Alumni Support

Take action now to support the institute and build social justice futures at Cal! Click here to sign our petition and/or add your testimonial to our website.

Pedro A. Noguera

Emery Stoops and Joyce King Stoops Dean, Rossier School of Education, University of Southern California

"I am writing to express my adamant opposition and shock in response to the decision of the administration at UC Berkeley to close the Institute for the Study of Societal Issues (ISSI). Having briefly served as the Institute’s Director (1998 – 2000, when it was called the Institute for the Study of Social Change), I can attest to its critical role in preparing doctoral students in the social sciences at UC Berkeley. Close examination of its track record will show that the Institute and its network of faculty have mentored and provided financial support to large numbers of graduate students of color. Having once been the beneficiary of mentorship and support from the Institute while pursuing my doctorate in sociology during the 1980s under the guidance of Professor Troy Duster, I can assure you that I would not have been able to complete my degree had that support not been available.

At a time when Berkeley’s commitment to educating students of color, particularly Black students, has been the subject of considerable controversy, I find it surprising that the university would fail to recognize the need to retain and continue to support ISSI."

Image of Manata Hashemi

Manata Hashemi

Farzaneh Family Assistant Professor of Iranian Studies, University of Oklahoma; Former ISSI Graduate Student in Residence (2007-2012)

"ISSI and CER [Center for Ethnographic Research, one of the ISSI centers] were pivotal to my development as a young scholar. The graduate student working groups, faculty mentorships, and warm, collegial environment provided by both CER and ISSI created a safe, nurturing “home away from home” for me to train in the latest ethnographic research methods, produce rigorous scholarship, engage in invaluable scholarly collaborations, and foster alliances and friendships that paved the way for my current career trajectory. ISSI is unique among institutions at UCB in its systematic research approach to racial, ethnic, and class injustices among marginalized communities while simultaneously providing scholars with the institutional support they need to help disrupt embedded inequalities. At a decisive moment in our collective history when structural racism and health and income disparities have gained increasing worldwide attention, the work of ISSI and CER to produce meticulous, compassionate research on the lived experiences of vulnerable populations is needed now more than ever.""

"ISSI is unique among institutions at UCB in its systematic research approach to racial, ethnic, and class injustices among marginalized communities while simultaneously providing scholars with the institutional support they need to help disrupt embedded inequalities."

- Manata Hashemi, Farzaneh Family Assistant Professor of Iranian Studies, University of Oklahoma; Former ISSI Graduate Student in Residence (2007-2012)
Image of Christyna Serrano

Christyna Serrano

Director of Faculty Engagement, Singularity University; Lecturer, Critical Studies in Education, Graduate School of Education; and former ISSI Graduate Student in Residence (2011-16) and Graduate Fellow (2015-2017)

"Being the first person in my family to attend and graduate from college, I entered my PhD program with an understanding that I am both highly privileged in comparison to my family, and an outlier in terms of representation of “people like me” in the academy and in my field, and thus also “disadvantaged.” This paradox of being both simultaneously privileged, underrepresented and disadvantaged demonstrates and highlights for me the ways in which structural inequality functions at the individual, interpersonal, and institutional levels as a system that (re)produces particular sets of experiences and life chances that are dually oppressive and advantageous, as well as mutually reinforcing. Being an ISSI Graduate Student in Residence was one of the most significant components of support in my doctoral career. Some of the talks that I attended drastically shaped my work in terms of the literature I used to situate my project, and how I understand particular issues of social inequality, and methodology.

I made dear friends within this community (both visiting scholars and graduate students), and both of my office mates were major contributors to my developing scholarship as they allowed me to talk about my work, asked me important questions, read my materials, and were just awesome human beings to share space with.

Finally, as someone that struggled to find and make a space in this academic world, ISSI became a safe place for me; I felt a great sense of community and collegiality that I wish the whole campus could somehow be like. "

Image of Ben Gebre-Medhin

Ben Gebre-Medhin

Assistant Professor of Sociology, Mount Holyoke College; former ISSI Graduate Student in Residence (2011 - 2018)

"My office mates and the staff were invaluable in my efforts to secure a tenure track job. I gave and attended a number of job talks that were informally organized at the ISSI. My officemates provided invaluable feedback on my written work and presentations, and the ISSI provided me an opportunity to test out work in progress (especially early stage work). In particular, coming from Sociology, I was lucky to be surrounded by an outstanding group of interdisciplinary researchers who work on education. Through formal and informal meetings with this group, and the other outstanding graduate students and scholars at the ISSI, I’ve been able to try out new ideas, and make progress on others, at a faster pace than I could’ve hoped to in any other arena.

ISSI executes an essential mission: the informal but essential support for the work and professional development of social science graduate students who may not find support anywhere else on campus. As budgets tighten don't let the university administration underestimate just how profound and impactful this support is."

Take action now to support the institute and build social justice futures at Cal! Click here to sign our petition and/or add your testimonial to our website.

Teresa Córdova

Professor of Urban Planning and Policy; Director, Great Cities Institute, University of Illinois at Chicago, ISSI Alum

"It is indeed shocking that UC Berkeley would even consider withdrawing its commitment to a research institute on race and the study of social change - especially at such a critical moment in history. The Institute for the Study of Societal Issues (formerly the Institute for the Study of Social Change) means so much to so many, all of who are making a difference in addressing a wide range of societal issues. It is deeply disturbing to hear that UC Berkeley would turn its back on an Institute that has nurtured generations of people of color researchers and in doing so, relinquish its stature as a world leader in addressing societal issues. Surely this must have been a mistake - one that can easily be corrected, since we know that budget allocations are matters of priority. I certainly hope that the University will come to its senses and ensure its alumni that it still cares about the greater good."

