Beginning in the Fall, 2011, as a result of the University’s college reorganization plan, Joel Kassiola was excited to return full-time to teaching political theory in the Department of Political Science with associated teaching and advising in the Environmental Studies Program’s Environmental Sustainability and Social Justice Concentration (which he Coordinates) as well as the Department of Philosophy (Environmental Ethics). After 16 years of being the Dean of the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences (and 19 years in total of serving as a college administrator as a dean with 3 years as a dean at the City University of New York), he was delighted to return to his first professional love of teaching and conducting research full-time. Although he taught more social science courses than any other college dean in the CSU System (5 courses each year), his time for research and serving his students necessarily competed with the prodigious administrative responsibilities of heading one of the largest colleges in the State of California with 17 departments and programs, over 5,000 undergraduate majors, over 500 graduate students, and 20,000 students taking the College’s course offerings each semester.
During the 2011-2012 academic year, Kassiola was gratified to publish two articles: one on environmental ethics, “The Social Power of Environmental Ethics: How Environmental Ethics Can Help Save the World through Social Criticism and Social Change,” Dialogue and Universalism Vol.11-12, 2010, pp. 51-76, and a contribution to the Sage Encyclopedia on Green Ethics and Philosophy on China’s environment.
While one of the first political theorists to help define the growing subfield of environmental political theory with publications in the 1980s and 1990s (including the path-breaking book, The Death of Industrial Civilization: The Limits to Growth and the Repoliticization of Advanced Industrial Society (State University of New York Press, 1990), and developing that interest in later works including organizing and editing the first introductory textbook in the new subfield, Explorations in Environmental Political Theory: Thinking about What We Value, (M.E. Sharpe, 2003), in the last 6 years he has turned his attention for research to China and its environmental crisis, co-editing and contributing to two books on this subject: Environmental Protection Policy and Experience in the U.S. and China’s Western Regions (with Political Science colleague, Sujian Guo and Zhang Jijiao; Rowman and Littlefield, Publishers, 2010), and with Sujian Guo, China’s Environmental Crisis: Domestic and Global Political Impacts and Responses, (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010).
Most recently, Kassiola has been studying Chinese Confucian thought and attempting to create a Confucian Green theory that will be useful as an alternative to the dominant but unsustainable, global consumer capitalism model for not only China but for other nations seeking to achieve environmental sustainability as well as a just society. To that end, he has completed a unique Chapter on Confucianism and Non-Western Political Theory in a projected volume on “greening the canon of Western political theory” where he argues that we need to go beyond the traditional Western political theoretical resources in order to generate alternatives to the consumer capitalist society.
Also, currently he is pursuing a pressing problem in China of social inequality between the rural and urban areas where the Western model of urbanization is not an option of because of the numbers of rural poor involved (upwards of 800 million) and the inability of relatively affluent East Coast cities to absorb the rural peasants seeking work and a better material life. The Chinese government recognizes this and is seeking to “restructure the countryside,” with the unprecedented scale of Chinese rural population this goal may be most difficult social objective for a society to achieve in human history.
In the Spring, 2012, Kassiola will look forward to teaching Political Science 353, Political Theory of the Twentieth Century for the first time, organized around a theme of the political theory/ideology of Neoliberalism. Other courses that he teaches are: Political Science/Philosophy 150: Contemporary Moral and Political Issues; Political Science 275: Introduction to Western Political Theory; Political Science 354: Politics, the Environment and Social Change, and Political Science/Philosophy 355: The Politics and the Ethics of the Consumer Society.
Kassiola welcomes questions and comments about his research and teaching via e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org.