by Anne Foreman, OLLI member
Jeff Lustig, who will be teaching "The California Bust: Turning Points on the Road to Crisis" for this coming spring, is a California native son. He was born in Chula Vista, went to school in San Diego, and received his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. in political science from the University of California, Berkeley.
Besides his academic credentials, Lustig says he's proud of three other distinctions received at Berkeley: his three arrests for the Free Speech movement, the Third World Strike, and People's Park.
Before retiring last June, Lustig taught for almost 40 years at various universities throughout California and became immersed in a plethora of issues affecting our state.
At the University of California, Riverside, Lustig began to pull together his interests in California history and literature with his academic work in political theory and economics to form a course integrating all these elements.
In 1975, while teaching at the UC Berkeley, he met Professor Paul Schuster Taylor, an agricultural economist during the New Deal era of the 1930's. Taylor was well-known for his agricultural fieldwork, some of which was for the federal government, and for his work to halt violations by large agribusinesses of the 160-acre law for public water. He inspired Lustig to study California land and water issues and deepen his California studies work. Additing to what he was teaching at Deep Springs College near Owens Valley, the site of the 1904 "water rip-off" by Los Angeles.
While teaching at Humboldt State University in the early 1980s, he started the North Coast Labor History Project, preserving documentation on labor practices, organizing, and conflict in the north coast timber industry--just in time before the timber shutdowns. He was subsequently a professor of government at California State University, Sacramento, Director of the Center for California Studies, founding chair of the California Studies Association, a faculty union activist, and California Historical Society board member.
Since retiring, Lustig continues to write on California issues. His most recent publication is Remaking California: Reclaiming the Public Good, for which he both edited and wrote chapters. "California is my beat," he says, and we will have the opportunity to share in his knowledge of our state this coming spring.