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The Berkeley Connect program opens up the extraordinary resources of the university to you: the extraordinary students on our campus. By joining, you will become part of a community of like-minded faculty, mentors, and students that will provide a supportive environment in which to exchange and discuss ideas and goals. Berkeley Connect will help you to make the most of your time at the university as you learn more about the majors in Ethnic Studies and African American Studies. We’re excited to get to know you!

About Berkeley Connect in Ethnic Studies & African American Studies

John J. DoughertyDo you enjoy the discussions you have in class and wish you could continue them in a supportive and grade-free environment? Do you ever wonder what professors and graduate students actually do and how they made their way into the academy? Want to learn more about your campus, its resources and history?If so, then join Berkeley Connect in African American Studies and Ethnic Studies. Berkeley Connect offers you an opportunity to build an on-campus community with your fellow students in African American Studies and Ethnic Studies.

The University of California at Berkeley is still the greatest public university in the world. But it can also be overwhelming. It can be easy to feel small and to get lost.  Which is why building an on-campus community, one connected to student mentors, engaged faculty and campus resources, is so important. These connections are especially important for students of color, under-represented minorities and anyone dedicated to building a just and equitable climate here at Berkeley. For these students, those of you engaged in the complex, on-going conversation about race, diversity and identity, finding a supportive community of students who share these questions and experiences can make a critical difference in the quality of your time here at Cal.

Berkeley Connect in African American Studies and Ethnic Studies offers a range of activities from one-on-one meetings to small group sessions, study breaks, and field trips. What is unique to our program is that our topics are designed specifically for students interested in our fields: How does the intellectual work of African American Studies and Ethnic Studies relate to communities of color in the politics of the everyday? How do differences in social class impact our experiences at the university? How do we care for ourselves and each other when we are dealing with difficult histories, awkward encounters and institutional structures? And what does one do with an Ethnic Studies or African American Studies major?

There’s more of course to Berkeley Connect — we serve food at every group meeting, there are opportunities to interact in a casual atmosphere with professors, and we host all sorts of field trips and special events. Best of all: no homework and no grades! Sign up and enjoy the conversation and companionship, connect to your friends,  the university, and your future.

John J. Dougherty, Senior Fellow, Berkeley Connect in Ethnic Studies

Program Description

Berkeley Connect links undergraduate students with experienced mentors in Ethnic Studies and African American Studies. These mentors lead small groups of 10-20 students in regular meetings; they also meet with students one-on-one to provide guidance and advice. The core of the Berkeley Connect program is a one-credit, pass-fail course that is designed to create a community of students with similar intellectual interests. There is no homework associated with Berkeley Connect: no exams, no papers, no quizzes. Instead, small group meetings focus on sharing ideas and learning new skills within the Ethnic Studies and African American Studies majors as a way to foster friendships and provide a supportive intellectual community for Berkeley undergraduates.The only requirement for joining Berkeley Connect in Ethnic Studies and African American Studies is that you have an interest in these fields of study. You do not have to be a major in order to participate! Undeclared freshmen and sophomores are welcome, along with entering junior transfers and juniors and seniors who have declared the major.

Every semester, Berkeley Connect sponsors a wide range of activities and events for participating students.  They include:

  • small-group meetings led by your mentor;
  • one-on-one meetings with your mentor;
  • special events, including informal lectures by professors and guest speakers, and panels on career options, graduate school admissions, and other topics;
  • and visits to Berkeley resources.

At the heart of Berkeley Connect is the relationship between you and your mentor. The Berkeley Connect mentors are advanced graduate students or recent PhDs in Ethnic Studies or African American Studies, who are chosen both for their demonstrated commitment to undergraduates and for their scholarly achievement. They are dedicated to providing the kind of close-knit community and one-on-one attention that can be hard to find at a large university.

When you sign up for Berkeley Connect, you will join one of several small groups of participants in Ethnic Studies and African American Studies. Your small group will be led by your mentor, and will meet every other week during the semester for an hour-long dinner discussion sessions. Discussions will focus on key intellectual issues within Ethnic Studies and African American Studies as well as key skills you need to succeed in the major. Above all, the small groups will focus on building connections among students, so that each group becomes a supportive community for all participants.

You will also meet with your mentor one-on-one at least twice during the semester, once to get acquainted, and a second time just before Tele-Bears, to discuss your plans for completing your major. Your mentor also has office hours every other week, during which you are free to show up and ask questions, talk over your day or your week, discuss what you are learning in class, or just have an informal conversation.

