Center for Educational Excellence

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USD JUST READ!

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50th
rachel carson

 

Proudly Presented by:The Center for Ethics in Science and Technology, in collaboration with USD’s Office of Sustainability, the Center for Educational Excellence, the Departments of English & Biology, Student Affairs, Human Resources, Copley Library, & Outdoor Adventures

 

USD Just Read! Program & Silent Spring Synopsis

Project Overview

USD Just Read! Encourages literacy and deep dialogue on social themes presented through outstanding literature. The program promotes active learning and reading not only within the USD community but within the San Diego community at large. During the 2012-2013 academic year, the book selection will be Silent Spring, written by Rachel Carson. Various CEE programs will be offered this fall, including two on-campus book discussions, a faculty led panel discussion, a student essay contest, and related films. These and additional San Diego programs can be found at Silentspringsd.org

Rachel Carson’s controversial book, Silent Spring, mobilized people the world over—and in a way no other comparable work of twentieth century non fiction had. Besides raising our consciousness about ecology and launching the modern environmentalist movement, Carson’s sobering exposé of the pesticide industry’s campaign of disinformation inspired a 1972 ban that brought an
end to the use of DDT in the United States. In addition to the book’s content, the context of the publication—Carson’s own history as a woman in the sciences and in the academy, as well as the institutional backlash surrounding the book’s controversial messages—is also part of the rich and often contentious moral and ethical history of this country’s experience of science, gender, political economy, and social courage.

Book Synopsis & Reviews

Originally serialized in 1962 by The New Yorker and later published by Houghton Mifflin, Rachel Carson's controversial book, Silent Spring, mobilized people the world over—and in a way no other comparable work of twentieth century nonfiction had. Besides raising our consciousness about ecology and launching the modern environmentalist movement, Carson's sobering exposé of the pesticide industry's campaign of disinformation inspired a 1972 ban that brought an end to the use of DDT in the United States.

A 1957 lawsuit indicting the U.S. Department of Agriculture over aerial spraying of Long Island,coupled with a friend's letter to The Boston Herald expressing dismay over the widespread death of birds on her property after aerial DDT spraying, inspired Carson to begin a research project examining the environmental impact of pesticides, and in particular the anti-malaria insecticide campaigns of the Pacific war effort during World War II. That research would become the acclaimed book, Silent Spring. In it, Carson argued that unregulated pesticide use had serious ramifications for wildlife and humans, alike; furthermore, the book's poignant title, alluding to a line from a John Keatspoem, prophesied a future in which spring would one day fall eternally silent of all bird song.

The book's damning message was fiercely polarizing, and a number of her detractors, especially those gainsaying the "theory" of global warming, have since written many works attempting to discredit Carson's claims as misinformed, uneducated, or outright propagandistic. Some even accused Carson of being an hysterical female, articulating a typically sexist sentiment of the time,when women were considered to have little reputable voice in the sciences. However, because of the important debate that followed in the wake of its publication, President Kennedy's Science Advisory Committee investigated, and subsequently validated, Carson's research, resulting in new regulations that brought to heel large, globally powerful chemical companies like Monsanto and Dow.

Carson continues to gain loyal supporters who have been moved by her courage and changed by her philosophy of ecology. Co-authors H.F. van Emden (Reading University Professor of Agriculture and expert in pest management) and David Peakall (internationally recognized toxicologist) co-authored the 1996 follow-up Beyond Silent Spring, vindicating Carson's research and bringing attention to its reputable scientific perspective. And, in an era of debate over the science of global warming, Carson continues to receive frequent and reverential mention, demonstrating that her moniker as the "Mother of Environmentalism" is no hyperbole. Even former Vice-President Al Gore, reputed for his involvement in the now iconic eco-documentary An Inconvenient Truth, affirms that Carson has been more inspirational than any other person in his advocacy of environmental causes. DiscoverMagazine selected Silent Spring as one of the twenty-five most important science books of all time,proving that Rachel Carson's work is seminally important as it continues to speak to future generations of readers with its thought-provoking perspective and its resilient spirit of environmentalism.

