The Capps Center is pleased to participate in the following initiatives:


Civic Engagement Scholars Program (CESP)

The Civic Engagement Scholars Program (CESP) fosters ideals of active citizenship among students, engaging the next generation of leaders on issues that are of import to our campus and to the surrounding communities of Isla Vista, Goleta, and Santa Barbara. We create alliances with leaders and organizations in those communities to provide students with opportunities to develop their leadership and organizing skills and to affect measurable, positive change.

The inaugural cohort of students launched the class in 2021-2022. Each year, students are enrolled in a three-quarter-long course, Seminar in Civic Engagement and Deliberative Democracy (RS 188ABC), which begins each Fall Quarter. During the first quarter of the course, students study the theoretical framework and historical background of civic engagement in the American university. While doing so, they engage in leadership development, learn skills for deliberative discourse, and design workshops incorporating these issues and skills. In the Winter and Spring quarters, students deliver their designed workshops to the campus and to the Isla Vista, Goleta, and Santa Barbara communities.

The course is taught by Dr. Katya Armistead (AVC and Dean of Student Life) and Dr. Viviana Marsano (Director of Civic and Community Engagement & Isla Vista Liaison). It is the result fo a collaboration between the Capps Center, the Dean of Students and the Offices of Civic and Community Engagement and Student Engagement and Leadership. The program is funded by a VOICE grant from the UC Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement.


UC DRN (Disaster Resilience Network) 

The University of California’s Disaster Resilience Network (UC DRN) is a multidisciplinary, UC-wide launchpad for faculty, students and staff to bring our unparalleled collective talents to address disasters and crises of all stripes as we improve resilience outcomes across barriers. UC DRN, officially inaugurated in 2021, will provide a platform for collating talent, matching UC resources with external needs, conducting research, training leaders and researchers to contribute to resilience, and thereby assisting communities facing unprecedented challenges. Backed by science and the multiplicative strength of the ten-campus UC system, UC DRN will inform action that considers all facets of prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery, including the health, safety, socioeconomics, equity, and environmental sustainability of communities.

Since 2022, the Capps Center and its director, Greg Johnson, have been part of the UC DRN's Campus-based Committee at UCSB. We are currently partnering with Richard Applebaum, Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus of Sociology and Global Studies at UCSB, UCSB's Sedgewick Reserve, the Santa Ynez Chumash Environmental Office's Good Fire Project, Santa Barbara County's Fire Safe Council, and the Community Environmental Council on a pilot project that will enable UC Natural Reserve System (NRS) land managers and community stakeholders to prescribe customized fuels treatments in order to maximize reserve and community resilience to wildfire under a range of projected climate extremes. 


The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UN DRIP) Implementation Project

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UN DRIP) was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2007. The Declaration is the most comprehensive global statement addressing the human rights of indigenous peoples. It establishes a universal framework of minimum standards for the survival, dignity, and well-being of the indigenous peoples of the world and it elaborates on existing human rights standards and fundamental freedoms as they apply to the specific situation of indigenous peoples. It emphasizes the rights of indigenous peoples to live in dignity, to maintain and strengthen their own institutions, cultures, and traditions, and to pursue their self-determined development, in keeping with their own needs and aspirations.

The Implementation Project (TIP) aims to raise awareness of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and to provide information and support for implementation efforts in Indian Country.

In 2022, Capps Center Director and Professor of Religious Studies Greg Johnson co-organized a series of workshops in Hawai'i. TIP and the Capps Center held discussions with Native Hawaiian cultural practitioners, leaders, experts, attorneys, and advocates about using the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (the Declaration) to protect their peoples and communities. The sessions explored ways the Declaration can support the protection of sacred places, language revitalization, food sovereignty, and cultural rights among Native Hawaiian communities. After the discussions, TIP will collaborate with Professor Johnson and other partners to create a publication about Hawai’i and the Declaration. Professor Johnson studies the intersection of law and religion in Hawaii, and has participated in TIP-related events and publications. 


Repatriation at UCSB and Beyond

In step with Walter Capps’ interest in Native American communities and human rights, the Capps Center is actively focusing on repatriation work through its programming as well as direct involvement with the campus and community on this important issue. We are eager to continue engaging Chumash and other Native nations in the effort to facilitate the timely return of their ancestors.

