Ken Hiltner is a professor of the environmental humanities at the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB). The Director of both the Environmental Humanities Initiative and the Literature and Environment Center, Hiltner has appointments in the English and Environmental Studies Departments. This site was originally created to house a variety of materials supporting his courses, though now also aggregates resources relating to research and professional service. Although earlier versions of this website contained dozes of pages, this incarnation contains just three, which serve as gateway (principally via the curriculum vitae) to a range of online material, such as course descriptions, recent talks, research, teaching philosophy, and more. Contact Ken.
It is increasingly the case that you will find a professor posting his or her curriculum vitae (CV), which in the academic world are equivalent to resumes, online. And for good reason, as they provide students, parents, colleagues, and others with an overview of an instructor’s credentials, publications, teaching, research, and so forth. There is, however, a shortcoming to the traditional CV: while they may list a broad range of information, they offer little in the way of detail. This website attempts to remedy this situation, as you will find a good deal more (and more up-to-date) information here than typically resides on a print CV.
It is hardly surprising that a variety of products and services are now rated online. You may be surprised to learn, however, that many colleges and universities have been asking students to similarly evaluate courses and professors for decades now. Some universities make this information public, others do not. Because UCSB does not see fit to do so, all of Hiltner’s evaluations, which contain detailed observations by students, have been posted to this site.
Hiltner is the inaugural and current Director of UCSB’s Environmental Humanities Initiative (EHI). UCSB is home to more than 70 faculty members who not only teach over 200 unique courses addressing issues in the environmental humanities, but have also written dozens of books and hundreds of articles. The goal of the EHI is to foster and consolidate this exciting and diverse work.
A national leader in the study of Literature and the Environment (also known as ecocriticism and “green” criticism), UCSB is unique is that a range of faculty members offer seamless, strong coverage in ecocritical coursework from the medieval period through the 21st century. The inaugural Director of the Literature and the Environment Center from 2007-11, Hiltner has again been directing the program since 2014.
Every year UCSB selects a “Critical Issue in America” for the campus to take up by way of a series of events, films, talks, and so forth. For the 2015-16 year, Hiltner and Sociology Professor John Foran had their joint proposal accepted to make “Climate Futures” the campus issue. Although many climate futures are possible – and, as we are so often told, many of them are indeed pretty glum – we are imagining a future in which individuals, groups, and institutions from across the globe have worked to help make it a better one environmentally. The series focuses on the little (and some big) things that individuals can do to bring about such a future.
In addition to UCSB, Hiltner has taught at Harvard, where he earned his Ph.D., and at Princeton, where he served for a year as the Currie C. and Thomas A. Barron Visiting Professor in the Environment and Humanities at Princeton University’s Environmental Institute (PEI). His courses are primarily on Renaissance literature and ecocriticism; sometimes the intersection of the two. All UCSB, Harvard, and Princeton courses are listed on the curriculum vitae.
Introduction to Literature and the Environment: This course surveys nearly 5000 thousand years of literature in order to explore the literary history of our relationship with the earth, as well as to better understand our current environmental beliefs. This course is completely open-access, including lectures and a digital version of the Course Reader. Visitors from nearly twenty countries regularly visit the course website. Thanks to Princeton University, an earlier version of the lecture series is available on iTunes University.
Hiltner’s books include What Else is Pastoral? Renaissance Literature and the Environment (Cornell UP, 2011), Milton and Ecology (Cambridge UP, 2003; Paperback 2009), Environmental Criticism for the Twenty-First Century, co-edited by Hiltner (Routledge, 2011; Paperback 2012), Renaissance Ecology: Imagining Eden in Milton’s England edited by Hiltner (Duquesne, 2008), and Ecocriticism: The Essential Reader, edited by Hiltner (Routledge, 2014; Paperback 2014). Details on all books and articles can be found in the curriculum vitae.
From at least as early as the Renaissance, our lives are increasingly being played out in what Jürgen Habermas famously dubbed the “public sphere.” Yet, even as the 21st century unfolds, much of academia remains behind closed doors. This needs to change. Consider how little has been made public over the years. For example, university catalogs have traditionally provided short blurbs devoted to professors. Mine, for example, explains that
Ken Hiltner is a professor in the English and Environmental Studies Departments at UC Santa Barbara. He received his PhD from Harvard University, where he garnered a number of distinctions as a researcher and Teaching Fellow, including the Bowdoin Prize. He has written a number of books and articles, mostly on Renaissance literature, ecocriticism, and the intersection of the two. Prior to becoming a professor, he made his living as a furniture maker (view image).
In addition to including short biographies like these, annual catalogs often listed recent and upcoming courses, perhaps even with a sentence or two of description. Beyond that, however, little else has traditionally been made public by colleges and universities. Part of the problem, of course, was that publishing and updating more detailed information was prohibitively expensive in the age of print. With the advent of the Internet, however, that promised to change. In some ways, that promise has been realized; in other ways, not. For example, universities will now often make available online a professor’s curriculum vitae (résumé). The difficulty, however, is that the print versions of these contain few details for the most part. If you visit my online CV, you will see that much more detail is now possible. Apologies for the fact that most of it will be excruciatingly boring; my hope is that it might nonetheless be of some use to students, parents, colleagues, and others.
Many, many thanks to the students that helped create this website: Luis Arinaga, Jennelle Fong, Billy Hall, Tayler Heuston, Katie Morris, Lauren Wittenberger, and Andrew Ta. Without them, this site would have never come into existence.
Carbon footprint of this website
Between three and four percent of global electricity production is used in running data centers. Our web host has invested in local Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) through the EPA’s Green Power Partnership, in the form of wind power, in an amount that exceeds the energy required to both power and cool their servers (cooling, incidentally, more than doubles the required electricity for a data server). More on energy use by our web host; wind power’s potential from Stanford University; and environmental issues related to data centers from the NY Times.
Why are there images of cities on this website?
Landscapes have fascinated me since childhood – perhaps because, growing up on a farm, many of my days were spent out in them. Like many people, I found myself drawn to landscape art that seemed to epitomize nature, such as the striking wilderness photography of Ansel Adams.
However, over the years I came to realize that, environmentally, the landscapes that are often the most interesting (and sometimes most beautiful) are inhabited ones. Over half the planet’s population now lives in cities; by midcentury it will be nearly three quarters. This is a good thing, as the carbon footprint of city-dwellers is generally significantly smaller than those in suburban or rural areas. Why? Fewer cars and smaller living spaces for a start. For more on this fascinating topic, check out “Green Manhattan” by David Owen or the chapter in Edward Glaeser’s Triumph of the City entitled “Is There Anything Greener Than Blacktop?”