Mission Statement

The Orfalea Center for Global & International Studies works to build a supportive infrastructure for research collaboration and delivery by cultivating spaces for collaborative research among UCSB faculty, graduate students, and research partners and publicly engaged organizations in the global south/east.   This commitment to research – among Area Studies specialists, students and faculty clustered in thematic groups, and geographic-based research hubs for participatory research in the global south/east – ensures that the Orfalea Center is engaged with the most urgent issues of the day, and has the capacity to create real impact and change. We label this mission “Research for Action.”

We approach our mission by recognizing distinct types of knowledge and seeking mutual benefits from collaboration across these differences. Currently, the Center has established several geographic research hubs (Ecuador, Brazil, India, Mexico, Angola, Egypt) and hosts eight different thematic research clusters: (1) Global Genders and Sexualities; (2) Structural Violence, Police/Prison Abolition, and Decoloniality; (3) Resistance, Autonomy, Liberation; (4) Social Data and the Archive; (5) Future Infrastructures: Water, Energy and Justice; (6) Transnationalizing the Study of the United States; (7) Global Futures: Uncertainty, Displacement, Security; (8) Environmental Justice/Climate Justice. The members of each cluster work to create and curate educational materials for other scholars, activists, educators, interested publics to utilize in their own work. For more information about each thematic cluster, including access to their curated resources visit the Orfalea Center Research Cluster webpage.

In addition, the Center hosts major extramural research grants from the Carnegie Corporation, Ford Foundation, and the Social Science Research Council. The Carnegie award won by Professor Paul Amar, “Security in Context,” is a two-year grant to develop social justice-oriented security studies and inclusive research methods. It will run alongside parallel grants to the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and the University of Oklahoma. The Ford Foundation’s two-year grant will allow the center to focus on China’s overseas financial and infrastructural investments in South America, the Middle East and Africa. The co-principal investigators are Paul Amar (UC Santa Barbara), Lisa Rofel (UC Santa Cruz) and Petrus Liu (Boston University). The Ford grant offers the center and its partners the opportunity to consider the social, cultural, communications and media aspects of China’s ‘stepping out’ into the global south. 

We encourage you to check out our past workshops and conferences, which include Global Carceral States: Violence, Transgressions, and Methodologies of Imprisonment Conference (co-hosted by the Transnationalizing the Study of the United States research cluster and the Muwatin Institute for Democracy and Human Rights at Birzeit University) and Trans/Queer Activism Across Borders. Experiences from India and Mexico (hosted by the Global Genders and Sexualities research cluster).