Clyde Woods, 54, an associate professor at UCSB and a distinguished scholar whose research examined social and public policy issues by studying the cultural practices of those oppressed by them, died Wednesday at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, according to an announcement by the Department of Black Studies.
Woods, who was also acting director of the Center for Black Studies Research, began teaching at UCSB in 2005. His work demonstrated his overarching belief that the purpose of public social science is to explore and strengthen the links between knowledge embedded in communities of color and the knowledge disseminated by universities.
“Clyde Woods was an admired colleague, professor and student mentor, and he will be deeply missed by all the members of our UCSB family,” Chancellor Henry Yang said. “Dr. Woods was engaged in two long-term research projects within our Department of Black Studies, one focusing on rebuilding efforts in New Orleans and the other on creating a network of community members and scholars studying race and policy issues in the Los Angeles area. He was also actively involved in Haiti relief efforts; the recent earthquake in Haiti touched him deeply, and he was passionate about helping the people of Haiti.”
Melvin Oliver, the SAGE Sara Miller McCune Dean of Social Sciences at UCSB, said: “Clyde was a quintessential public intellectual. His work was a bridge between the academy and local/global black communities. His star will forever shine through his work and the students who have been inspired by him.”
Woods was the author of three books, including the recently published In the Wake of Hurricane Katrina: New Paradigms and Social Visions; Development Arrested — Race, Power and the Blues in the Mississippi Delta, an interdisciplinary work that reframed the history of the Mississippi Delta by unearthing and interpreting the blues epistemology of its residents; and Development Drowned and Reborn, a study of post-Katrina New Orleans that is under review by the University of California Press. At the time of his death, Woods was also working on a book on Black California, and a new edition of Development Arrested.
A dedicated mentor and teacher to undergraduate and graduate students, Woods sparked interest in important topics related to Hurricane Katrina, Haiti, Black California, black farmers, the education and prison systems, and the politics of rural capitalization. He was a master of one-on-one motivation of students of color, and his success as an educator outlined a practice of research-based teaching at the cutting edge of social science.
Woods was also a leader in several campuswide initiatives, including the Black California Project; and the environmental racism-environmental justice curriculum initiative established in collaboration with UCSB’s Bren School of Environmental Science & Management and Department of Environmental Studies.
Woods received his Ph.D. in urban and regional planning from UCLA, and joined the UCSB faculty after appointments at Pennsylvania State University and the University of Maryland. He is survived by his son, Malik Woods.