Kristi Birney

Kristi Birney is the instructor for Issues in Marine Conservation, a three-week course that surveys the major threats currently facing California marine ecosystems. Since receiving her master's degree from UCSB's Bren School of Environmental Science and Management in 2006, Birney has worked in multiple sectors including Environmental Scientist for California State Parks, Environmental Planner for Rincon Consultants, and Marine Conservation Director for the Environmental Defense Center. These roles provided her with experience in addressing a range of emerging ocean issues including marine protected areas, ocean planning, and protection of whales from marine shipping.  For several years she represented the conservation community on the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council (SAC) and lead the SAC’s Conservation Working Group.  She currently serves the Bren School’s Associate Director of Career Development and Alumni Relations, where she works as a connector for changemakers in the environmental field including students, alumni, and employers. In her free time, Kristi is an avid water enthusiast, spending time surfing, taking excursions on a stand-up paddle board, and playing beach volleyball. 



Michael Hanrahan teaches Introduction to Environmental Media Production and Advanced Environmental Media Production for the Blue Horizons program.  He has been involved with documentary film production for twenty five years.  Hanrahan studied marine science and motion picture film at the University of Miami, combining his respect for the ocean with his desire to communicate the challenges it faced. Early in his career, Hanrahan worked as a lecturer and underwater camera operator for Jean-Michel Cousteau, traveling to every continent except Antarctica. Later, Hanrahan would work with underwater and natural history documentary legend Mike deGruy. Under Mike's leadership, Hanrahan developed the filming strategy for the Discovery Channel production Search for the Giant Squid, allowing capture of the first video footage of a giant squid.

Hanrahan also collaborated with deGruy in the production of a series of short films on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and the biological impacts in the Gulf of Mexico for the National Science Foundation. Their next project, a proposed five-year "environmental solutions" project called Ocean Challenge, was suspended indefinitely when Mike deGruy was killed in a helicopter accident while filming on location in Australia.  As a tribute to his friend and mentor, Hanrahan integrates lessons learned from deGruy into his production work at Earth Media Lab, as well as the film courses he teaches at University of California, Santa Barbara. Each summer, Hanrahan presents a 'soup to nuts' class of production skills for the Blue Horizons program.  In the fall term, he teaches a similar course at the Bren School for Environmental Science & Management.

Hanrahan is also the author of an environmental thriller titled The Last Extinction, an enhanced novel that tells the story of an ancient tablet uncovered in the heart of the Amazon.


Richard Hutton

Richard Hutton teaches Introduction to Environmental Media.  Since 2014, Richard Hutton has been Executive Director of the Center for Environmental Communication and Education at UC Santa Barbara, overseeing CECE’s concept and design. He has been teaching in the Blue Horizons program since 2011, and has been teaching Strategic Communication at UCSB’s Bren School since 2013.  Hutton also serves as Chief Media Strategist for Prellis Biologics and as IPCC Curriculum Project Lead for NOVIM.

From 2010-2014, Hutton was Executive Director of UCSB’s Carsey-Wolf Center and Adjunct Professor in Film and Media Studies. He led the evolution of CWC to a fully functioning interdisciplinary Center for teaching, research, and public programming in film, television, and new media.

From 2001-2010, Hutton was Vice President of Media Development for Vulcan Inc., overseeing its feature film and documentary units. Vulcan’s productions included This Emotional Life; the Peabody Award-winning Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial; and the Emmy Award-winning Rx for Survival. Vulcan Productions also co-produced Strange Days on Planet Earth; the Peabody and Grammy Award-winning No Direction Home: Bob Dylan; and the Emmy Grammy Award-winning Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues; the Peabody Award-winning Black Sky: The Race for Space; and the blues concert film Lightning in a Bottle. Feature films included Humanitas Prize winner Where God Left His Shoes; Hard Candy and Bickford Shmeckler's Cool Ideas; and Independent Spirit Award winner for Best Picture Far From Heaven.

Hutton also directed Vulcan’s media initiatives in the education, museum, and entertainment sectors, leading the design teams that conceived and built the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame in Seattle and StartUp: Albuquerque and the Personal Computer Revolution, in Albuquerque.  Prior to working at Vulcan, Hutton devoted three years to executive producing the eight-hour, critically acclaimed, Emmy-nominated PBS series, Evolution.

From 1992-1998, Hutton worked at the Walt Disney Company – from 1996-1998 as senior vice president of creative development at Walt Disney Imagineering, and from 1992-1996 as vice president and general manager of the Disney Institute, where he directed the transition of the organization from concept into an operating business.

Prior to working at Disney, Hutton was senior vice president of television programming and production for WETA Television in Washington, D.C., and, earlier, Director of Public Affairs Programming for WNET Television in New York. There, his projects included the award-winning The Brain and The Mind. Hutton has authored or co-authored nine books and medical texts, as well as articles for national publications, including The New York Times Magazine, Omni and Cosmopolitan.  Hutton holds a B.A. degree in history from the University of California at Berkeley.