California Studies Association
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Letter from past Chair, Louise Nelson Dyble

Louise Nelson DybleNovember 27, 2007

Louise Nelson Dyble
Chair, California Studies Association, 2007-2009


Dear Friends,

On behalf of the California Studies Association Steering Committee, I would like to invite you to join our Association. Our goal is to bring together people from all over the state, from every walk of life, every background and creed, who are interested in the past, present and future of California. We are dedicated to providing a forum where scholars, artists, activists and ordinary people can exchange ideas and engage in debate, and where nothing is taken for granted and dissent is welcome. Education is at the core of our mission, but we understand it as education based on participation and discussion—we provide a rare venue in which an intellectual community can develop that transcends academia.

In many ways, California is in crisis. Environmental problems are escalating and the economy is unstable and uncertain. Social inequity seems to be increasing, as class lines harden around race and immigration status and opportunities disappear as our public education system deteriorates. The institutions of government are profoundly ill-suited to address these problems, as the legacies of tax revolts, devolution of power, and decentralization cripple our ability to act collectively to promote the common good and protect our resources. Never has there been a more urgent need for citizen engagement and activism, based on a clear and accurate understanding the complex and difficult issues facing the state. The California Studies Association facilitates and promotes that engagement.

When Jeff Lustig started the California Studies Association in 1989, it was the only statewide organization dedicated to a neglected field of study. Though no one would claim that California was insignificant, few academics focused their studies directly on this unique and powerful region, and no major events brought together people interested in studying, learning, and teaching about the Golden State. Since then, our three-day annual conferences have featured some of the leading intellectuals and most innovative thinkers of our time. These conferences and other events have encouraged new research on California and have improved the knowledge base of teachers at every level.

Our members have helped establish and lead California Studies programs in a number of colleges and universities, and have contributed to the founding several new institutes and academic associations dedicated to promoting the study of California. We hope to incorporate the many and varied contributions of these organizations into our programs and events, forging links between institutions and across disciplines. We also aim to include community and grass roots leaders, policy-makers and politicians in our events. As former Chair Richard Walker likes to put it, we are an “umbrella organization” that bridges academic and institutional divides, that reaches out and welcomes everyone.

I would like to personally encourage you to take advantage of what the California Studies Association offers. Attend one of our dinners or events, or submit a proposal for our next conference for a panel or session that highlights your interest or cause. Help us develop our website into an exciting resource for learning and making connections. We need energetic people with good ideas to help lead the CSA into the future, so please join our Association and get involved.


Louise Nelson Dyble