Support from Faculty, Staff, and Other Researchers
Troy DusterChancellor's Professor Emeritus, UC Berkeley
"While the streets of the State of California and the nation are teeming with protestors demanding greater attention to matters of racial justice, it has come to my attention that the Berkeley campus administration has made the astonishing decision to defund and shutter the Institute for the Study of Societal Issues. ... I hope that you will reconsider and reverse this decision, which threatens the standing of UC Berkeley as a center of research training for the next generation of scholars addressing racial inequities."
Martín Sánchez-Jankowski Professor of Sociology, UC Berkeley; Chair, Center for Ethnographic Research; Co-Chair, Center for Research on Native American Issues
"In sum, what is occurring here is that the campus’ budget problems are being set forth as the rationale for asking under-served populations to bear the burden. In this remarkable historical moment, the campus should not reflect the power structure of a society in which the interests of banking and finance prevail over the health, education and welfare of its least fortunate members. To do so would both symbolically and substantively reveal just how much the Berkeley campus begins to reflect the unexamined and poorly understood features of what we have to call by its name, institutional racism.
The noble mission at the core of the rationale for public higher education is clearly laid out in the State’s Master Plan -- to serve all of its citizens. Eliminating ISSI would send a very profound message for any period, but to make that decision during the current national crisis is both astonishing and embarrassing."
25 Campus Leaders Have Signed onto a Joint Letter In SUpport of ISSI
"Now is the time for the university to prioritize research to advance the goal of illuminating and eliminating systemic racism and advancing social justice and to support faculty and students already doing this work, many of whom feel isolated on campus. ... Working towards racial and social justice is a marathon, not a sprint or a relay race. Changing our campus climate depends on building on positive nodes and cultivating existing relationships and places of belonging. ISSI has been there since the beginning of this process at Cal and is a crucial part of the ecosystem that we are nurturing. ... We are not in competition and reject the notion of a zero-sum game when it comes to the campus landscape related to diversity, equity, and inclusion."
john a. powell, Leti Volpp, Laura E. Pérez, G. Cristina Mora, Eric Schickler, Steven Raphael, Ula Taylor, Juana María Rodríguez, Cybelle Fox, Laura C. Nelson, Paolo D’Odorico, Kate O’Neill, Patrick Naranjo, Phenocia Bauerle, Nina F. Ichikawa, Victoria Robinson, Ian F. Haney López, Catherine Albiston, Mel Y. Chen, Karen Chapple, Irene Bloemraad, Savala Trepczynski, Michael C. Lu, Taeku Lee, Lauren Kroiz
Khatharya UmAssociate Professor, Ethnic Studies, UC Berkeley, and recipient of Chancellor's Award for Advancing Institutional Excellence and Equity
"What defines ISSI is its unique ecology, forged of the intellectual and political synergy of the different centers that it houses. The issues that each engages are important in and of themselves, but nested together in this environment, we are able to better understand their relationality and interconnections, and to think more holistically about societal transformation. The ecology that has been created and sustained with visionary intentionality is not easily reproduced.
More than just an intellectual hub, ISSI is an intellectual home for faculty, students, and communities who not only have shared research interests, but a shared vision for a more inclusive and just society. In these turbulent times, we need more engagement with these pressing societal issues, and in many more spaces on this campus, not fewer. ISSI needs not only to exist but to be supported so that it can thrive. It is needed now more than ever."
Waldo E. Martin, Jr.Alexander F. and May T. Morrison Professor of American History and Citizenship, Department of History
"Since its founding as ISSC, the institute has been an indispensable Berkeley institution, fostering first-rate, cutting edge, and influential interdisciplinary and social scientific work. Even more impressively, ISSI continues to expand an amazing track record in the training of graduate students of color. Notwithstanding the current economic crisis, given Berkeley’s deep commitment to both of these vital goals, the university must find the resources not just to save the institute, but to solidify its current and future status. In light of the enduring and current manifestation of “national racial crisis,” and the university’s revitalized commitment to ameliorating that crisis, this must be done. Indeed, given Berkeley’s renewed pledges to enhancing the numbers and experiences of graduate students of color and to supporting the scholarship of scholars of color, to do otherwise is indefensible."
Shari HuhndorfClass of 1938 Professor; Coordinator, Native American Studies Program, Department of Ethnic Studies, UC Berkeley
"The Myers Center [one of the ISSI Centers] has long been the campus intellectual center for Native American and Indigenous Studies. The Center regularly sponsors high-profile events on Indigenous scholarship and issues that draw wide audiences from across and beyond campus. Additionally, the Center provides valuable funding and mentoring support to graduate students in the field. No other unit serves our entire campus and the broader community in this way."
