move to the next one, you cannot go back to it. The quizzes are set up this way to discourage academic dishonesty. (For details on the decision to structure the examinations this way, see “Why can’t we go back to change answers on quizzes & exams?” in the below FAQs.)
2) Midterm and Final exams are each worth 15% of the course grade (i.e. 30% total for the two exams).
Each exam has 30 multiple choice questions. Therefore, each exam question is worth one half percent (.5%) of the total course grade. Note that exam questions and quiz questions are therefore each worth the same amount. As with the quizzes, the exam questions are all multiple-choice and you will generally be selecting from five possibilities.
Each exam will be 30 minutes long. As there are 30 questions per exam, you therefore have an average of one minute to complete each multiple choice question. Once you start an exam, you need to finish it, as pausing is not possible. As with the quizzes, once you answer a question and move to the next one, you cannot go back to it.
Exam questions and quiz questions will all be drawn from the same GauchoSpace pool. For example, the same pool of questions that generated the first five quizzes will also be used to create the midterm. Therefore, you may encounter some exam questions that you had on a weekly quiz. As with the quizzes, the exams will automatically (and randomly) be created in GauchoSpace in order to discourage academic dishonesty.
Midterm Date: The midterm will open on GauchoSpace at 6 AM (PST) on Monday, February 8 and close at 6 AM (PST) on Tuesday, February 9. Hence, it will be open for a total of 24 hours, during which you may take it at a time of your choosing. Please save this date!
Final Exam Date: The final exam will open on GauchoSpace at 6 AM (PST) on Monday, March 15 and close at 6 AM (PST) on Tuesday, March 16. Hence, it will be open for a total of 24 hours, during which you may take it at a time of your choosing. Please save this date!
The midterm will cover the first five weeks of the course. The final exam will cover the last five weeks of the course. Hence, the final exam is not cumulative.
3) Comments are worth 20% of the total course grade.
During the term, you will be making a total of ten comments on the course readings, which will constitute 10% of the course grade.
Similarly, you will be making a total of ten comments on the course documentaries, which will also constitute 10% of the course grade
You will therefore be making a total of twenty YouTube comments, two per week for the ten-week term, starting in week #1. Therefore, each comment counts for 1% of the course grade.
You have seven days to make the weekly comments. Each week, you must comment by 6am (PST) the following Monday to receive credit for the comment. Each weekly webpage gives the exact date. If you do not wish to use your real name on YouTube, you may use a screen name, but you need to inform your TA if you are doing so.
All commenting should be done on Ken’s YouTube film videos. Note that if a film that we are screening appears on YouTube, such as Hasan Minhaj’s “The Ugly Truth Of Fast Fashion,” DO NOT comment on this video directly but rather to Ken’s commentary on it. Only comments made to Ken’s YouTube videos will be credited toward your course grade.
Twelve of your YouTube comments (i.e. 6 of the first 10 and 6 of the second 10) should be made to a comment made by another student. Since comments are made to YouTube, you are able to see what your classmates have written. Reading through them can be a thought-provoking experience, as it can give you the opportunity to see the sorts of reactions others have had. (This might also help you assess your own work, as you can see how much time and thought that your classmates are giving to the assignment.) As you no doubt know, online discussions are not only possible, but are often particularly thoughtful, as we have the benefit of time in making our replies well considered.
If you cannot comment directly on YouTube (for example, if YouTube is blocked in your country), a forum will be open every week on GauchoSpace for you to make your comment.
Getting graded on your comments:
As you make your weekly comments, please cut and paste each of them into a single text file on your computer. If you do this as you make them, you will save yourself the trouble of trying to find them on YouTube.
1) Comments for the first five films and first five readings need to be uploaded to GauchoSpace by midnight (PST) on Sunday, February 7.
2) Comments for the second five films and second five readings need to be uploaded to GauchoSpace by midnight (PST) on Sunday, March 14.
Complete instructions on how to upload your comments will be available on GauchoSpace prior to the above deadlines.
What do I do if I have further questions? (Course Q&A)
Whenever possible, please post any questions that you may have on GauchoSpace to the course Q&A, rather than emailing them to Ken or your TA.
Because we have such a large class (1000+ people!), the answer to your question may benefit a number of your classmates, not just you.