Jen Rose Smith

Assistant Professor, Geography and American Indian Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison

"As a graduate student at UC Berkeley, I was a fellow in the ISSI Graduate Fellows Program, and it was one of the most valuable experiences during my tenure at Cal. As a first generation, working class Native student from out of state, the community and support offered through the program was unparalleled. The training I received regarding applying for fellowships, navigating the QE process, learning about the job market was so crucial to my success. During my time on the job market I heavily relied on ISSI to assist me in fashioning my materials, hosting a mock job talk, and giving me advice along the way as I negotiated my offer. I was also introduced to alumni from the program who gave me crucial advice from their positions as assistant and tenured professors at universities to which I was applying. The resources ISSI provides are unlike any other on campus and it would be incredibly devastating to lose this important space."

Héctor Beltrán

Assistant Professor, MIT Anthropology; Graduate Fellows Program Alumnus

"The Graduate Fellows Program was critical for helping me obtain a UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship and tenure-track offers from R1 institutions. Drs. Deborah Lustig and David Minkus, along with my brilliant graduate colleagues, provided sharp multi-disciplinary feedback on early versions of my first peer-reviewed article in a space characterized by congeniality and humor. Dr. Christine Trost provided access to invaluable resources necessary to prepare application materials for the job market. The “behind-the-scenes” perspectives that emerged in conversation with invited GFP alumni still resonate with me as I approach my first years as an Assistant Professor. While UC Berkeley provides many spaces across disciplines for rigorous analytical approaches to social problems, the GFP at ISSI stands alone as the only space where I could think creatively with colleagues with whom I shared grounded commitments and personal trajectories."

Image of Heidy Sarabia

Heidy Sarabia

Assistant Professor of Sociology, California State University Sacramento; former ISSI Graduate Student Researcher and Graduate Student in Residence (2009-2013)

"As a first generation college student in the U.S., I struggled navigating academia, and graduate school was difficult in many ways. Having a space and network at ISSI, where faculty and peers helped, supported, and guided me through the graduate program was invaluable for my growth as an academic. In addition, the space itself made it possible to have a place on campus that was welcoming and supportive. These spaces foster the inclusivity of students who might not find other friendly spaces in the university at large. I hope UCB reconsiders the decision to close the building so other students, like me, can also have the opportunity to find places to grow and thrive."

Connie Wun, Ph.D.

Co-Founder, AAPI Women Lead; 2020 Soros Justice Fellow; former ISSI Graduate Student in Residence

"ISSI was one of the primary reason I was able to finish my doctorate. The staff provided more support than most of the faculty from my department. Additionally, ISSI provided the space for me to complete my research and form relationships that exist until today."

"As a first generation college student in the U.S., I struggled navigating academia, and graduate school was difficult in many ways. Having a space and network at ISSI, where faculty and peers helped, supported, and guided me through the graduate program was invaluable for my growth as an academic."

- Heidy Sarabia, Assistant Professor of Sociology, California State University Sacramento; former ISSI Graduate Student Researcher and Graduate Student in Residence (2009-2013)

Margaret Mary Bissember Downey

Assistant Professor, Tulane University; UCB Alum, Former Graduate Student in Residence

"There is no doubt in my mind that I would not have succeeded at Berkeley and in the academy in general without ISSI. It was often the one and only place where I could get the methods training, support, intersectional intellectual community, and professional development I needed. There is no excuse to close this resource that leads the charge in supporting cutting edge research of BIPOC, queer, immigrant, disabled, and other marginalized scholars on campus while spending millions on initiatives that barely contribute to campus growth (e.g., Office of Strategic Initiatives, UCPD, Stadiums, dubious public/private real estate partnerships). Berkeley brands itself on being a diverse, racially just place and then makes decisions like closing ISSI, and we alumni take notice. It is an equity issue plain and simple - does the Chancellor prioritize a thriving intellectual campus community or not?"

Victor Rios

Professor of Sociology and Associate Dean of Social Science, UC Santa Barbara; former ISSI Graduate Fellow

"Against all odds, I graduated with a Ph.D. in Ethnic Studies from UC Berkeley in 2005. As a former high school drop-out I barely managed to make it to college at CSU East Bay. There, I worked full-time while I supported my family. Despite graduating with my undergraduate degree in four years, I was ill-prepared to conduct graduate work. I entered graduate school at Berkeley in need of social and academic support. The Graduate Fellows Program (GFP) at the Institute for the Study of Societal Issues provided me that support. I believe that the Institute played an instrumental role in my development as a successful researcher and professor. As a Fellow I was taught how to write; how to conduct research; exposed to leading intellectuals in my area of specialization; taught how to apply for funding and for jobs; and networked with other young scholars who provided me crucial support and feedback. When I needed to practice my job talk, the Institute opened its doors and organized colloquia. When I doubted my own work, mentors at the Institute raised my morale and gave me practical strategies for getting through my self-doubt. As a working-class student who grew up in Oakland, California, in dire poverty and did not have the navigational skills to make it through graduate school, the GFP’s commitment to help professionalize me was invaluable."

Caitlin Keliiaa

Assistant Professor, Feminist Studies, UC Santa Cruz; 2014-19 Institute for the Study of Societal Issues Graduate Student in Residence; 2015-17 Joseph A. Myers Center for Research on Native American Issues Fellow

"I am incredibly grateful for Institute for the Study of Societal Issues (ISSI) and credit it to my success as an academic. For generations, ISSI has sustained scholars of color and personally provided me with crucial intellectual space, community, support and funding. In particular, the Graduate Fellows Program (GFP) was instrumental to me securing a UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship and tenure-track offers from both Liberal Arts and R1 institutions. Through this program, Drs. Deborah Lustig, Christine Trost and David Minkus provided rigorous training that honed my writing skills, uplifted my voice and taught me to be a generous editor. My interdisciplinary cohort guided me to the strongest version of my scholarship. In this space my colleague turned dear friend and I created a writing group that supported us through the completion of the doctorate. Crucially, the GFP demystified the academic job market supporting fellows every step of the way—from cover letter, to mock job talk to negotiations. No other entity on campus provides this kind of firsthand training, much less with such great success. ISSI is invaluable to not just UC Berkeley, but the academy."

