De Anza history professor Ben Kline addressed the dangerous lack of public attention to environmental reform at the inaugural California History Center Faculty Speaker Series event on April 19.
The series is organized by full-time psychology professor and foundation trustee Mark Healy, who says he is looking forward to give students the opportunity to learn new things and to have the faculty get to know each other better.
“I think sometimes we as faculty aren’t really a community, we don’t know each other that well except within our own academic departments and divisions,” Healy said. “I’m really, ultimately trying to strengthen the faculty community.”
The inaugural event was presented by history co-chair and professor, Ben Kline. Kline spoke about his past experience as an adjunct professor teaching environmental history and writing “First Along the River,” a book focusing on the social aspect of how the environment influences U.S. history.
In his presentation, Kline covered the development of the United States, from pre-colonial America to the present day, and discussed how the environment along with each periods’ attitudes, behavior and actions shaped U.S. history.
Like the ban of pesticide DDT, Kline pointed out many cases with environmental reform and how it required the American public to be put into danger before responding. He warns of a similar situation needing to occur today, before the Americans becomes aware of an environmental crisis in the future.
“Unfortunately it may take the environmental equivalent of the 9/11 Twin Towers disaster to shift the public’s attention toward a global national threat which promises to make the present human v. human conflicts irrelevant,” Kline said, reading from the conclusion of his book.
Sociology chair and professor, Jennifer Myhre said she loves the idea of a CHC Faculty Speaker Series and how it goes beyond academics, to explore who her colleagues are as individuals.
Myhre will present for the Faculty Speaker Series event scheduled on May 24. She plans to talk about her current documentary project on Jane Addams and the U.S. government’s propaganda and surveillance campaign against feminist pacifists in the 1920s.