Hearst Field Annex B-22
Berkeley CA 94720-2495
Phone: (510) 664-4182
Email: berkeleyconnect@berkeley.edu

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PhilosophyThe 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 major in Philosophy. We’re excited to get to know you!

Message from the Director

Lara BuchakHave you been enjoying your philosophy classes but wish you had an opportunity to develop closer relationships with professors, graduate students, and your peers?  Do you have questions about how to get the most out of your experience in the Philosophy Department – whether and when to go to office hours, how to structure the paper-writing process, how to think about which classes to take – but are unsure who to ask?  Are you interested in why philosophy uses the methods it uses, and how these methods contribute to our understanding?  If so, Berkeley Connect in Philosophy is specially designed for you.Berkeley Connect is an opportunity to connect with professors, graduate students, and your peers, while receiving mentoring and reflecting on philosophy as a discipline.

Professor Lara Buchak

Director, Berkeley Connect in Philosophy

Program Description

Berkeley Connect links undergraduate students with experienced mentors in Philosophy. 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 Philosophy major as a way to foster friendships and provide a supportive intellectual community for Berkeley undergraduates.The only requirement for joining Berkeley Connect in Philosophy is that you have an interest in the field 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 Philosophy, 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 Philosophy. 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 Philosophy 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.


Professor Lara Buchak, Faculty Director, buchak@berkeley.eduLara BuchakLara Buchak’s primary research interests are in decision, game, and rational choice theory. Her work focuses on how an individual ought to take risk into account when making decisions and how we should best model risk attitudes within decision theory. She argues for a more permissive theory of rationality than is standardly assumed. Her book in this area, entitled Risk and Rationality, is forthcoming in January 2014 (Oxford University Press). Further work in formal epistemology explores the questions of when and why one ought to stop one’s search for further evidence. In the philosophy of religion, she has written on the question of what faith is, and under what circumstances it is rational to have faith. She also has more general interests in the philosophy of religion, and in epistemology.

Professor Buchak is excited to be directing Berkeley Connect because she thinks Berkeley students are some of the best in the world and she wants to create opportunities for faculty and students to interact more, and for students to feel at home in the Philosophy department.

Professor Geoffrey Lee, Assistant Director, geoffrey_lee@berkeley.edu

Geoffrey Lee is an Associate Professor of Philosophy (Ph.D., New York University). His main areas of research interest are philosophy of mind, metaphysics, and the foundations of cognitive science and neuroscience. One of his current projects is writing a book on the experience of time, tentatively titled “Consciousness and the Passage of Time.”

Berkeley Connect Mentors

Jim Hutchinson Jim Hutchinson is a graduate student working on a PhD in Philosophy. He especially likes the history of philosophy, epistemology, and the philosophy of language. He also reads a lot of art criticism, especially about literature and movies, and hopes that someday people will write good criticism about video games. He is very excited to be a part of Berkeley Connect!

Richard Lawrence recently received his PhD in Philosophy. His research focuses on philosophy of language and philosophical logic. He is also interested in mathematics, ancient philosophy, metaphysics, and philosophy of science. In his spare time, he writes programs, rides bicycles, bakes bread, and brews beer. He loves teaching and is excited to be a part of Berkeley Connect!

Austin Andrews Austin Andrews graduated from UC Santa Barbara in 2009 with a B.A. in philosophy and recently received his PhD in Philosophy at Berkeley. Austin’s teaching and research focuses on issues in the philosophy of mind, especially perception and self-knowledge. Having been a graduate student instructor for six years, Austin is excited to bring his teaching experience to Berkeley Connect and to further grow as a teacher and mentor.



  • Attend weekly meetings (small-group and large-group events and mentoring meetings). Note that small-group meetings are at your designated time and large-group meetings are at times announced on the syllabus, generally on Tuesdays at 5 or 6 PM.
  • Field Trip to the Bancroft Library
  • Fill out a questionnaire at the end of the semester.


