As the program expands to multiple departments across campus, its basic structure remains consistent, while its content varies according to the needs of individual disciplines. Crucially, each academic department plans a syllabus that fits its own disciplinary and pedagogical goals. Each department appoints a senior faculty member to direct its Berkeley Connect program. Working with other faculty members, the director develops the department’s Berkeley Connect curriculum and selects and mentors the graduate fellows. Students enroll in the Berkeley Connect program related to their academic interests.
The Berkeley Connect syllabus in each department includes:
- one-on-one advising: graduate fellows meet undergraduates individually;
- small group discussions: the fellows lead discussion on a variety of topics related to a specific major and to skills necessary to the major;
- large-scale events: including informal lectures by professors, panels on careers and graduate school, visiting speakers, and many other activities;
- visits to Berkeley resources: such as the Bancroft Library, the Berkeley Art Museum, and many others.
The Berkeley Connect model enables departments to satisfy student needs that cannot be met in the ordinary classroom: the beginner’s need for straightforward clarification of the expectations for the major, as well as for guidance in acquiring the basic skills needed for the major; the need of graduating seniors for career guidance, including help with graduate school applications; and the often-expressed longing that students at all stages feel for intellectual discussion and exchange with their peers.
The great advantage of the Berkeley Connect model is that it uses existing resources and strengths to enrich the experience of undergraduates. The faculty and graduate students who implement the program are already in place; indeed, the Berkeley Connect program simultaneously draws on the university’s pool of superb graduate students and offers them a year of support, thus enhancing both the undergraduate and graduate programs at the same time. Berkeley also has an amazingly supportive base of alumni/ae, who have been eager to participate in Berkeley Connect by returning to campus to share career advice with students, by hiring our undergraduates as interns, and by being contact persons for students interested in particular careers.
For more about Berkeley Connect, see: