Introduction to the Rachel Carson College Core Course

The Fall Quarter Core consists of two inter-related courses: CRSN 81A, The Environment and Us which is a weekly 3-unit plenary lecture, and CRSN 80A, B, C and D (the last during Winter Quarter), Environment and Society, a 5-unit intensive writing seminar class that meets two (TTh) or three (MWF) times a week. The core course serves as an introduction to university-level work, emphasizing the skills of reading, writing, and critical thinking.


Both courses are required. You will receive separate syllabi from your writing seminar instructors; this syllabus covers only the Core Plenary.


The weekly plenary (CRSN 81A) focuses on Environment and Society in California. This theme is in keeping with the College’s, and it provides a sharper focus than considering the global environment as a whole. A secondary focus is on food: what we eat, how it is grown, who works in the fields, and why some are malnourished in the midst of agricultural plenty. In connection with our focus on food, we will consider the ecological and environmental histories of California—the shape and biology of the land as well as the role of people in shaping the state’s many landscapes; what the two assigned novels can tell us about environment and society in California; the central role of water and soil in shaping society; and the potential impacts of climate change on both land and society. In pursuing these topics, we will also delve into some of the environmental and ecological science that underpins them.

In the writing seminars (CRSN 80 series), students 1) write a series of integrative essays; 2) investigate a specific, local environmental conflict in their home community; and 3) participate in a service-learning activity. The core course meets the TA (textual analysis) General Education requirement, as well as the C1 Composition requirement for students who have not yet satisfied it, and the C2 Composition requirement for students who are eligible.