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UC Santa Barbara General CatalogUniversity of California, Santa Barbara

Division of Social Sciences

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The Division of Social Sciences offers students a rich, interdisciplinary understanding of society, culture, economy, politics, ethnicity, and gender. Students in the division participate actively in seeking solutions to pressing national and global problems. They have an opportunity to study vital issues such as globalization; the link between science, technology, sustainability and social policy; modes of conflict and communication within and between societies; and how the economy is affected by governmental decisions.

In addition to the traditional social science disciplines – anthropology, communication, economics, political science, and sociology – the division hosts a number of interdisciplinary programs, including Asian American Studies, Black Studies, Chicana and Chicano Studies, Feminist Studies, and Global Studies. The division is also home to the Exercise and Sport Studies Program and the Department of Military Science. 

The division encourages cross-disciplinary explorations that link the social sciences to the humanities and fine arts, the physical and natural sciences, and engineering. For example, students and faculty have engaged in archaeological research and study combining anthropology, geology, biology, and history. Students in many departments are engaged in projects involving digital media technology. Both faculty and students work intensely to understand problems relating to environmental policy.

Research and academic courses in the division reflect the full range of modern social science methodologies and approaches. These extend from highly mathematical approaches and intensive analysis of quantitative data, to the use of narrative techniques and detailed observation of everyday life. Both graduate and undergraduate students collaborate with faculty on research and teaching teams to create and convey new knowledge in areas such as social and environmental policy, race and ethnic studies, global and international issues, and social policy.

These innovative efforts have resulted in the development of new social science discoveries and research centers, including the following: Broom Center for Demography; Center for Black Studies Research; Center for California Languages and Cultures; Chicano Studies Institute; Center for Evolutionary Psychology; Carsey-Wolf Center; Center for Information Technology and Society; Center for Middle East Studies; Center for Nanotechnology in Society; U.C. Center for New Racial Studies; Center for Research on Women and Social Justice; Center for Spatially Integrated Social Science; Digital Games Research Center;  East Asia Center; Experimental Behavioral Economics Laboratory; the MesoAmerican Research Center; the Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies; the Social Science Survey Center; and the UC Center for Energy and Environmental Economics.

The skills and knowledge that the Social Sciences Division's undergraduates receive will prepare them for a variety of careers and enable them to become engaged community members and active citizens upon graduation. Many students choose to pursue graduate programs at leading universities across the country.

The division offers several diverse graduate programs where students receive extensive educational, research, and professional training that prepares them for a variety of careers, including academia. Departments offering Ph.D. degrees are Anthropology, Chicana and Chicano Studies, Communication, Economics, Feminist Studies, Global Studies, Political Science, and Sociology. In addition, students may pursue one of several interdisciplinary Ph.D. emphases offered in the social sciences, which include those in Black Studies, Global Studies, Technology and Society, Feminist Studies, and Quantitative Methods in the Social Sciences.