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About Armando Arias, Ph.D.

For over 40 years Dr. Arias has served as a member of numerous start-up teams for brand new universities to include the California State University, Auraria Higher Education Center in Colorado, the InterAmerican College as well as for 7 brand new universities for the Texas A&M University System. He has also consulted for new universities within the University of California, University of Texas and Tecnologico de Monterrey (Nuevo Leon) as well as for start-up and online universities in Africa, Europe, and, Mexico.

He was called to serve as a key strategist and member of the transformation and start-up team that created California State University, Monterey Bay campus on the site of the former Fort Ord military installation. In this capacity he helped hire founding faculty members and administrators and establish the academic affairs side of the university. Prior to returning to California, Dr. Arias served as the Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences at Texas A&M University during an era of rapid new campus expansion.

Dr. Arias earned tenure as a Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies and also Professor of Sociology at CSU Monterey Bay. He also served as the Founding Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs, Founding Dean of the Social & Behavioral Sciences and Founding Dean of Arts Humanities & Creative Technologies at CSU Monterey Bay.

In recent years, with support from the Land for Public Trust and the Packard Foundation, Dr. Arias provided project leadership for the creation of the Big Sur Environment Institute in Big Sur, California. The Institute brings together world-class thinkers and scientists to develop global environmental solutions. He also was the principal investigator for the Ford Foundation's Space for Change to improve upon the political environment of competing interests in landmark decisions over land-use. Dr. Arias has also founded other significant special projects to include, BESTNET, Auraria Higher Education Center (State of Colorado), Area Health Education Center(U.S. Department of Health & Human Services/UC San Diego, School of Medicine) and the Academic Program for the Leon & Sylvia Panetta Institute where he was also the principal investigator for a major grant from AmeriCorps..
He holds a Ph.D. in sociology (social psychology) from the University of California, San Diego where he was recognized at a Distinguished Alum for the 50th Anniversary Celebration (fall 2018). Dr. Arias also received the esteemed Faculty of the Year award at San Diego State University.

Dr. Armando Arias has broad experience working with public/private institutions, non-profits, and foundations to renew and enhance their missions and organizational structure. Dr. Arias is an active researcher and professor specializing in environmental biotechnological social psychology, his peers refer to him as a "social ecological psychologist." he helps stake-holders and project participants identify goals, common visions, and outcome-based initiatives for both small- and large-scale projects focused on improving the environment and human condition.

Dr. Arias is the founder of as well as key strategist behind the formation of BESTNET, an international consortium of 20 corporations and institutions of higher education established at the Western Behavioral Sciences Institute in La Jolla, California. BESTNET was one of the first business–education technology initiatives to provide access to education opportunities via the Internet. In support of BESTNET, Dr. Arias received several million dollars from the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education and the Digital Equipment Corporation. BESTNET received honorable mention from The 20 Year Report by the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education the Tecnologico de Monterrey (Nuevo Leon), and the California Postsecondary Education Commission. He was also presented with a Proclamation for this work by the California State Assembly.
Dr. Arias has served as a consultant to the U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Department of Education, the National Telecommunication Information Administration, Ronald E. McNair Foundation, U.S. Forest Service, and the Bureau of Land Management to name just a few.
Dr. Arias was a fellow for the California State University System, the Ford Foundation, and the San Diego Foundation. He attended Harvard University’s Institute for Education Management and the Service Learning Institute at Stanford University, and in his capacity as the founder of the Chancellor’s Fellowship Program for the Texas A & M University Systems Office, became its first fellow.

Dr. Arias' forthcoming book Theorizing Cesar Chavez: New Ways of Knowing STEM (2019) provides a treatise in the social psychology of scientific thinking in everyday life or a new paradigm for critically examining the STEM movement and fields from a sociological perspective. As a strategy for stirring the imagination Dr. Arias suggest lessons from the social and behavior sciences for new ways of interpreting fields found in STEM (science, technology, engineering & mathematics).


Present Professor, California State University, Monterey Bay School of Social, Behavioral & Global Studies


1984 - 1992 BESTNET
Fund for the Improvment of Postsecondary Education - 3 Separate Awards
Role: Principal Investigator
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Honors and Awards

  • Honorable Resolution by the California State Assembly

In the News (5)

Publications & Articles (15)

Forthcoming Work (2)

Interviews (2)

Keynotes & Presentations (10)