For example, let’s say that Ken noted something in one of the lectures that seemed to somewhat contradict the reading. As the response to your question may help clarify a real ambiguity, everyone in the class could potentially benefit by reading it. Moreover, if you are unclear about a technical detail, such as how to upload your documentary comments to GauchoSpace, the clarification could help everyone.
Although Ken and the course TAs will be monitoring the Q&A throughout the day for questions, feel free to answer any questions that you can, as you may be able to really help someone.
For example, let’s say that at 11pm someone posts that they are confused about where to find the course films. It is unlikely that Ken and the TAs will read this till the next morning. However, if you happen to see this post at 11:30pm, you could explain where GauchoCast is on GauchoSpace and how it works. In so doing, you could help someone out who was hoping to watch the film that night. It is also sometimes the case that people are looking for material that can be found on the course website or GauchoSpace. In which case, all that you need to do is point them in the right direction.
Because a number of important points will likely be raised throughout the quarter in the Q&A, please regularly read through it, as this will become a useful knowledge bank. If you have a question and would like a quick answer, it might just be in the Q&A.
Even though this is technically a Q&A, feel free to post comments in addition to questions to this forum. If, for example, you felt that a reading was particularly helpful (or particularly confusing), we would like to hear about it. As our goal is to keep improving this class every year, feedback like this can help us do just that.
Seriously, we are interested in hearing what you have to say!
How do I enroll in the Honors Section?
Email Ken with your reasons for wanting to join the Honors Section by midnight of the Wednesday of the first week of class (January 6). Note that the Honors Section will be a Zoom class on Fridays from 1:00 – 1:50pm, starting on the first Friday of the term (January 8).
Why can’t we go back to change answers on quizzes & exams?
The quizzes and exams are set up this way to discourage academic dishonesty.
Last winter, I was teaching Eng 23 when COVID-19 hit. Because the campus closed down before we could have the final exam in Campbell Hall, I was forced to come up with an online exam in its place. When I emailed the class to explain the new exam format, I soon began receiving emails informing me that some people were developing cheating strategies.
Here is a portion of an email that I received: “many of the people that I know in this class have already started finding ‘partners’ and preparing for the ‘group fight.’ It makes me really upset and think all my previous efforts would be wasted.”
The reason that this person was so concerned was that I am open to curving exams if at least a few people do not get a perfect score. If people had succeeded at this organized attempt at cheating, they could have eliminated a curve. Since the final exam counted for 35% of the course grade last year, this could have really hurt some people.
As you might imagine, I found this all disconcerting, as it is more than a little sad to think that some people were intent on taking advantage of something as horrific as COVID.
In any event, I tried to structure the online evaluations this year to be as fair as possible.
The reason that you cannot go back is that it is conceivable that a team of two or three people could quickly identify the ten questions, divvy them up, then search through the course materials and online for answers. This could potentially not just help the grades of people who cheat, but hurt everyone else if it eliminated a potential curve.
Honestly, if you do the readings, watch the lectures, and take notes, you should have absolutely no problem on the quizzes. They are not designed to be incredibly difficult, just to make sure that you are carefully while both doing the readings and watching the lectures and the documentaries.
Sure, you might miss one or two (or even three or four) questions over the course of the term. However, if that is your only problem, then you have nothing to worry about, as you can still get an A+ (98%) if you miss four questions. Moreover, if everyone in the class missed four questions, then I would curve it so that you would receive a 100%.
Last year, there was only a midterm and a final exam for Eng 23. This year, I introduced the quizzes, which now constitute half of the course grade, in order to make individual questions low-stake.
I hope this helps explain things. My goal is to try and make sure that everything is as fair as possible and that some people do not take an unfair advantage.
Where are the course updates?
I (Ken) will primarily be communicating with the class by way of the “Course Updates” doc (which is located at the top of our GauchoSpace landing page), rather than emails.
My reason for this approach is that it consolidates the updates and notices of changes to the course in one convenient place where you can quickly scroll down and see them all – rather than searching through a slew of emails from me in your Inbox.
Similarly, check the course Q&A (see above) regularly, as important points will no doubt be brought up there throughout the term.
In short, in order to make sure that you have not missed important information, please regularly check the course Updates and Q&A!
Where is the course material located?
While we will be using GauchoSpace for the quizzes and exams, as well as to disseminate information (like the course Q&A), the course content is primarily located on my personal website, which is housed on English Department servers. Note that anyone can access this material, regardless of whether they are in the class or enrolled at UCSB.
Why do it this way?
