Department Overview

CIIS’ Anthropology and Social Change department is renowned for its focus on activist research, anarchist ecology, and social justice.

We bring together scholars and activists to engage in co-learning, inspired by a long and beautiful history of education developed in popular universities, modern schools, universities of earth and without walls, and free schools. Our learning community is a convivial space where we collectively consider social movement histories and create a shared understanding of how to influence the movements we are a part of.

Our programs reflect an integration of social, political, economic, and environmental themes and issues. Instead of analyzing them separately, we treat these themes as interconnected. 

Our graduates are trained for professional careers in academia, policy, social-political journalism, advocacy, and community, legal, and environmental organizations. Our faculty have a wide range of research interests, among them urban social movements, agri-food studies, politics and filmmaking, post-structuralist philosophy, gender equality, forced migration and refugees, radical oral history, and psychoanalytic time.

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Our Approach 

Anthropology and Social Change is part of the broader movement that seeks to return ethnography to the forefront of anthropology.

Our approach to ethnographic research is unique in that it dissolves traditional barriers between research and political activism, insiders and outsiders, and researchers and protagonists. We engage in the process of co-research to explore existing alternatives and possibilities for social change.

We are a department of post-capitalist studies. We study politics of alternatives in the here and now by engaging with concrete utopias that are already being built.

Using the critical concepts we bring from the field and returning those concepts back to the people we do research with, is what makes us both activists and anthropologists.

Graphic art on a tall wall of a person's face in blue tones. Meet Ph.D. alumna Talia Molé Play Video
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How to Apply

Application Deadlines for Fall 2022

February 15, 2022 - 1st priority deadline. Submit by February 15th at 11:59pm PT for guaranteed review. ​After this date, some programs may be full and only interview for waitlist spots or not be able to further review applications.

March 15, 2022 - 2nd application deadline: pending program space availability. Applications after this date are considered on a space-available basis and may not be considered if you miss this deadline.

April 15, 2022 - 3rd application deadline: pending program space availability (after the priority deadline). After this date, some programs may be full and only interview for waitlist spots or not be able to further review applications. Applications will be considered on a space-available basis and may not be considered if you miss this deadline.

May 15, 2022 - 4th application deadline for programs still accepting applications (after the Feb 15th priority deadline). After this date, some programs may be full and only interview for waitlist spots or not be able to further review applications.

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Questions? Contact us.

We are here to help! If you have any questions about applying to a program or registering for an Info Session, please contact the Admissions Office at 415-575-6154 or .

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