Learning by Doing at the Farm: Craft, Science, and Counterculture in Modern California. Chicago: Soberscove Press, 2014. 

Edited by Robert Kett and Anna Kryczka

Publication of Learning by Doing at the Farm is supported by an organizational grant from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts

Beginning in 1968, the University of California, Irvine, was host to an experiment in intercultural exchange and artistic and social scientific learning through practice. It brought indigenous people from Guatemala, Mexico, and Samoa to an undeveloped plot on campus known as the Social Sciences Farm, a space for these visitors to demonstrate their crafts and a laboratory for new methods of education and research. Inspired by the work of these informants, the Farm would also become a gathering site for members of the countercultural movement. As faculty and students developed new theories of human difference on William Pereira’s California Brutalist campus, the Farm was the site of “traditional” thatch and adobe buildings constructed by native informants as well as the informal, communal architectures of counterculturalists.

This volume reflects upon this unusual experiment, which brings together Cold War politics, modern development, and indigenous peoples drawn into the strange intellectual and cultural circumstances of 1960s California. By presenting a critical introduction to this history along with archival documentation including photographs and other materials, Learning by Doing at the Farm offers a glimpse of various actors’ dreams of what the Farm could become and the collaborations that actually unfolded there.

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