ESRM 335: The Beach

Fall Semester 2018

Dr. Clare Steele         


Office: Bell Tower West 1181

Office Hours: Tu 12:00 – 1:30pm, Th 12:00 – 1:30pm (and by appointment)

Lectures: Tu & Th 3:00pm to 4:15pm in Sierra Hall 2411

Final Date: Thursday December 13 1:00-3:00 PM


General Information


Three hours of lecture per week.

The Beach is an interdisciplinary course that explores the sociocultural importance of sandy beaches in southern California and analyzes the interaction of natural and human systems in the coastal zone. The course explores the physical and biological aspects of California’s beaches, examines anthropogenic stressors on the ecosystem, integrates diverse perspectives on California’s beach culture and society, and focuses on issues pertaining to coastal development and sustainability.

Graded: Letter Grade

Learning Outcomes

Identify current environmental and social issues concerning California’s beaches.

Relate the physical and biological characteristics of the beach environment to challenges in managing this natural resource.

Express and understanding of the course material and communicate effectively in various written forms.

Required Text

Coasts in Crisis : A Global Challenge, Author: Griggs, Publisher: University of California Press, 2017. ISBN: 9780520293625.



Letter Grade Breakdown

A = 90-100%, B = 80-89%, C = 70-79%, D = 60-69%, F ≤ 59%

Please note that I use the “+” and “-” system (e.g. B- = 80-82%, B = 83–86%, B+ = 87-89, etc.)



Grading Weights

Quizzes 20%
Midterm 20%
Group Presentation & Participation 20%
Blog and Discussion 20%
Final 20%


Quizzes, Midterm and Final: Quizzes, the midterm and final will cover material discussed in class, in readings, and in documentaries. They will be a combination of multiple choice, true/false, short answer, and essay.

Blog and Discussion: Over the course of the semester you are required to visit 3 different beaches and write a 350-750 word blog post reflecting on EACH beach. You MUST include pictures and provide a thoughtful discussion of each beach. You may choose to focus on development, geomorphology, waves and tides, ecology, recreation, culture, etc. I want to see you critically thinking about your environment, the beach ecosystem, and the interconnected nature of geology/physical processes, ecology, recreation and tourism, culture, and health and wellbeing. You are also required to comment on at least 5 blog posts made by other students in the class, and respond to questions/comments made to your posts.

Our website is (or  To add your blog entries you will go to:

You can watch an instructional video on how to post using wordpress here:  (This is also the first post on our class blog).

Example topics: erosion or accretion, geology, beaches as a storm buffer, king tides, el Niño, sand supply, dam removal, waves and tides, dunes at habitat, dunes as a storm buffer, using drones to monitor coastal change, health and well-being benefits of the beach and ocean, oil spills, coastal development, coastal access, ecology (fish, invertebrates, birds, marine mammals, lagoons, pollution, water quality), the coastal act, the coastal commission, stakeholder interests, wetland restoration, barrier beach breaching, trash, pollution, grooming, surfing, paddle boarding, kite surfing, beach fishing, family traditions, tide pooling, bouldering, rip tides, life guards, marine protected areas, sand mining, port activities, recreational harbors, kayaking, estuaries, sea stars, red tides, shoreline armoring, population growth, music, dance, culture, socio-economics, art, etc. I want to see you critically thinking about your environment, the beach ecosystem, and the interconnected nature of geology/physical processes, ecology, recreation and tourism, culture, and health and wellbeing that all comes together along the coasts.

Group Presentation:

Beaches and the Imaginary of Places

How do beaches contribute to our perception, vision and understanding of a region?

This semester we have been exploring the California Imaginary and how the physical, biological and cultural aspects of the beach shape our conception of California.

In this group assignment we will expand this viewpoint and, through the use of individual lenses, create a cohesive picture of how beaches contribute to the Imaginary of your assigned region.

Groups and locations will be assigned randomly. Locations include:





French Polynesia/South Pacific


French Riviera (Mediterranean)

South Africa

Rio (Brazil)


North Sea/English Channel

European Atlantic Coast /Iberian Peninsula


1.         Group exploration of region, division of research tasks, choose individual lenses to suit the region and student’s personal interests.

2.         Individually – describe 5 fun facts about your region’s beaches

3.         Working together, create a one-page presentation outline in Google docs listing the key points for each slide, including introduction and conclusion. 1-3 slides per presenter. Explain the main themes.

4.         Individually – Create a well-crafted 1 page, single spaced, Executive Summary of the region through your particular lens that summarizes the major issues and will be shared with the class.

5.         As a group, present your discoveries about the importance of beaches to your location, using your individual lenses and giving examples of beaches in this region. Synthesize the information to show how these aspects of beaches you have researched combine to form the whole identify of the region.

6.         Individually – Assess the relative contributions to the project of yourself and your group-mates.


Example Outline:

Introduction – group

Briefly describe the imaginary of your location.

Why are beaches important to this region.

Include historical or background information not covered elsewhere in the presentation.

Which lenses or perspectives did you think were important to cover and why? Explain overlap and interrelatedness of topics.


