Social sciences provide an analytical approach to society’s problems. As a result, faculty and students in the social sciences often focus on complex and intersectional issues such as racism, international conflict and war, climate change, and poverty. Through an objective and empirical approach to these issues, the goal is to generate genuine passion and equip future leaders with the skills they need to address the world’s challenges. Explore majors, minors, concentrations, and academic programs in the social sciences.
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World-Class Faculty in the Social Sciences
Associate Professor, Global Studies and Director, Global Health Program
Lesley Jo Weaver is an academic expert in medical anthropology, global health, mental health, race, gender, chronic diseases, and food insecurity. She directs the Global Health Program at UO. Her research focuses, broadly, on the social production of health and illness. In India, Weaver’s National Science Foundation-supported research explores how the day-to-day management of type 2 diabetes shapes North Indian women’s abilities to participate in social roles considered appropriate for women of their age, class, and caste groups. In Brazil, Weaver’s work has examined how food insecurity influences physical and mental wellbeing.
Weaver co-hosts and co-produces the American Anthropological Association-sponsored podcast Speaking of Race, a longstanding program that explores the history and present-day reverberations of scientific racism around the world.
Professor of Environmental Studies and Geography
Mark’s research focuses on the human dimensions of climate change and ice — from glaciers in the Andes to icebergs in the North Atlantic Ocean to glacial fjords in Greenland. The research centers on power, knowledge, and cultural narratives, with an objective to understand how knowledge systems, embedded storylines, social relations, and environmental injustices shape present-day environmental issues. The work is deeply interdisciplinary, and students in the Glacier Lab are central participants in these collaborations. Mark previously served as Director of the Environmental Studies Program.
Mark has two new interdisciplinary collaborative projects, one funded by the Andrew Mellon Foundation on racial and climate justice in the Pacific Northwest (part of the Just Futures Institute) and another funded by NSF and the Navigating the New Arctic Program on “Global Changes, Local Impacts: Study of Glacial Fjords, Ecosystems and Communities in Greenland.”
Collins Professor of Indigenous, Race and Ethnic Studies and Geography
Laura is a qualitative social scientist who works at the intersection of geography and critical ethnic studies, especially Chicanx Studies. Her interest in these fields began as a young child fascinated by maps, landscapes, nature, and places. At the same time, everyday life taught her that we live in a racial, class and gender hierarchy that shapes our lives. Through her research and teaching she explores how these processes shape places and how places inform racial and economic processes. Most of her work explores the various ways in which racial inequality is actively produced, as well as the various means by which it is denied. She works together with graduate students in the Critical Race Lab.
She is the author of numerous books, including A People’s Guide to Los Angeles (with Laura Barraclough and Wendy Cheng, University of California, 2012).
School of Global Studies and Languages
At the School of Global Studies and Languages (GSL), UO students engage with diverse cultures, languages, histories, and lifeways across the world. Students of the social sciences, from Anthropology to Sociology, will broaden and deepen their education in their field by viewing it—and experiencing it—through a global lens. GSL prepares our graduates for life after college with an interdisciplinary curriculum, innovative language teaching, abundant learning opportunities outside the classroom, and paths of study that lead to many options for real-world careers.
Research in the Social Sciences
Research in the social sciences investigates human behavior and the motivations that influence it. Although some of our research occurs in the lab, much of it is conducted out in the field using a variety of methodological approaches, from exploratory to experimental. The results of our research often carry societal-level implications and may point to solutions for addressing local, national, or global challenges.
Explore Other Majors and Minors in the College of Arts and Sciences
Meet Our Dean
Welcome to the social sciences division of the College of Arts and Sciences. Within our community, we address some of the world’s problems—big or small—through interdisciplinary research and critical thinking. What drives us is a passion for exploring human behavior and society.
The social sciences provide the necessary foundation for any academic inquiry, from the creative arts to the natural sciences. Inside the classroom, we lead courses that are engaging and thought-provoking, inspiring students to become better citizens of our world and work toward a more inclusive future.
We also believe real-world experience offers some of the most impactful learning opportunities. From internships to study abroad trips that offer new cultural experiences, our students regularly engage in hands-on learning work that reaches across social, disciplinary, and geographic boundaries, allowing them to forge new connections and spark new ideas.
We look forward to changing the world with you.
Divisional Associate Dean, Social Sciences
Happening at CAS
Baristas have long squirted coffee beans with water to produce a better cup of coffee. But thanks to Chris “Dr. Coffee” Hendon’s lab, we now know why. Their findings are reported in Cell Press’s journal Matter.#UOCAS pic.twitter.com/jxxynr5HS1
— UO College of Arts and Sciences (@uocas) December 7, 2023
7:00 a.m.–11:00 p.m.
Join SAB and UO Prison Education Program as we host HOPE: A Human Right art exhibit in the EMU McMIllan Gallery. This annual exhibit showcases art from currently and formerly incarcerated individuals in Oregon. This show is on view from February 5th through March 8th.
Meet some of the artists and the amazing students, staff and faculty of the UO Prison Education Program for a reception on Thursday, March 7th from 6-7pm; free refreshments and activities.
9:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m.
The title of our show is Poetics of Relation and with it we seek to explore the difficulties of unknowingness and miscommunication within relationships and the opacities that result from this conflict. Thus, true freedom of relation can only be achieved through accepting such opacities and existing in harmony with the unknown. Niko Berger Abhishek Kulkarni Breanne Swindle