Alma M. García joined the department of sociology in 1982. She received her Ph.D in sociology from Harvard University. She received her B.A. in sociology from the University of Texas at El Paso in 1974.
García has served as director of both the Women's Studies and the Ethnic Studies Program, introducing into the curriculum some of the first courses on women of color, pioneering the development of a Women's Studies minor, and reaching out to faculty across campus to create an interdisciplinary group of teaching scholars. She enriched the curriculum not only by introducing new courses and scholarship, but also by her significant work in faculty development—leading Women's Studies Summer Curriculum Transformation Workshops and similar summer workshops for Ethnic Studies. She recently pioneered a minor in Latin American Studies. García has been an important mentor to younger faculty and to students of color. Alumni of many backgrounds cite her influence as they go on to complete Ph.D.'s and enter the professoriate. She is a nationally recognized speaker on curricular reform in Sociology, Women's and Gender Studies, and Ethnic Studies.
Her publications include Narratives of Mexican American Women: Emergent Identities Among the Second Generation (Altamira Press, 2004); The Mexican Americans (Greenwood Press, 2002); Race and Ethnicity (ed.) (Greenhaven Press, 2000) and Chicana Feminist Thought: The Basic Historical Writings. New York: (Ed.) (Routledge, 1998). One of her journal articles, "The Development of Chicana Feminist Discourse, 1970-1980" originally appeared in Gender & Society in 1989 and has been reprinted in eighteen anthologies and textbooks. In 1997, The University of Memphis Center for Research on Women selected this article as one of the fifty "Classic Articles on Race and Gender" of the last decade. This article has been used in sociology, ethnic studies, women's studies and history courses throughout the United States because it is considered the first analytical research manuscript on the development of the Chicana feminist and civil rights movement during the 1960s and 1970s.
Her two most recent books have received national awards from scholarly professional organizations.
García and Francisco Jimenez, SCU professor emeritus of modern languages, published an edited collection of oral histories of civil rights activists in San Jose, CA: Ethnic Community Builders: Mexican Americans in Search of Justice and Power, The Struggle for Citizenship Rights in San Jose, California (Alta Mira Press, 2007). This book received the 2008 Elizabeth B. Manson Small Project National Award from the Oral History Association.
García's anthology, Contested Images: Women of Color & Popular Culture (AltaMira Press, 2012) received the Susan Koppelman Award for the Best Anthology in Feminist Studies in Popular and American Culture by the National Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association.
García is currently working on three chapters that will update the classic book, North From Mexico: The Spanish-Speaking Peoples of the Southwest by Carey McWilliams. (Last updated in 1988 by the late Matt S. Meier, Professor of History, Santa Clara University).The publishers selected García from a national pool of historians and social scientists whose research area is Mexican Americans in the United States.
As a nationally recognized scholar, García received appointments to serve on the editorial board and manuscript reviewer committee for the following scholarly journals: Gender & Society, Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society and the Journal of Popular Culture. She has presented her research or has been an invited speaker at conferences in Canada, Israel, Poland and Puerto Rico. She has been a keynote speaker at Yale, CU Berkeley, UCLA, Loyola Marymount and the University of Texas at El Paso.
Garcia has received many SCU awards. In 2010, she was awarded Santa Clara University Provost's Inclusive Excellence Award. In 2008, Professor García received The Cedric Busette Memorial Award that was established in 1996 by the SCU Ethnic Studies Program to honor the memory of Professor Cedric Busette for his outstanding commitment to the Ethnic Studies Program and for his dedication to the goals of Jesuit education. In 1998, García was awarded the Sisterhood is Powerful Award given by the SCU Women &Gender Studies Program to a faculty or staff person who has made important contributions to the status of women at SCU.
In 2013, the Escuela Tlatelolco Centro de Estudios located in Denver, Colorado, awarded García the Crusaders for Justice Award, an annual national award given to an educator whose scholarship and community service has made a significant contribution to the improvement of Latino and Latina students at a national level.
Professor García has served as national officer in several professional organizations. She has been national treasurer, secretary and president of the National Association for Chicano Studies (NACS). She has also served as president of Women and Social Change in Arts &Sciences (MALCS).
Her research interests include Mexican American communities, immigration &second-generation populations, political economy of Latin American development, race, class &gender and oral history. García has several research studies in progress: 1) an oral history of Latina Day Laborers in San Jose, CA.." and 2) an oral history of Latino Business Owners in High Tech Industries: Silicon Valley."
García teaches the following courses: Social Problems, Race, Class and Gender in the United States, Immigrant Communities, Ethnic Businesses and Qualitative Methods.
Professor García is involved in several community projects. She has been a member of several committees at Congregation Beth David including President of Sisterhood, and chair of the Adult Education Committee. She has served as a tutor and mentor for congregation members preparing for their Bar or Bat Mitzvahs. García is active in fundraising for the American Humane Society and the Alzheimer's Association.