THANK YOU, Marc McGinnes, for 33 years
of dedicated service to the
Environmental Studies Program at UCSB!

Photos of Marc

Marc McGinnes came to UCSB in 1972 from his engagement in environmental activism, a commitment that has not waned in over three decades that he has taught in the Environmental Studies Program. Like the genesis of the Environmental Studies Program itself, the roots of his activism trace to the 1969 Santa Barbara Oil Spill.

The course he teaches in environmental law, the longest-running such course in the country, is based not just on generic cases but also on many that he has litigated-cases that have established and defined California’s environmental policies. He has helped to prepare a generation of UCSB students for law school by training them in the case method of instruction. But his own commitment to win-win scenarios also leads him to teach mediation and other non-litigious methods of dispute resolution. In this, too, he brings to the classroom practical experience from his ongoing work as an arbitrator and mediator. He inspires his students to achieve excellence. Like all great teachers, he does so with the attitude that he remains a student himself.

On behalf of all current and former UCSB students, faculty and staff, whose heart and soul you have touched over the last 33 years, the Environmental Studies Program THANKS YOU, Marc McGinnes. All the best in the next chapter of your life......

The following are some thoughts and memories about Marc McGinnes as submitted by current and former students:

1) I wanted to send you a note to let Marc know what an inspiration I found you to be during my time at UCSB. Not only were your classes wonderful, but you inspired your students to get involved politically in their community and be out proactively working to protect the environment. All of us who were involved in Environmental Affairs Board really admired and respected you for that.
After I graduated in 1999, I moved out to Washington DC in hopes to make a difference on environmental/political issues. I worked for several years for various environmental groups like Greenpeace and the National Environmental Trust. I also got my MA in Political Management from George Washington University. Currently I work as a Democratic Legislative Staffer for the House Resources Committee-focused on National Forest policy. It is a wonderful job and I certainly attribute the inspiration I found from Professors like you to my success in Washington DC.
Again thank you so much and best of luck with your retirement!
- Meghan Conklin, Democratic Legislative Staff, House Committee on Resources

2) My favorite all-time Marc quote is "Understanding does not require agreement." It is so true, particularly in land use planning, and I fall back on it often when I find myself having a hard time seeing someone's point of view...
- Eva A. Turenchalk, AICP, Land Use Planner

3) Marc has been a real inspiration to me and I have really fond memories of him...... Stuck in my head over the years was a time he walked into his law class, drew a circle with a dot in the middle, wrote “Be Here Now!,” stared at it for about five minutes, and then walked out of the class!
At any rate, although I didn't become a lawyer, he got me really fascinated with the then nascent body of law emerging in the federal environmental field, and I have carried that interest today into the CWA work I've been doing with the Riverkeeper up here in Oregon. I'm finding that that interest has become generational as daughter, who is going to DePaul in Chicago, just changed her major to environmental science, and I'm hoping that the activism that Marc, and the other people at Santa Barbara, carries through into this new generation of graduates. We certainly need some help out there!
- Joe Coffman

4) I just wanted to tell you that Marc has had a huge influence on the path I have taken. I took his Environmental Law class and his International Environmental Law class in 2001 and 2002. These interesting and fun classes inspired me to go to law school because I saw the law as a way to combine my environmental values with a career that will enable me to make a difference. I am finishing my second year at the University of Maryland Law School where I am concentrating in Environmental Law. I will graduate next year and hope to work in California at a public interest environmental law firm. I just want to thank Marc for being so energetic and committed to the ES Program!
- Amber Tysor, ES grad 2002, Law school Student, Maryland

5) I was fortunate enough to take Marc's Environmental Dispute Resolution as a summer institute/course, in the summer of '87 or '88 (iirc) and to this day a few of his sayings have stuck with me and proved to be very valuable life teachings.
"Understanding doesn't require agreement"
"Feelings are facts"
"Conflict is a unique and glorious opportunity for change" (not sure if I
have this one 100% correct)
I also remember that Marc said that you should treat a conflict situation like you would a judo/jujitsu match, meaning as the issue pulls or pushes you, instead of being thrown by the problem, you use its energy to throw it (if that makes sense) Use the energy of the conflict to change the direction of the solution to something entirely new.
- David Karpman, ES ‘91, GIT eCommerce & Architecture

6) I started off in the Environmental Studies program with an emphasis in natural science as I had an eye towards going to medical school. My dad was an attorney and, while I had considered the law as a possibility, I really didn't know whether I would like it. As a junior and senior, I took Professor McGinnes's classes and he was amazing. Like no other teacher I ever had. I wasn't being lectured at, I was being engaged by. He wasn't following a script; McGinnes was improvising. The man was a master of the Socratic method. I was hooked. I can honestly tell you that none of my distinguished teachers over three years of law school were able to recreate exactly the same kind of inspiration that Professor McGinnes infused in that bright-eyed 21 year old kid.
I am a practicing attorney now and I love my job. In many respects, Professor McGinnes was extremely influential in the decisions I've made that have shaped my life. Please pass along my appreciation to Professor McGinnes, his efforts continue to be much appreciated.
- Matt Siben

