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Dean of Social Sciences, Arizona State University

Pardis Mahdavi is director of Arizona State University’s School of Social Transformation. Mahdavi has focused her academic career on diversity, inclusion, human trafficking, migration, sexuality, human rights, feminism and public health.

Mahdavi's approach to higher education has been informed by her personal journey as an Iranian-American woman growing up in the U.S., as well as her training as an anthropologist where she learned to be reflexive about complex power dynamics.

Mahdavi comes to ASU from the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver, where she served as acting dean. Before coming to Denver, she was at Pomona College from 2006-2017 where she most recently served as professor and chair of anthropology, director of the Pacific Basin Institute at Pomona College, as well as Dean of Women. Her research interests include academic freedom, diversity and inclusion in higher education, gendered labor, human trafficking, migration, sexuality, human rights, youth culture, transnational feminism and public health in the context of changing global and political structures. She has published five single-authored books and one edited volume in addition to numerous journal and news articles. She has been a fellow at the Social Sciences Research Council, the American Council on Learned Societies, Google Ideas, and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. She has consulted for a wide array of organizations including the U.S. government, Google Inc., and the United Nations. In 2012, she won the Wig Award for teaching at Pomona College.

Ph.D. Sociomedical Sciences and Anthropology, Columbia University 2006
M.Phil. Anthropology, Columbia University 2003
Master's degree. International Affairs, Columbia University 2002
B.A. Diplomacy and World Affairs, Occidental College 2000


  • –present
    Associate Professor of Anthropology, Pomona College


  • 2006 
    Columbia University, PhD