Cynthia Toms, Ph.D.

Professor of Global Studies and Kinesiology
(805) 565-6025

Office Location

Murchison Complex Office

Office Available

Monday 4:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.
Tuesday 9:00 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.
Thursday 9:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.
and by appointment


Global Health, Social Models of Health 

Research Interests

Food Security; Student Community Engagement and Global Health/Development


Cynthia Toms, Ph.D., is Professor of Global Studies and Kinesiology at Westmont College. She teaches courses in the area of food systems, global health, sociology of movement, global studies and special populations. Dr. Toms also directs Westmont's Global Health in Uganda Semester program and co-advises Westmont's global studies fellows program and minor.

During the academic year 2022-2023, Dr. Toms is undertaking a Sabbatical Fellowship with the Hope Center, Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where she will be furthering her research on food security as it relates to social determinants of health and the human spirit.

Before coming to Westmont, she held posts at the Center for Social Concerns at the University of Notre Dame; Uganda Studies Program in Mukono, Uganda; at Peking University and Huija Private College in Beijing, China.  Since coming to Santa Barbara in 2013, she has partnered with the Food Bank of Santa Barbara to research food security, along with her students, on the Westside of Santa Barbara.

Dr. Toms serves on the Board of Child Family Health International, Santa Barbara Alliance for Community Transformation (SBACT), and the steering committee for The Community-based Global Learning Collaborative.  Dr. Toms' dissertation entitled "Global Development Through International Volunteerism and Service-Learning: Who's Saving Whom?" was awarded Dissertation of the Year by both the Comparative International Education Society (CIES) and the International Association for Research in Service-Learning and Community Engagement (IARSLCE).  She was awarded teacher of the year in 2019 and elected to Messiah University's Athletic Hall of Honor in 2018.  As an avid equestrian eventer and foxhunter, she also volunteers as co-District Commissioner for the local US Pony Club chapter.  She resides with her husband and three sons in Santa Barbara, California.

Recent Publications

Toms, C. (2018). "From Homemaking to Solidarity: Global Engagement as Common Good in an Age of Global Populism." Christian Higher Education, (Vol. 17, 1-2).

Lough, B., & Toms, C. (2018). "Global service-learning in institutions of higher education: concerns from a community of practice." Globalisation, Societies, and Education, (Vol. 16, I).

McMillan, J., Morris-Paris, C., Spitz, B., & Toms, C. (2018). "Fair Trade Learning" in Global Health Experiential Education from Theory to Practice, (Arya & Evert, eds.). Routledge Press.

Kollman, P., & Toms, C. (2018). Understanding World Christianity: Eastern Africa. Fortress Press.

McKinnon, T., Toms, C., & Evert, J. (2017). "Service-Learning as a Framework for Competency-Based Local/Global Health Education." Annals of Global Health, (Vol. 82, 6, 1034-1042).

Toms, C. (2015). "The Economic Circle: Impacts of Volunteering and Service-Learning on Three Rural Communities in Costa Rica" in Larsen (Ed.), International Service-Learning: Engaging Host Communities. Routledge Press.

Hartman, E., Lough, B., Toms, C., & Reynolds, N. (2015). "Assessing Intercultural Capacities, Community Health  Engagement, and Critical Thinking: The Global Engagement Survey. Frieman, J., Haverkate, V., Oomen, B., Park, R., and Skald, M., Eds.), Going Glocal: The theory, practice, evaluation, and experience of education for global citizenship. Amsterdam: Drukkerii Publishing.

Bowman, N., & Toms, C. (2013). "The forgotten minority: examining religious affiliation and university satisfaction." Higher Education: The International Journal of Higher Education and Educational Planning, v65 n6 pp. 745-760.

Rennick, L., Toms, C., Fisher, E., Wallace, E., & Kim, Y. (2013). "The Effects of Spiritual/Religious Engagement on College Students' Affective Outcomes: Differences by Gender and Race." Journal of Research on Christian Higher Education. 22 (3), pp. 301-322.

Toms, C. (2012). "In Partnership with Communities: Spiritual Formation and Cross-Cultural Immersion" in Reed, R. & Balzer, C. (Eds.), Building a Culture of Faith: University-wide Partnerships for Spiritual Formation (pp. 233-247). ACU Press, Abilene, Texas.

Morgan, R. & Toms, C., (Eds.) (2010). Transformations at the Edge of the World: Forming Global Christians through the Study Abroad Experience. ACU Press, Abilene, Texas.