Capps Center director Greg Johnson currently serves on the UCSB Repatriation Review Committee, which is charged with implementation of federal and state repatriation laws and UC system policy. The committee is one component of UCSB’s rejuvenated repatriation effort. To facilitate the committee’s work, the Capps Center hosted repatriation expert Edward Halealoha Ayau in October of 2021 to speak with the committee about best practices in dealing with Indigenous communities in repatriation consultations. 

Gerardo Aldana, a Capps Center Faculty Advisory Board member and Professor of Chicana and Chicano Studies UCSB, is Director of the Repository for Archaeological and Ethnographic Collections, which holds a vast number of indigenous artifacts and human remains. Aldana is helping to oversee efforts to repatriate ancestral remains held at UCSB. 

In addition to its campus-oriented work, the Capps Center has organized two panel discussions about repatriation in recent years. The first, which was convened in the Winter Quarter of 2021, focused on repatriation as a human right. The second, convened in the Winter Quarter of 2022, addressed the complexities of international repatriation. Recordings of both events can be found on our video page.

Due to the efforts of Johnson, Aldana, and local Chumash communities, UCSB is finally starting to address its non-compliance with laws governing the repatriation of indigenous ancestral remains. 

Here is a recent piece on repatriation by Miriam Hamburger, a UCSB Religious Studies PhD student working with Greg Johnson.

We will continue to support repatriation efforts and related programming. Check back here for updates on our repatriation-related work.



Planning Collaborative Wildfire Science and Management

Greg Johnson, Director of the Capps Center, won a National Science Foundation grant as part of a team researching how to connect Indigenous communities with key decision makers in wildfire management. This joint effort between UCSB, UC-Irvine, and Tribal Partners aims to elevate the expertise and voices of Native Americans in debates about how to manage wildfires in the Payahuunadü/Owens Valley & Eastern Sierra regions of California. Wildfires in this area have grown increasingly dangerous, as they have across California and the West.

This work will make significant contributions to the growing field of wildland fire research and management and their impacts on human and natural environmental ecologies, by developing project concepts and action frameworks that expand the scope of evaluative criteria, knowledge practices, and diversity of expert input for assessing what counts as effective wildland fire research science and management. It will also develop models for collaboration and consultation that empower Indigenous communities and inform non-Indigenous entities on best-practices for effective and equitable co-management relations.


Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Programming and Research

Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans are the fastest-growing racial or ethnic group in the United States today, and comprise 29% of the UCSB student body. Led by Capps Center Associate Director Dusty Hoesly, the Capps Center has created a series of programs and research initiatives focused on AAPI populations. These include presenting public lectures and programs; addressing anti-Asian hate and creating a campus climate for AAPI safety and excellence; and research on Asian American religions.

Public programming has included a lecture by Melissa Borja on refugee resettlement policy and religious change; a panel on Asian American activism featuring national and local AAPI activists; a lecture by Manjusha Kulkarni, co-founder of Stop AAPI Hate, on how to stop anti-Asian violence and bias; and a lecture by Russell Jeung, co-founder of Stop AAPI Hate, on racial trauma and posttraumatic healing. Several of these programs have sought to end the bias, harassment, and violence that many AAPI people have experienced since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The Capps Center has partnered with UCSB's Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion to join the AANAPISI Task Force, which seeks to secure federal funding to improve and expand UCSB's capacity to serve AAPI and low-income students. UCSB is an Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institution (AANAPISI) but has yet to receive federal funding to support these students. Part of the Capps Center's work on this initiative includes improving the campus climate for this population.

Associate Director Dusty Hoesly is engaged in two research projects involving AAPI religious communities. The first is a scholarly book on race, law, and Asian American religions, co-edited with Melissa Borja (University of Michigan), for which we held a workshop at the University of Michigan in 2022 (funded by the Donia Human Rights Center) and at UCSB in 2024 (funded by a grant from the Henry Luce Foundation). The second is a study of race, gender, and sexuality in AAPI religious communities in southern California, part of a multi-campus Photovoice project led by researchers at UC Irvine and UC Riverside.