Activists and Scholars

With its focus on activism and social justice, our MA is unique among graduate programs in the United States. Social movements, like universities, are a key location of knowledge production and our goal is to generate a dialogue among agents active in these both these locations of knowledge production. In our program, social movement activists meet scholars primarily engaged in theoretical work. Given that the Bay Area is uniquely rich in its diversity of social struggles, we encourage students to establish a relationship with local social justice groups, organizations, movements, and campaigns. Activist ethnography with a focus on postcapitalist research makes this investigative experience rewarding both for students and the local community.

Our MA program focuses on creating contexts and spaces of encounter among social scientists, theorists, artists, and activists. The program offers three interrelated sets of courses. Required theoretical courses include ideas for action, global social movements, radical political economy, radical theory, and unthinking social science. Research courses include activist ethnography. Activist skills include media skills (strategic filmmaking, writing and publishing, internet skills, radical radio), and organizing skills (legal skills, policy analysis, environmental skills, economic skills, and campaigning and organizing skills). Students are expected to choose two of the activist organizing skills courses and two of the activist media skills courses.

A key aspect of the MA program is a research-based portfolio. In the first year of the program, students are expected to begin making contacts or seeking out appropriate material for the completion of a research portfolio. Students are encouraged to do an activist research practicum with a community group or organization in order to undertake original research. This work culminates in an integrative seminar that students take in the last semester of their course of study.

Required Courses (26 units)

Introduction to Theory

Global Social Movements

Critical History of Social Sciences

Activist Ethnography I

Activist Enthography II with Practicum

Theoretical Perspectives

Contemporary Capitalism

Integrative Seminar

Activist Organizing Skills (Choose 2)

Campaigning for Social Justice

Organizing for Social Justice

Activist Environmental Skills

Activist Legal Skills

Activist Policy Analysis

Activist Skills: Art, Activism, and Social Justice

Writing Grant Proposals for Anthropological Research

Native American Community Organizing and Global Indigenous Politics

Hidden History in Plain Sight: Stories from Oakland to San Francisco

Introduction to Economic Activism: People's Power and Corporate Greed

Activist Media Skills (Choose 2)

Activist Writing Skills: Writing, Editing, and Getting Published

Activist Media Skills: Web Publishing and Digital Media

Activist Media Skills: Producing Radical Radio

Activist Media Skills: Introduction to Documentary Videography and Strategic Filmmaking

Writing Grant Proposals for Anthropological Research

Career Outcomes

Our MA program offers an opportunity to develop research, theory, and skills that are relevant to careers in education and social justice work. Like our sister programs in Leeds, Maynooth, Puebla, and Exeter, the program will offer students extensive knowledge of critical theory and activist anthropology; academic skills needed for continuation of their graduate studies; engagement with the important debates in anthropology and other social sciences; experience in working with networks and community groups; competence in various activist research techniques; organizing and media skills appropriate for employment in a range of progressive and social justice professional environments.

Admissions Requirements

Applicants for the MA program must meet the general admissions requirements of the university. In addition, we require two letters of recommendation, one from an academic advisor or someone familiar with the applicant's ability to do academic work, and one from a supervisor in a recent professional or volunteer setting. Applicants are also asked to include a recent sample of scholarly writing. The required autobiographical statement should describe significant events in the applicant's life that have led to the decision to pursue admission to this program. A goal statement reflecting areas of academic interest should be included.

Applicants need not have an undergraduate major in anthropology; however, it is necessary to have had at least three upper division-level social science courses. If lacking, these courses can usually be taken concurrently with graduate courses, although they will not be counted toward required degree units.

Our program is residential; it does not have an online component. Students may attend part-time in consultation with their academic advisor.

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