John Foran

John Foran
Distinguished Professor
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Office Hours

Wednesday 10:00am - 12:00pm

Office Location

SSMS 3417


revolutions, global justice movements, radical social change, development and globalization, Middle East studies, Latin American studies, Third World cultural studies, social theory, political sociology, comparative historical methods


Ph.D., UC Berkeley


I am a Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Environmental Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where I teach courses and do participant activist research on confronting the climate crisis, global climate justice activism and other movements for radical social change, and the co-creation of systemic alternatives beyond capitalism.  I am a scholar-activist in the global climate justice movement, the center of the struggle for achieving social justice and radical social change in the 21st century.

I am one of the founders of the UCSB Environmental and Climate Justice Hub of the Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies, and the UC-CSU NXTerra Digital Platform:  Teaching Transformative Climate Action, a resource of teaching materials for college and high school teachers and students interested in learning about the climate crisis, climate justice, and critical sustainability, an active member of Transition US, the Central Coast Climate Justice Network, the Global Tapestry of Alternatives, System Change Not Climate Change, Ecoversities, and the Green Party of California.

My books include the multiple award-winning Taking Power: On the Origins of Revolutions in the Third World (Cambridge, 2005, pdf here), in which I present a theory of the causes of revolutions in Latin America, to Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, spanning the period from 1910 to the present, and a comprehensive Marxist history of Iran up to the revolution:  Fragile Resistance: Social Transformation in Iran from 1500 to the Revolution (Westview, 1993, pdf here).  My seven edited or co-edited volumes touch on issues of climate futures, revolution, radical social change, and women, culture and development, and can be found on his cv, along with numerous other publications.

Some of my research can be found below, an more of it is here [create a link to the Word doc “Links to John’s work” here], or at the International Institute of Climate Action and Theory [] and at [].


I teach course on climate change and the climate justice movement, radical social change, globalization and sustainable development, and research methods, including Eco Vista:  Creating Systemic Alternatives (Sociology/Environmental Studies 130EV], Activism (Sociology 134A), Earth in Crisis (Sociology/Environmental Studies 130EC) The World in 2050 (Sociology/Environmental Studies 130SD), and Methods and Research in Global and International Sociology (108G) at the undergraduate level, and Earth in Crisis (Sociology 265EC) and Systemic Alternatives (Sociology 294 to be first offered in Fall 2021) at the graduate level.  I also teach the Introductory and Capstone courses for the professional Certificate in Environmental and Climate Justice Advocacy, Leadership, and Activism program, and, with Ken Hiltner, Interdisciplinary Studies 133B:  What’s Wrong with the World? What Can We Do about It?

Many of these syllabi can be found at the NXTerra digital platform.

As I state in my syllabi:

Learning and teaching are complex, endlessly fascinating collaborations.  I learn enormous amounts from the students in my classes, whom I consider companions on an intellectual, potentially life-changing journey.  My goals for my classes and myself include honing our critical thinking skills, improving on the ways we write for each other and speak with each other in class, acquiring the ability to work collaboratively, learning the art of applying theoretical concepts to actual historical, contemporary, and future situations, and making connections between what we study and how we want to live.

In the course of more than three decades of university teaching I have come to value interaction, participation, and exchange – discussion in its many forms – as the best way to teach and learn.  So we will teach and learn from each other. 

In sum, I consider teaching a radical, loving act of the imagination … and we will need lots of imagination to achieve the purposes laid out above!

My case study teaching, classroom teaching, and mentoring have received various awards, and along with other UCSB faculty and students he has developed a web-site devoted to this at