Mission Statement

Our mission is to bring together active members of the public and scholars from across campus to address high-stakes issues of global concern. The Orfalea Center for Global & International Studies is launching a new and expanded vision, building an energized set of partnerships, and expanding its highly skilled coordinating team to bring the best of UCSB’s research skills, undergraduate pedagogy, and public education skills to address high-stakes issues of global concern. The Center seeks to expand and enhance UCSB collaborations with partners around the world on practical and policy questions of global scope, and to generate findings that can be useful to a range of actors and institutions. We approach our mission by recognizing distinct types of knowledge and seeking mutual benefits from collaboration across these differences. Through these activities, the Center works with campus partners to forge collaboration among all those who work in global, international, and area studies, engaging publics and communities in novel ways.

The Orfalea Center was established in 2005 with a generous gift from Paul Orfalea and the Orfalea Family Foundation. The Center works closely with instructional and research units across campus, including the graduate programs in Global Studies, departments in the social sciences and humanities, and centers for Middle East Studies, East Asian Studies, and Latin American Studies. We are governed by a Council of faculty members from a range of disciplines and departments, including the directors of area studies nodes on campus and the Dean of the Social Sciences.  As our research, programming, publication, and instructional activities are enriched and expanded, we aim to address a range of topics and to energize relationships between Santa Barbara communities and global issues. 

The core of the new vision of the Center centers on newly reimagined Orfalea Center Hubs (thematic intersections of research, teaching, programming and publication). These thematic hubs are defined by the Orfalea Consultative Council. This broad, interdisciplinary and public-facing entity brings together more than 25 UCSB faculty members from across the disciplines, as well as bringing together the leadership of Area Studies Centers on campus, like Centers for Middle East Studies, Latin American Studies, and East Asian Studies. We are also building long-term partnerships for student exchange, co-publication, and translation — and for conceptual innovation — in the global south, through the Orfalea Partner Nodes initiative, which includes Quito, Rio de Janeiro, Cape Town, Beijing, Cairo, Mexico City, and Luanda, Angola. 

Orfalea aims to reach beyond envelopes of conventional scholarship to deliver our scholarly capacity to communities, address public concerns more effectively, and create partnerships with the global south, in particular, for research and public education. This means we will produce instructional initiatives for advanced research-oriented undergrads, multiply collaborations with communities and global-south researchers, and launch a series of public education initiatives and programming platforms. 

Orfalea Center research commitments are structured around the above-described topical hubs, which remain stable for a number of years, as well as emerging overarching projects that reflect faculty and graduate student interest in pressing issues of the day. Examples of the latter topics include:

  • Autonomy and the Casualties of Populism
  • China Stepping Out
  • Migration, Forced Displacement, and Mobility
  • Global Youth Futures and Unending “Springs”