Munya Mahiya

UCB Alumnus; Undergraduate Student Research Assistant, ISSI

"As a student with a disability on campus. I found it hard to find a community where I could share my ideas, be part of an effort that drives change. This was all due to the fact that the way we understand disability in America is very different from how disability is viewed in Africa. As an African Scholar on the UC Berkeley campus, I found myself being othered often because my ideas did not align with the needs of Americans. ISSI gave me an opportunity to be part of something bigger than my struggles. My voice went further than being ignored."

Joanne Tien

PhD, Senior Program Director of Engaged Scholarship, Haas Center for Public Service, Stanford University; former ISSI Graduate Student in Residence (2015-2019)

"My office space at ISSI gave me a place to focus, write, and analyze my data. The ISSI community of scholars was also invaluable. Through ISSI, I met a number of other graduate students who do similar work in education, and learned about graduate groups on campus that I would not otherwise have been exposed to. I also learned about methodologies and data analysis software used in other departments that I’ve found helpful for my own work. Through informal conversations with other graduate students at ISSI, I also learned a lot about both publishing and the job market, both of which are essential to my academic career. Finally, through ISSI’s speaker series, I was exposed to different kinds of literature, methods, and research that I did not have access to in my own department. Through attending the speaker series, I also made connections with scholars who I find useful to my own work, who I otherwise may not have met."

Andrés E. Jiménez Montoya

President and CEO, Latino Institute for Corporate Inclusion (LICI) - Americas, and Director Emeritus, UC California Policy Research Center; ISSI Alum

"The closure of the ISSI sends the wrong message and undermines any serious campus effort to achieve equity, inclusion, and diversity in the academy or to create the foundations for a Hispanic Serving Institution."

Miriam Solis

Assistant Professor of Community and Regional Planning, University of Texas at Austin; Former ISSI Graduate Fellow (2015-2017) and Graduate Student in Residence (2015-2018)

"The decision to close ISSI in this moment belies Berkeley’s storied civil rights history, as well as what is supposed to be a current vanguard role in designing programs that advance equity within institutions of higher education. Many ISSI scholars’ work have centered questions of racial justice and have gone on to shape new lines of inquiry in their fields. The closure of ISSI would thus be a retreat from the campus’ commitment to equity and transformative thinking and research."

Image of Fithawee Tzeggai

Fithawee Tzeggai

Assistant Professor, Sociology, University of Kansas, and ISSI Graduate Student in Residence (2012-2020) and Graduate Fellow (2014-2016)

"ISSI provides a special community for graduate students doing interdisciplinary work on social and political change. As a student of color, my office space at the ISSI building became my home on campus where I built a diverse community of like-minded graduate students from various departments. As a participant in ISSI’s Graduate Fellows Program, I benefited from crucial advising and mentorship that helped me persevere and advance through my program. The personal support, academic guidance, and interdisciplinary engagement that I received from ISSI provided the perfect complement to the disciplinary focus and level of independence expected from my home department. Places like this on campus are few and far between, and losing ISSI would be a huge blow to graduate students of color and the university in general."

Tria Blu Wakpa

Assistant Professor, World Arts and Cultures/Dance, UCLA; Graduate Fellows Program Alum

"I strongly credit the Graduate Fellows Program with helping me to obtain a UC President's Postdoctoral Fellowship and a tenure-track position at UCLA. Drs. Deborah Lustig, David Minkus, and Christine Trost provided years of professional advice and extremely useful feedback on: drafts of articles and my dissertation, grant and fellowship proposals, and job market materials. They taught us how to strengthen our conference presentations and Power Points and even set up mock job talks, which helped me immensely. I also learned a lot from discussions with my cohort and the guest speakers who shared their insights with us. Because I recognize how invaluable the Graduate Fellows Program was to my success, I am currently working alongside others to implement a similar model in my department at UCLA."

Image of Michel Estefan

Michel Estefan

Assistant Teaching Professor of Sociology, UC San Diego; former ISSI Graduate Student in Residence (2011-2020)

"The ISSI was an invaluable source of camaraderie and intellectual inspiration. My office mates and I weren’t simply colleagues; we’re close friends as well. We provided each other emotional support and frequently discussed our ongoing research projects, giving each other feedback and constructive criticism. The colloquium was also a wonderful space to learn about various fascinating research projects. Moreover, I found the conversations and camaraderie of other graduate student parents at the ISSI to be a valuable source of motivation and ideas for how to juggle the various responsibilities of being a parent and a graduate student."

Take action now to support the institute and build social justice futures at Cal! Click here to sign our petition and/or add your testimonial to our website.

Meredith Palmer

UC Presidential Postdoc, UC Los Angeles, and former ISSI Graduate Student in Residence (2014-2016)

"As someone who does work in the field of Native American & Indigenous Studies, but outside of the Ethnic Studies department at Berkeley, it was very important for me to share an office with someone from within that program. Sharing an office space with Katie Keliiaa allowed me to get advice, discuss theories and praxis, share teaching resources, and coordinate events together. She gave me advice on my Ford Fellowship application, of which she was a recipient, that I believe led to my success in receiving the fellowship. In addition, I collaborated and met with other junior scholars who had offices in the building. It was a space for meeting and networking with young scholars who share interests though they may differ in training and approach."