Michael Omi Associate Professor of Ethnic Studies, UC Berkeley; Chair, Asian American Research Center (one of the ISSI Centers)
"We chose ISSI as an institutional home for the Asian American Research Center (AARC) because of ISSI's long track record of community-engaged, interdisciplinary, and intersectional research. Many of the topics that we have initially identified for the center - gentrification, labor, healthcare access, food, technology and media, transpacific and hemispheric circuits, science and racial profiling, xenophobia and islamophobia, immigration and conditional citizenship, youth and incarceration, and statelessness and deportation – were all topics that are or have been a focus at ISSI and our sister centers within the Institute. While the AARC focuses on Asian Pacific American (APA) communities, they can’t be studied in isolation. Being part of the Institute connects us to current and past work on APA communities, other racialized minority groups, the systems and institutions that maintain inequality, and the movements towards equity and social justice."
Denise Herd Associate Professor of Public Health, UC Berkeley
"ISSI is a remarkable institution that has fostered research excellence and support through any number of programs supporting not only students, but faculty of color and faculty engaged in social justice research and programmatic activities. The center helps provide a strong sense of community for students and faculty performing the difficult but often undervalued work to address racism, and social, political and economic inclusion in the society. For example, it is one of the few groups on campus that provides funding and other resources to support the research of faculty of color on campus. ISSI also nurtures and promotes qualitative research that allows the voices of communities of color to be heard. This is a much-needed complement to the data and policy focus of other institutes addressing crucial social justice issues on campus.
Recent events reflecting the underlying pandemic of racism gripping the society underscore the need to not only keep the doors of ISSI open but to greatly support its mission. The campus is being called upon to make meaningful and bold statements to become an anti-racist institution. ISSI is a critical part of the legacy of anti-racist research and practice on campus and to close it down now sends the wrong message to faculty and students of color and anyone looking to UC Berkeley as a leader for promoting racial and social equity."
Laura E. Pérez Professor, Ethnic Studies, UC Berkeley; Chair, Latinx Research Center
"I am writing as Chair of the Latinx Research Center (LRC) to express my support of the Institute for the Study of Societal Issues (ISSI). The ISSI serves as an umbrella for seven important research centers, including the LRC. All of these research centers share important research agendas focused on illuminating the possibilities of greater democratic futures, and they have found a home and a community in the ISSI. I think that stabilizing the ISSI can only strengthen UCB’s important core as a global center of research in the humanities and social sciences, disciplines that to my mind are increasingly important as companions to ethical, deeply informed decision-making in government and all branches of knowledge. I urge you to find creative ways to support the ISSI as an umbrella unit."
Mona Lynch Professor & Chair, Criminology, Law & Society, UC Irvine; former Chair, University Committee on Affirmative Action, Diversity, and Equity, University of California Academic Senate
"The ISSI serves as a critically important intellectual space for faculty from a number of disciplines to collaborate and advance their scholarship, generating innovative research that is cross-disciplinary. It also has played a central role in mentoring faculty of color, which is a crucial component to retention and advancement, especially in top-tier research universities like UC Berkeley. Units like ISSI provide opportunities for both formal mentoring and informal collegial support that have huge benefits for the campus, including by truly promoting inclusivity and diversity."
William Russell Ellis Professor Emeritus, Architecture, UC Berkeley
"Having participated in the founding of the ISSC and some aspects of its transformation to ISSI, I want to call attention to significant losses to UC Berkeley should the ISSI be defunded and shuttered. The Institute is the reservoir of various promises Berkeley has made to itself and the academic world over the years and has had strong support from six successive Chancellors and four Presidents of the university. It would be a major mistake, especially in the current national atmosphere, for the campus to eliminate the intellectual address known to be associated with stellar work in the areas of ethnicity, gender, conflict, stratification, etc. -- areas in great need of research attention."
Claude FischerProfessor of the Graduate School
"ISSI has played an extremely valuable role as location for scholarly exchange and collaboration for faculty and–critically–for doctoral students. The whole is much greater than the sum of its parts. It is always a location of vital conversations and of engaging formal talks. ... This synergy, which after all is the raison d’etre of the ORUs [Organized Research Units], was never greater than in last decade or so when it seemed that there was always something–many things–of value happening in the building. ... I cannot think of any other ORU being a more fertile place, especially for young scholars and students."
Tina K. Sacks Assistant Professor, School of Social Welfare, UC Berkeley; Chair, Center for Research on Social Change (one of the ISSI Centers)
"Given the protests that have roiled the United States and the world this summer, we know that students and faculty will continue to demand more spaces like ISSI. ISSI fosters the research, community, and trans-disciplinary conversations focused on changing the structural inequalities with which this country has never actually reckoned. Moreover, we are now at a critical juncture. As the writer Arundhati Roy has noted, the pandemic is a portal through which we may re-organize societies into a more just, equitable, and anti-racist form. We need places like the Center for research on social change and ISSI to shape this critical work. Because this work depends on trust, a track record, and relationships, enabling ISSI, CRSC, and the other ISSI centers to carry on their work will be much more effective and efficient than relying on other institutes and centers on campus."
