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 intense focus and interest include the climate crisis, 21st-century movements for radical social change, and sustainable development or “building better futures.” 

His books include the multiple award-winning Taking Power: On the Origins of Revolutions in the Third World (Cambridge, 2005), in which he presents a new 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; available as a free pdf).  His six edited or co-edited volumes touch on issues of revolution, radical social change, and women, culture and development, and can be found on his cv, along with numerous other publications.

He is currently working on a book, Taking Power or (Re)Making Power:  Movements for Radical Social Change and Global Justice, which assesses the new forms of such movements as the Zapatista  and Kerala experiments, the global justice movement, the Pink Tide in Latin America, the global Occupy movements, the Arab Spring, and his new passion, the global climate justice movement.

His reports and essays on the global struggle for climate justice can be found at the websites of the Climate Justice Project and the International Institute of Climate Action and Theory.  He is involved in an initiative of activist scholars and others on the UN climate treaty negotiations, which can be found at http://www.parisclimatejustice.org/

Teaching Areas

Professor Foran teaches courses on climate change and the climate justice movement, radical social change, globalization and sustainable development, and research methods, including Activism (Sociology 134A), Climate Justice (Sociology 134CJ), 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 Climate Justice (Sociology 265CJ), Globalization and Resistance (Sociology 265GR) and Earth in Crisis (Sociology 265EC) at the graduate level.  He is developing new courses on sustainable development and building better futures.

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/.


What Now for Climate Justice:  Social Movement Strategies for the Struggle over the Next Universal Climate Treaty.  Co-edited by John Foran and Richard Widick [2014]

“Beyond Insurgency to Radical Social Change:  The New Situation” [2014]

 At the COP:  Global Climate Justice Youth Speak Out.  Co-edited by John Foran, Summer Gray, and Corrie Ellis [2014]

 “¡Volveremos!/We Will Return:” The State of Play for the Global Climate Justice Movement at the 2013 Warsaw UN Climate Summit COP19” [2014]

 “Climate Injustice:  The Real History of the Maldives.”  Summer Gray and John Foran. [2014] http://berkeleyjournal.org/2014/09/climate-injustice-the-real-history-of-the-maldives/

 “From Critical Globalization Studies and Public Sociology to Global Crisis Studies and Global Justice Work: A Manifesto for Radical Social Change [2010]

Fragile Resistance E-book [1993]

Course Listing

Contact Information

Social Sciences and Media Studies Bldg 3417
office hours
T 12:45pm- 1:45pm at Campus Point Cafe F 12:00pm-1pm in office
Research assistants welcome!


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