Peter Nelson

Assistant Professor, San Diego State University; Joseph Myers/ISSI Fellow 2015-2017

"I was one of two Native American scholars in my cohort supported by the Joseph Myers Fellowship to participate in the ISSI fellows program. I cannot state enough how much the cohort of graduate students in this writing workshop and the staff and faculty leaders of this program improved my writing and helped me develop as a professional at the end of my graduate career as I was entering the job market. This led to my first faculty position at San Diego State University and now a new position that I will be starting back at Berkeley in Jan 2021. As a Native American person, I witnessed how I and others from underrepresented communities have benefitted from this program, which is free and in my years provided me with two years of full funding to grow as a scholar. Similar programs such as the Faculty Success Program (only 3 months) cost an individual scholar nearly $5,000! and are focused on early career professionals rather than finishing the dissertation and landing the first job like ISSI, which is crucial for the success of outgoing graduate students. Coming from a Native American background, which is extremely underrepresented in academics, we need every one of us to have as much training and support as possible, because there are so many structural hardships and barriers hindering our success in entering and retaining our positions in this profession. I whole-heartedly support this program and its effectiveness in giving us the tools we need to succeed in the academic profession."

Kara Young, PhD

Independent Researcher and Consultant; Former ISSI Graduate Fellow in Residence (2013-2017) and Graduate Fellow (2013-2015)

“When I moved into my office at ISSI, I had an epiphany. Having my own office space was the thing that had been missing for me during the previous years as a graduate student. While we do have shared office spaces in my department, it was a different experience completely to have a bookshelf and desk that was just my own. I am incredibly grateful for my work space at ISSI. It is the place that I did my most creative work on my dissertation and a place that I truly looked forward to coming to. There is also a different kind of synergy that happened at ISSI for me with the other ISSI office holders. I often ran into people in the halls and ended up having valuable academic conversations that helped me think through my research.”

Laurie Schaffner

Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Illinois at Chicago; Institute Graduate Student Scholar (1995-2000)

"The Institute provided a special place to work on my dissertation, meet other scholars, get support for the work."

Image of Miguel Pérez Ahumada

Miguel Pérez Ahumada

Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Universidad Alberto Hurtado, Chile; former ISSI Graduate Student in Residence (2013-16)

"My residence at the ISSI allowed me to know different approaches to the issues I was working on, specifically, on theoretical analysis of housing and social movements as well as methodological perspectives on how to conduct ethnographic research in urban neighborhoods. Likewise, the ISSI, through the number of seminars and colloquiums I attended there, provided me with the opportunity to take part in academic discussions that broadened and complemented the intellectual approach I developed in my home department (Anthropology). "

Ariana Thompson-Lastad

Postdoctoral Fellow, UCSF Osher Center for Integrative Medicine; ISSI and Berkeley Center for Social Medicine Affiliated Postdoc, 2018-present

"As an affiliate of ISSI, I have gratefully used office space at the center since 2016. I completed my dissertation in a timely way in these offices, connected with colleagues and collaborators through ISSI events, and have helped expand the Bay Area Structural Competency Working Group (, which began as a project of ISSI. I am a parent of 2 young children and access to this office space has made my research and publications possible."

Michael V. Singh

Assistant Professor of Chicana/o/x Studies, UC Davis; former ISSI Graduate Student in Residence (2016-2019) and Graduate Fellow (2017-2019)

"ISSI was an important aspect of all my accomplishments. It's a community of like-minded scholars. It felt like home and it's where I was most productive."

Gabby Medina Falzone

Postdoctoral Scholar, Penn State College of Education; ISSI Graduate Fellow (2018-2020) and Graduate Student in Residence (2017-2020 )

"Without exaggeration I can say that ISSI was instrumental in my completing my PhD program and entering the job market. As a non-traditional student, I entered graduate school with little knowledge on how to navigate academia. The Grad Fellows Program (GFP) provided me with dissertation writing support, academic mentoring, and support from the other fellows in our cohort. There are not many spaces on campus where underrepresented students from different disciplines can come together to provide moral support and share theoretical ideas. The program’s stipend allowed me to downsize from three jobs to one, giving me more time to focus on disseminating my research data. Outside of the GFP, I will be forever grateful for that dilapidated ISSI building. My office provided me with a quiet space to work when needed and amazing other graduate students-in-residence to work with when I wanted.

I hope that both the ISSI Graduate Fellows Program and the space will continue to help students like me for many decades to come."

christopher herring

Visiting Fellow at Harvard University / Assistant Professor at UCLA Sociology; former ISSI Graduate Student in Residence

"The ISSI supported my graduate studies more than any other institution on campus outside my home department. It provided me office space for 10 years, an interdisciplinary community of scholars that would not have existed elsewhere, and a truly exceptional series of speakers and symposiums on the most pressing social justice issues of our time. I'm shocked that the University is considering closing this amazing institution."

Image of Rami Arafah, PhD, MSW

Dani Carrillo

Research Specialist/University of California, San Francisco; Alum of the Graduate Fellows Program at ISSI and current ISSI affiliate

"ISSI was fundamental in shaping my trajectory as a scholar. Being a member of the Graduate Fellows Program provided a space to build community with other students and scholars throughout UC Berkeley. It was a space to reflect, support, and push each other to better our work and think critically. As a first-generation, Latinx researcher, I felt like I finally found my voice here. I am indebted to the institution."

"My career at UCB wouldn't have been what it was without ISSI: I published two articles and a dissertation while there, thrived in grad school, and was touched by the shared social justice mission and sense of community."

- Jaren Haber, Postdoctoral Fellow, Massive Data Institute, Georgetown U; Former ISSI Graduate Student in Residence
Image of Rami Arafah, PhD, MSW

Rami Arafah, PhD, MSW

Senior Research Consultant, Harder + Company; former ISSI Graduate Student in Residence (2014-2016)

"My office space at ISSI was invaluable, first and foremost, because it allowed me a comfortable and secure place to work. That simple fact cannot possibly be overstated. At ISSI, I had privacy and space to spread out when I needed it. I also had a community of scholars around me that I had a great time getting to know. We shared ideas, gave each other feedback, and cross-pollinated from a variety of disciplines."