from: Silent Spring

USD Events & Registration

Book Discussions

Event

Date

Time & Place

Register

Alcala Park Readers Book Discussion facilitated by Slow Food USD Tuesday, October 30, 2012 12:30-2:00 PM in Salomon Hall Register Here
Just Read! Book Discussion Facilitated by Net Impact Undergrad USD Monday, November 5, 2012 12:15-1:45 PM, Manchester 206A Register Here
Just Read Panel Discussion: Paul Kemp(Biology), David De Haan(Chemistry & Biochemistry), Bahar Davary (Theology & Religious Studies), and Scott Anders(Energy Policies Initiatives Center) - Facilitated by Michel Boudrias (Marine Science & Environmental Studies) Friday, November 16, 2012 3:30-5:30 PM in Salomon Hall Register Here

 

Presentation by Mitchell Thomashow:

Rachel Carson’s Legacy: Finding the Wisdom and Insight for Global Environmental Citizenship on Tuesday, December 4th, 2012 from 4:00-5:30 PM in Salomon Hall Register Here

Description: Rachel Carson traveled a long and harrowing path from the publication of Under the Sea Wind (1941) to Silent Spring (1962). Her journey has been central to our awareness that the environment that sustains us is essential and fragile. And that our relationship with that environment is characterized by mutual dependence. We require the air, water, food, and energy provided by the natural world, but how we act can have severe and potentially irreversible consequences for the very environment that sustains us. Carson's legacy is perspective and vocabulary to answer a fundamental question about the balance necessary for sustainability: How can we balance creation and extinction, wonder and indifference, hope and foreboding? This question remains absolutely pertinent to scientists and citizens alike who are concerned about climate change, threats to biodiversity, and altered biogeochemical cycles. Join Dr. Thomashow, an internationally recognized leader in discussions about sustainability in the context of our contemporary planetary predicament, for this important conversation.

Lecture followed by a Q & A session

Film: Manufacturing Stoke

Pierce Kavanagh, and Art Director, Ed Louis on Tuesday, November 13, 2012 from 6:00-8:30 PM in UC Forum C Register Here

Description: Manufacturing Stoke travels across the California coast, visiting surfing legends and new comers alike, and delves into a world rarely-ever-seen to further explore surfing's greatest paradox: no other sport is as intrinsically linked to nature and yet a majority of the materials used are environmentally toxic.

Film Screening followed by Q & A with the Director, Pierce Kavanagh, and Art Director, Ed Louis

Official website: www.manufacturingstoke.com
Official movie trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6WOfJegQQh0

Student Essay Contest

Essay Topic

With a specific argument, consider a modern social challenge with direct relationships to issues raised
by the content and/or context of Silent Spring. Explain the central ethical concern related to this issue; outline the stakes of this issue, and consider who the primary stakeholders are. Finally, offer (at least) some general thoughts on how best to navigate this issue. As part of your argument, you may wish to discuss Silent Spring directly, but it is not a requirement for submission. You may cite outside sources, but it is not a requirement. Submissions may be individually or group authored.

Essay Rules

Essay Prizes

USD Level:
1st Prize $300
2nd Prize $150
3rd Prize $50

Regional Level:
1st Prize $600
2nd Prize $300
3rd Prize $100

Sponsored by Student Affairs

Silent Spring Essay Contest Flyer

 

Resources & Links to Other Off Campus Events

silentspringsd.org

ethicscenter.net

Ethics Center Events

Stephen Welter Alternatives to insecticides: High impact solutions without environmental trade offs. On October 17, 2012 from 5:30-7:00 PM in the Community Forum at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center.

Event Description

Click Here to Register


Mitchell Thomashow Rachel Carson’s Legacy: Finding the Wisdom and Insight for Global Environmental Citizenship on December 5, 2012 from 5:30-7:00 PM in the Community Forum at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center.

Event Description

Click Here to Register

 

CEE Contact Information

You may contact the CEE for general information regarding the project and specific information regarding project events sponsored by USD.