7) My first encounter with Marc was similar to what I think I lot of people experienced. Stilts. Those ones hidden by big floppy white pants, making that scruffy muffin seem like an ent (from lord of the rings). The smile. The one that makes you think "what am I living for again? I guess its happiness. This guy seems pretty happy, maybe he can teach me something about how to love my life." And the ever so soothing hhhmmmmm.... His hum of understanding. A sound letting your heart know that someone is listening. A sound that breaks down all barriers; opening everyone else up, trying to feel that same understanding, that some compassion for the world. I met him by chance in a randomly selected class, he became the first reason why I chose environmental studies as my major. He helped open my eyes to the love of the world inside myself. The best damn hug I've ever gotten was from Marc. Warmth that will last my lifetime.
- Alex Kane

8) I deeply regret not being able to spend adequate time to share how much Marc means to me. (I am in the middle of final exams right now -- my last semester of law school; and am helping to care for my mother and newborn nephew (less than 2 weeks old) and have committed to weekly mentoring sessions with disadvantaged youth).
I'd like to share an excerpt of what I wrote for a final exam/paper "My Lawyering Philosophy," in a required class on Professional Responsibility. It cannot begin to demonstrate the impact that this wonderful being has had on me personally and professionally: "A former Environmental Studies professor of mine, Marc McGinnes, advocated the use of law as a healing art....I must continuously develop a lawyering philosophy that reflects law as a healing heal and prevent wounds, whether environmental, societal, or interpersonal. I must because I can."
There is no doubt in my mind that I know and feel that I can and I must because of Marc. Thank you Marc from the bottom of my heart and soul.
Another favorite saying is about “response-ability as a responsibility”, and the other way around. These have been guiding words for my life and career -- once I learned of the problems facing Mother Earth, I knew I had a responsibility to gain an ability to respond. Once I had the response-ability, I had a responsibility to use it. That is why I do what I do. "With response-ability comes responsibility."
- Lilian Miwa Maher-Escobosa (J.D. Candidate, 2005)

9) I am a high school AP Environmental Science teacher, and something I always think about and bring up in class is Marc's ideas of "just us" rather than "justice." Marc taught me to look into the environmental justice aspect of all the science and policy. I really appreciate that he exposed me to his lense of the world we live in.
- Debolina Dutta (class of '99)

10) Its been too long for me (around 25 years) to remember any quotes from Marc. But he introduced me to the book Should Trees Have Standing that still forms a core philosophy of my thinking as an environmental professional.
- Gary Jakobs, Principal/Vice President, EDAW, Inc.

11) Here’s the best event I recall about Marc: We were out at San Miguel Island, in about 1972, having sailed out on Barry’s Cassandra. Marc and I hiked up to Simonton Cove, having engaged in a ritual typical to that era. We bounded down a sand dune and came upon a lot of driftwood, including, fortuitously, a beat up wooden sign from a “San Miguel” beer case. We enthusiastically set about constructing something. It gradually grew into an elaborate structure of a Gas Station (including the “San Miguel” sign at the top) and a car.
Marc was sitting in our driftwood car making vrooming car noises, and I was pretending to fill it with gas and wash the windows, when (oops!) over the hill marched the remaining members of Barry’s sailing crew. Not being “in the moment” the way Marc and I were, they all just stood there, shaking their heads. Undaunted, we convinced the crew to join us in revelry, and eventually the entire crew was leaping, bounding, and rolling down the sand dunes, checking the oil in the driftwood car, pumping its tires, and decorating the gas station with bits of flotsam, kelp and shells! Perhaps you had to be there...but to me it was precious. More in the spirit of your request, Marc had a major impact on my various environmental careers and thus on the fulfillment I have enjoyed in my life. He offered me my first job--as a researcher, seeking environmental cases for the initial volume of his "Environmental Law" text. I loved his course and his passion for using the law for right-minded objectives. A decade later I finally decided to go to law school, and about a decade after that, I finally decided to practice environmental law. I have used his approach and legal arguments throughout my career and have found them rewarding and satisfying throughout.
I regret being unable to attend the event and sharing this deservedly shining moment with Marc.
- Merrilee Fellows, NASA