Vicky Gomez

Assistant Professor, Public Health and Recreation Department, San José State University; ISSI Graduate Fellow 2017-2018

"During my time at ISSI, I felt so supported. Due to hardships I experienced within the university, I did not think I would graduate. ISSI's Graduate Fellows Program provided a safe network to voice our fears as underrepresented doctoral students and work through how to overcome these university barriers. The amount of time spent workshopping my dissertation and receiving valuable feedback from both program mentors and peers was absolutely invaluable. I not only was able to graduate with my doctorate within my first year of being a part of the Graduate Fellows Program, but I was also able to secure a tenure track faculty position before completing my dissertation with the guidance of Drs. Deborah Lustig, David Minkus, and Christine Trost. ISSI fills an important need at UC Berkeley and even more students should have the opportunity to receive such support from an organization dedicated wholeheartedly to their success!"

Jaren Haber

Postdoctoral Fellow, Massive Data Institute, Georgetown U; Former ISSI Graduate Student in Residence

"I'm so grateful for all the support at ISSI, including the office & meeting space, community, and celebration of impactful scholarship. My career at UCB wouldn't have been what it was without ISSI: I published two articles and a dissertation while there, thrived in grad school, and was touched by the shared social justice mission and sense of community. I will miss my office mates, spontaneous hallway conversations, and frequent tea breaks and seminars. Thanks for your good work in community building and may it continue!"

Zawadi Rucks-Ahidiana

Assistant Professor of Sociology, University of Albany, SUNY; ISSI Alumni

"ISSI provided me with an office space, a community, financial support, and mentorship during my time as a graduate student a UC Berkeley. The office space provided me with a quiet space to complete my MA paper during a time when I did not qualify for an office in my department, and ways to meet graduate students from a variety of social science departments across campus. I was later admitted to the Graduate Fellows Program, which gave me the mentorship and financial support I needed to complete my PhD in 6 years even with the interruptions that came with having my first child. I will always be grateful for what ISSI and Deborah, David, and Christine did to support me through my last 2 years of graduate school. I only hope that these opportunities can continue for future Berkeley graduate students. The community that ISSI provides through office space, talks, and the Graduate Fellows Program is not reproduced in any research center or department on campus. Losing ISSI means losing all of those resources. It is worth the investment to sustain their programming and supports for graduate students."


Martindale-Bascom Professor of Sociology, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Former graduate fellow

"My association with the ISSC/ISSI was critical to my development as a scholar and person concerned with social justice issues. The loss of ISSI would be a major step BACKWARD for the University and for our society."

Ellen Moore

Independent Scholar and Integrated Behavioral Health Clinician, La Clinica de La Raza; former ISSI Graduate Fellow

"ISSI is a tremendous resource, not only for individual scholars and graduate fellows, but to the broader Bay Area community and beyond. As an engaged citizen and independent scholar, I depend on ISSI programming to bring the most current socially-engaged research to Berkeley. As a nontraditional student and an alum of the Graduate Fellows Program, I would not have completed my PhD and published my dissertation without the support of ISSI."

Andy Barlow

Continuing Lecturer in Sociology, UC Berkeley; Former Research Associate of the Institute for the Study of Social Change

"This Institute is the legacy of the faculty researchers who provided the University with the Diversity Initiative, the basis for the establishment of the American Cultures requirement. The Institute also provided a home for much of the path-breaking work on the concept of race as a social construct. To propose defunding ISSI at a time of profound economic, social and political crisis, the University is turning its back on its core commitment to equity."

Maxine Craig

Sociology, University of California Davis; Alumna 1988 - 1995

"I was a first gen graduate student who would not have survived graduate school or become the scholar I have become without the ISSC [predecessor to ISSI]. It nurtured my intellectual growth like no other space on campus. I apprenticed in research methods through their research projects. I was introduced to some of the most important scholarship I encountered in graduate school in their informal reading groups. I formed and met with my dissertation support group there. I continue to go to programs sponsored by the ISSI and they continue to provide access to cutting edge scholarship."

Anthony Wright

Assistant Professor, Department of Childhood Studies, Rutgers University, Camden; ISSI Graduate Fellow (2017-2019), ISSI Graduate Student in Residence (2015-2019)

"Participating in ISSI's Graduate Fellows Program was one of the most useful experiences I had as a graduate student at Berkeley. The program provided practical guidance on how to approach the job market, and it offered a supportive space for graduate students to present and receive feedback on developing work. Closing ISSI would be a major loss for graduate students and the Berkeley community in general."

Mimi E. Kim

Associate Professor, School of Social Work, CSU Long Beach; ISSI Graduate Fellow (2012-14)

"I am a proud and grateful alumnus of ISSI and can say with confidence that the Graduate Fellows Program took my doctoral experience at UC Berkeley to another level. The ongoing encouragement and support from the ISSI staff, the camaraderie of the cohort and those before us, the academic advice from affiliated faculty, and ISSI-sponsored intellectual opportunities all served to improve my scholarship and my academic contributions. Beyond the benefits to Fellows, the ISSI events always offered intellectually rich and cross-disciplinary events featuring UC Berkeley faculty and other cutting edge intellectuals. As a doctoral student of color, I conducted research that was outside of the norm of my department, but of utmost relevance and importance to marginalized communities that I represent. I am certain that my experience at ISSI led not only to my academic success but to the contributions that I have continued to make to the academic community and society at large. ISSI is an institution that UC Berkeley cannot afford to lose."