Knowledge, as far as I (Ken) am concerned, should be as free and accessible as possible to everyone. This is especially the case when it relates to urgent issues of concern to us all, such as our current climate and environmental crisis.
Hence, as anyone can view the course content, feel free to share it with friends and family members who may be interested.
Does this course have discussion sections?
No, it does not. Even though you will be assigned a TA, there are no discussion sections in this course. All course content will be delivered through Ken’s talks, the readings, and the course documentaries. Weekly course discussions will primarily take place through the online comments on the readings and documentaries.
Is it possible to get extra credit in this class?
Unfortunately, no. The class is just too large (1000+ students!) for the two course TAs to keep track of extra credit.
What if I have a personal question that I do not want to post to the course Q&A?
Your TA is your primary contact person. If you have a question that you would prefer not to post to the course Q&A – for example, if it is of a personal nature – please email your TA, not me (Ken), as they coordinate the day-to-day workings of the course. Contact info for your TA is listed above.
Are some of these the same documentaries that we watch in English 23?
In fact, they are. In both Eng 22 and Eng 23 everyone watches documentaries on a variety of topics. These are based on a list of my favorite documentaries, which I require everyone in English 22 and English 23 to watch and comment upon. Does this mean that you will be watching the same films all over again in English 23 if you already had Eng 22?
No, as I have an alternate list of films for you to watch. In other words, if you have already had Eng 22, by the end of this course (Eng 23) you will have watched a whole new group of documentaries. In the process, your understanding of a variety of issues will hopefully deepen.
Let’s take food systems as an example. The primary documentary on this topic is Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret, which explores the environmental and climate implications of a plant-based diet. If you have not already seen it in English 22, you should watch this film. However, If you saw this documentary in English 22, the alternate documentary is Wasted! The Story Of Food Waste, which takes up the issue of food waste, both in the US and globally. Interestingly, everyone switching to plant-based diets would not make as big a dent in the climate crisis as eliminating food waste would. Since Wasted! addresses the other half of the food systems problem with respect to the climate crisis, having watched it and Cowspiracy together would give you a particularly good handle on the topic.
If you have not taken English 23 but find some of the alternate films intriguing, feel free to watch them along with the primary ones.
What role do the online comments serve, pedagogically?
One of the goals of this class, even though it is very large, is to encourage meaningful discussion among students. Hence, more than half of the time you will be responding directly to a classmate on YouTube. The comments also form the basis for the “deep dive” lectures, which burrow into the material further as these are where Ken responds to the online comments.
What about inappropriate comments?
In deciding to make our discussions public on YouTube, I realized that there was a risk, but I very much like the idea of having thoughtful and far-reaching conversations on important issues available to everyone online. In other words, if, after watching the film Cowspiracy, someone came upon our extensive online discussion, it could give them a great deal to think about.
However, ever since I decided to make the comments public on YouTube, I have been anxious that the flippant, anonymous culture of the Internet would make its way into our discussions.
The kind of anonymous comments that people make to online forums like Reddit are often very different than what they would say when sitting around a table in a classroom, face-to-face with their peers and knowing that there is an instructor at the end of the table. My hope was that the comments that people make to our YouTube forums will be as courteous and thoughtful as the spoken comments that you would make in class (perhaps even more so, as you will have time to think before making a comment that you would come to regret).
Because of a culture of anonymity, the Internet can sometimes be an unpleasant and nasty place. Please be not only thoughtful with your comments, but respectful as well, offering only the kind of constructive comments that you yourself would like to receive. Note that, as Ken’s YouTube talks are open to the public, there may be some comments that may not come from your classmates. If you encounter comments containing hate speech, otherwise threatening language, or anything at all that concerns you, please email Ken or one of the TAs. Please also check out YouTube’s policies on reporting incidents of hate speech, harassment, or cyberbullying.
How long should a comment be and what form should they take?
Your YouTube comment on the weekly documentary should be as long as necessary to make your point(s). A paragraph or two is generally sufficient. Please make specific references to the documentary in order to make clear that you have watched it in its entirety (and not just a trailer). The purpose of this assignment is to expose you to a range of thought-provoking material that can make a real difference in your life. Consequently, your comment should contain your thoughts and feelings on the material. It is perfectly fine to express an emotional response.
The format of this course is highly unusual and more than a little experimental. Given that we will be taking up what may well be the most important issue of the 21st-century, our discussions of the course material will be public, involving 1000 people in the class.