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Invented as a magical island in a sixteenth-century Spanish novel, “California” has exercised an imaginative influence on the world for more than four hundred years. From the days of the Spanish conquest, through the frenzy of the gold rush, the fantasies of Hollywood, and the tragedies of the Dust Bowl, to the innovative universe of Silicon Valley, California has always been a place where people have projected their hopes, anxieties, and dreams of the future.
The California Studies Initiative is an effort to combine Santa Clara University’s mission heritage and roots in early California with the Santa Clara University College of Arts and Sciences’ intellectual resources to focus on the history and culture of California in an interdisciplinary project. Through a variety of research and outreach activities, the California Studies Initiative aims to stimulate reflection on the relationship between tradition and innovation in the early California experience, and on the implications of those phenomena for the current California experience. The Initiative promotes scholarship and public education, and seeks critical and informed reflection on the enduring significance of the early California experience.