Berkeley Connect Mentors

JJohn J. Dougherty ohn J. Dougherty (Senior Fellow) received his PhD in Comparative Ethnic Studies from UC Berkeley in 2014. In his time away from Berkeley, he has been a Postdoctoral Scholar in The Bill Lane Center for the American West at Stanford University and a faculty member in History and Environmental Studies at Reed College. His current book project, Flooded by Progress: Law, Natural Resources and Native Rights in the Postwar Pacific Northwest is forthcoming from University of Washington Press. While at UC Berkeley, he was a University of California Dissertation Fellow and an affiliated scholar with the Institute for the Study of Social Issues, the Joseph A. Myers Center for Research on Native American Issues, and the Center for Race & Gender. He has also taught extensively in Ethnic Studies and Native American Studies.

Robert ConnellRobert Connell recently received his  PhD in African Diaspora Studies from UC Berkeley, with a designated emphasis in Dutch Studies. Grounded in both African diaspora studies and environmental studies, Robert’s current research focuses on the contemporary social organization and governance of the Maroon polity of Accompong in Jamaica, and its distinct history of resistance. Robert’s interests include participatory field research methods, oral histories, indigeneity, and the function of utopia and radical imagination in the African diaspora. One of the highlights of his time at Berkeley has been mentoring and supporting our university’s world-class undergraduate students as a Graduate Student Instructor. Before beginning his graduate studies, Robert worked in international development, directed a non-profit health advocacy program, and was an independent journalist in the Middle East. Born and raised in Canada, he has fallen in love with California’s beauty and its endless spring and summer.


Meeting Schedule

Tuesday, August 29:

Welcome Event from 5-7PM in 554 Barrows Hall


Tuesday, September 5:

First Small Group Meeting: What is Ethnic Studies & African American Studies (and Why do They Matter)?


Tuesday, September 12

One-on-One meetings with John and Rob


Tuesday, September 19

Second Group Meeting: What It Took To Get Here, or, Why go to College?


Tuesday, September 26

Third Group Meeting: Coping and Campus Resources for Students of Color


Tuesday, October 3

Alumni Panel Discussion from 5-7PM in 554 Barrows


Tuesday, October 10

Fourth Small Group Meeting: Social Justice in and Beyond the Classroom


Tuesday, October 17

Faculty Panel Discussion from 5-7PM in 554 Barrows


Tuesday, October 24

Fifth Small Group Meeting: Developing an Intellectual Project at Berkeley


Tuesday, October 31

Office hours with John and Rob


Tuesday, November 7

One-on-one meetings with John and Rob


Tuesday, November 14

Field Trip


Tuesday, November 21

No meeting for Thanksgiving Holiday


Tuesday, November 28

6th Small Group Meeting: What Does Success Look Like to You? (Or…So, how was Thanksgiving?)


Tuesday, December 5

Optional Study Break: refreshments and conversation


To find sections in the upcoming semester, search the Schedule of Classes for 98BC (for first-year and sophomores) or 198BC (for juniors and seniors) in either Ethnic Studies or African American Studies.

To help you meet other students who share your experiences and perspectives, Berkeley Connect sections are designated as lower division (first-year students and sophomores), new junior transfers, and upper division (juniors and seniors), but you can enroll in any section that fits your schedule and credit requirements.

How to Sign Up

To participate in Berkeley Connect in Ethnic Studies and African American Studies, you enroll in a designated section of Ethnic Studies 98 BC or 198BC or African American Studies 98BC or 198BC (one unit, taken on a Pass/Not Pass basis). Many students chose to enroll for more than one semester. Participation is NOT restricted to declared majors.To sign up, enroll in a Berkeley Connect section when course registration opens.  Please see the Berkeley Connect sections listed above under “Schedule.”

**Read the schedule notes carefully—different sections are designated as primarily for lower-division (freshmen and sophomores), upper-division (juniors and seniors), or junior transfer students.

If you are interested in participating in Berkeley Connect, but course registration is not currently open, you can join the Berkeley Connect Mailing List, and you will be sent more details when the next semester’s information becomes available.

Contact Us

Please see our FAQs. If you have additional questions about Berkeley Connect in Ethnic Studies, please contact: Michael Mark Cohen, Faculty Director,

You can also contact the central Berkeley Connect office at or (510)664-4182.

Links & Resources