In the spring of 1969, at the height of what was known to as the Chicano Renaissance, a group of Chicano activists and students inspired by the culture, the struggle, and love for their own community, met at the University of California, Santa Barbara seeking to create recognition for, and a foundation for the higher education of, their own people. Their project, El Plan de Santa Bárbara, was centered on the idea that knowledge is power, and can create social change. As a result of their activism, UCSB formed the Department of Chicano and Chicana Studies. It has continued to pursue the goals of recognition, inspiration, and innovation.
Flash forward to 2010: Aida Hurtado has been appointed as the department’s new chair, and has also received the honor being appointed to the Luis Leal Endowed Chair. She came to UCSB from UC Santa Cruz, where she began her career as a scholar 20 years ago, after earning her master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
A social psychologist, Hurtado focuses her research on race, class, ethnicity, sexuality, and gender. The “bulk of my work is on feminist theory, women’s issues, and Latino Educational achievement,” said. Hurtado has written a copious amount of literature including Voicing Chicana Feminisms: Young Women Speak Out on Sexuality and Identity, The Color of Privilege: Three Blasphemies on Race and Feminism, and Chicana/o Identity in a Changing U.S. Society: ¿Quién Soy? ¿Quiénes Somos?, which she wrote with Patricia Gurin of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Her abundant awards and honors include this year’s Women of Color Psychologies Award from the Association of Women in Psychology, recognizing her paper A View From Within and From Without: The Development of Latina Feminist Psychology, which she co-authored with graduate student Karina Cervantes. The paper will also appear in The Handbook of U.S. Latino Psychology.
Hurtado also received the American Educational Research Association’s SAGE Award for distinguished contributions to gender equity in education research.
“Professor Hurtado is a profoundly interdisciplinary scholar,” said her colleague Melvin Oliver, the SAGE Sara Miller McCune Dean of Social Sciences. He said that her “merging of social psychology, Chicano studies, and feminist studies has led to pioneering research on social identity, intersectionality, and educational access.” Oliver added that the “application of her research to critical public policy issues encompasses the spirit of the Luis Leal Endowed Chair. I welcome her impressive abilities as a teacher, talent as a scholar, and ability to bring fresh ideas to the department as chair.”