A new lecture series will teach UC a different way of thinking about sustainability.
The Education for Sustainable Living Program (ESLP) will bring renowned authors and environmentalists to five UC campuses, including UCSB, in Spring Quarter. The lecture series, offered as a one-unit Environmental Studies 190 course, will be held Thursday evening in Girvetz Theater. Students will have the opportunity to earn additional credits by joining research projects on sustainability issues. The program was organized by the California Student Sustainability Coalition and the Santa Barbara-based Institute for Reverential Ecology.
Guest lecturers will include Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor of Tikkun magazine, and Helena Norberg-Hodge, director of the International Society for Ecology & Culture.
Phil Grant, executive director of I.R.E., said the program would present a “holistic” study of people and how we relate to the world.
“It’s based on the idea of interdependence, and how we divide up our lives: our personal lives our social lives and our relationship with the natural world,” Grant said.
Junior global studies major and UCSB ESLP co-coordinator Johann Sabbath said the guest lecturers are at forefront of their respective areas of studies.
“These speakers combined are not Captain Planet, but they can articulate a growing paradigm better than any group of people in the world,” Sabbath said. “It’s a paradigm based on spirituality, ecology, science and policy.”
Other speakers include Satish Kumar, a Jain monk who once walked from India to France in protest of nuclear weapons.
“The whole time he was walking, he wasn’t allowed to touch any currency, wasn’t allowed to carry with him a single bit of food,” Sabbath said. “At first he was begging people for charity, for food and by the end he was walking through these huge receptions.”
William “Waterway” Marks, author of The Holy Order of Water, will also speak. Marks covered 7,000 miles on his horse tracing the waterways of America from San Diego to Maine.
“It’s a study of how we are basically water vesicles, how we need water; we are water,” Sabbath said.
Grant called all of the speakers “thinker-activists.”
“They don’t just talk the talk,” Grant said. “When they speak, they have practical experience they draw on. Students seem to respond better to people who have actually committed their lives to making change in the world, rather than just studying something academically.”
Students in the lecture series can earn additional credits by joining one of five research projects. One such project will be a transportation study run in conjunction with the Santa Barbara-based Community Environmental Council.
“We need people who can do statistical analysis of research that has already been conducted at UCSB regarding where people live and how they get around,” Sabbath said. “We need people who can research and understand the sociological aspect of transportation, how you have this California love of freedom, and being able to jump in your car and go wherever you want, and figure out how we can push it towards a more sustainable system. We need people from economic disciplines who can look at the economic implications of putting such systems into place.”
Sabbath said the CEC would present the results of the study to the Santa Barbara City Council. Other projects that students can join will include a study of UCSB’s Ellwood/Deveraux development plan and a film project that will document the ESLP series and the optional retreat that follows.
The two-day retreat will be held in May at El Capitan Canyon in Santa Barbara, where students will have the opportunity to get to know the speakers more personally, Sabbath said.
Grant said the guest lecturers would receive much less than their typical appearance fees.
“They are discounting quite a bit, because they think this kind of education is what will make their work a lot easier,” he said. “It’s also the kind of education they feel the higher education system in the U.S. doesn’t usually address. Usually we look at the world as divided up, and separate. They try to relate their fields of study to other fields, so it’s a holistic view they are trying to promote.”