Yan LongAssistant Professor, Sociology, UC Berkeley
"ISSI welcomed me with open arms when I first arrived at Berkeley. It provided an intellectual space outside my department where I could meet with scholars of global health when the mainstream sociology largely overlooks medical institutions and health politics outside the U.S. It is an irreplaceable community for me."
Thomas BiolsiProfessor of Ethnic Studies & Coordinator of Native American Studies, UC Berkeley
"The ISSI has been a critical resource for PhD students in the Department of Ethnic Studies. A number of our doctoral students have benefited in concrete ways (such as successful job hunts) from the dissertation-writing and job-hunting training they have received through the ISSI. The Joseph A. Myers Center for Research on Native American Issues has also been a consistent hub for public talks on Native American Studies and policy on campus, and the Ethnic Studies Department sees the Center as an important ally."
Jovan Scott Lewis Assistant Professor of Geography, UC Berkeley
"ISSI was the first unit on campus to welcome me when I arrived at Berkeley. It was also the first to invite me to share my work--- both providing a sense of belonging for me--- a then-new and junior faculty ---that would go on to pay dividends across the campus through my belief in repaying the generosity in kind. Among all the brilliant centers and departments across Berkeley, it very quickly became apparent that ISSI was unique among them, and this is still very much the case. ISSI stood out because at the level of the institute it took the questions of structural inequality and other social disparities seriously, alongside paying equal and sensitive attention to their cultural and social formulations and consequences. ISSI has been an indispensable home and partner for faculty and graduate students concerned with these issues. And as our society faces increasing disparities and the concomitant polarization of how we view them, an intellectual space like ISSI is needed now more than ever."
Carolina Reid Associate Professor, City and Regional Planning, UC Berkeley
"ISSI’s greatest contribution is in the community it has created and the non-quantifiable benefits of having a center dedicated to the positive reinforcement of scholarship that focuses on social inequalities from the perspective of those with lived experience of marginalization. ... Specifically, ISSI is unique in its ability to create a safe space for young scholars of color to find their intellectual voices and strip away the institutional racism that is often found in academia … Every time I go to the ISSI offices, I find myself engaged in sustained, respectful discussions between faculty and students about critical issues and how to study them through careful empirically and theoretically grounded research."
Charles Briggs and Seth M. Holmes Co-Chairs of the Berkeley Center for Social Medicine, part of the Institute for the Study of Societal Issues
"The Berkeley Center for Social Medicine [BCSM] could not have developed its current shape, scope, and energy without its deep enmeshment in ISSI. The Institute's support has never been token. Housing BCSM within ISSI has allowed us to connect with new faculty members whose research agendas are related to social medicine, and we are thus able to provide a second home for a number of scholars—particularly junior faculty—apart from the pressures of their own schools and departments. ... The BCSM could not bring together faculty, students, and visiting scholars and hold a broad range of events without the time and robust organization skills that ISSI staff devote to the BCSM. Excising the BCSM from the institutional home that created it and has enabled it to flourish and placing it in a unit without adequate resources would thus be a devastating blow at best."
Amani AllenAssociate Professor, School of Public Health, UC Berkeley; ISSI Faculty Affiliate
"ISSI has been a beacon of interdisciplinary scholarship on the UC Berkeley campus. Its historic roots and sustained focus on social inequalities are foundational to the values that Berkeley holds so dear. At a time when interdisciplinary scholarship is more important than ever and attention to social equality is perhaps greater than it has been in recent history, losing ISSI would be tremendous. At this historical moment (civil rights, Covid-19's disproportionate impact on marginalized communities including African and Native Americans, systemic racism more broadly) dismantling ISSI would be antithetical to many of the initiatives on campus. If anything, this is a time to invest more in ISSI. On a more personal note, as an African American faculty member, ISSI was one of the first places on campus that I felt included and felt a sense of community. It is home to many faculty and students of color and would be a loss to many."
Trond Petersen Professor, Executive Associate Dean, College of Letters and Science, UC Berkeley
"ISSI has over many years been an important research home for me. I have had graduate students working there finishing their PhDs going on to important academic jobs. Over the last five years, ISSI has also been the home for several international visiting scholars that I have brought to Campus. Each visitor has found a great scholarly community at ISSI and has been able to conduct important research.
ISSI is a wonderful asset to faculty and graduate students on Campus."
Qing Zhou Professor of Psychology; ISSI Affiliated Faculty
"ISSI has been a critical resource and infrastructure for fostering interdisciplinary research and training among faculty and graduate students across campus departments. In my own research focusing on wellbeing and development of children in immigrant families, I have greatly benefited from the support (e.g., ISSI Faculty Research Seed Grant) and interdisciplinary exchanges (e.g., the ISSI colloquia series) offered by ISSI."
