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BERKELEY CONNECT in PHILOSOPHY

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

Have 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? 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.

Faculty

Lara Buchak is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at UC Berkeley.  She received her Ph.D. from Princeton University. Her primary research interests are in decision, game, and rational choice theory. She also works in the philosophy of religion, ethics, and epistemology. She is the author of Risk and Rationality (Oxford University Press, 2013).

 

Berkeley Connect Mentors

Caitlin DolanCaitlin Dolan is a PhD candidate in Philosophy.

Where did you grow up?

Berkeley, CA.

Where did you go to college and what was your major?

NYU, philosophy.

In a sentence or two, how would you describe your research?

I work on the philosophy of perception and aesthetics – I’m interested in what’s visual about visual culture.


Nicholas Gooding is a PhD candidate in Philosophy.

Where did you grow up?

Stamford, CT.

Where did you go to college and what was your major?

McGill University (Montreal); Philosophy.

In a sentence or two, how would you describe your research?

I’m especially interested in ancient Greek philosophy. Recently, my work has focused on better understanding Aristotle’s account of the ways in which we are shaped by our relations with others, and his view of the place of friendship in a life well-lived.


Alexander Kerr is a PhD candidate in Philosophy.

Where did you grow up?

Massachusetts.

Where did you go to college and what was your major?

Oberlin College, Philosophy.

In a sentence or two, how would you describe your research?

The big question of my dissertation is: why do things appear how they do in sense perception–why do things look, feel, sound, smell, and taste how they do? I focus on color, shape, and music perception, and develop explanations of how things appear drawing on work in philosophy and psychology.


Erica KlempnerErica Klempner recently received a PhD in Philosophy from UC Berkeley.

Where did you grow up?

San Francisco, London.

Where did you go to college and what was your major?

Oxford, Philosophy and Psychology.

In a sentence or two, how would you describe your research?

I work in aesthetics, ethics and philosophy of language.


Semester Activities

Week 1 (Aug 28): Welcome, Wednesday 5-6 pm, Howison Library, Moses Hall (3rd Floor)

Welcome meeting

Hearing about the program; meeting your mentor

 

Week 2 (Sept 3-4, Sept 9): Introductory Meeting [Monday is a holiday; so Monday sections will meet next week]

Small group meeting

Goals for the semester; getting to know each other; navigating the university

 

Week 3 (Sept 10-11, Sept 16): What Is Philosophy? [Monday sections will discuss this next week; note that you also have a mentoring meeting next week]

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 4 (Sept 16-20): Mentoring and Study Break [note that Monday sections also have a meeting this week]

One-on-one mentoring meeting

Initial meeting; getting to know you

Study Break, Sept 19, THURSDAY, 4-6 pm, 301 Moses Hall (optional)

 

Week 5 (Sept 23-25): Truth and Objectivity

Small group meeting

Is there such a thing as ‘objective truth’? In science, in politics, in religion? Is it possible to know things apart from our own cultural background?

 

Week 6 (Sept 30-Oct 1): Philosophical Reading and Writing, MONDAY, 4-6 PM, Howison Library, Moses Hall

Large group meeting, led by Graduate Fellows

Follow-up writing workshop: TUESDAY, Oct 1, Howison Library (optional), 4-5 pm.

 

Week 7 (Oct 7-9): Ethics

Small group meeting

What makes an action right or wrong?  When do different ethical theories recommend different actions, and which theory is more convincing?  What is the role of thought-experiments in philosophy?  How are they similar and different from the ‘data’ in other disciplines?

 

Week 8 (Oct 14-16): Diversity and Philosophy

Small group meeting

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

 

Week 9 (Oct 21-25): Mentoring

One-on-one mentoring meeting

Topic of mentee’s choice.  Suggestions: writing, working habits, future plans and goals, positive and negative experiences in philosophy, a philosophical problem of interest.

 

Week 10 (Oct 28-30): Thinking 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 do my grades matter for the future? How can I integrate my intellectual pursuits, my interests, my skills, and my need to make a living?  What is the good life?

 

Week 11 (Nov 4-8): Field Trip

Field trip

If you haven’t already, attend a field trip this week.  There are two philosophy talks (Agnes Callard in the Philosophy Department, Thurs 4-6; Desmond Jagmohan in Law, Philosophy, and Political Theory, Fri 12-2 pm—note that this talk is ‘read ahead’ so you have to request the paper).  There are several films showing at the Pacific Film Archive.  You can also visit the Berkeley Art Museum or the Bancroft Library Rare Books Collection.

 

Week 12 (Nov 12): What Can I Do with My Degree? TUESDAY 6-7:30 pm, Howison Library, Moses Hall

Large group meeting

Panel with former philosophy majors who are now working in different careers. Statistics and anecdotes. How to think about one’s career.

 

Week 13 (Nov 18-20): Conversation with a Professor

Small group meeting

Ask a philosophy professor anything that’s on your mind, about philosophy itself or life in the university.

