We are Human Scientists. Distilled from a long tradition of how we decide what is knowledge, that is, our ideas of what is true, Human Science, we believe, provides important insights on the knowledge and philosophical stance that Engaged Citizens and social movement activists need to embrace and the skills that they can employ to be effective participants in the larger work to preserve treasured democratic values.
Human Science provides theoretical framework for understanding social change, offers insights, and develops skills that people can embrace to make them more effective change agents wherever they choose to engage with others in creating a just and ecologically sustainable future.
JoAnn McAllister, PhD
I think I have been a social activist since the second grade when I socked another little girl who taunted me because I went to the first meeting without a uniform implying that my parents couldn’t afford 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 put my family down. My sense of injustice arose very early and has shown up in more traditional ways since then as a volunteer stuffing envelopes for political campaigns, organizing a local environmental organization, writing one of the first citizen action handbooks for Earth Day, 1970; and participating in a variety of social movements, including Sanctuary, Peace, Food Security, and Domestic Violence.
It is this history, in fact, that sent me back to school in to do a master’s program in Culture and Spirituality and again to pursue a PhD in Human Science. I needed to know how people and social structures actually changed and found that few organizations had such a theory. I think I have a clearer understanding of how change happens now and how I can play an effective role as an individual in change organizations. For the last 10 years, I have been teaching graduate students, mostly mid-career people working for non-profits, community organizations, social service agencies, and NGO, how to apply a humanistic social science perspective to their research and to the development of programs and projects that can create real change where they live and work. They have shown 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 a better world. While this may sound academic, it is not. Understanding why we believe what we do and why it is so hard to change beliefs and behaviors is everyday human science and something we can all do.
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.