Thursday, June 14, 2012

Grossmont College students to study "Silent Spring"

Students in classrooms across the Grossmont College campus will be discussing "Silent Spring," the book credited with helping to launch the environmental movement of the 1960s, during the 2012-2013 academic year.

Grossmont College will be participating with five regional universities and several organizations in a collaboration studying similar themes from a single book while enrolled in courses spanning a variety of academic disciplines.

This is the second year in a row that Grossmont College students will focus their studies on a single book. During the 2011-2012 academic year, students read "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks," a bestseller raising ethical issues about the use of cells taken from a poor African-American woman who died of cancer in 1951. The cells were used in thousands of studies and played a key role in medical research.

 This year's book, "Silent Spring,” was published in 1962 and has been often cited as one of the best nonfiction books of the 20th century. The book by biologist Rachel Carlson documents the detrimental effects of pesticides on the environment.

The book was critical of U.S. chemical manufacturers and public officials who reportedly accepted industry claims while ignoring warnings. Historians today credit the book with facilitating the government’s 1972 ban of the pesticide DDT.

Grossmont College will be the only community college participating in the regional collaboration studying “Silent Spring.” The other participants will be San Diego State University; the University of San Diego; California State University, San Marcos; Point Loma Nazarene University; and UC San Diego.

Also joining the educational institutions will be the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center, the San Diego-based Center for Ethics in Science and Technology, an organization supported by UCSD, SDSU and USD, and CONNECT, a San Diego-based organization that links inventors and entrepreneurs with the resources and capital needed for the commercialization of innovative products.

Tate Hurvitz, an associate English professor at Grossmont College, said faculty members in several departments, including history, health, humanities, English, science, political science, communication, graphic arts and dramatic arts, are spending time during the summer months to plan classroom assignments based on the themes discussed in the book.

“This kind of interdisciplinary investigation of a central text will offer students an extraordinary opportunity to investigate the big ideas in our world,” Hurvitz said. “In addition, students will see how various academic disciplines are unique in their contributions and, yet, are also part of one larger and richer conversation about the world we all share.”