About the Center for Global California Studies
The Center for Global California Studies (CGCS) fosters creative and activist interdisciplinary research, teaching, and collaboration among California’s communities, faculty, and students. California – in all its dimensions—is the object of our focus. CGCS grew out of and replaces the California Cultures in Comparative Perspective initiative’s efforts to explore new epistemological, conceptual, and methodological challenges created by the diverse demographics and challenges in a changing California. A critical examination the stratified economic conditions, resulting power relations and social formations that have reconfigured California at the nexus of local struggle and global process at the turn of this century are all central to these efforts. California is the prism through which CGCS explores these challenges as they intersect with immigration, the environment, health, education, language, cultural production, citizenship, democracy and diversity CGCS approach California Studies from a global perspective in several senses. First, CGCS remaps California within a complex global cartography, and accentuates the state’s multiple geopolitical borders and transnational frontiers: Mexico and the Americas, Asia and the Pacific, and regions represented by emerging diasporic relations with Africa and the Middle East. Second, CGSC adopts an interdisciplinary perspective and promotes an understanding of the relationship between California’s political-economic, social-cultural, and historical dimensions. Third, CGCS is committed to understanding intersections between diverse populations within California. Fourth, CGCS emphasizes the need for new and inclusive knowledge as well as practical engagement. The Center’s is to foster new dialogue, frameworks and collaborations in research and practice between the University of California and local communities. Local communities are not only instrumental in this design but are at the heart of our global interdisciplinary commitments.
Global California Studies: Bridging Scholarship and Service
Interview with Roberto Alvarez
Janice Lobo Sapigao is an intern with the UC San Diego Comprehensive Research Center in Health Disparities (CRCHD) and is majoring in Ethnic Studies and Urban Studies and Planning at UC San Diego. The CRCHD is a partnership of organizations focusing on community minority health and health disparities research. This publication was supported by the UC San Diego Comprehensive Research Center in Health Disparities, Grant Number 5 P60 MD 000220 from the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities, National Institutes of Health.
In 2000, faculty and administrators at UC San Diego started the California Cultures in Comparative Perspective (CCCP) minor. Commonly known as Global California Studies, this program aims to address the diversity of California as a region by engaging students who are interested in the interactions of communities and people in specific locations. The state of California, and San Diego specifically, is connected to many areas of the world. Geographically and culturally, California is linked to different places including the Pacific, with Hawai'i, Micronesia, Samoa, the Marianas, and Asia as well as the Americas with its close proximity to Mexico. Located in the United States, this region has been a gateway for various cultures and immigrant populations. An interest in any of these varying locations or populations, and the way in which they interact with and shape the State of California, will immediately guide undergraduates to the Global California Studies minor. Global California Studies originally advertised and filled open faculty lines for academic disciplines such as the Social Sciences, Humanities, Visual Arts, Music, Communication, Anthropology, and Sociology. In affecting so many fields of study, the Global California Studies minor is representative of an interdisciplinary, campus-wide initiative to address a lack of diversity in faculty in the aforementioned fields of study. CCCP Director and Professor of Ethnic Studies, Roberto Alvarez acknowledged that the UC San Diego administration has been instrumental in supporting Global California Studies promotions of diversity events, organizing conferences, arranging workshops, and inviting speakers to address California's position on a local level and in the global context. The Global California Studies minor allows students to engage in the idea of a "Global California" and its place in the history of the world. Students will also be able to take on the challenge of documenting California’s ever-changing image and importance. The Global California Studies minor is an exciting option for students to develop their interest in many innovative community efforts. The minor has a classroom-based track and a community-based track. In the classroom-focused track, students take one lower-division course from Anthropology, Ethnic Studies, History, or Urban Studies and Planning, as well as six upper-division courses from an approved course list (which may be found on the initiative's website calcultures.ucsd.edu), while the community-focused track connects students with local community agencies and provides them with an internship opportunity. CCCP partner organizations include: Perkins Elementary School in Barrio Logan, the UC San Diego Community Pediatrics in City Heights, and the Coalition for Environmental Justice in downtown Little Italy. Students work on special projects and receive hands-on learning experience, and at the end of the internship, students submit an analytical reflection piece about their experience. Global California Studies is one initiative trying to bridge the gap between the university and local communities. And, while Global California Studies provides both classes and organized internship opportunities, it remains a purposely flexible program, allowing community-focused students to use their own passions and drive and be a catalyst for reconnection, growth, and change. I interviewed Professor Roberto Alvarez, and he shared a personal story about his own involvement in the Lemon Grove Community. The plaintiff in the 1931 case Roberto Alvarez vs. the Board of Trustees of the Lemon Grove School District was none other than his father, and the case was the United States' first successful desegregation court case, preceding even the landmark Brown vs. the Board of Education decision. After learning about the court case as an adult, and through academic research and engaging himself with the Lemon Grove community, he was able to reconstruct the court case by writing articles about it and producing a film about the case. Much like Professor Alvarez’s experience, students in the program can take on projects that allow them to make connections that allow them to engage with histories of places particular to California. "The California Cultures in Comparative Perspective minor is really important and students are the life of it," Alvarez ensures. As for the future of the program, we can expect to witness the evolution of the Global California Studies identity into an institutionalized program with more developed, California-specific courses. Please visit calcultures.ucsd.edu for more information about the minor.