Keramet Reiter

Associate Professor, Department of Criminology, Law & Society, University of California, Irvine; ISSI Graduate Fellow (2009-11)

"As a graduate student at UCB, ISSI provided me with three things: critical professional mentorship, a community of fellow scholars with shared interests, and an interdisciplinary network of resources. Without the program, I am certain I would not have pursued an academic career, let alone had the success I did earning a position within the University of California system. The Institute's work not only should be encouraged, but should be held up as a model for replication within departments and across campuses; I have sought, in all of my service and mentoring commitments, to replicate ISSI's communities and values at UCI. I do not want to imagine the UC system without this anchor for social and racial justice programming."

René Espinoza Kissell

Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Colorado Boulder; ISSI Graduate Fellow (2017-2019)

"ISSI has been one of those rare spaces in academia where scholarship is both an intellectual and political project in relation with organizing, practice, and non-traditional education spaces. These services need to expand, as opposed to the UCB administration's plan to cut. Being a part of their Graduate Fellows Program was an invaluable experience that prepared me for this crazy academic market while strengthening my interdisciplinary analysis with an amazing group of graduate students across departments along with ISSI staff. The scholars connected to the Institute (most of whom BIPOC) and the research cultivated have been both thoughtfully justice-oriented and cutting-edge in their fields.

I am really angry that current and future students' experiences are being compromised by austerity measures. This has been the state of public education, but it does not have to be this way."

Rebecca A Alexander

Associate Professor of Education Studies, DePauw University; ISSI Graduate Fellow 2007-2008, ISSI Graduate Student Researcher 2009-2010

"ISSI was absolutely transformative in nurturing my graduate career. The emphasis on justice, deep community, and mentorship of/by generous and thoughtful scholars who were working together to create intellectual community and generate critical scholarship transformed my understanding of the academy. This was the first place where I encountered scholars truly collaborating with one another in the pursuit of transformative change. As a fellow and as a student researcher it was clear to me that the work the institute did was not simply training researchers or creating a community of fellows, but providing us with models of practice through our immersion in a collective of engaged scholars, all of whom ultimately served as mentors. As a Graduate Student Researcher with Larry Rosenthal I was very proud and grateful to be a part of the institute and support such important work. The ISSI is particularly significant because it allows for a broad, flexible, interdisciplinary exploration of social change, while most sites on campus are more bounded. The ISSI conferences I participated in entailed collaboration with community organizations and activist, engaged scholarship, and intentional praxis. This is a vital space in nurturing scholarship, community collaboration and undergraduate research. The fellows program, while vital to keep, is only one piece of the amazing work the ISSI does and would not function to support, mentor, and model in the same way without the institute."

Take action now to support the institute and build social justice futures at Cal! Click here to sign our petition and/or add your testimonial to our website.

Roi Livne

Assistant Professor, University of Michigan - Ann Arbor; Former ISSI Graduate Fellow and ISSI Graduate Student in Residence

"I am stunned to hear about UC Berkeley's intention to close the ISSI--an irreplaceable institution that was a second home to me through most of my time as a sociology graduate student in Berkeley. From its vibrant and diverse community of students coming from remotely different areas of research, to its world-renowned faculty in residence and visiting scholars, to its outstanding staff, this Institute has fostered critical dialogue across disciplinary lines for long years. If hundreds of successful graduate students, dozens of books, and high-quality lecture series are not sufficient to keep an institute open - I wonder what would be."

dinorah sánchez loza

postdoctoral fellow; The Ohio State University; Former ISSI Graduate Fellow (2018-2019)

"ISSI, and specifically the Graduate Fellows Program, was pivotal in my completing my PhD program at Berkeley. The GFP and the mentorship of faculty was invaluable."

Colin Samson

Professor of Sociology, Essex University; ISSI Alumni 1990, Visiting Scholar 1997-1998

"The Institute gave me an excellent education in social research. It provided me with the basis for my career in education, publishing and human rights activism. More than this, the Institute deeply influenced my outlook on the world. I am still full of pride at having been mentored by Troy Duster and David Minkus. I also found a lifelong friend in Stephen Small, who is now Director. In fact, the Institute became like a second family to me. Now more than ever, the world need the Institute to survive to be a source of strength for all those who want to contribute to making the world less divisive and racially unequal and more attuned to the opportunities for researchers and educators to enhance social justice in an age of lingering autocracy."

Eunice Lee

Associate Professor of Law, University of Arizona; Former ISSI Graduate Fellow

"ISSI is a bedrock of social justice scholarship and academic community at UCB. I am so honored to have been one of its Graduate Fellows and cannot imagine this University, or my own academic trajectory, without ISSI. I came to ISSI as a non-traditional student in many ways, unsure of my path forward. ISSI propelled me toward--and prepared me for--a career in legal academia, aiding my development as a scholar, critical thinker, and academic professional at every step along the way. ISSI and its directors played a huge role in my success in securing a TT position at an R1 university on that path, and provided me with an unparalleled community of support during my time at UCB. The closure of ISSI would be a devastating loss to the University, particularly for its BIPOC and non-traditional students."

Ricardo G. Huerta Niño

Lecturer, City & Regional Planning, UC Berkeley; Alum 2011-2013

"The guidance, advice, counseling, and support I received during my dissertation writing from ISSI faculty played an indispensable and immeasurable role in helping me advance successfully and effectively in my doctoral program. I am forever indebted to them and the structure of the fellows program for providing absolutely critical academic training and support. My experience at UC Berkeley would have been very difficult in a number of ways were it not for the ISSI program. Honestly, I might not finished my doctoral program without ISSI as a critical part of my experience and survival strategies. To this day, I tell whomever will listen that the training and camaraderie in that program should be a required component of all departments for doctoral students. It seems like there must not have been a full assessment of the impact of the program before it was decided that it should be de-funded. I urge you to please review the feedback from former fellows and document the deep and expansive impact it has had in and through Fellows. I continue to teach many of the research skills and analytical frameworks I learned in ISSI. This is an enormously critical program that must be rescued!"