Beaches and location identity – individual

Each student chooses a lens and researches beaches in this location and explores the common threads that create the identity of the region through their lens. You should choose a lens that is appropriate to the major issues and identities of the region and is of interest to you. Examples of lenses are: psychological, economic, political, educational, environmental, musical, spiritual, cultural, ethnic, literary, artistic, biological, business-oriented, international, multicultural, community-oriented, cinematic, intellectual, emotional, familial, etc.


Conclusions – group

Explain how these aspects you have discussed work together to create the identity of the region you have explored.

Additional Information and Resources

Class Policies

An atmosphere of respect will be maintained at all times. Respect means coming to class prepared to give your full attention to the instruction, and behavior that does not distract other students from learning.

The following class policies are in place, and your attention to them will be reflected in your attendance and participation score:

  • Be on time. Every person that comes in late causes additional disruption. Please let me know if you have a schedule conflict that I need to be aware of that will cause you to be late on a consistent basis.  During lecture DO NOT read emails or browse the internet. Laptops and tablets should be used ONLY for note-taking. Turn off and put away phones for the entire class period.
  • All class information will be posted on CI Learn. Your Dolphin email address is the only means of communication between the university and you, so be sure it works and check it often.
  • Be prepared to take notes in class. If you miss class, it is your responsibility to get the notes from another student. Assignment notifications and deadlines will be discussed in class, so if you miss a class be sure to catch up with a friend or with me to make sure you know what you missed.
  • If you are a student with a disability requesting reasonable accommodations in this course, please visit Disability Accommodations and Support Services (DASS) located on the second floor of Arroyo Hall, or call 805-437-3331. All requests for reasonable accommodations require registration with DASS in advance of need: Faculty, students and DASS will work together regarding classroom accommodations. You are encouraged to discuss approved accommodations with your faculty.


Academic Dishonesty

By enrolling at CSU Channel Islands, students are responsible for upholding the University’s policies and the Student Conduct Code. Academic integrity and scholarship are values of the institution that ensure respect for the academic reputation of the University, students, faculty, and staff. Cheating, plagiarism, unauthorized collaboration with another student, knowingly furnishing false information to the University, buying, selling or stealing any material for an examination, or substituting for another person may be considered violations of the Student Conduct Code (located at If a student is found responsible for committing an act of academic dishonesty in this course, the student will receive academic penalties including a failing grade on an assignment or in the course, and a disciplinary referral will be made and submitted to the Student Conduct & Community Responsibility office. For additional information, please see the faculty Academic Senate Policy on Academic Dishonesty, also in the CI Catalog. Please ask about my expectations regarding academic dishonesty in this course if they are unclear.

If you need help to distinguish the difference between collaboration and plagiarism this may help:


Campus Tutoring Services

You are encouraged to make regular use of campus tutors and/or peer study groups, beginning in the second week of the semester. For campus tutoring locations, subjects and hours, go to:


Civil Discourse Statement

All students, staff and faculty on our campus are expected to join in making our campus a safe space for communication and civil discourse. In 2016, CI faculty (through the Academic Senate) voted to approve Resolution SR 16-01 titled, “Commitment to Equity, Inclusion, and Civil Discourse within our Diverse Campus Community.” If you are experiencing discomfort related to the language you are hearing or seeing on campus (in or out of classes), please talk with a trusted faculty or staff member. Similarly, please consider whether the language that you are using (in person or on canvas) respects the rights of others to “engage in informed discourse and express a diversity of opinions freely and in a civil manner.”


Emergency Intervention and Basic Needs Statement

As CI’s website points out, “a recent study commissioned by the CSU Chancellor’s Office shows that nearly 25 percent of CSU students either regularly skip meals for financial reasons or lack access to toiletries and sufficiently nutritious food options. In addition, more than 10 percent are displaced from their homes due to things like an unexpected loss in income or personal safety issues.” If you recognize yourself, or someone you know from this description, please know that there are resources on campus to help, including the Dolphin Food Pantry for students which offers free food, toiletries and basic necessities. The Dolphin Pantry is currently located in Arroyo Hall, Room 117 and is open Monday – Friday 8:30 – 4:30 (please check the website for updates).

Emergency housing and funds are also available. More information on these, and other services available at CSUCI can be found at:


Writing and Multiliteracy Center (WMC):

Location: Broome Library, 2nd Floor, Room 2675

In addition to our class writing tutor/service learning coordinator, the Writing and Multiliteracy Center (WMC) provides all CI students with FREE support services and programs that help them become more effective writers and communicators. Peer writing consultants help students at any stage of the composition process in any discipline. Students are also welcome to bring in other types of non-academic work such as resumes, letters of application, and personal statements. Our online writing consultants will also work with you if you don’t live on campus or if you have trouble physically getting to our Center. Speaking groups help students who want to talk about or wish to learn new skills in speaking in academic contexts, whether it’s oral presentations, in-class discussions, or talking with professors during office hours. To make an appointment to see a consultant or learn more, visit us at You can also go directly to the Center or call (805) 437-8934.