Born of the shock and concern generated by the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill, the Environmental Studies Program at the University of California, Santa Barbara has in the 30 ensuing years become a world leader in researching and teaching respect and care for our fragile Earth.
The program, the largest of its kind in the nation,
is planning a 30th Anniversary Party
and Family Reunion for itself and its 3,500 alumni Friday, May 19 and Saturday, May 20 that will include a return to campus by distinguished alumnae Deb Callahan, the president of the League of Conservation Voters.
Callahan will deliver the Alumni Keynote Speech at 11:30 a.m. Saturday at either Girvertz 1004 or Buchanon Hall, Room 1910.
The program has evolved from humble origins.
After the eye-opening oil spill, 21 UCSB faculty members formed The Friends of the Human Habitat, a group dedicated to investigating the possibility of promoting environmental education.
Just a year later, the Environmental Studies Program was born in time for fall quarter 1970.
Two years later, the ESP graduated its first class, 23 students strong.
Now the program has more than 500 students and some 3,500 alumni scattered around the world and is recognized as a world leader.
One of those alums is Callahan, Class of '81, president of the League of Conservation Voters since 1996.
Callahan, who fueled her environmental passions as a 12-year-old with articles from her mother's Wilderness Society magazines, is a force to be reckoned with in Washington, DC.
The League keeps a National Environmental Scorecard on members of Congress and in 1996 placed the bottom 12 scorers on a special Dirty Dozen list of environmentally unfriendly politicians.
With 30,000 members and untold numbers of sympathizers nationwide, the League hold great political clout.
In 1996, it succeeded in efforts to defeat seven members of its Dirty Dozen.
As president, Callahan must be ready to address any of a broad number of environmental questions on a moment's notice.
She says her interdisciplinary education at the Environmental Studies Program has helped in a big way.
Under her leadership, the League was recognized recently by the Los Angeles Times as one of the top 10 most effective lobbying groups in Washington.
The reunion anniversary party will begin Friday with a welcoming reception and registration at the Faculty Club from 4 to 8 p.m.
Events begin in earnest at 8:30 a.m. Saturday with welcoming remarks by Environmental Studies Associates President Eric Zimmerman, Program chair Jo-Ann Shelton, faculty member Paul Wack and emeritus professor Rod Nash.
Past program chairs will give a
review of the program's history followed by Callahan's speech.
After lunch, a variety of honors and scholarships will be distributed.
The program will honor outstanding alumnus Susan Van Atta, who in 1977 won the Program's first outstanding senior award.
It will also award the first Tom Rogers Scholarship to a Program student who demonstrates academic achievement and personal effort that embodies the ideals of civic responsibility, sound planning and environmental protection.
Also awarded will be the Matthew Charles Decker Memorial Scholarship.
On Sunday, those who choose to stay another day plan to visit Santa Cruz Island on a day-long boat excursion out of Santa Barbara Harbor.