12) I am a Geog alumni from 99 and had the pleasure to learn from Marc's Future Environments class. Although there were many (and I do mean MANY) memorable moments during that class, there is one quote or gesture that will stay with me forever. At the beginning of each lecture Marc would start with a simple statement. It was very concise, meaningful , and powerful. He would say, "I am you.....You are me.....We are we...." He would then repeat that phrase 2 more times at the start of every lecture. (say it to yourself 3 times and you'll see what I mean). He had a simple, but extremely effective manner in delivering messages that would ultimately unite the class. Luckily, I have never forgotten the message. Give him a gargantuan thank you!
- Teddy Allen

13) Marc McGinnes was the best professor I had at UCSB. His energy, enthusiasm, and dedication truly made Environmental Studies a wonderful major. I will never forget sitting in the courtyard of Girvetz looking at the coral tree as a class assignments, or backpacking at Cathedral Lake for the California Water Policy course. Thank you Professor McGinnes for never being afraid to be yourself and for touching so many students. My experiences with you were a major factor in my decision to pursue a career in Environmental Law.
- Bryce Clark Besser, Class of 2000

14) My most vivid memory of Marc was the 1st day of our International Environmental Law class, when he commenced his quarter long "visit" from an extra-terrestrial - essentially Marc giving us the extreme outsider's perspective on our planet and how we act as humans. But my most touching moment was during that same quarter, when I was going through a period of crisis at the same time he was, and I spoke to him after class, saying "I understand what you are going through, and it will pass" and he thanked me just by the look in his eyes. Marc - you're a unique and passionate person, and I know the next chapter of your life will be at least as successful as the one you are leaving behind. Thank you!
- Katherine Simon

15) The influence and teaching of Marc McGinnes affected the rest of my life. At the Environmental Defense Center, Marc provided me with my first opportunity to be a team leader, and I later went on to manage many environmental studies at consulting firms. After a consulting career and service in California government, I went to law school and public policy school. Marc's inspiration and fond memories of his environmental law class led me to practice environmental law. I thank him more than words can say.

16) Marc taught me that one person can make a difference and that I could really make an impact with an environmental career. I am so grateful that I had such a positive mentor during my college years and am thankful every day for the meaning and satisfaction I receive from my job.
- Alison W. Jordan

17) Marc had a huge impact on me. My first class in college was ES 1 and Marc came out on stilts. I thought: this guy is an environmental lawyer? I want do that! And now I'm in law school. My freshman year, Marc had the honors section over to his house and we had dinner with his family. Later in a land dispute resolution class, he had us over again. It was amazing to have a professor be so open and giving of himself. Marc made us feel like colleagues of his and made environmental law exciting. He was my complete inspiration for my career path and I owe him so much. His various teaching methods and approaches: role playing, class discussion and participation and free thinking curriculum is completely refreshing and highly effective. I have a passion for environmental law, for the UCSB ES program, and a drive to achieve social change: it is largely due to Marc McGinnes and his guidance as a teacher.
- Sara Aminzadeh, Class of 2003, Law Student, UC Hastings

18) I decided to declare Environmental Studies as my major and career path after Professor McGinnes taught his opening lecture of my very first class as a freshman at UCSB (Environmental Studies 1) on stilts! To this day, I vividly remember every concept brought to the table by Marc McGinnes, in the many courses I intentionally took with him, because of his undeniable charisma and sincere dedication to teaching and to our environment. I congratulate and thank him for successfully influencing generations of students to conduct their lives with concern for a sustainable earth.
- Erika Sahn Leachman, Class of 2004

19) Greetings. I am in my 21st year as a planner with the Maryland-National Park and Planning Commission in a county that borders Washington DC. When I became an E.S. major in the 1970's there were no courses in urban planning. Marc McGinnes introduced me to Environmental Law. I decided then that this was HOW I was going to make a difference. Being able to navigate your way through law and politics is so critical to implementing land use policy. Marc McGinnes' Environmental Law course was relevant at the time and pivotal to my future career in planning. Of course, he was memorable too because he was so darn good looking. But, in all seriousness, it was his enthusiasm, sincerity and knowledge of the subject that I truly appreciate. Thank you Marc, for attending the ES Undergraduates Association picnics at Goleta Beach and for making a difference in my life.
- Wendy (Rockwell) Irminger, Class of '77