Attendance policy:

You are expected to attend (i) all small-group meetings; (ii) two one-on-one mentoring meetings; and (iii) all large-group meetings and field trips.  You are also expected to (iv) fill out the end-of-semester survey.  In order to receive a pass, you cannot miss more than two small-group sessions; you cannot miss more than two of the large-group/Field Trip events (i.e., you must attend 2 large-group events or 1 large-group event and the Field Trip; the welcome meeting does not count as a large-group event), but you may substitute attendance at a department talk for a large-group event.  You cannot receive a pass without filling out the end-of-semester survey.

Sessions start on the hour, not on “Berkeley time.”  This is so that everyone can get food and discussion can begin by 10 after the hour.


Week 1 (January 17): Welcome, TUESDAY 7 PM, Dwinelle 145

Welcome meeting

Hearing about the program, meeting your mentor, syllabus


Week 2 (Jan 23-25): Intro meeting

Small group meeting

Getting to know each other, courses and goals for this semester


Week 3 Part I (Jan 31): Meeting Your Faculty, TUESDAY 5-6:30 PM, Howison Library

Large group meeting: panel with 4 philosophy professors.

Discussion questions: What made you become a philosopher? Which philosopher do you most admire? What’s the value of philosophy?


Week 3 Part II (Jan 30-Feb 3): Mentoring

One-on-one mentoring meeting.

Initial meeting, getting to know you.


Week 4 (Feb 6-8): What is philosophy?

Small group meeting

Discussion questions: What is philosophy?  Why should we study it?  What got you interested in philosophy?  What are some examples of philosophical problems?  What is the value to society of what we do, as philosophers?


Week 5 (Feb 13-15): Different approaches to philosophy

Small group meeting

What are the different areas and approaches in philosophy?  How does history of philosophy relate to contemporary philosophy?  What are “analytic” and “continental” philosophy?  What are the differences between “Western” and “Eastern” philosophy?  How do the branches of philosophy relate to other fields, such as psychology, mathematics, or rhetoric?  Why does our department include the classes it does?


Week 6 (Feb 20-22): Philosophical examples, thought-experiments, and methods

Note: Feb 20 is a holiday, so Monday small groups will meet the following week instead

Small group meeting.

Discussion questions: Talk about some philosophical examples from courses.  What is the role of examples and thought-experiments in philosophy?  How are similar and different from the “data” in other disciplines?  What other methods does philosophy use?  How does philosophy make progress?


Week 7 (Feb 28). The Writing Process, TUESDAY 5-6:30 PM, Howison Library

Large group meeting, led by Professor Niko Kolodny

Optional Practical Session with peer tutors, WEDNESDAY Feb 22 5-6:30pm, Howison Library


Week 8 (Mar 6-8): Reading and Work Habits

Small group meeting.

How to read, analyze, criticize a philosophical argument, using examples.  How to do reading for class efficiently and with understanding.  How to work effectively and overcome psychological blocks.  The effect of technology on our work habits and what to do about it.  When to go to office hours and how to navigate them


MARCH 9, STUDY BREAK, 301 Moses Hall (optional), 4-6 PM


Week 10 (Mar 14). What can I do with my degree?, TUESDAY 6-7:30 PM, Howison Library

Large group meeting: panel with those with philosophy degrees that have gone on to do something else.  Statistics and anecdotes.  How to think about one’s career.


Week 9 (Mar 20-22). Making Choices about the Future

Small group meeting.

What challenges do I face in making decisions about what to do in college, after college, and beyond?  Strategies for choosing a career or what to do after college.  Freshman and sophomores: strategies for choosing a major.  Sections where there’s interest: should I go to philosophy graduate school, and how can I prepare?  How can I integrate my intellectual pursuits, my interests, my skills, and my need to make a living?




Week 11 (Apr 3-5). Climate and Diversity

Small group meeting

What has been my experience of being a philosopher of a particular gender, race, religion, sexual preference, nationality, socioeconomic class, or other identity?  How can we better understand each other’s viewpoint when doing philosophy?  Does and should identity matter when doing philosophy?


Week 12 (Apr 10-14): Mentoring + Field Trip

One-on-one mentoring meeting: writing papers, working habits, or topic of mentee’s choice.

