Welcome to the USC Center for Diversity and Democracy!

We are affiliated with the Department of American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California, which has led efforts at campus and intellectual diversity in the Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and throughout the Trojan campus. The CDD works with faculty members, Ph.D. students, undergraduate students, and community partners to enhance, explore and develop strong connections between efforts of university-community civic engagement and the diversity of university faculty and students. In short, we are committed to making stronger a diverse set of voices at the university, while enabling a wide variety of community members and organizations to engage the university as equal partners towards equity and social justice.

Professor George Sanchez engaging in a discussion with three female students and one male student on a sidewalk.

The Center

  • Focuses on research that stresses imagining a future for Los Angeles and other global metropolitan areas of racial equity and social justice, empowering various communities to come together and work in harmony. This research may explore the past, present, or future of these regions, as well as comparisons across national and continental boundaries.
  • Works with graduate students and faculty researchers, along with selected undergraduates, on research projects that involve community outreach and lead to both scholarly publication and wider social betterment.
  • Coordinates with other USC centers, programs and departments to encourage a diverse and excellent pool of faculty and graduate researchers in Los Angeles committed to issues of diversity and democracy in the local area.

  • Seeks to prepare the next generation of scholarly researchers to participate in an academic life that bridges the university and the community in consistent and fulfilling fashion, for the individual researcher, the university, and the surrounding communities.
  • Serves as a think tank for community activists and organizations dedicated to social improvement and racial democracy, enabling academic researchers and students to learn from those engaged in doing work on social justice on a daily basis.

  • Develops on-going relationships with specific local, national, and international organizations, schools, museums, archives, and other entities interested in sustained scholarly engagement and collaboration.


Our website will link you with a variety of scholarly efforts, past and present courses, and examples of civic engagement which take seriously the interconnectedness of “town and gown.” These links will also make clear our strong belief that serious civic engagement also means expanding the diversity of our campus communities, from faculty to students, to make them resemble and emanate more from our surrounding neighborhoods. We do not believe one effort can seriously advance without the other, and therefore we have organized around the twin concepts of diversity and democracy. We look forward to further connecting with you in the future!

Graffiti message:

How can great metropolises transcend the conflicts between their diverse groups while strengthening democratic and just communities in their neighborhoods and throughout their cities?

Hosting communities from every culture on Earth, the great global cities often experience ethnic and religious tensions, violence, economic inequality, and wrenching cultural transformation. The “melting pot” metaphor no longer describes how diverse urban communities interact, and new models must be developed for how people of diverse backgrounds will coexist and share the public life of their great urban centers.



How will cities rewrite the social contract? And what role will urban universities play in this movement toward crafting a new relationship between diversity and democracy?


The USC Center for Diversity and Democracy engages these questions through research, teaching, and civic engagement with communities all over metropolitan Los Angeles, the United States, and the across world. We welcome you to explore the information and networks on this website and get involved in our important work.

Professor George Sanchez smiling at the camera

George Sanchez – Director

George J. Sanchez, professor of American Studies & Ethnicity and History, was appointed Director of College Diversity in April 2008.  He is responsible for ensuring that the USC College fundamental commitment to the benefits of a diverse College community is effectively translated into best practices in areas such as faculty recruitment and retention, graduate student programs, and undergraduate research experiences and advancement.  He works with all College departments to address what the commitment to diversity means in various disciplinary settings.  To ensure the College efforts have an impact beyond the immediate community, he works with a variety of national organizations and foundations on the development of special programs and research agendas.  Given the importance of this work and the breadth of these responsibilities, he reports directly to the Dean of the College.

An award-winning scholar of Chicano history and immigration who joined the College faculty in 1997, Sanchez is director of the USC Center for Diversity and Democracy. He is the former director of American studies and ethnicity, a program he helped build into one of the top American and ethnic studies departments in the nation. Sanchez helped bring to USC a $3.6 million James Irvine Foundation grant supporting underrepresented doctoral students when he was director of the Irvine Fellowship Program. A renowned mentor, he has served on the advisory board for both the USC Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program and the McNair Scholars Program.  He has placed thirteen former Ph.D. students in tenure-track positions throughout the United States.  A former president of the American Studies Association, he now chairs its Committee on Graduate Education. Sanchez also serves on minority scholars committees of the Organization of American Historians and the American Historical Association.

Sanchez’s 1993 book, Becoming Mexican American: Ethnicity, Culture, and Identity in Chicano Los Angeles, 1900–1945 (Oxford), earned six awards in fields such as immigration history and Western history. His article “ ‘What’s Good for Boyle Heights is Good for the Jews’: Creating Multiracialism on the Eastside During the 1950s” won the 2005 Constance Rourke Prize for best article appearing in American Quarterly. He is also series co-editor of American Crossroads: New Works in Ethnic Studies from University of California Press, which has published twenty-five works in that field over the past decade, many that have won major scholarly awards in a variety of disciplines.   He is presently working on a book about the impact of Mexican migration upon late 20th century Los Angeles culture, and a historical study of multiethnic interaction in East Los Angeles.  Sanchez received his bachelor’s from Harvard in 1981 and his Ph.D. from Stanford University in 1989. Before USC he taught at UCLA and the University of Michigan.

Center for Diversity and Democracy

Department of American Studies and Ethnicity

University of Southern California

3620 So. Vermont Avenue

Kaprielien Hall, Suite 462

Los Angeles, California 90089-2534

Director of the Center for Diversity and Democracy

George J. Sanchez

Professor of American Studies & Ethnicity and History