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Log from the Sea of Cortez cover with OCOB Logo

The Log from the Sea of Cortez by John Steinbeck is the 2014 selection!

In the two years after the 1939 publication of Steinbeck’s masterful The Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck and his novel increasingly became the center of intense controversy and censorship.  In search of a respite from the national stage, Steinbeck and his close friend, biologist Ed Ricketts, embarked on a month long, 4,000 mile, marine specimen-collecting expedition in the Gulf of California. This exciting day-by-day account of their journey together is a rare blend of science, philosophy, humor and high-spirited adventure.  

“This is at once the record of a serious biological expedition and of the impact of a biologist and a novelist upon each other’s minds…The best of Steinbeck is in it.” –Lewis Gannett, New York Herald Tribune 

“Ideas are not dangerous unless they find seeding place in some earth more profound than the mind.”  ― John Steinbeck, The Log from the Sea of Cortez

We are excited to begin exploring a variety of interdisciplinary themes during our year long celebration of the book!   

Did you know this book has a strong connection to Southeast Alaska?  As strange as it sounds, aside from our common connection to the Pacific, Ed Ricketts's first book, Between Pacific Tides published in 1949 (the same year as Steinbeck's, The Grapes of Wrath) was co-authored by Jack Calvin (a mutual friend of Steinbeck and Ricketts) who eventually moved to Sitka and among other contributions to marine ecology of the region founded the Sitka Conservation Society.  Rickett's daughter, Nancy lives in Sitka to this day.  

Don't miss our Spring OCOB Speaker, socio-ecological artist Colleen Flanigan coming March 3-6 to UAS-Sitka and UAS-Juneau to present on the topic Saving Our Seas: Merging Art and Environmental Science. Check out her work in the short video below.  

Read a Sample 

Get the Book:

All New Student Orientation attendees will receive a complimentary copy of the book.  Copies are available at the Egan Library as well as other local libraries and bookstores.  Receive 20% off The Log from the Sea of Cortez at the UAS Campus Bookstore with your UAS ID (Whale Card).  

2014-15 Featured speakers:

Katie Rodger (UC Davis) has been teaching at UC Davis since 2002, and has been a lecturer in the University Writing Program(UWP) since Spring 2011. Her areas of interest include the intersections of science and writing, especially literature of the environment and the literature of the Pacific Ocean. For ten years, she researched the life and work of marine ecologist, Ed Ricketts, the model for John Steinbeck's "Doc" in Cannery Row. She published two volumes, a critical edition of Ricketts's letters, Renaissance Man of Cannery Row The Life and Letters of Edward F. Ricketts (U. Alabama P, 2002) and his collected essays, Breaking Through: Essays, Journals, and Travelogues of Edward F. Ricketts (U. California P, 2006). Currently, Rodger is co-editing an encyclopedia of material culture, All Things Steinbeck, due to be published in 2014.

portrait of colleen flanigan

Colleen Flanigan is a visual, performing, and environmental artist, exhibiting internationally. She was selected as a senior TED Fellow and was featured in a Nokia/TED responsiveness campaign. She has a BA in Design from UCLA , and a post-baccalaureate Certificate in Metals from the Oregon College of Art and Craft. With 20 years of arts background, she moves from jewelry to steel sculptures, mixed-media interactive works to conceptual and collaborative projects. Recently she worked on the stop-motion animated feature, Coraline, (Feb. 2009) a Henry Selick-directed interpretation of Neil Gaiman';s book. An armaturist for puppet fabrication, Colleen made ball-and-socket skeletons for puppets. Having taught sculpture and jewelry to all ages, as well as created exhibits at children's museums and schools, she is known for her large 3-dimensional steel drawings woven with wire by children. Colleen learned to SCUBA and went to Bali for certification in the Global Coral Reef Alliance's Biorock mineral accretion, an innovative technology for coral reef restoration that combines her sculptural practice and passion for the oceans and natural habitats. It is a form of living art. Colleen sees life as art and is an avid tango dancer. Read more about Colleen at Arts and Science Collaborations Inc.

One Campus, One Book is the common reading program at UAS-Juneau.  It's a celebration of literature and the relationships and community that develops between readers and writers.  The program grew out of the Student Success Forum with the goal of helping foster community and compassion on campus.  The program's first year (2010) featured David Issay's Listening is an Act of Love and a corresponding campus oral history project ( The UAS Listening Project) collected the stories of students, faculty and staff.   In 2012 the program was formalized, a selection committee established and in 2013 program goals and criteria were adopted.  


