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Syllabus: Contemporary Issues in The Golden State 

Instructor: Bret Putnam

Class Location: Zoom 

Course Profile: Introduction to the culture and history of California, America's most populous and dynamic state.

Course Goals: Perfect reading comprehension and fluency. Practice expressing complex and nuanced ideas in conversation and in writing. Improve pronunciation and reduce accent. Deepen knowledge of life in California, with a focus on contemporary issues, including urbanism, agriculture and rural life, immigration, water and the environment. We will also touch on key historic events and influences such as the Gold Rush and Spanish colonialism.​

Format: Each week students will be assigned reading from news periodicals and other sources. Classroom work will focus on perfecting spoken English skills through discussion and presentation. Students may also improve writing abilities by completing (optional) writing assignments. 

Course Materials: The Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The San Diego Union Tribune, The instructor will send students the news stories by email weekly.

Course Calendar (Subject to change, depending on news events):

Week 1)  Water 

Week 2) The Spanish Colonial Legacy 

Week 3) The Gold Rush

Week 4) Agriculture, and rural California 

Week 5) Immigration, and the Chinese-American Experience

Week 6) The 1960s 

Week 7) Los Angeles, Music and Film

Week 8) San Francisco and San Jose, Technology and Innovation

Week 9) Earthquakes, Fires, and the Natural World

Week 10) Into the Future




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