Field Study

Full Time Field Study

The Community Studies Program takes pride in the experiential education component of our major, through which you can both contribute to and learn from organizations that are actively working for social change in a variety of fields.


Student at Field Study organization in New York, CityThe two-quarter full-time field study is required of all Community Studies majors and is taken over the summer and fall quarters after a student's third year. Your field study must be related to the topical area you choose. Full time field studies may be arranged with organizations in Santa Cruz or elsewhere in the United States, choosing from pre-selected geographic locations where social justice issues are particularly interesting. The Program has a field study resource office to help you select and develop their full-time field study, located in Oakes College 214.

All field placements must be approved by your advisor no later than the end of winter quarter.  You cannot enroll in CMMU 102, Preparation for Field Study, until the Goals & Objectives Contract has been completed and signed by you, your field placement supervisor, and the Community Studies Program Director. If you are eligible for Financial Aid, please contact your Financial Aid advisor as soon as possible to learn what may be available for summer quarter.

Each year, Community Studies identifies a set of geographic locations for field study, and students then find their placements in one of those locales. This opens up opportunities to compare notes, analyze field study observations, and deepen understanding of the places where students are working.

The criteria for choosing locations are:

  • Places with abundant work going on (so that students will have a wide choice of organizations);
  • Places with important emergent issues (for example, New York after 9/11, New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, Detroit after becoming the first US city to declare bankruptcy);
  • Places with exciting or new forms of social and civic engagement;
  • Places where the issues and objectives for social justice agendas are at least reasonably clear (so that students will be appropriately mentored); and
  • Places where our students come from and may hope or plan to live after graduation.

Per these criteria, most sites are urban and most lie within US borders. However, we define the “San Francisco Bay Area” broadly, to include Santa Cruz & San Benito Counties, the Stockton area, and other more rural locales. Similarly, many of the organizations where field study students have worked in Guatemala have been in the remote mountain region around Lake Atitlan.

The locations for 2014 are:

Golden Gate Bridge with San Francisco Skyline   Mural on Building in San Francisco   San Francisco

Skyline of downtown Detroit   Fallen roof of abandoned house in Detroit   Detroit

Portland Skyline with Mt. Rainier in background   Bicyclist on bridge in Portland, Oregon   Portland

Seattle, Washington Skyline   Alley in downtown Seattle, Washington   Seattle

Los Angeles, California Skyline   Hands holding sign in Los Angeles   Los Angeles

Mural on wall in Memphis, Tennessee   Graffiti on wall in Memphis, Tennessee   Memphis

Building in French Quarter of New Orleans   Building demolition w/housing protest sign in New Orleans, Louisiana   New Orleans

Chicago, Illinois skyline   Littered street in Chicago, Illinois   Chicago

Urban Guatemala with mountain in background   Rural Guatemala   Guatemala

Statue of Liberty   New York City Alley   New York City

One Student's Field Study Experience

Chiara Cabiglio worked with the Darfur Peace and Development Organization in Washington, D.C.; she writes:

Darfur Peace and Development Organization (DPDO) is a non-profit that provides humanitarian and development assistance to the victims of genocide in Darfur, Sudan. The organization is recreating the co-dependent ecology that once existed in Darfur by educating the youth, empowering and protecting the women, and engaging in grassroots peace-building.

Since only three full-time employees (who need all the help they can receive) work in DPDO’s Washington D.C. office, I virtually did everything and anything. Some of these tasks included: searching for upcoming Senate/House of Representatives hearings, outreach and social networking through Facebook, Twitter, etc., writing and sending press releases, writing articles and posting them with pictures to our website, contacting Congressmen, celebrities, organizations and newspapers, assisting with research for the completion of grant proposals, searching for grant making foundations, emailing email inquiries, sending proposals, and much, much more. Most notably, I was given permission to create and organize an event entirely on my own, which I called “Dara for Unity and Hope.”

During my time in D.C. I also attended the Pledge 2 Protect conference and marched on Capitol Hill with more than 1,000 students, calling on Congress to prevent genocide and mass atrocities in Darfur, southern Sudan, the Congo, Burma, and elsewhere.

Working with DPDO exceeded my expectations because I learned how important humanitarian work is in addition to advocacy. I also was able to work alongside the Founder and President of DPDO, Suliman Giddo, who is from Darfur. Hearing his stories and seeing how hard he works every single day for his people truly was inspiring. For more information, please visit http://www.darfurpeace.org.