The UAS One Campus, One Book program will:

  • Begin an exploration of interdisciplinary approaches
  • Create opportunities for learning in and out of the classroom.
  • Foster student, staff and community participation and identification as contributing members of an intellectual community.
  • Promote reading and "foster a page-turning togetherness".*

       *based on DC We Read 2009

Criteria for book selection:

  • The extent to which the book matches program goals (touches on interdisciplinary perspectives and has the potential for integration into curriculum, is not too challenging in terms of reading level or topic).
  • Has the potential for a variety of related program (themes).
  • The book won’t have likely been assigned reading during high school.
  • Accessibility: The book is between 250-350 pages in length, engaging, college-level reading and not a text-book
  • Accessibility: is available currently in paperback
  • Accessibility: bulk ordering of the book won’t require a reprint of the title.
  • The author may be available to visit campus (within our modest budget).

Core Planning and Selection Committee:

AY15 (Fall 2014-Spring/Summer 2015).  Planning Meetings will be held 3rd Fridays from 1-3pm.  (9/19, 10/17, 11/21)

Anne Wedler, Assistant Professor of Art, Co-chair

Jonas Lamb, Assistant Professor of Library Science/Public Services Librarian, Co-chair

Lisa Richardson, Assistant Professor of Education

Richard Simpson, Assistant Professor of Humanities

Vacant, Fall 2014 Student Rep

Vacant, Fall 2014 Student Intern 


2014-15 The Log from the Sea of Cortez

If you are considering using The Log from the Sea of Cortez in your class or are interested in serving on the Planning and Selection Commitee please contact us.  We also have desk/review copies available.  


Related Themes and Connections


Sculpture, seascapes, scientific illustration

Colleen Flanigan: Ocean activist and artist. She focuses on reef ecosystems and how we can cross-pollinate art, science and our creativity to save biodiversity in oceans:
The Lavin Agency- Speaker Colleen Flanigan

Colleen Flanigan- Bio

Abstract Photographer Dana Montlack's exhibition, Sea of Cortez, inspired by the journey

The art/ illustrations of Mick Wiggins (cover art for 1995 Penguin Classics edition of Sea of Cortez).  Commentary on technique and book design and his Steinbeck covers for Penguin Classics.  

Biology/Marine Biology/Ecology

Scientific boating expedition, preparations for field work, sampling, preserving, collection of marine specimens, marine invertebrates, scientific observations/cataloging.

Between Pacific Tides: an account of the habits and habitats of some of five hundred of the conspicious seashore invertebrates of the Pacific coast between Sitka, Alaska and Northern Mexico by Ed Ricketts, Jack Calvin and Joel Hedgpeth.   

Epilogue from Beyond the Outer Shores by Eric Enno Tamm, explores compares and contrasts the environmental destruction of the dust bowl and the 1997 el nino's impact on Pacific fisheries.   

John Steinbeck's foreward to 1948 ed. of Between Pacific Tides 

Information on the Sea of Cortez (the Gulf of California)

Echoes of 'The Sea of Cortez'


Boat chartering, fisheries/natural resource management

Literary Collaboration / Challenges of dual-authorship in publishing: Why was Ricketts name removed from the later edition of the book?  What are the economic drivers that influenced this editorial decision?   


Experiential learning, place-based education, semester at sea, learning communities, interdisciplinary studies, STEM.  

Pierce College Marine Science Program: Sea of Cortez Course featured in this video.  


 Non-fiction literature, storytelling, narratives, literature of the environment, travel writing

Literary Collaboration / Challenges of dual-authorship in publishing: Why was Ricketts name removed from the later edition of the book?

Environmental Science

Fisheries management, trawling, human impact on the ocean, management of international waters

Epilogue from Beyond the Outer Shores by Eric Enno Tamm, explores compares and contrasts the environmental destruction of the dust bowl and the 1997 el nino's impact on Pacific fisheries. 

Nawkasina goes north-Related article, canoe expedition from Tacoma to Juneau 1933 by Jack Calvin friend of Steinbeck and Ricketts and co-author of Between Pacific Tides


Pacific coastline littoral 

Geography of Steinbeck country (Both imagined and real geography) 
         Steinbeck Country App 


World War II, Mexico, Agri-industrialization of California 



Outdoor Skills and Leadership

Boat expedition, Fishing, Trawling, Navigation, Survival skills, Problem solving

Nawkasina goes north-Related article, canoe expedition from Tacoma to Juneau 1933 by Jack Calvin friend of Steinbeck and Ricketts and co-author of Between Pacific Tides

Ed Ricketts and the 'Dream' of Cannery Row  2 part NPR feature on Ricketts and Steinbeck
Scholar examines Ricketts, Calvin Connection  KCAW Sitka interview with Katie Rodger and Lisa Busch (Sitka Sound Science Center Director).  

