The Social Sciences Experiment

Founded in 1965, the School of Social Sciences maintains its commitment to interdisciplinary experimentation, experiential learning and close faculty/student collaborations. To this day, its research excellence serves the public, and helps us to reimagine what that public might become.

From the start, the School of Social Sciences brought together scholars whose diverse and plural methods, from quantitative to qualitative, formal to interpretative, tackled fundamental research questions and pressing social problems. The original academic plan emphasized "the new social science of systematic observation, interpretation, and quantitative analysis of human behavior" - a formulation that many today would recognize as housing under one roof the empirical, qualitative and quantitative orientations in which the school has since achieved reknown.

The school was also home to some early creative initiatives that bridged cognitive science, anthropology and economics. The Bonita Canyon Camp, renamed the Farm and eventually transformed into the Farm School at UC Irvine, was an experiment in learning-by-doing. It brought various experts and practitioners to the campus - including Samoan nobles and canoe-builders, and Guatemalan Ixil indigenous peoples - to teach students as well as to help faculty members develop signature theories of apprenticeship, cognition, economic behavior and social science methods.

Canoe builder, c. 1969.
Courtesy of UC Irvine Special Collections and Archives.
finished product now hangs in the
Social Science Tower (SST).

Rosa Farm UCI

Rosa and her children, Ixil Maya from Guatemala, c. 1969-70, living at the Farm, UC Irvine.

Courtesy of UC Irvine Special Collections and Archives. 

And, of course, the Social Science
Tower figured prominently in the 1972 feature film,
"Conquest of the Planet of the Apes"!

Click on the photo to learn more.


We welcome you to join us in the continuing experiment that is the UC Irvine School of Social Sciences.


first and second image (boat builder and Guatemalans): Courtesy of Special Collections and Archives, University of California, Irvine Libraries. University Communications Photographs (AS-061). last image (view of the construction site): Courtesy of Special Collections and Archives, University of California, Irvine Libraries. Construction Photos (AS-106).

Many thanks to Steve MacLeod and the UC Irvine Special Collections and Archives for the materials on this site. There is much, much more to the history of Social Sciences at UC Irvine. If you are interested in researching that history, please contact the Office of Research and Graduate Studies.


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