The Catalyst is a 4-unit UC Santa Barbara creative writing and art course (ENGL 106CW) and is offered every fall, winter, and spring quarter, each time culminating in the printing of a magazine. From lectures to groups to activities, students do the bulk of running the class. Instructor Brian Donnelly and a teaching assistant lend support when necessary.

Any student can join regardless of year, major, skill, experience, or fluency in English, provided you have space on your schedule: check on GOLD for details. We also depend on outside contributors for much of our content; please submit here.

As a member, you will

  • design magazine layouts with a free copy of InDesign, Photoshop, and other programs from Adobe Creative Cloud;
  • learn the cornerstones of writing and art, like eloquence and atmospheric perspective;
  • meld writing and art to create an ekphrastic whole greater than the sum of its parts;
  • unleash your creativity through out-of-the-box activities;
  • polish your work in peer-review groups;
  • perform your work in front of an audience at our quarterly spoken-word launch event;
  • occasionally display your work in an exhibition; and
  • immortalize your work in a printed magazine, yours to keep and share.

To join, email Brian at, and he will provide an add code for GOLD if space allows. The class usually fills quickly, so if you don’t get in, please try again next quarter. And even if you don’t get in, you can still, again, submit your work to the magazine as an outside contributor.

The class can be repeated for credit, for a total of 8 units toward the English major and for a total of 16 units toward an undergraduate degree. Come spring quarter, students who have taken the class at least once can apply for a position on the following year’s editorial team.

For general questions, please email