Critical Social Thought

College of Liberal & Creative Arts

Dean: Andrew Harris

Critical Social Thought Program

Humanities Building, Room 304
Phone: (415) 338–2247

Coordinator: James Martel

Program Scope

Critical social theory challenges contemporary forms of political-economic power. In classes and internships, the Minor in Critical Social Thought program draws from Marxism, socialism, anarchism, the Frankfurt School, radical environmentalism and anti-consumerism, postmodernism and post-structuralism, globalization studies, feminism, queer theory, postcolonial and subaltern studies, disability studies, critical race theory, theories of art and visual representation and other systems of thought that pay attention to the questions of power and exploitation in world politics, culture, economics and the formation of identities.

The minor seeks to address the way that so much of contemporary social thought is uncritical. It is guided by the belief that a better world is possible and that social thought has an important role in outlining the form such a world might take and identifying the agents who might be capable of bringing it about.


Critical social thought serves as a foundation in critical theory that can be applied to a variety of disciplines in the social sciences, humanities and the arts. Critical social thought can be pursued in conjunction with any number of majors enriching and diversifying these fields of study including but not limited to sociology, human sexuality studies, psychology, history, philosophy, women and gender studies, latina/latino studies, ethnic studies, political science, international relations, criminal justice, etc. In addition, critical social thought can help establish skills that will be useful in post-graduate careers ranging from careers in social activism and social work to politics, law, health care, policy and many others.


Biella, Carrillo, D'Agostino, M. Ferreira, Kassiola, Luft, Martel, Nichols, Oñate, Pinderhuges, Quesada, Rivera, Schechter, Steier

Associate Professor


Each student shall, in consultation with a faculty advisor, develop an individual program of 15–19 units. Students may also take an internship program in political activism or other related areas in conjunction with these classes to count towards the minor. If the introductory course is not available, other courses can be substituted on advisement.

Critical Social Thought, Minor — 15–19 units

Introduction (3 units)

Overview of the tradition of critical social thought

CST 300/PLSI 386Introduction to Critical Social Thought3

Core – Theory and Pedagogy (6–8 units)

Select at least two courses of the following:
HUM 410The Modern Revolution3
PHIL 330Political Philosophy3
PLSI 351GWPolitical Theory: The Classical Tradition - GWAR4
PLSI 353Political Theory: The Twentieth Century4
PLSI/PHIL 355Politics and Ethics of the Consumer Society3
PLSI 360Development of American Political Thought4
SOC 394Sociological Field Methods4
SOC 272Social Inequality: Poverty, Wealth, and Privilege4

Electives (6–8 units)

Choose at least two courses from at least two of the following fields:

  • Identity and Resistance
  • Globalism, Empire, and Social Movements
  • Culture as Critical Social Thought

An approved internship may be substituted for 3–4 units of electives.

Identity and Resistance (3–4 units)

ANTH/CST 320Racism: Cross-Cultural Analysis3
ANTH 569/SXS 567Cross-Cultural Aspects of Sex and Gender3
ANTH/CST 590/WGS 595Anthropology of Women3
GPS/PHIL 375Peace Law and Human Rights in the U.S.3
HUM 360Styles of African Cultural Expression3
HUM 415Contemporary Culture3
HUM/LTNS 520North and South American Cultural Expression3
LTNS 415Economic Progress of Latinos in the U.S.3
PLSI 381Political Theories of Sexuality4
SXS 455Sex, Power and Politics3

Globalism, Empire, and Social Movements (3–4 units)

ANTH/CST 585Globalization and World Cultures3
GPS/I R/PHIL 315Introduction to Global Peace Studies3
HIST 386Soviet Russia, the West, and the Cold War3
HIST 390Era of the World Wars 1918 to 19453
HIST 400History of Modern European Imperialism3
HIST 476American Environmental History3
HIST 550Social Change in Modern Latin America3
I R 520Globalization and Development4
LTNS/WGS 445Gendered Borders: Latinas and Globalization3
PHIL 435Human Rights in Global Perspective3
PLSI 354Politics, the Environment, and Social Change4
PLSI/I R 417Gender, Equality, and Politics: A Comparative Perspective4
USP 514Sustainable Development in Cities4
USP 515/GEOG 667Environmental Justice: Race, Poverty, and the Environment4

Culture as Critical Social Thought (3–4 units)

ANTH/CINE 327Anthropology and Film3
ART 403/SXS 405Queer Art History3
ART 501Western Art: Special Areas (Art and Politics of the 20th Century)3
ART 501Western Art: Special Areas (Postmodernism: Art of the 1980s)3
ART 501Western Art: Special Areas (Women and Art: 20th- 21st Centuries)3
BECA/WGS 485Women and Media3
CINE 305/JS 405Film and the Holocaust3
CINE 308Third Cinema3
CINE 373Film and Society3
CINE 342Documentary Film3
DANC 350Dance Aesthetics: Cultural/Historical Perspectives3
MUS 505Music of the World's Peoples3
MUS 511The Roots of Rock3
COMM 525Sexual Identity and Communication4
COMM 590Advanced Performance Study4
TH A 407Popular Theatre/Popular Entertainment3
TH A 691Advanced Multicultural Production Workshop3

CST 300 Introduction to Critical Social Thought (Units: 3)

Prerequisite: Upper division standing or consent of instructor.

The tradition and development of critical social thought in interaction with social-economic, political conditions from Kant, Hegel, and Marx in the 19th century to 20th century Marxism, phenomenology, and feminism.
(This course is offered as CST 300 and PLSI 386. Students may not repeat the course under an alternate prefix.)

Course Attributes:

  • UD-D: Social Sciences
  • Social Justice

CST 320 Racism: Cross-Cultural Analysis (Units: 3)

Prerequisite: Upper division standing or consent of instructor.

Cultural history of racism as related to colonialism and imperialism. Racism as on-going intellectual, political movement. Anti-racism and educational-anthropological methods to defeat racism.
(This course is offered as ANTH 320 and CST 320. Students may not repeat the course under an alternate prefix.)

CST 585 Globalization and World Cultures (Units: 3)

Prerequisite: ANTH 120 or consent of instructor.

Effects of globalization and multinational corporations on cultures. Examination of contemporary globalization from a combined political-economic and cultural anthropological perspective.
(This course is offered as ANTH 585 and CST 585. Students may not repeat the course under an alternate prefix.)

CST 590 Anthropology of Women (Units: 3)

Prerequisite: ENG 114 or equivalent.

Ethnographic, physical, anthropological, and pre-historical materials on women. Theories on origins of the family, social structuring of sexuality, and changing sex and gender in modern societies.
(This course is offered as ANTH 590, CST 590, and WGS 595. Students may not repeat the course under an alternate prefix.)