We are Human Scientists. Distilled from a long tradition of how we determine and cling to knowledge, that is, our ideas of what is true, Human Science provides, we believe, important insights on the intellectual and philosophical stance that activists need to embrace and the skills of inquiry that they can employ to be effective as participants in social change movements and engaged citizens in the larger work to preserve our treasured democratic values.
Human Science provides a philosophical and theoretical framework for understanding social change and develops insights and skills that social change activists can embrace to make them more effective.
JoAnn McAllister, PhD
I think I have been a social activist since the second grade when I socked (I guess I was a “negative rebel” at the time) another little girl who teased me that my parents couldn’t afford a Brownie uniform when I went to the first meeting without one. It was probably true that week as I am sure they were living week to week on my father’s pay as a tool and die maker, but no one was going to disparage my family. Similarly, I was an early environmentalist trying to protect the chickens and rabbits we raised in the backyard from appearing on the dinner table. So, my sense of justice arose very early and was exhibited in more traditional ways in my youth in volunteer activities like stuffing envelopes for John Kennedy, as a young married woman organizing an environmental organization and writing one of the first local citizen action handbooks for Earth Day, 1970. And then participating in a variety of other social movements, for example, Sanctuary, Nuclear Freeze, Food Security, and Poverty. It is this history, in fact, that sent me back to school in 1985 to do a master’s program in Culture and Spirituality and again in 1993 to pursue a PhD in Human Science primarily because I found activists and activist organizations rarely had a theory of social change. Now, this passion is focused on the environment and our connection to the natural world, but with a clearer focus of how change happens and how I can play an effective role as an individual.
Over the last 10 years, I have been teaching graduate students, mostly mid-career individuals working for non-profits or community social services how to apply these principles to their research and development of programs and projects to create real change where they work and live. They have demonstrated to me that learning to understand what shapes our beliefs and behaviors, one’s own and those of others, is essential to the collective work of creating social change. While this may sound academic, it is not, but practically based on understanding the origin of our perceptions, our stories, and how they may be changed.
Jim Smith, MA
Coming of age at the time of the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War, I have been involved in social movements for change in some form for most of my adult life. This involvement took me across many areas of the United States and parts of Europe in exploring the possibilities for social change. Learning that most people on the planet have essentially the same desires and needs led me to understand that, at the end of the day, we are all more alike than different. As such, working to bring about unity in our common desire for freedom and justice has always seemed to be the correct path that we should all be taking, rather than that of exclusion.
After taking time off to raise a family and finish a career in business, I returned to graduate school at the age of 67 to get my Master’s Degree in Human Science and I am now working on my dissertation for a PhD in Transformative Studies. Along with a few friends I was one of the founders of Montana Project Healing Waters, part of a national organization which takes disabled veterans on fly fishing trips as a part of their continuum of care. This work led me to see the crucial role of experiences in nature as healing for persons with post-traumatic stress (PTSD) and other disabilities. My MA thesis was The Role of Nature in Healing Victims of Trauma. This, in turn, awakened my awareness of the interconnection between social and environmental justice and the relationship between the destruction of the natural world and the divisive exploitation of people through globalized capitalism. So, I am back again to work in social movements to facilitate change through helping others to become engaged citizens.