Field Trip to the Bancroft Library


Week 13 (Apr 17-19). Philosophy and Culture

Small group meeting

How much should philosophy engage with science, with politics, with literature, or with the concerns of the citizens around us?  Looking at a philosophical article in the popular press.


Week 14 (Apr 24-26). Topic TBD

Small group meeting

Topic determined by student interests.





Tuesday Jan 17, 7pm, 145 Dwinelle: Welcome

Monday Jan 23: Small group

Tuesday Jan 31, 5-6:30pm, Howison: Large group (faculty panel)

M-F Jan 30-Feb 3: One-on-one mentoring meeting

Monday Feb 6: Small group

Monday Feb 13: Small group

(Monday Feb 20: Holiday)

Monday Feb 27: Small group

Tuesday Feb 28, 5-6:30pm, Howison: Large group (writing)

Wednesday Mar 1, 5-6:30pm, Howison: Optional large group (peer tutors)

Monday Mar 6: Small group

Thursday Mar 9, 4-6pm, Moses 301: Optional study break

Tuesday Mar 14, 6-7:30pm, Howison: Large group (career panel)

Monday Mar 20: Small group

(M-F Mar 27-31: Spring recess)

Monday Apr 3: Small group

M-F Apr 10-14: One-on-one mentoring AND Field Trip

Monday Apr 17: Small group

Monday Apr 24: Small group



Tuesday Jan 17, 7pm, 145 Dwinelle: Welcome

Tuesday Jan 24: Small group

Tuesday Jan 31, 5-6:30pm, Howison: Large group (faculty panel)

M-F Jan 30-Feb 3: One-on-one mentoring meeting

Tuesday Feb 7: Small group

Tuesday Feb 14: Small group

Tuesday Feb 21: Small group

Tuesday Feb 28, 5-6:30pm, Howison: Large group (writing)

Wednesday Mar 1, 5-6:30pm, Howison: Optional large group (peer tutors)

Tuesday Mar 7: Small group

Thursday Mar 9, 4-6pm, Moses 301: Optional study break

Tuesday Mar 14, 6-7:30pm, Howison: Large group (career panel)

Tuesday Mar 21: Small group

(M-F Mar 27-31: Spring recess)

Tuesday Apr 4: Small group

M-F Apr 10-14: One-on-one mentoring AND Field Trip

Tuesday Apr 18: Small group

Tuesday Apr 25: Small group



Tuesday Jan 17, 7pm, 145 Dwinelle: Welcome

Wednesday Jan 25: Small group

Tuesday Jan 31, 5-6:30pm, Howison: Large group (faculty panel)

M-F Jan 30-Feb 3: One-on-one mentoring meeting

Wednesday Feb 8: Small group

Wednesday Feb 15: Small group

Wednesday Feb 22: Small group

Tuesday Feb 28, 5-6:30pm, Howison: Large group (writing)

Wednesday Mar 1, 5-6:30pm, Howison: Optional large group (peer tutors)

Wednesday Mar 8: Small group

Thursday Mar 9, 4-6pm, Moses 301: Optional study break

Tuesday Mar 14, 6-7:30pm, Howison: Large group (career panel)

Wednesday Mar 22: Small group

(M-F Mar 27-31: Spring recess)

Wednesday Apr 5: Small group

M-F Apr 10-14: One-on-one mentoring AND Field Trip

Wednesday Apr 19: Small group

Wednesday Apr 26: Small group


To find sections for the upcoming semester, search the Schedule of Classes for Philosophy 98BC (for first-year and sophomores) or 198BC (for juniors and seniors).

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 Philosophy, you enroll in a designated section of Philosophy 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 Philosophy, please contact:  Professor Lara Buchak, buchak@berkeley.edu, (510) 296-5932.

Assistant Director: Geoff Lee, geoffrey_lee@berkeley.edu

Graduate Fellows:

Umrao Sethi (Monday sections), umraosethi@berkeley.edu

Arpy Khatchirian (Tuesday sections), arpykhatch@yahoo.com

Jeremiah Carey (Wednesday sections), jeremycarey@berkeley.edu

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

Links & Resources