Oakes Core Course and Faculty

Our core course, Communicating Diversity for a Just Society, seeks to help students appreciate the fundamental role of higher education in identifying and solving some of the critical problems facing our nation and the world.  Through the course readings, discussions, and lectures, students will explore the connections between educational quality, diverse ways of thinking, and social justice.  In the core course and throughout the Oakes community, students are encouraged to explore issues of race, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, religion, socioeconomic class, and politics.


Sara Benson, sbenson@ucsc.edu,

Sara received her Ph.D. in Politics and Feminist Studies from the University of California-Santa Cruz in 2011. Before teaching at Oakes College, she held a UC President's Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Department of History at UCLA. Her work focuses on the relationship between prisons and democracy in history, and on the broader meanings of race, justice, and citizenship. She teaches writing, political theory, feminist critical race and legal studies, policing and punishment, and women and politics.


Chris Garrecht-Williams

Chris Garrecht-Williams, cgarrech@ucsc.edu, Oakes room 316

Chris has an MFA in Poetry from Columbia University and received his BA in Literature from UCSC. He has taught writing and literature courses at Columbia, Rutgers, Temple and San José State universities, and is very happy to be returning to his alma mater. Essays and poems of his have been published in Five Dials, Phantom Limb, Spinning Jenny, The Chattahoochee Review, Forklift: Ohio, and elsewhere. 

Knisely photo

Lindsay Knisely, lknisely@ucsc.edu, Oakes room 313

Lindsay Knisely is happy to be teaching the Oakes Core Course, which she has done every year since 2004.  She also enjoys teaching the Oakes College Mentoring Workshop, Oakes Academic Success, and a Writing 2 course called "Youth Identity in a Networked Culture," which investigates the ways that young people's relationships with themselves and others have been affected by their digital connectivity. Lindsay has an MFA in Poetry from the University of Oregon, and a degree in Creative Writing from Oberlin College. She lives in Santa Cruz with her​ wondrous family. ​

Christie McCullen

Christie McCullen, cmcculle@ucsc.edu, she/her/hers, Oakes room 316

Christie is pleased to be joining the Oakes faculty! She received a Ph.D. in Sociology and Feminist Studies from UC Santa Cruz, studying the affective dynamics of conversations about race in college classrooms (including classes at Oakes College). Christie currently teaches courses on race, gender, embodiment, popular culture, and social theory in the Sociology Department at UCSC, and she has also taught writing courses at UCSC and San José State University. Outside of teaching, Christie has worked for UCSC's Center for Innovations in Teaching and Learning, where she designed trainings on inclusive teaching principles and practices.

nirshan perera

Nirshan Perera, nrperera@ucsc.edu, he/him/his, Oakes room 317

Nirshan received his doctorate in literature from UC Santa Cruz, where he taught courses for the literature and writing departments. His research/teaching areas include nineteenth-century literature and science and how they intersect in the construction of race in the nineteenth century and beyond. He received a master's degree in English and credential to teach college-level English composition classes from San Francisco State University and completed his undergraduate education at Sarah Lawrence College. Before beginning his graduate studies, he worked as a writer and editor at print and online news sources in the New York and Bay Areas.

sheeva sabati

Sheeva Sabati, @ucsc.edu, she/her/they,

Sheeva Sabati received a doctorate in Education, with designated emphases in Feminist Studies and Critical Race and Ethnic Studies from UC Santa Cruz. She has taught in the Education Department, Community Studies Program, and the Critical Race and Ethnic Studie Program at UCSC, and has also facilitated professional development workshops on the ethics of collaborative and community-based research in multiple disciplinary spaces. Her research considers the intersections of race, settler colonialism, and U.S. institutions of higher education.

andrea seeger

Andrea Seeger, anseeger@ucsc.edu, Oakes room 316

Andrea (a Santa Cruz native returned from academic wandering) received her BA from UC Santa Cruz, her MA from the University of Colorado Boulder, and is completing a PhD from UC Berkeley. Andrea studies 20th Century American Literature, African American Literature, the History of Scientific Racism, Critical Race Theory, and Gender Studies. She has been teaching literature and writing courses for over 10 years and enjoys her students challenging themselves through exploring and developing the processes of inquisitive reading and conscientious academic writing.