Janice and John Baldwin — professors of UCSB’s famed Human Sexuality course — will give a Last Lecture at 7:30 p.m. today in Isla Vista Theater, speaking about the trials of love, life and everything in between.
The UCSB lecture series, which first began Winter Quarter 2012, includes a student-nominated lecturer who gives a lecture that is hypothetically his or her ‘last lecture.’ The Baldwins are Sociology professors who have been married for about forty years, and the pair offers a class exploring topics of sexual behavior that usually goes untouched by the academic world. Doors will open at 7:00 and an outdoor reception complete with food and drinks, will follow the free event.
The series is inspired by Carnegie Mellon University professor Randy Pausch’s ‘Last Lecture,’ which he first gave in 2007 after learning he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Pausch gave a lecture entitled “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams,” which was essentially a good-bye speech to his family, giving the lecture to students, faculty and other campus members at the renowned university.
Janice and John Baldwin have a certain way about them, exhibiting a bond which manifests itself in finishing each other’s thoughts and sentences — likely a result of their more than 40 years together. Both professors are originally from Ohio and met in Florida, now teaching their well-known sexuality class for roughly 20 years.
The couple said their interest in teachings of sexuality first sprouted when they sought to teach a course on family planning. They first began researching topics of fertility and reproduction after seeing the large families and lack of reproductive education while studying the natural sciences in Central and South American countries.
While the sociology course now takes a look at mul- tiple aspects of sexuality, fertility and related areas, the Baldwins said it first began as a family planning class previously taught by other instructors. Now, the pair strives to fill the course that will provide the most vital and interesting information possible, John Baldwin said.
“When we were given the opportunity to teach this class, we jumped onto it. It began as a family planning class and spun out of control,” John Baldwin said. “Every year we asked students, ‘What do you want more of? What do you want less of?’”
Allowing the class to have such flexibility makes it all the more appealing to interested students, which Janice Baldwin said makes it suitable to the tastes and preferences of modern-day students.
“Society has changed dramatically as people have learned about human sexuality and our knowledge about human sexuality has continued to expand,” Janice Baldwin said. “It’s been fun to evolve this class as we’ve learned more about the topic … it’s been a labor of love.”
In addition to expanding the class to other areas, Janice Baldwin said she and her husband also strive to emphasize topics crucial to the sexual health and being of students themselves, such as birth control.
“The pill has really given women, and men, freedom,” Janice Baldwin said. “It has changed the way we live… the repercussions from the birth control pill are astounding.
Both are familiar with Pausch’s original lecture, and are equally apprehensive about following his nationally- recognized performance.
As Baldwins share the IV Theater stage tonight, they will give students plenty of words of wisdom, inspiration and love.
“Birth control and STDs are finite. Love — it can go on forever exploring that,” Janice Baldwin said.
A version of this article appeared on page 1 of January 31st, 2013’s print edition of the Nexus.