Loic WacquantProfessor of Sociology, UC Berkeley; ISSI Faculty in Residence 2000-2020
"ISSI plays an essential role on campus by bringing together faculty from varied departments to brainstorm and work side-by-side on topics pertaining to social justice with urgent policy implications and (most important) graduate students for whom ISSI is a unique intellectual crucible to learn and grow together in the pivotal years of the intellectual training. Being around faculty and involved in their projects provides them with invaluable opportunities for "learning by doing" that no teaching department can match."
Coco Auerswald, MD, MS Associate Professor, School of Public Health, UC Berkeley
"ISSI gave me a home for my ideas and my work and a place to think at the beginning of my time at Berkeley when I came over from UCSF. I also benefited greatly from pilot funding as I was getting started. It is a home for cross-disciplinary social science work like no other on campus."
Michael Burawoy and Celeste Langan for the Board of the Berkeley Faculty Association
"During the last few weeks, the campus administration has offered a number of declarations of anti-racism. We have no doubt that they are expressions of genuine concern. Yet the financial decisions of the administration appear to be seriously at odds with their words. At this historic moment of heightened consciousness of racial injustice, the administration chose to announce the closure of the Institute for the Study of Societal Issues (ISSI). For over forty years, this pioneering research unit has fostered the education and training of graduate students of color from different disciplines. This has been possible because, in its Anna Head Complex, the ISSI contains the Center for Research on Native American Issues, the Latinx Research Center, the Berkeley Center for Social Medicine, the Center for Right Wing Studies, and the Center for Research on Social Change. "
Patricia Baquedano-López Associate Professor of Education, UC Berkeley; ISSI Affiliated Faculty
"ISSI has been an intellectual home for generations of graduate students seeking to address broader social issues while keeping a strong grounding in their disciplines."
Jonathan Simon Professor of Law, UC Berkeley; ISSI Affiliated Faculty
"During the entirety of my time(s) at Berkeley, both as a student and as a member of the faculty, ISSI and its centers have been incubators for interdisciplinary and critical scholarship in the social sciences and a leader in centering anti-Black racism as key axis of American political and social development. Ending it now in the aftermath of the George Floyd protests would be a grave mistake."
Carolyn Chen Associate Professor of Ethnic Studies, UC Berkeley
"The ISSI has played an indispensable role in my academic career. As a graduate student of color, the welcoming community of the Institute trained me as a researcher, and supported me in my studies. Now as a professor, the ISSI provides the same indispensable support to my graduate students. In this moment of increasing economic and racial stratification, we more than ever need the ISSI to understand the most pressing social problems of our day. Closing the ISSI would be a devastating loss to the University."
"As UC Berkeley’s official organization for LGBTQ+ employees, we believe that ISSI provides a critical role on campus that directly benefits our LGBTQ+ community members who share other intersecting multiply marginalized identities, such as queer and trans people of color and LGBTQ+ people with disabilities. As such, we strongly encourage that institutional funding and support be delivered to ISSI in the coming years. ... In addition to being an issue of racial equity, ISSI’s closure also affects the agency and inclusion of LGBTQ+ people with disabilities. One of the reasons cited for ISSI’s possible closure was a lack of funding to bring the Anna Head Complex up to code for ADA compliance. Without the addition of a wheelchair ramp, disabled community members are being denied equal access to contributing meaningfully to this space. In a very literal sense, this structural barrier blocks people with disabilities from participating in critical intellectual discourse. It is an example of the systemic and institutional oppression that people with disabilities experience on a daily basis." Read the full LavendarCal letter.
Morgan AmesAssistant Adjunct Professor, School of Information, UC Berkeley
"As associate director of research at a kindred unit on campus, the Center for Science, Technology, Medicine and Society, and as a researcher of the technology world's (very limited!) narratives of ethics and diversity, I emphatically believe that the kinds of issues ISSI tackles have become more important than ever. As such, it is incredibly short-sighted to defund any campus unit focused on expanding narratives and understandings of ethics and diversity in the technology world."
Herman GrayEmeritus Prof of Sociology, UC Santa Cruz
"My mentors, advisors and life long friends Hardy Frye, David Wellman, Deborah Woo, and Troy Duster provided scholarly training, mentorship and support through the resources of the Institute throughout my professional career."