Related Books and Films:


Journey to the Sea of Cortez (preview of feature documentary)
Available through the UAS Egan Library-

Sea of Cortez: A Leisurly Journal of Travel and Research

     by John Steinbeck and E.E. Ricketts

           -The original edition of The Log from the Sea of Cortez features both the narrative portion that we see in The Log as well as an annotated specimen list created by marine-biologist Ed Ricketts. This original collaboration of Steinbeck and Rickett's experience traveling through the Gulf of California is both a travelogue and a biological record of their expedition

Telling our Way to the Sea
by Aaron Hirsh

Steinbeck and the Environment: Interdisciplinary approaches (ebook)
     edited by Susan F. Beegel, Susan Shillinglaw, Wesley N. Tiffney, Jr. ; with a foreword by Elaine Steinbeck

Big sea journey with scientific intent (John Muir and others) could be tied to the story of the sea/scientific expeditions: 


John Steinbeck's The Log from the Sea of Cortez: A Feature Documentary
       Co-Production with Elite Studios MPC



Student Book Trailer contest- We are also looking into doing a Student BookTrailer contest as part of our Fall programming. If you are unfamiliar with the concept of a book trailer checkout this one for a recent book Whitman Illuminated: Song of Myself by Allen Crawford.

Do you know of a great book that could create community and conversation on campus through the OCOB program? If so, the Selection Committee invites you to submit your idea for the next book.  We look forward to adding your nominations to the ongoing consideration pool.  Please keep in mind the program goals, selection criteria and we'd love to hear your ideas for related programming.  

For examples, check out the common reading suggestions from some publishers:
Random House 
Harper Collins 
National Association of Scholars 

Book Nomination Form


Internship Opportunities:

Interested in Interning with the OCOB program? Talk to your advisor and contact before 5/1/2015 (for Fall 15 internship)

The OCOB Student internship will provide students with experience in the management, marketing and promotion of arts and culture events by assisting in the production of the campus-wide common reading program, One Campus, One Book and related campus and community events. This internship will also incorporate independent networking around the City and Borough of Juneau with the purpose of determining how arts and culture organizations develop, budget, staff, coordinate logistics, and evaluate their programs and events.  Duties vary between Fall and Spring Internship opportunities and each interested student is encouraged to work with their faculty advisor and OCOB faculty sponsors to adapt the internship to meet their program needs.  The OCOB internship can be adapted to meet a variety of programatic needs including Humanities, Communication, English and more.  Student interns can also choose to enroll at either 291/391/491 levels and typically for 3 credits (requires 150 clock hours).  These internship opportunities are open until filled.  Deadline to apply for fall is May 1 of the prior year and the deadline for the spring internship is December 1.  

Objectives:  One objective of the internship will be to provide the student an opportunity to actively participate in the management, marketing and promotion of an arts and culture event.

Interns will:

  • Attend regular OCOB committee planning and other related meetings/trainings (budget/CMS). 
  • Review and critically evaluate potential book titles for selection
  • Assist in book orders and author visit planning
  • Create promotional materials, surveys and content for print, web (CMS training provided) and social media
  • Assist in event scheduling and event logistics.
  • Develop written and oral communication skills by discussing and promoting OCOB programs and events with students and in the community
  • Develop confidence and communication skills serving as coordinator of correspondence and communication with invited author, publisher and other guest speakers/performers.

Questions about the internship?  Contact Jonas Lamb ( or call 907-796-6440

Information about previous OCOB selections and links to audio/video when available.  

2013: At the Mouth of the River of Bees by Kij Johnson

Kij Johnson visited the Juneau campus for a series of class visits, the one-night only production of a staged reading and an Evening at Egan Lecture.

UAS Drama Club S.C.R.I.P.T performed "Finding True North", Nov. 6th 2013 [listen]
Kij Johnson presented and Evening at Egan lecture, Egan Library, Nov. 8th, 2013 [ watch]

Narrative Endeavors: Visual and Literary Art Exhibition.  One night only student art show with open mic and Google Hangout with Kij Johnson.  Downtown Gallery, April 4th, 2014.   

John Marzluff, author of Gifts of the Crow: How perception, emotion, and thought allow smart birds to behave like humans presented a different perspective on this year's OCOB theme of human-animal communication and communicating with the other at a Sound and Motion Lecture on April 18th, 2014.  

2012: Being Caribou by Karsten Heuer  

Karsten Heuer and Leanne Alison visited the Juneau campus for a series of lectures, film screening and classroom visits. Gwich’in elder Randall Tetlichi was elder-in-residence on the Juneau Campus and gave another perspective on related themes.

Gwich’in elder Randall Tetlichi presented an Evening at Egan lecture, Egan Library: Nov. 9th  2012 [watch ]
Leanne screened the related film, Egan Lecture Hall followed by a Q&A, Nov. 15th 2012 [watch]
Karsten presented an Evening at Egan lecture, Egan Library, Nov. 16th 2012 [watch]
Sarah Ray, OCOB 2012 Committee Chair

2011: The Truth About Stories by Thomas King

2010: Listening is an Act of Love by David Isay


Questions?  Contact Us! Content maintained by Egan Library.