Faculty Profiles

John Foran
Ph.D. UC Berkeley
Research Interests

John Foran is professor of sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he is also involved with the programs in Latin American and Iberian Studies, Global and International Studies, Environmental Studies, and the Bren School. He was visiting professor of sociology and Latin American Studies at Smith College from 2000 to 2002, and Visiting Professor of Sociology at Goldsmith's College, University of London, from 2009 to 2010.

His current areas of interest include the comparative study of 20th-century revolutions and 21st-century radical social change, development, climate, and globalization, and the global justice and climate justice movements. His books include Fragile Resistance: Social Transformation in Iran from 1500 to the Revolution (Westview, 1993; available for free on the departmental website), A Century of Revolution: Social Movements in Iran (editor, Minnesota, 1994), Theorizing Revolutions (editor, Routledge, 1997), The Future of Revolutions: Re-thinking Radical Change in an Age of Globalization (editor, Zed, 2003), Feminist Futures: Re-imagining Women, Culture and Development (co-editor, Zed, 2003), Revolution in the Making of the Modern World:  Social Identities, Globalization, and Modernity (co-editor, Routledge, 2008), and On the Edges of Development:  Cultural Interventions (co-editer, Routledge, 2009).

In his most recent book, Taking Power: On the Origins of Revolutions in the Third World (Cambridge, 2005), he presents a new theory of the causes of revolutions across three dozen cases from Latin America, to Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, and spanning the period from 1910 to the present. The book has won distinguished scholarship awards from the Pacific Sociological Association, and the Marxist and Political Economy of the World System sections of the American Sociological Association.  As a comparative-historical sociologist, he has written on many aspects of revolutions and movements for radical or deep social change.

He is currently working on a book, Taking Power or (Re)Making Power:  Movements for Radical Social Change and Global Justice.

He is also engaged in a long-term research project on the global climate justice movement, with Richard Widick.  Their work can be followed at www.iicat.org

Teaching Areas

Professor Foran teaches courses on radical social change, globalization and resistance, global justice movements, climate activism, and research methods, including Earth in Crisis (Sociology 130EC), Radical Social Change (134RC), The Global Justice Movement (134GJ), and Methods and Research in Global and International Sociology (108G) at the undergraduate level, and Globalization and Resistance (Sociology 265GR) and Earth in Crisis (Sociology 265EC) at the graduate level.

As he states in his syllabi, “I consider teaching a revolutionary act…  Learning and teaching are complex, endlessly fascinating collaborations.  I learn enormous amounts from the students in my classes, whom I consider colleagues and companions on an intellectual, potentially life-changing journey.”  His innovative case study teaching has received various awards, and along with other UCSB faculty and students he has developed a web-site devoted to this at www.soc.ucsb.edu/projects/casemethod/.


Fragile Resistance E-book

From Critical Globalization Studies and Public Sociology to Global Crisis Studies and Global Justice Work: A Manifesto for Radical Social Change

Course Listing

Contact Information

Social Sciences and Media Studies Bldg 3417
office hours
Research assistants welcome!


All UCSB undergraduates and graduate students are welcome to inquire about becoming research assistants (for course credit) on my current projects, Taking Power or (re)Making Power:  Movements for Radical Social Change and Global Justice,  and The Climate Activists:  A Global Ethnography.