 

Nov 25-27: THANKSGIVING WEEK, NO CLASS

 

Week 14 (Dec 2-4): Topic TBD

Small group meeting

Topic determined by student interests

 

CALENDAR BY SMALL-GROUP DAY 

MONDAY SMALL GROUPS

Wednesday, Aug 23rd: welcome meeting, Howison Library, Moses Hall, 5-6pm

Monday, Sept 2nd: HOLIDAY

Monday, Sept 9th: small group, regular time

Monday, Sept 16th: small group, regular time

Week of Sept 16th: mentoring meeting, sign up for time

Thursday, Sept 19th: study break, 301 Moses Hall, 4-6pm (optional)

Monday, Sept 23rd: small group, regular time

Monday, Sept 30th: large group, Howison Library, 4-6pm

Tuesday, Oct 1st: follow-up workshop, Howison Library, 4-5pm (optional)

Monday, Oct 7th: small group, regular time

Monday, Oct 14th, small group, regular time

Week of Oct 21st: mentoring meeting, sign up for time

Monday Oct 28th: small group, regular time

Week of Nov 4th: week off or Field Trip

Tuesday, Nov 12th: large group, Howison Library, 6-7:30pm

Monday, Nov 18th: small group, regular time

Week of Nov 25th: Thanksgiving week, no class

Monday, Dec 2nd: small group, regular time

 

TUESDAY SMALL GROUPS

Wednesday, Aug 23rd: welcome meeting, Howison Library, Moses Hall, 5-6pm

Tuesday, Sept 3rd: small group, regular time

Tuesday, Sept 10th: small group, regular time

Week of Sept 16th: mentoring meeting, sign up for time

Thursday, Sept 19th: study break, 301 Moses Hall, 4-6pm (optional)

Tuesday, Sept 24th: small group, regular time

Monday, Sept 30th: large group, Howison Library, 4-6pm

Tuesday, Oct 1st: follow-up workshop, Howison Library, 4-5pm (optional)

Tuesday, Oct 8th: small group, regular time

Tuesday, Oct 15th, small group, regular time

Week of Oct 21st: mentoring meeting, sign up for time

Tuesday, Oct 29th: small group, regular time

Week of Nov 4th: week off or Field Trip

Tuesday, Nov 12th: large group, Howison Library, 6-7:30pm

Tuesday, Nov 19th: small group, regular time

Week of Nov 25th: Thanksgiving week, no class

Tuesday, Dec 3rd: small group, regular time

 

WEDNESDAY SMALL GROUPS

Wednesday, Aug 23rd: welcome meeting, Howison Library, Moses Hall, 5-6pm

Wednesday, Sept 4th: small group, regular time

Wednesday, Sept 11th: small group, regular time

Week of Sept 16th: mentoring meeting, sign up for time

Thursday, Sept 19th: study break, 301 Moses Hall, 4-6pm (optional)

Wednesday, Sept 25th: small group, regular time

Monday, Sept 30th: large group, Howison Library, 4-6pm

Tuesday, Oct 1st: follow-up workshop, Howison Library, 4-5pm (optional)

Wednesday, Oct 9th: small group, regular time

Wednesday, Oct 16th, small group, regular time

Week of Oct 21st: mentoring meeting, sign up for time

Wednesday, Oct 30th: small group, regular time

Week of Nov 4th: week off or Field Trip

Tuesday, Nov 12th: large group, Howison Library, 6-7:30pm

Wednesday, Nov 20th: small group, regular time

Week of Nov 25th: Thanksgiving week, no class

Wednesday, Dec 4th: small group, regular time

 

Guide to the Field Trips

There are four ways of fulfilling the ‘Field Trip’ component of Berkeley Connect.  They are:

Option 1: Going on a tour of the Bancroft Library

Berkeley’s Bancroft Library is one of the country’s leading research libraries.  Find out about it here: http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/libraries/bancroft-library/about

On [DATE TBA], the library is hosting a Berkeley Connect open day.  The library will be offering 30 min tours throughout the day.  Sign up here: https://doodle.com/poll/qddwthxb42eg9su5

Option 2: Visiting the Berkeley Art Museum

The Berkeley Art Museum is the university’s own contemporary art museum.  We’ll be organizing an informal tour around the galleries.  Again, look out for an email with details on how to sign up.  Alternatively, you can choose to go on your own or with

friends, at a date/time that works for you.

(Note: admission to BAM is free for Berkeley students.)

Find out what exhibitions are on here: https://bampfa.org/

Option 3: Going to a movie at the Pacific Film Archive

If you can’t make the day-time field trips, then a good option might be a movie at the Pacific Film Archive.  Simply pick a film that

interests you.

(Note: Berkeley students receive a discount on movies shown at the PFA: all screenings are $5.)

Find out what movies are playing here: https://bampfa.org/

Option 4: Attending a Philosophy talk

You can attend any of the lectures listed on the Philosophy Events page (up until Dec 6th):

https://philosophy.berkeley.edu/events/upcoming

Talks typically last for an hour, and are usually followed by a discussion period.  This is a great way of finding out what contemporary

philosophers are working on.

Have a look at the events page, and pick a topic that interests you.  Note that if you attend the Workshop in Law, Philosophy, and Political Theory, you need to sign-up ahead of time with Sarah Song ssong@law.berkeley.edu, since there will be a paper to read ahead of time.

*Note: To get credit for the Field Trips, you can do one of two things:

  • email your mentor with a few sentences telling them something interesting about your trip;
  • email your mentor with a photo showing some sort of ‘evidence’ of your trip.

Schedule

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 at buchak@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