Steinbeck and the Environment

Full Course Title: 
From the Dust Bowl to Today: Environment, Migration, and Resilience

John Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath is perhaps one of the most recognizable works of American fiction, chronicling the Joad family's Dust Bowl migration from Oklahoma to California. This course will use Grapes of Wrath as a vehicle to explore the parallels between the environmental, economic, and cultural upheavals of 1930's America and those we are currently witnessing. Particular attention will be given to not only to environmental change, but also to the diverse and profound ways that humans endure, overcome, and react to that change. Themes such as migration, climate change, dehumanization, dignity, faith, resistance, community, xenophobia, and more will be explored. Grapes of Wrath will be used as the primary text, but it will be supplemented by more contemporary films and articles. By the end of the course, students will better understand the modern social ecology of America and its ties to historical processes, as well as the immensely distinct and complex ways that people react to environmental distress.

Course Details
Course Number: 
Section Number(s) and Day/Times Taught: 
151: TR 2:00pm-3:15pm
167: TR 3:30pm-4:45pm
Fall 2024
Global Issues

Anders Sjostrand

Anders Sjostrand

A native of Boone, Anders' research interests concern the interface of socio-political processes and environmental change, particularly related to natural resource conflicts. He received a B.A. in Economics and Enrivonmental Science at NC State University in 2012. He went on to Stockholm University where he lived for six years, completing the Globalization, Environment, and Social Change master's program. During this time he undertook fieldwork in the Georgian Caucasus, where he investigated access rights and resource conflicts in Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park from a political ecology perspective.

After graduate school, he worked in Malawi for a Swedish NGO called MUD Africa, who advocates for land and women's rights throughout the country. He still serves as a board member for MUD. Following this period, he worked as a research associate for Purdue University, leading a research project that sought to conserve the endangered whooping crane. He is excited about the prospect of being back in Boone, and utilizing his interdisciplinary experience and research to teach the complicated social and environmental problems of today.