20) Here are a few words about Marc...
---An Educator's purpose: to replace an empty mind with an open one, and as a
professor at UCSB Marc McGinnes certainly accomplished such an achievement. To me Marc McGinnes is truly one of those people who has made a huge contribution specifically to UCSB and to life in general. His love and enthusiasm for life emanates from him, impacting all those that have the privilege of being around him. While his classes were anything but easy, I valued each day for he always challenged us and pushed our limits of thinking (whether it was towering over us on stilts or allowing aliens to share their wisdom). His ability to speak his beliefs and provide others with a novel perspective of the world was not only an inspiration, but encouraged me to pursue my life goals. I hope to become an international environmental lawyer and like Marc help protect the earth by holding the human race more accountable for their actions. Radiating his imagination, his exuberance, and his knowledge of life, Marc has affected so many. Thank you Marc, for encouraging and opening the eyes of your many students and co-workers. You have definitely left a legacy that will live on through your students. But I know this is not the last we will hear of Marc McGinnes. He will continue to influence minds and policies with his philosophy of life in all the endeavors he pursues... and I'm hopeful there will be many.
Just one of many of your inspired students,
- Kirstyn Werner, '05

21) Marc was one of the first people I met when I came to Santa Barbara. I remember vividly the first time I saw this long-haired bearded man wearing jeans, his quintessential Guatemalan tie, and a gleam in his eyes (a bit shocking for a 17 year old from the east coast). I instantly knew that Marc was not your average college professor. After a bit of pleading to allow a freshman into one of his upper division course, Marc took me under his wing and shared his amazing passion, vision and knowledge with me. Over the years I made sure to go out of my way to take every course Marc offered and had the luck to aid him with work at the Environmental Defense Center and in student teaching his courses in my later years. Marc also introduced me to the annual environmental law conference at the University of Oregon, where I eventually decided to got to law school. His teaching techniques involving experiential learning and role-playing were some of the most memorable and informative of my education as UCSB, but even more it was his philosophy of life that has stuck with me the most over the years.
Now, more than ten years later as a public-interest environmental attorney whenever I find myself getting frustrated with the legal system or facing obstacles that seem insurmountable I remembers Marc's wisdom about viewing law as a healing art and recognizing that justice is truly just-us. I can not thank Marc enough for his invaluable friendship that has continued over the years. I wish I was there in person to give him a huge hug and wish him the best of life as I can not think of anyone who deserves it more.
- Corrie Bosman, Sitka, Alaska, Class of 1994

22) Marc was very special to me as an E. S. Student. I remember feeling out of my intellectual league all the time, but wanting to soak in everything he had to say. He conducted our marriage back in 1986. His words of wisdom and kindness bring back great memories. Marc-a hug to you from Geordie and I....
- Julie Mordecai, Alamosa, Colorado, Executive Director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the San Luis Valley

23) Thank you, Marc, for being an innovative and inspiring environmental educator for so many years. Your honest, passionate and peaceful way of teaching, leading and being has helped so many ES students to not only develop a deeper understanding of the environment academically, but spiritually as well. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
- Jim Hurley

If you would like to contribute your own thoughts about Marc, please email them to .

Here are some students' favorite "Marc-isms"

“Understanding does not require agreement”

“Feelings are facts”

“Conflict is not a contest”

“Justice is not merely what suits just-us”

“Conflict is a unique and glorious opportunity for change”

“Response-ability as a responsibility” and "With response-ability comes responsibility."

"Relationship really matters. After all, matter really is relationship."

"To be right and self-righteous is wrong."

"The way to do is to be. (Lao Tzu) Or was that me? Or was it you?"

Marc said that "you should treat a conflict situation like you would a judo/jujitsu match, meaning as the issue pulls or pushes you, instead of being thrown by the problem, you use its energy to throw it (if that makes sense) Use the energy of the conflict to change the direction of the solution to something entirely new."

"Yes, I am I, you are you, and we are we.
And yet, I am you, you are me, and we are one."

If you would like to contribute any additional "Marc-isms," please email them to .

The UCSB Environmental Studies Program and the Environmental Studies Associates (ESA) is proud to announce the creation of a new student scholarship:

The Marc McGinnes Environmental Law and Advocacy Scholarship

Established May 2005 to honor J. Marc McGinnes upon his retirement after 33 years of service to the UCSB Environmental Studies Program, this award of at least $500 will be given annually to a deserving ES senior in recognition of: outstanding academic achievement in the Environmental Studies major in general and in environmental law courses in particular,
outstanding environmental service and leadership as an undergraduate student, and
outstanding promise of future achievement in environmental law and/or environmental leadership.

The first award was presented to Kirstyn Werner at the ES 35th Anniversary Celebration in conjunction with the announcement of Marc's retirement. Hereafter it will be made at the ES commencement/awards reception.

If you would like to make a tax deductible contribution to this new scholarship fund, please make it payable to "UC Regents", with a note specifying "McGinnes Scholarship," and send it to:
Environmental Studies Program
University of California
Santa Barbara, CA 93106-4160.

For more information about the Marc McGinnes Environmental Law and Advocacy Scholarship, call 805/893-7547.



ES Program: Bren Hall, UCSB, Santa Barbara, CA 93106-4106 : 805-893-2968 :

Website last updated in: May, 2005