Department Overview

"We Anthropologists for too long have paradoxically denied the way the world has changed and continues changing, as well as our ability—responsibility, even—to contribute to a broad understanding of the changes.”  -Sidney Mintz, Sweetness and Power

Anthropology and Social Change is a small, innovative graduate department that focuses on activist scholarship, militant research, and social justice. We offer online Doctorate and Master’s degrees. 

Our unique approach to ethnographic research 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.

Alongside talented faculty, our MA and PhD students learn how to apply the practice of direct action to the research process. We set out to create the conditions we describe when our research begins in order to embody the values of the world we want to create.

Our Approach 

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

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 and an understanding that other worlds are already possible. 

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.

Distinctive Approach to Methodology 

Our signature approach to methodology rests on investigation of different research models associated with activist research. We emphasize co-research, direct action, horizontality and self-activity, as essential ingredients of collaborative knowledge production. 

Activist research combines militant ethnography, workers inquiry, and radical oral history with collaborative participant observation. 

A Community of Scholarship

Our department brings 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. 

We find ourselves in the tradition and legacy of educators such as Leon Tolstoy, Paul Robin, Francisco Ferrer, Emma Goldman, Alexander Niell, Ivan Ilich, Paul Goodman, Angela Davis, Bell Hooks, and Paulo Freire. 

Our small learning community is a convivial space where we collectively consider social movement histories and create a shared understanding of how to influence the movement’s we are a part of.

Unique Low-Residency Structure

Our online coursework is presented in a weekly module course format that consists of readings, discussion forums, and synchronous and asynchronous video instruction. 

Additionally, each semester we facilitate community building through our in-person intensive. The week-long residential component allows students to take part of their units in person, while being provided with an inspiring combination of  collective experiences including: fieldwork exercises, skills based in person courses, attending public talks and film screenings, and other collaborative sessions.

Learn More About Our Programs

You can earn a Doctorate or a Master's in Philosophy with a concentration in Anthropology in Social Change.

Career Paths 

Our program offers an opportunity to develop both theoretical and practical knowledge relevant to careers in education and social justice work. Our students work with some of the most prominent activist scholars and progressive organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area, as well as with faculty from the program and the wider university. 

Our graduates are equipped to participate in scholarly ideas and debates, as well as use their practical skills in professional environments such as: 

  • Research
  • Organizing
  • Grant Writing
  • Policy Analysis
  • Legal and Environmental organizations
  • Media including: strategic film-making, writing/publishing, radical radio
Graphic art on a tall wall of a person's face in blue tones. Meet PhD alumna Talia Molé Play Video
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Application Deadline for Fall 2022

February 15, 2022 - 1st Priority deadline. Submit by February 15th, 2022 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. 

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