Larry AdelmanCo-Director emeritus, California Newsreel; Creator and Executive Producer, Race-The Power of an Illusion
"It’s no exaggeration to say the work – and the model - of ISSI (and its predecessor, ISSC) has been instrumental to the success of several award-winning documentary film series I have produced for California Newsreel exploring inequality, racism, and social justice. I learned from ISSC the importance of throwing the locus of attention off the victims of oppression to the systems of oppression, while highlighting the lived experience of people of color, and their agency, both on the screen and in the production process itself. Perhaps most of all, I saw when visiting ISSC back in the 1990s and early 2000s how a shared physical space bringing together scholars from different disciplines encouraged a collaborative, synergistic and always intellectually challenging atmosphere. It was a space where young scholars of color – who were sometimes marginalized elsewhere - were welcomed and urged to spread their wings, and it served as an incubator for innovative and important scholarly work. We tried to emulate that hot-house model, with varying degrees of success, in the structures of our own filmmaking endeavors.
Kelly Knight Associate Professor, Vice-Chair Dept. of Humanities and Social Sciences, UCSF
"ISSI is a vibrant intellectual home for an interdisciplinary, critical group of scholars. The Berkeley Center for Social Medicine, housed at ISSI, has produced important events examining the intersection of social theory and pressing social challenges, including infectious disease communication and poverty, medical education and anti-racism curriculum, structural competency, and the health impacts of mass incarceration, to name a few. These activities and areas of scholarship are essential to the intellectual vitality of students and faculty at UC Berkeley and its partner, neighboring institutions."
Rafael Jesús González Poet Laureate, City of Berkeley
"ISSI is one of, if not the most, successful program for facilitating minority persons of color in obtaining doctorates in the UC system or anywhere. It is invaluable. During my 30 years as an instructor at Laney College (where I founded the Mexican & Latin American Studies Dept.), I learned of ISSI and its crucial work."
Lawrence RosenthalChair, Berkeley Center for Right-Wing Studies (a center under ISSI)
"It is difficult to believe that anyone who has first-hand experience of the richness of intellectual life at ISSI would ever think to shut it down. The record of publications and major studies speaks for itself. Beyond that, the number is legion of graduate students over the years--over the decades--who have passed through the Institute pursuing high-level intellectual training and moving on to important academic careers. Almost to a one, their experience at the Institute was central to their time in Berkeley. The Institute's vocation for mentoring minority students has been unique on this campus. Given the current state of political life in this country, could there be a more ill-timed moment to contemplate retiring ISSI."
Nicole Arlette Hirsch, PhD Sociologist and ISSI Visiting Scholar
"ISSI has been instrumental in my ability to have an intellectual community here in the Bay Area. The ISSI-based working group that I participated in when I was an exchange scholar as a graduate student pushed me to the PhD finish line. As a Black scholar studying anti-racism and social change, I continue to benefit in countless ways from this important community on campus. This Institute is an integral part of the fabric supporting scholars of color and critical antiracist scholarship at U.C. Berkeley."
Jacqueline AdamsSenior Researcher, ISSI
"Graduate students gain from the Institute an intellectual community and office space. It is difficult to write a dissertation, and all the more so if one writes alone. Graduate students at the Institute do not write alone. They have office mates, fellow students down the corridor, and friendly research staff with whom to interact. The Institute also benefits undergraduate students. A number of researchers and graduate students at the Institute have Undergraduate Research Apprentices. They teach them how research is conducted and they teach them about the subject matter of the research…For faculty, the Institute offers a place in which to conduct research undisturbed, away from administrative demands and the tensions that sadly exist within so many departments…I hope to have conveyed something of the Institute’s uniqueness. There are few places like it. I hope that you will consider taking action that will allow it to continue to exist."
Friedner D. Wittman, Ph.D.President, CLEW Associates/Prevention by Design; Founder/Director, Community Prevention Planning Program, ISSC/ISSI (1988-2011)
"The ISSC (now ISSI) provided a perfect home for our State-funded Community Prevention Planning Program to support an internationally-recognized grass-roots engagement process to mitigate high-risk alcohol/drug settings in California cities and counties. We used community initiatives for Local Control - that is, land-use management rather than law enforcement - to significantly reduce alcohol/drug problems particularly in disadvantaged communities. Our program, nurtured at ISSC under Troy Duster and then Rachel Moran, opened up the UC system and key State agencies to become collaborative partners in empowering local communities to take action. At its peak the CPP Program included fifteen staff with a budget of about one million per year. The need for the ISSI to open up such linkages and supports to underserved communities is shockingly greater than ever today. It is ever more obvious as underlying structural socio-econonmic issues and related land-use/housing problems hare being turned inside out for all to see by the Covid-19 crisis. The problems are worse and the need is greater than ever - the ISSI must be strengthened, not eliminated."
Janelle ScottProfessor of Education and African American Studies, UC Berkeley
"Many of my students have been fellows at ISSI, and the support and mentoring they receive is essential."
