California Institute of Integral Studies

School of Consciousness and Transformation

Anthropology and Social Change


1453 Mission Street

San Francisco, CA 94103

United States



Program Information

Degrees Offered:

Anthropology and Social Change

Format: Campus

Program Description:

About the MA Program in Anthropology and Social Change The master of arts program in Anthropology and Social Change is unique among graduate programs in the United States due to the its focus on activism and social justice. We recognize social movements as a key location of knowledge production alongside that of the university. The mission of the MA program is to generate a dialogue among agents active in these two locations of knowledge production. Our intention is to establish a particular kind of institutional space where social movement activists immersed in organizing would meet scholars primarily engaged in theoretical work. The program is envisioned as a space of translation of academic and grassroots knowledge and experiences, produced in the encounter among social scientists, artists, and activists from the Bay Area. Students will work with some of the most prominent activists in San Francisco Bay Area, as well as with core faculty from the department and the Institute. In this process of encounter and co-learning, students and faculty are expected to share ideas, debates, and practices of radical politics and social movements, as well as practical skills in research, organizing, campaigning, policy analysis, legal and environmental work, and activist media. The MA in Anthropology and Social Change provides students with an opportunity to simultaneously engage with the world of social movements and with the world of social science and radical theory. As our program is located in an area that is unique in terms of diversity and richness 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 integral research makes this graduate experience rewarding both for students and for the local community. About the PhD Program in Anthropology and Social Change The Anthropology and Social Change PhD is unique among graduate programs in the United States due to its focus on exploring counter-hegemonic alternatives, postcapitalist cultures, and prefigurative practices. In a certain sense, we are a department of postcapitalist studies. However, by this complicated word, postcapitalism, we do not wish to refer to some dreamed-up utopia, nor to a speculative exploration of futuristic scenarios. While we agree with Lewis Mumford on the "importance of building castles in the sky," we see as an even more urgent necessity to study politics of alternatives in the here and now: the need to engage with postcapitalist cultures that are already being built, and to understand other worlds that are already possible. Together with the activists of the World Social Forum, we believe that "another world is possible." The role of the new social movements, we are reminded, is not to conquer the world, but to make it anew. What, then, is the role and responsibility of anthropology and other social sciences? In a world riddled with so many crises, few things appear to be more relevant than systematic research of counter-hegemonic knowledge and practices. Social scientists should leave pessimism for better times. Anthropology, in particular, is well equipped to participate in the "nowtopian" task of constructing social scientific knowledge that looks beyond capitalism, hierarchy, and ecological disaster. The practice and technique of ethnography provides an important model of a possible "postcapitalist" social science. As one contemporary anthropologist, a friend of our program, recently noted, when one "carries out an ethnography, one observes what people do, and then tries to tease out the hidden symbolic, moral, or pragmatic logics that underlie their actions; one tries to get at the way people's habits and actions make sense in ways that they are not themselves completely aware of." We ask our students to do precisely this: to look at those who are creating viable alternatives, to try to figure out what might be the larger implications of what they are already doing, and then to offer those ideas back, not as prescriptions, but as contributions, possibilities-as gifts.


Accredited by: Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) 985 Atlantic Avenue, Suite 100 Alameda, CA 94501 (510) 748-9001 Fax: (510) 748-9797 Email:

Facts & Figures

Financial Aid: Yes

International Financial Aid: Yes

# of Credits Required: MA -36 units; PhD-36

Average Cost per Credit (Graduate): 1006 USD

In State Tuition (per year): 18270 USD

Out State Tuition (per year): 18270 USD

Classification: Master's College or University I

Locale: Large City

Size & Settings: 1,000-2,999

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