Usree Bhattacharya

Assistant Professor, University of Georgia; GSR at ISSC (2007-2009)

"I worked at ISSC as a GSR from 2007-2009. It was an honor and privilege to work alongside an incredible community that engaged in powerful, social-justice oriented work. This is sad to hear and I hope Berkeley continues to support its people and mission."

Hanna Mark

MSW, PhD, Lead Implementation Specialist, DMH-UCLA Public Mental Health Partnership; ISSI Graduate Student in Residence (2014-2017)

"ISSI provided me with a sense of community and belonging during the last three years of my doctoral degree--a time that can undeniably be exceedingly lonely and siloed. The Institute connected me to thinkers and perspectives I would've never otherwise connected to, and provided me the structure and support (both emotionally and physically) that I am not sure I would have finished my program without. It was an essential resource to me and I am devastated to hear that it could cease to be available to successive cohorts. "

Juan De Lara

Associate Professor, Director of Latinx and Latin American Studies Center, USC; Former fellow

"ISSI was absolutely critical to my success as a Latinx Ph.D. student at UC Berkeley during the 2000s. It was because of the resources, space, and support that I had access to at ISSI that I was able to finish my Ph.D. I'm now a tenured faculty member and the founding director of the USC Latinx and Latin American Studies Center. We need more social justice research centers like ISSI, especially now. Step up Berkeley!"

Jennifer Randles

Chair and Associate Professor of Sociology, California State University-Fresno; Former ISSI Graduate Fellow (2008-2010)

"ISSI provided for me invaluable support and a community of scholars committed to research for advancing social justice. My time as an ISSI fellow profoundly shaped my professional trajectory and research agenda. Now as a professor and department chair of sociology within the California State University system, I strive to create an academic culture of the kind I first found at ISSI, one committed to teaching and research in the service of empirically informed community engagement and organized social change efforts."

Dr. Tamera Lee Stover

Google Researcher, Immersive UX and Product Inclusion; Former ISSI Graduate Fellow

"The ISSI is a critical institution for advancing the study of issues that are - now more than ever - crucial for society."

Bayley J. Marquez

Assistant Professor, University of Maryland, College Park; Joseph Myers Center Mini Grant Award Recipient 2013-2014 and 2017-2018

"Joseph A. Myers Center for Research on Native American Issues [based at ISSI] was integral to my graduate experience. From attending talks to receiving funding and excellent support from staff, the Joseph Myers Center and ISSI were spaces where I received support as an Indigenous student on campus."

Josh Neff

MD, MS, Psychiatry Resident at UCSF; former ISSI Graduate Student in Residence

"The support and meeting spaces provided by ISSI were fundamental to the development of the Structural Competency curriculum developed by the SCWG, now available for all to use at"

Siri Colom

Assistant Professor of Sociology, Worcester State University; former ISSI Graduate Student in Residence

"My office space in the ISSI was the only reason I finished my dissertation. The collegiality there was something I didn’t feel in any other space on campus, particularly for folks underrepresented in the academy. I looked forward to the talks and could always count on the directors offering much needed mentorship. Cutting this key resource is penny wise and dollar foolish. Your priorities will be judged by where you put your resources. ISSI should be a fundamental priority for a school looking to support its scholars."

Adam Goldstein

Assistant Prof. of Sociology and Public Affairs, Princeton; Alum / ISSI Grad student in residence 2008-2014

"ISSI plays a vital integrative role in the social sciences at Berkeley, especially for graduate students. Yes, individual centers could be rehoused elsewhere, but this would destroy ISSI's most valuable feature -- its academic community."

NabilA Islam

Doctoral Student, Sociology, Brown University

"During my MA in political science at McGill, I was constantly told to stop thinking with a social justice framework and think like an 'objective' social scientist. The Center for Ethnographic Research Workshop [based at ISSI] not only gave me the tools to do my research on Rohingya refugees' struggle for a home in the world, but reassured me that it was okay to do justice-focused research and connected me to other social-justice-oriented junior scholars, most of whom (including myself) were people of color. I would have given up my research and not even applied to doctoral programs, if not for ISSI!"

Rebecca Peters

PhD Candidate, University of Oxford; UC Berkeley Alum

"As an undergraduate, research with ISSI gave me experience and confidence, helping to build my skills and understanding. As I finish my PhD now, almost 10 years after starting at Cal, I am grateful for the support that ISSI offers to the UC Berkeley community."

Alea Holman

Assistant Professor, Fordham University; Former ISSI Graduate Student in Residence

"As a Black doctoral student in the GSE at Cal, ISSI provided a supportive, safe space of colleagues from across the university. I continue to collaborate with the former students I met through ISSI. It is a necessary, unique space, particularly for scholars of color. Closing ISSI indicates that the university is not committed to championing spaces that support graduate students of color. I sincerely hope this decision will be reversed for the good of students and the ethics of the university."

Vincent Chong

Trauma Surgeon and Assistant Professor of Surgery, Harbor-UCLA Medical Center; Graduate Fellow 2007-2008

"The ISSC and its graduate fellows program was vital for my success and wellbeing as a medical student invested in learning how to weave a practice of racial justice into my development as a future healthcare provider. The research mentors truly cared about my growth as a scholar and equipped me with the tools to critically interrogate the profession I was entering. I can’t imagine making it through medical school without the graduate fellows program and the support it provided me."

Miranda Ritterman Weintraub, PhD, MPH

Research Manager, Kaiser Permanente Oakland; ISSI Alum

"ISSI not only provided the funding and mentorship I needed to complete my doctoral program, but provided me with a safe space to deepen my understanding of social determinants of health inequities."

Leah Jacobs

Assistant Professor, University of Pittsburgh; Former ISSI graduate student in residence and Graduate Fellow, 2012-2015

"The ISSI-- its space and people-- were critical to my advancement as a scholar."

