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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Jim Pepper and the Evolution of Environmental Studies at UC Santa Cruz: An Oral History


Recruited by the visionary geographer Richard [Dick] Cooley to join the new environmental studies program at UCSC, Pepper arrived in Santa Cruz in 1972. This oral history is part of the Regional History Project's VERIP series with professors who retired in the early 1990s. In these two interviews conducted by former Regional History director Randall Jarrell and current director Irene Reti, Jim Pepper describes UCSC's environmental studies program as one that “had both a theoretical dimension to it and an applied dimension, a program . . . that integrated theory and practice.” Pepper brought to this nascent department his practical experience and background as a professional landscape architect and planner, as well as his probing interest in the philosophical and ethical questions at the heart of environmental issues. Between 1972 and his retirement in 1994, Jim Pepper helped to build a flagship program in environmental studies at UCSC. Outside of academia, Jim Pepper has enjoyed a 45-year distinguished career in environmental planning, site planning, and urban design. His projects included the formulation of an earthquake recovery plan for downtown Santa Cruz after the Loma Prieta Earthquake of 1989.

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