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Preface to Seeds of Something Different

  • Author(s): Reti, Irene H.
  • Vanderscoff, Cameron
  • Rabkin, Sarah
  • et al.

The UC Santa Cruz Library announces its publication of a groundbreaking new book, SEEDS OF SOMETHING DIFFERENT: AN ORAL HISTORY OF UC SANTA CRUZ that weaves together first-person accounts of the campus’s evolution, from the origins of an audacious dream through the sea changes of five decades.

More than 200 narrators contribute to this two-volume collective chronicle, edited by oral historians Irene Reti, Cameron Vanderscoff, and Sarah Rabkin. Five years in the making, the book draws on the Library Regional History Project’s extensive archive of oral history interviews with students, staff, faculty, community members, and campus leaders. The text is accompanied by some 250 images from the University Library’s Special Collections and Archives.

Seeds of Something Different sheds new light on UCSC’s first half-century. In advance praise for this dynamic account, UCSC alumna and noted radio producer Nikki Silva wrote, “I kept marveling, ‘So that's what was happening!’ I could not put it down.”

The book offers useful insights not only for readers who know and love the campus, but for anyone who cares about the past and future of public higher education. As University of Pennsylvania Professor of Education and History Jonathan Zimmerman notes in his foreword, “the University of California, Santa Cruz [is] the largest—and, arguably, the most important—educational experiment in the history of American higher education . . . part of a remarkable wave of innovation in the 1960s, when at least forty different alternative colleges and universities sprouted across the United States.”

Since its inception, UC Santa Cruz has, like the cultural and political milieu it both reflects and influences, undergone profound transformation. In contrast to tales of either tragic decline or triumphant reinvention that the campus tends to inspire, Seeds of Something Different offers a nuanced telling of UCSC’s complex and sometimes contradictory history. This is a story in multiple acts, featuring multiple perspectives, complete with recurring characters, surprising plot twists, unlikely endings, and new beginnings.

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