BERKELEY - Little about the course title, "Introduction
to Environmental Studies," makes it stand out. It’s
the instructors and required reading that reveal a fresh approach
to studying today’s global environmental issues —
through a combination of science and the humanities.
Garrison Sposito, professor of environmental science, policy
and management in the College of Natural Resources, and Robert
Hass, professor of English and former U.S. poet laureate (1995-1997),
are co-teaching the freshman course. In addition to the behavior
of ecosystems, students will learn how the California landscape
inspired writers from John Muir to Jack London to Joan Didion.
"We’re providing a seamless survey of environmental
studies within the context of literary analysis with the goal
of leading students towards responsible environmental stewardship,"
said Sposito. "In the real world, everything is connected,
so it makes sense to have a class that is integrative rather
The course, taught twice before, in 1998 and 1999, returns
this fall with material from Natural State, a literary anthology
of California nature writing, poetry ranging from Horace to
Gary Snyder, and essays on a variety of environmental dilemmas.
"We will read an essay by John Muir in which he sees a
big Sierra storm coming, climbs up and lashes himself to a pine
tree in order to experience the full force of the wind and rain,"
said Hass. "We are seeing the natural world through a unique
lens, and that makes students more alive to and more analytic
about how they feel about the natural world."