Welcome to UACT!

What We Do

The UMass Alliance for Community Transformation (UACT) develops the knowledge and capacity for transformative learning and action. We work with our community partners to develop people (students, scholars, and activists) who know how to work both within and in solidarity with diverse communities struggling toward a more just and compassionate world.

UACT cultivates partnerships with diverse grassroots social justice organizations and movements on the UMass campus, community-based organizations working for justice within Massachusetts, and beyond. We strive to engage diverse social justice organizers as educators and partners in building a new generation of diverse, knowledgeable, sensitive, community-oriented, and highly skilled social justice activists.

Developing and actualizing critical and transformative knowledge practices is the core of UACT’s contribution to the Department of Anthropology, the UMass campus, and the social justice organizations and movements with which we work. UACT develops and shares our expertise implementing critical pedagogical practices in classrooms through classes, trainings, and workshops with students and other leaders of social justice initiatives primarily on the UMass campus. We strive to work with our students, our campus partners, and other social justice groups to create strong, creative, diverse, and ultimately transformative learning communities in which people develop and mobilize collective knowledge toward social change.  

We view all who are in (or interested in) the ongoing process of learning how to engage in critical community-based social justice work as our potential students and leaders. UACT is coordinated by student leaders, all of whom are alumni of UACT’s curricular programs. These leaders work together with a faculty advisor to manage all aspects of UACT programs, including classroom facilitation, curriculum design, leadership training, developing community partnerships, and all aspects of organizational development. Student participation in UACT begins with our core, semester-long Grassroots Community Organizing course, after which there are opportunities to remain involved with the organization for three or more years. New opportunities for involving UACT’s alumni and community-based researchers are in the planning stages!

We strive to engage in work that transforms our classrooms, our institutions, our communities and ourselves by rejecting the constraints of the conventional classroom and by making the roles that we play as students, teachers, citizens and activists more seamless.

UACT works with our community partners and an Advisory Board (comprised of Anthropology faculty, graduate students, undergraduate leaders, and other allies) to evaluate ongoing programs and to design new programs and partnership activities.

UACT Principles

  1. Build a practical understanding of community organizing as a tool for social change

  2. Develop and practice critical and liberatory pedagogies and popular education while building learning communities

  3. Explore concepts of privilege, oppression, and identity on individual and structural levels

  4. Develop student leadership through student facilitation and overall programmatic participation

  5. Build student commitment toward social justice

  6. Build mutually beneficial partnerships with community groups organizing for social change


UACT is a unique partnership of UMass students, faculty and members of grassroots community organizations. We work together to design programs that build community, promote social and economic justice, advance cross-cultural understanding, and serve the educational and civic objectives of our Land Grant University.

UACT is an organization under the Department of Anthropology at UMass Amherst. To learn more about the anthropology program and its course offerings, please visit www.umass.edu/anthro.