Laura R Graham Professor of Anthropology, Univ of Iowa; ISSI Visiting Scholar
"I am a scholar at another University who resides much of the year in Berkeley. ISSI provides a wonderful intellectual home for me while I am in the Bay Area and I believe people who have affiliations such as mine contribute a great deal to the intellectual life of the UCB scholarly community. I have been a Visiting Scholar in two other academic units on campus and find ISSI to be the most intellectually engaging and satisfying of all my experiences with campus units. Its tremendous diversity -- mix of faculty, graduate students, and visiting scholars from across the social science disciplines is truly exceptional on this campus."
Keiko Yamanaka Continuing Lecturer, Ethnic Studies & Global Studies, UC Berkeley
"ISSI is a unique academic institution for scholars to pursue social justice issues often neglected by the 'main' social science schools. Berkeley is proud of having such an institution for decades. We need one and everyone needs it."
Alastair Iles Associate Professor, Environmental Science, Policy & Management, UC Berkeley
"For decades, ISSI has provided a vital home for scholars, especially those of BIPOC backgrounds, as they investigate an array of pressing environmental, social, economic, and political problems that our world faces. Their collective work has helped shape their disciplines and deepen our understanding of structural racism and inequality. Looking at the stories -- and the faces -- of students, alums, and faculty on the campaign website is proof of this powerful impact. I personally collaborate with ISSI researchers on a sustainable agriculture transitions project looking at California, Norway, and China. ISSI has created a special space for this sort of interdisciplinary research. The graduate fellows program has given many young BIPOC scholars a boost in their careers when they needed it. We are in the middle of massive global and local problems and struggles, from climate change to anti-racism. It's perplexing that UC Berkeley should be eliminating an institute that tackles societal issues just when we need it the most."
Benjamin R. Tong Emeritus Professor, Clinical Psychology, Calif Institute of Integral Studies, San Francisco; former faculty, Asian American Studies Dept., San Francisco; psychotherapist and consultant.
"Back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, I was invited by then director Professor Troy Duster to participate in the capacity of Research Associate/Visiting Scholar. My scholarly inquiry at the time centered on the sociological and social psychological dimensions of selected issues in the Asian Pacific Islander American community – ie., mental health concerns, ghetto housing struggles, Japanese American Concentration Camps PTSD, and institutional racism.
Most meaningful for me were the vigorous, critical round table presentations of everyone on board at the ISSC. The emphasis on critical dialogue and mutual support was key to enhancement of my research efforts. I will not soon forget the consistently keen and relevant input of fine colleagues like Troy Duster, Lillian Rubin, David Minkus, David Wellman, Deborah Woo, et al.
The Institute’s training and mentorial guidance has, over many years, contributed immeasurably to the attempted resolution of social structural issues in a range of community settings, both urban and rural. I simply cannot imagine what the impact of dissolution of ISSI will mean for the objectives of their vision and mission. "
Harpreet Mangat Director, Berkeley Global Executive Education, Goldman School of Public Policy, UC Berkeley; Former Visiting Scholar and Program Coordinator at ISSI
"ISSI is the most diverse and inclusive place that I have worked on campus. It is the place where I have genuinely felt that I belonged as an immigrant woman of color."
Laura C Robinson Associate Professor, Santa Clara University; Harvard Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, Faculty Associate 2020-2021; ISSI Faculty Affliate
"I strongly support the petition to save the ISSI to ensure its invaluable contribution as an intellectual home for current and future scholars--especially as its foci speak to the social problems we are living at present. Personally, the ISSI has been instrumental in my journey as a scholar of digital inequality and has left an indelible mark on my research agenda on digital political discourse. The ISSI’s breadth of research, timely inquiry, methodological ecumenism, and collection of interdisciplinary scholarship is distinctive—the willingness to share ideas in a uniquely collegial environment is indispensable to many scholars in the ISSI community and beyond. Given the ISSI’s intellectual leadership, it would be unthinkable for this vibrant intellectual community to be disbanded and would be a great loss that would negatively impact scholars for generations to come."
Jeremy SchulzISSI Researcher (2019-present), Visiting Scholar (2014-2019)
"For many years ISSI has provided a wonderful and welcoming institutional home for me. I have been extraordinarily fortunate to find a community of scholars - spanning many interests, countries, and social science fields - who all have a keen interest in social research which advances the cause of social equity and inclusion. Projects such as as the development of a curriculum on economic development for Native American tribal colleges make ISSI distinctive in the context of UC Berkeley’s fragmented social science programs. My current interdisciplinary research on digital inequalities and new forms of vulnerability has also benefited greatly from my affiliation with the ISSI. This research, which now addresses digital dimensions of the COVID crisis, is tailormade for the ISSI’s mission to promote social inclusion through interdisciplinary and international social research. It is impossible to imagine any other entity at UC Berkeley taking over this mission as effectively as ISSI, and so I do not believe that it is a good idea to dismantle the institute. "
Robin Marsh ISSI Resident Researcher since 2015
"ISSI serves unique purposes at UC Berkeley - there is no redundancy and the campus cannot claim one. The main purpose is to support graduate students to conduct complex interdisciplinary research centered on understanding, revealing and challenging institutional racism and inequality in the US and the world, using innovative social science methods. Were it not for the steady, long-term support that ISSI gives these students, including a welcoming work space, many of them would not succeed and fall down the rat hole of 'ABDs', high among students of color. Just look at where the ISSI PhDs have ended up and you will see a landscape of leaders of color in the US dedicated to quality research and action to change our system to be more equitable. From my own experience, I know the flexibility of ISSI to also embrace research on global topics centered on poverty and gender (my specialization), and to provide a unique place for collegial discussion and support, not found elsewhere on campus. Finally, ISSI is housed in an old crumbling building near People's Park - not exactly an 'elite central' location, yet, no matter - because ISSI is all about substance not surface. It's a gem on campus and cannot be closed, especially not for a superficial financial reason...as an excuse."
