Our Core Course: Environment & Society

The Rachel Carson College Core Course (CRSN 1), Academic Literacy and Ethos, is the required first-year college core course, the first part of the Academic Literacy Curriculum, which introduces students to critical and analytical reading at the university level (most students will go on to take one or more additional classes through the Writing Program). The Rachel Carson College Core Course offers students a foundation for intellectual exploration and personal development as members of an academic community. It teaches reading and thinking processes essential to success at the university, and “habits of mind” that demystify academic work and promote independent, self-reflective, and collaborative participation in campus culture. It focuses on Analysis, Critical thinking, Metacognition, Engagement with others across difference, and Self-efficacy--or what is called “ACMES,” for short.

The Rachel Carson College Core Course focuses on the theme “Environment and Society,” through examination of California's environment history and how the contemporary landscape has been shaped by capital, labor, technology and politics. A secondary focus is on food: how it is grown, who works in the fields, and why some are malnourished in the midst of agricultural plenty. The course also considers 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 novels, stories and articles can tell us about environment and society in California; the central role of water, soil and species in shaping society; and the potential impacts of climate change on both land and society. In pursuing these topics, students also delve into some of the environmental and ecological science that underpins them. The course consists of a weekly plenary (large lecture) and a bi- or tri-weekly seminar (discussion section).