Social and Environmental Arts Practice (MFA)

Signature Courses
Art as Social and Environmental Practice
The Art of Social Practice: Changing the World
Contemporary Aesthetics of Message-making
Black Radical Traditions
Awakening Citizens to Community Engagement for Change

The MFA in Social and Environmental Arts Practice focuses on the intersection of art and activism. Specifically, it explores art in social change and the application of art as a change agent

The Faculty Director of our MFA degree is artist, organizer, educator, and popular public speaker, Patrisse Cullors, Los Angeles native and Co-Founder of Black Lives Matter Global Network and Founder of grassroots Los Angeles based organization Dignity and Power Now.

Patrisse designed the degree to utilize art as a way to positively effectively respond to social and environmental problems in ways that inspire and mobilize community-based solutions.

In 2013, Patrisse co-founded the global movement with the viral Twitter hashtag #BlackLivesMatter which has since grown to an international organization with dozens of chapters around the world fighting anti-Black racism. In January 2016 Patrisse Cullors published her memoir, "When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir." Her memoir became an instant New York Times Bestseller.  

Throughout Cullors’ life, art and activism have been intricately intertwined in her work. Cullors is the recipient of the Stanton Fellowship from the Durfee Foundation, the 2020 Art Matter Fellowship Award, and the Rema Hort Mann Foundation 2020 Emerging Artist in Los Angeles. She has held residencies at The 24th Street Theater and Kalamazoo College. Cullors has exhibited widely across Los Angeles and the United States, from traditional arts institutions to public spaces. Her work has been shown at Art Basel Miami, Hauser & Wirth, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, the California African American Museum, the San Diego Art Institute, Kalamazoo College, Pieter Performance Space, Highways Performance Space, Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute and more.

Unlike traditional MFA programs in which students concentrate on a specific medium, form, or discipline, the interdisciplinary MFA in Social and Environmental Arts Practice centers concept, purpose and intentional engagement with community over specific disciplines or media. A student entering into the interdisciplinary MFA in Social and Environmental Arts Practice might combine multiple disciplines and media, or work within a single discipline or media focused within the frame of social practice theory.  


  • To evaluate nature, culture, society, and the environment through the arts. 
  • To create art that influences social and cultural change in support of social justice, including environmental sustainability.
  • To develop skills and knowledge necessary to create shifts within the arts that support activism in support of social justice.
  • To develop critical thinking skills and knowledge necessary to make and/ or defend art that explores nature, culture, society, and the environment.
  • To disseminate art that explores complex social and environmental issues, for wide and diverse public discourse through the arts.

●    Arts Administration
●    Non-profit organizations
●    Teaching
●    Journalism
●    Muralists
●    Writers
●    Performance Arts
●    Expressive Healing Arts Consultants and Educators
●    Researcher

  • Online Application form; no fee
  • Academic Focus Essay: Personal essay addressing what you want to accomplish in the program and the change you expect to make through your work
  • Portfolio: Digital Submission required. Applicants may submit 15 - 20 images, up to 5 minutes of film/video, or a sample of their writing
  • Resume: Please include a list of exhibitions, and/or your participation in social justice events
  • List of references
  • Official transcripts
  • Interview by request: Candidates may be contacted for an interview
Social and Environmental Arts Practice (MFA) Faculty
Patrisse Cullors

Patrisse Cullors

Associate Faculty of Social Environmental Arts Practice

April Ruth  Hoffman

April Ruth Hoffman

Associate Faculty of Resilient Sustainable Communities, Social Justice and Community Organizing

Anita Fernandez

Anita Fernandez

Faculty of Social Justice and Community Organizing, Undergraduate Programs

Jake Freilich

Jake Freilich

Associate Faculty of Social Environmental Arts Practice