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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 make the most of your time at the University as you learn more about the major in Social Welfare. We are excited to get to know you.

Message from the Director

Jill Duerr BerrickWhat is Social Work?  What can I do with a Social Work degree?  How can I be engaged in solving the complex social issues of our time?  These are the questions that Berkeley Connect can begin to answer as students join together in community with one another, with graduate students, and with faculty.  Participating students will become familiar with the School and will also learn about the wider campus community and resources.  Berkeley Connect makes a big campus feel small, and gives students an opportunity to take risks exploring new ideas about social solutions to society’s most vexing problems – all in the company of friends.

Jill Duerr Berrick
Director, Berkeley Connect in Social Welfare

Program Description

Berkeley Connect links undergraduate students with experienced mentors in Social Welfare. These mentors lead small groups (not more than 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 Social Welfare major as a way to foster friendships and provide a supportive intellectual community for Berkeley undergraduates.The only requirement for joining Berkeley Connect in Social Welfare 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 studentsThey 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 Social Welfare, 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 the small groups of participants in Social Welfare. 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 Social Welfare 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.


Jill Duerr BerrickJill Duerr Berrick serves as the Zellerbach Family Foundation Professor in the School of Social Welfare and co-director of the Center for Child and Youth Policy at U.C. Berkeley.  Berrick’s research focuses on the relationship of the state to vulnerable families, particularly those touched by the child welfare system.  She has written or co-written ten books on topics relating to family poverty, child maltreatment, and child welfare.  Her interests target the intersect between poverty, early childhood development, parenting, and the service systems designed to address these issues.  Her research approach typically relies upon the voices of service system consumers to identify the impacts of social problems and social service solutions on family life.  Her new book under development examines child welfare professionals and the morally hazardous and intellectually contested choices they regularly face in their work with children and families.

Berkeley Connect Mentors

Laura Brignone is a PhD candidate in Social Welfare. After growing up in Northwest Washington and upstate New York, she completed her BA at Stanford. As an undergraduate she was pre-med and a music major. She was introduced to domestic violence advocacy near the end of her college career and shifted her career trajectory toward working with social work and public health interventions for domestic violence. She received an MSW from UC Berkeley in 2015, and her doctoral research explores the role of digital technology as an intervention for domestic violence, especially in emergency departments. She loves travel, trivia and baking bread (and might bring some to Berkeley Connect!). Working with students has been one of the greatest highlights of her time at Berkeley, and she looks forward to building these relationships this upcoming year.

Semester Activities


Hours and Format

Meets for approximately one hour a week, plus additional times for special events. Additional office hours by appointment.

Course Requirements

  • Small Group Meetings: A total of 6 one-hour group meetings on various topics, led by the Graduate Fellow, are scheduled throughout the
  • Mentor Meetings with the Graduate Fellow: two scheduled one-on-one meetings between you and your Graduate Fellow
  • Special Events: several special events and a campus field trip will be scheduled during the


This is a 1-unit course offered on a Pass/No Pass (P/NP) basis.

To receive credit for the course, you must:

  • Attend ALL Small Group Meetings, Special Events, and Mentor
    1. Email or talk to graduate fellow if you need to miss a meeting, event, or field
  • Complete an online exit survey through bCourses at the end of the term. If you do not complete the exit survey you won’t receive credit for Berkeley

Berkeley Connect in Social Welfare Fall 2017 Meetings & Events Schedule

Week #1
Thu. Jan. 18
*Special Event                                                       

Welcome to Berkeley Connect in Social Welfare!
Opening Meeting and Reception
4:00-6:00 p.m.
Haviland Commons

Week #2
Thu. Jan, 25 1st Small Group Meeting
Who am I and why did I choose a profession that is concerned with helping/serving marginalized populations?
4:00-5:00 p.m. – 98BC
5:00-6:00 p.m. – 198BC
4 Haviland

Week #3
Week of Jan 29-Feb 2

1st One-on-one Mentorship
Scheduled 15 min. mentorship sign up
312 Haviland

Week #4
Thu. Feb 8
*Special Event                                                       

Community Engagement – Inside and Outside of Cal 
UC Public Service Center discuss opportunities for involvement
on campus and in the community
4:00-6:00 p.m.
Room 5

Week #5
Thu. Feb. 15
2nd Small Group Meeting
What do I feel passionate about changing, and what strategies will best address social problems I am concerned about?
4:00-5:00 p.m. – 98BC
5:00-6:00 p.m. – 198BC
4 Haviland

Week #6
Thu. Feb. 22
3rd Small Group Meeting
Is graduate school right for me?
Discussion with Professor Berrick
4:00-5:00 p.m. – 98BC
5:00-6:00 p.m. – 198BC
4 Haviland

Week #7
Thu. Mar. 1

*Special Event 
Career Panel: “What Can I Do with My Major?”
A panel of Alumni
4:00-6:00 p.m.
Haviland Commons

Week #8
Thu. Mar. 8

4th Small Group Meeting
What is Research in Social Welfare? Discussion with doctoral students
4:00-5:00 p.m. – 98BC
5:00-6:00 p.m. – 198BC
4 Haviland

Week #9
Mar 15

5th Small Group Meeting
Writing and Research
4:00-5:00 p.m. – 98BC
5:00-6:00 p.m. – 198BC
4 Haviland

Week #10
Week of Mar 19-23
2nd One-on-one Mentorship
Scheduled 15 min. mentorship bCourses sign-up

Week #11
Thu. Mar 29


Week #12
Thu. Apr 5
*Special Event
Meet the Scholars Panel
A Panel of Faculty
4:00-6:00 p.m.
Haviland Commons

Week #13
Thu. Apr 12

6th Small Group Meeting
Who do you admire and why?
4:00-5:00 p.m. – 98BC
5:00-6:00 p.m. – 198BC
4 Haviland

Week #14
Thu Apr 19
*Berkeley Botanical Garden Visit
4:00-5:30 p.m.

Week #15
Thu Apr 26
7th (FINAL) Small Group Meeting
How are you doing? Evaluation, progress updates, and relax!
4:00-5:00 p.m. – 98BC
5:00-6:00 p.m. – 198BC
4 Haviland

Week #16
Thu Apr 29

RRR Week


To find sections in the upcoming semester, search the Schedule of Classes for Social Welfare 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 Social Welfare, you enroll in a section of Social Welfare 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 Social Welfare, please contact:  Prof. Jill Duerr Berrick, Faculty Director, dberrick@berkeley.edu.

Rachel Gartner, graduate fellow:  rachelgart@berkeley.edu.

Bob Teague Director, Admissions & Student Affairs, Social Welfare, bteague@berkeley.edu, (510) 642-8535

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

Links & Resources