California Studies Association

The latest news, events, and perspectives from the CSA



The CSA was founded in 1989 by Jeff Lustig, then Director of the Center for California Studies at California State University-Sacramento. Lustig brought together a group of like-minded California scholars, writers, and leaders across the state and began the first of many annual CSA conferences. (To view the programs of past conferences, visit the Past Conferences page on our main website.)

Prior to launching the CSA, Lustig did a survey of California studies courses and programs across the CSU system. In it, he discussed the rationale for California Studies — a justification still well worth reading for anyone working in the field. The full report is available here as a PDF download.

Lustig was Chair of the CSA from its inception to 1999 (he stepped down as Director of the CSU-Sacramento Center in 1994). Subsequent chairs have been Michael Black (1999), Glenna Matthews (2000), Dick Walker (2001-05, 07), Lee Davis (2005-06), Louise Dyble (2007-08), Peter Richardson (2008-2011),  Lincoln Cushing (2011-2013), and Rachel Brahinsky (2013-present).

The California Studies Association (CSA) is an independent organization, dedicated to the exchange of ideas about California, the promotion of an integrated understanding of California as a region, and to creating a public discourse on the future of this richly textured state. (Revised December 2000)

CSA embraces the broadest spectrum of concerns about California, its people, politics, economy, environment, science, arts, history, and literature. Through an annual California Studies Conference and other programs, the Association creates a public forum for the discussion of California, past, present and future. It promotes public education about California and serves as an umbrella group for California Studies programs at all educational levels.

The Association includes people from every walk of life: faculty and teachers, students, policy makers, labor organizers, business people, local historians, writers and artists. It features the contributions of everyone who studies California, makes practical contributions to the State, or seeks to express the fabric of this multiethnic society. It values the cross-fertilization of ideas between fields of expertise and around the state and emphatically maintains a balance of academics and non-academics in its leadership, membership and activities.

CSA seeks deeper bonds among all Californians and a stronger sense of the common weal, through networks of small and large institutions, across diverse communities, and among activists, experts, civil servants, writers, artists and performers. It hails the discovery of better ways to live and work in California and more enlightened public policies that serve the broadest definition of the people of this state.


The CSA is based at the California Studies Center, IRLE, University of California, Berkeley 94720.

The CSA was founded in 1990, under the leadership of Jeff Lustig, Professor of Politics, CSU-Sacramento.


To learn more about the CSA, read our organizational bylaws or email one of our officers to find out how you can get involved.