Rachel Gartner

Assistant Professor, University of Pittsburgh, School of Social Work; former ISSI graduate student in residence

"ISSI provided community, support, and space to grow and develop my thinking as a scholar. It nurtured interdisciplinary connections and decreased the isolation that so frequently accompanies and stalls dissertations. I know that my productivity, creativity, and critical thought benefitted immensely as a result of the space that I had there. I cannot imagine my doctoral education without it."

Karin Martin

Assistant Professor, University of Washington; former ISSI Graduate Fellow

"Being an ISSI Fellow was one the most impactful experiences in my career so far. Invaluable and irreplaceable."

Gretchen Purser

Associate Professor of Sociology, The Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University; former ISSI Graduate Fellow and Graduate Student in Residence

"As a graduate student, ISSI was my intellectual home and the only place where I was immersed in interdisciplinary conversation and collaboration. I had the great fortune of being both a Graduate Fellow of ISSC [now ISSI] and a Graduate Fellow of the Center for Ethnographic Research [based at ISSI]. This immersion in an interdisciplinary intellectual community has proven critical to my ongoing development as a scholar and teacher, for I am now in an interdisciplinary school of social science, training Ph.D. students in sociology, anthropology, geography, education, and beyond. The ISSI is a exemplary institute at Berkeley, a site of extraordinary mentorship, collaboration, and dialogue. It has nurtured generations of scholars working on issues of social, racial, and economic justice and is where much of the most vital scholarship in the social sciences takes place. Closing it would be a major mistake."


Professor Emerita, UC Santa Cruz; National Institute for Mental Health Traineeship through the Institute for the Study of Social Change [which became ISSI], University of California, Berkeley: 1979-80; 1974-75

"The Institute, which sponsored the Chicano Political Economy Collective [which eventually became the Latinx Research Center], was instrumental in fostering a sense of belonging and scholarly engagement."

Take action now to support the institute and build social justice futures at Cal! Click here to sign our petition and/or add your testimonial to our website.

Susan R Takata

Professor Emeritus University of Wisconsin, Parkside

"When I was a graduate student in sociology during the early 1980s, I was awarded a National Institute of Corrections grant to examine alternatives to jail incarceration. Thanks for Professors Troy Duster and David Matza, I was able to house my grant at the Institute for the Study of Social Change [now ISSI]. Such a vibrant and collegial setting of support resulted in long-term academic ties to the Institute way beyond receiving my Ph.D. in sociology in 1983 from Cal. For example, those long afternoon discussions with David Minkus about the future, sharing office space with Alan Wolfe, or those many gatherings of lox and bagels at the Institute. For any young scholar, the Institute provided a strong foundation with the confidence to succeed. Fast forward a few decades, in July 2019, I retired from the University of Wisconsin, Parkside as the founding department chair and professor of the Department of Criminal Justice."

Mina Barahimi Martin

Graduate of Berkeley Law's JSP Program; Former ISSI Graduate Student in Residence

"I was fortunate to be granted office space at ISSI in 2014-2015. Having this space helped me make considerable progress on my dissertation. It saddens me to think that if ISSI is closed, others, like me, who do not otherwise have office space, will not have this same opportunity. Please keep ISSI open!"

Jackie Orr

Associate Professor of Sociology; Former ISSI Graduate Fellow

"My own intellectual career as a doctoral student at Berkeley was transformed by the support and community of ISSI. There was, and is, nothing like the Institute and its role in countless doctoral students' successful, critical, vibrant trajectories at Berkeley and beyond. "

Lindy Hong

Former Undergraduate Researcher at the Interdisciplinary Research Group on Privacy from Fall 2018 - Spring 2020

"I was a part of the Interdisciplinary Research Group on Privacy for 4 semesters as an undergrad. During this time, we would meet regularly at ISSI. This space is incredibly important to our lab, because it gives us the opportunity to discuss any ideas or questions we had about our privacy research. It allowed me to connect with other students and faculty who are also interested in privacy and the implications it has on our society."

Sofia Guo

UCB Alum; URAP researcher from 2017-2019

"ISSI was a pivotal place of learning during my time as an undergraduate research apprentice studying child welfare issues. The building served as a convenient, safe, and quiet meeting area where my mentor and fellow URAP students could meet at extended times, discuss our research, and learn despite our busy schedules and limited spaces for larger groups to meet on campus. It would only be fair to provide this resource for future undergraduates who are interested in learning about societal issues that are critical to building a brighter future for everyone."

Folake Dosu

Haas FTMBA '18

"NO/NO [Night Out/Night Off, housed at one of the ISSI centers] was and continues to be a breath of fresh air as a champion for culture and community at UC Berkeley. I consider it a bright spot in my graduate school experience."

Arianne Amparo

B.A English, UC Berkeley, 2020; ISSI Office Assistant, 2016-20

"For the entirety of my undergrad experience, I witnessed ISSI serve as a home and safe space for BIPOC on campus and the innovative research of scholars from across the world. ISSI has committed to the values of equity and inclusion that the university claims to uphold—to shut down the institute would be antithetical to those very values."

Jennifer Millman Tell

Undergraduate Research Assistant, 2007-08

"ISSI provided an opportunity for me as an undergrad to get a seat at the table with researchers working through experimental design for a project analyzing neighborhood-level issues in East Oakland. This experience was an important part of my path towards obtaining an MPP at the Goldman School and now dedicating my career to local government service. The work of ISSI exemplifies that large societal issues must be addressed with problem solving at the local level. Continued investment by UC in this work is more important now than ever as we see the disproportionate toll that the COVID pandemic has taken on communities already burdened by racial injustice. Now is not the time to silence research by and for BIPOC."

Shafi Armatis

Former undergraduate research assistant

"I will forever be thankful for the experience provided by Dr. Lustig and Professor Simon while researching at ISSI. I really hope that other UCB students can have similar experiences."