John ‘Jack’ Schaar, a long-time contributor to Deep Springs’ academic program, passed away on December 26, 2011.
Jack was a political theorist at UC Berkeley when he first taught at Deep Springs in 1969. He soon began co-teaching introductory summer seminars along with Deep Springs’ president Randall Reid, returning frequently to lead summer sessions after Reid moved on. His commitment to Deep Springs over forty years of teaching helped develop the summer seminar into a course that today plays a central role in Deep Springs’ curriculum.
Jack’s work at the college established the summer seminar’s current form as an interdisciplinary team-taught course. His seminars focused on themes of community, authority, and the relationship between society and nature, themes that Jack thought were particularly important in the context of the Deep Springs program. In later years Jack worked closely at Deep Springs with long-term faculty members David and Sharon Schuman, and introduced several of his former students to the Deep Springs’ visiting faculty rolls-among them Doug Lummis, Richard Gibbs (now Richard Mahon), and, most influentially, Jeff Lustig.
Jack was a lively and beloved teacher. Students remember Jack for his beautiful, intricate lectures on a wide variety of topics and texts; for his witty, probing engagement with students, and for his twin commitments to careful thought about issues in politics and to deliberate action in improving the lot of humanity. Outside the classroom, Jack frequently shared his devotion to hiking and rock climbing in the desert and the Sierras with other community members.
Jack was born in Montoursville, PA, in 1928, and was raised in a Lutheran farm family. He earned a B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. at the University of California, Los Angeles, and went on to teach in the political science department at the University of California, Berkeley, where many of his students were involved in the Free Speech movement.
From 1970 to his death, Jack taught in the politics department at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He was particularly well known for his approach to American political thought. His publications-in journals and books, as well as in popular venues like the Nation and The New York Review of Books-dealt with questions of authority and loyalty in the modern state, the student movements of the Sixties, and the role of the social sciences in political thought, among others.
Jack is survived by his wife, political theorist Hanna Pitkin, and by his son John.
Jack will be long remembered and greatly missed at Deep Springs.