Nina F. Ichikawa Executive Director, Berkeley Food Institute, UC Berkeley
"ISSI has supported wonderful young scholars doing work not supported anywhere else. They are well-worth our investment and support to flourish."
Carole Joffe Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences. UCSF; Professor Emerita of Sociology, U.C. Davis
"ISSI, and its various components, is one of the jewels of the Cal campus. For years, up to the present, some of the most cutting edge research at the University on race, inequality, changing understandings of gender, etc has been produced by ISSI -affiliated faculty, students, andassociates. It would be a tremendous loss to the Cal community to no longer have this vibrant institution. Long after my PhD work in 1974, I have continued to be enriched by the programs of ISSI, particularly the Center on Right Wing Studies. I have been honored to participate in the offerings of the CRWS and I cannot imagine how diminished the social science offerings at Cal would be without it."
Satveer Kaur US-ASEAN Fulbright Scholar Hosted by ISSI
"My stint at ISSI as a Fulbright scholar remains one of the most salient experiences at Berkeley. ISSI gave me opportunities to share my research with scholars I would never have had the opportunity to meet. ISSI allowed me the possibility of interacting with like-minded researchers and attend various events to learn from some of the most accomplished minds in the field. I learned immensely from Charles Briggs and Clara Mantini-Briggs while at ISSI. Other scholars were also able to reach out to me to collaborate because of ISSI. On top of that, ISSI provided me with a workspace and ensured I was comfortable during my stay there. I have highly recommended other Fulbrighters to consider ISSI for their Fulbright experience as I certainly believe it is a critical center for social change research."
Lynne GerberIndependent scholar; ISSI Visiting scholar 2014-15
"ISSI provided a dynamic, engaged and rigorous space for me to develop my work. And the research that's emerged from ISSI has been integral to so many intellectual and social justice projects."
Andrej Grubačić Professor of Anthropology, California Institute of Integral Studies; BCSM Faculty Affiliate
"ISSI has been of tremendous help in my academic research. As a hub of intellectual activity, this unique center has made it possible for me to engage in rich and rewarding collaborative work across disciplines and institutions. I am very surprised to hear that there is a initiative to close this formidable research space precisely at the moment when we need such institutions more than ever."
Marya R Sosulski Associate Professor, Michigan State University
"The work the ISSI does and has been doing is ground-breaking and essential to creating a more informed, equitable, inclusive, just society. It is inconceivable -- given the current political and social climate -- that this work can be curtailed when we need it more than ever. I firmly believe that we would not have been able to get to this moment, where citizens are becoming educated about the issues, caring about people who are different from themselves, participating, speaking out, and taking action for real justice, without the kind of research and information produced by ISSI and institutions like it. This is not news -- it takes people working on issues before they're hip and popular, producing the evidence we need to make informed decisions, when the effort is particularly difficult, pushback is inevitable and harsh, and it feels like we're continually rolling the boulder up impossibly steep hills. That's the contribution ISSI has made for a very long time -- and the opportunities we have as researchers, educators, students, and community members to participate and learn in the context of this esteemed institution, for the purpose of building the foundations of a just nation, are irreplaceable. We need ISSI, and I strongly urge the administration to reconsider its decision and continue to support this vital institution."
David OppenheimerClinical Professor of Law, Berkeley Law; ISSI Visiting Scholar 1998-2003
"In the 1990s, the Institute brought seven of us together from different fields and universities to study racism together. The result was White-Washing Race: The Myth of a Color-Blind Society (UC Press 2003). The book would never have been written without the help of the Institute."
