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Ecofeminism professor models the way for pursuing personal and professional sustainability
Posted on Friday, Mar. 1, 2013
If you live in Swig, you might know Sherry Booth as the director of the 7th floor Sustainable Living Undergraduate Research Program (SLURP). But what you might not know is her role on campus as one of the leading professors in sustainability and the only professor teaching an ecofeminism course at SCU.
Sherry Booth grew up in Kentucky and has always found herself interested in topics of sustainability and feminism, drawing inspiration from feminist and environmental authors such as Virginia Woolf and Sandra Steingraber, to name just a few.
She pursued these interests early on in college and graduate school, and she has been able to bring both interests together through her work at Santa Clara University and, in particular, through her class ENGL 152: Women, Literature, and Theory. This class focuses on how contemporary women writers bring the natural world into their work.
While ecofeminism may sound intimidating, it is a broad and varied field that examines how the environment, women, children, and people of color are treated, and it introduces students to how issues of the environment intersect with gender.
Her class is part theory, as students learn about and evaluate different eco-feminist approaches, and part fiction. Professor Booth ties in four novels all written by female authors. While reading these novels, students analyze how women and the natural world are treated through an exploratory approach.
Outside of the classroom, Sherry is an active member of the University Sustainability Council and advises students in SLURP. The Sustainability Council is a group of administrators, faculty, and staff working on making SCU climate neutral by the end of 2015. Part of her role on the council is to find ways of engaging sustainability throughout curriculum, research, and co-curriculum planning.
As a SLURP advisor, Sherry leads a group of Swig residents in a two-quarter research project to determine ways of making life at Santa Clara University more sustainable. Students research issues ranging from how to increase composting on campus to creating carbon offsets for traveling faculty and athletes.
At home, Sherry lives a vegetarian lifestyle, makes sure to offset carbon for all of her traveling, only produces one bag of garbage a week, and drives a Prius. Not only does she lead by example, but she has inspiring words for women who want to pursue sustainable lifestyles and careers. She states with conviction that “passion is key,” but passion must be backed by hard work, lots of reading, and cultivating relationships. Sustainability is not something you do for money-- it’s about caring and wanting to change the future. You should “always think about what is coming, and how you can make it better,” she says.