David RaglandCo-Director, SafeTREC, UC Berkeley
"Inspired by support from [ISSI's] Myers Center, we have developed a program to collect, analyze, and provide data to prevent traffic crash fatalities and injuries in California. Support for the Myers Center, which provides critical programs to support tribal wellbeing in California, is the least that UC Berkeley can do given that Berkeley has, from the very beginning, depended on resources by virtue of having received Native lands from which it has hugely profited. "
Laura Lynn Stoker Professor of the Graduate School, Department of Political Science, UC Berkeley; Former member of ISSI's Advisory Board
"ISSI has been integral to UC Berkeley's efforts to advance innovative, multidisciplinary work on topics that cross traditional disciplinary boundaries in the social sciences and humanities."
Jeffrey Schonberg Lecturer, San Francisco State University; Affiliated Faculty, Berkeley Center for Social Medicine (one of the ISSI centers)
"ISSI has been an invaluable tool as a space for scholarship, activism and leadership both in academia and the community. My relationship to ISSI allows me to maintain relationships across various academic disciplines, sharing knowledge and creating solidarity with the myriad of engaged scholars."
Barbara A. Barnes Lecturer, Gender & Women's Studies, UC Berkeley
"Through its program of speakers and visiting scholars, ISSI has enriched my own research and been a source of knowledge and enrichment for my undergraduate students."
Alasdair Jones Associate Professor in Qualitative Research Methodology (LSE); Visiting PhD student at ISSI (2007) and former Fulbright Visiting Scholar at ISSI (2012-13)
"My two visits to ISSI have been transformational in my academic career and I am deeply saddened to hear about the plans to close the Institute. I hope this decision can be reserved. The Institute offers a unique and enviable environment for important, pressing and impactful social scientific research and for the cross-pollination of ideas between research clusters, disciplines and academics (from early career researchers to eminent late career Professors). In my mind this is a truly exceptional academic space, and one that ought to be cherished and supported (especially in these challenging times)."
Martina Avanza Associate Professor, University of Lausanne, Switzerland; Former visiting scholar at the ISSI (2018-2019) at the Center for Right Wing Studies
"I was looking for an interesting place to spend my sabbatical and I found the ISSI, specifically the Center for Right Wing Studies. I couldn’t have chosen a better place. What I found at the ISSI is a vibrant and welcoming community of scholars and a very helpful writing group (the SWAG writing group). At the Center for Right Wing Studies we had a working group that continues through Covid thanks to Zoom. We also organized a big conference in April 2019, the first in the US on right wing studies! We held the second edition online in August 2020, because of Covid. We really need, especially now, a place where scholars who study the right can share their research and also dialogue with activist organizations engaged against the rise of the far right. Since I am back In Switzerland I am still working with colleagues at ISSI who managed to build a worldwide and unique network of scholars."
Craig ReinarmanProfessor of Sociology and Legal Studies Emeritus, UCSC; Visiting Fellow, 1984
"Closing ISSI after nearly half a century of great work would be a tragic loss for UCB. And coming at a time of renewed activism around social and racial justice makes it a self-inflicted wound to the campus by an administration that seems increasingly bent on commercializing and privatizing the world's greatest public university."
Eliah BuresVisiting Scholar, Center for Right-Wing Studies
"The Center for Right-Wing Studies at ISSI has provided essential support for my research over the past year. The loss of ISSI, especially under current circumstances, will be detrimental to my work and the work of many other scholars."
Torsten H. VoigtUniversity Professor, RWTH Aachen University, Germany; former Marie Curie Research Fellow and Visiting Professor at ISSI
"ISSI is a world-leading institution for the study of societal issues. It fosters interdisciplinary, transnational research. I was fortunate enough to work at ISSI for three years and can honestly say that ISSI has provided me with a unique learning experience and work environment that has had a lasting impact on my academic career."
Howard BesserProfessor, New York University; Grad Student Researcher, 1980-1987
"ISSC/ISSI has conducted critical research! For me it provided important training and ideas about qualitative research, and helped inspire me to become a professor.
Those inspirations continue in my role as a full professor; I recently attended an important ISSI seminar this Sept."
Michele RabkinAssociate Director, Berkeley Connect; UC Berkeley staff; member of Dismantling Racism Study & Action Group
"ISSI has provided fellowship support to some of the same outstanding graduate students of color who received fellowships from the Berkeley Connect program I administer. I can attest that these students are not only excellent research scholars but dedicated mentors. As they join faculties across the country, their influence will be felt not only in their academic fields but by the undergraduates they will teach and mentor for years to come. An investment in ISSI is one that has a wide ripple effect throughout higher education."
Vincanne AdamsProfessor Medical Anthropology, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences UCSF; faculty of the joint program in Medical Anthropology and affiliate with Berkeley Center for Social Medicine
"ISSI houses vital research centers and programs. The Berkeley Center for Social Medicine is essential for the joint Program in Medical Anthropology of UC Berkeley/UCSF and provides the only location for our collaborative teaching, research and public presentation of our collective work. I urge you to not close this center but rather to bolster its support and space on campus!"
Drew PaulinAcademic Director, Data Science Program, School of Information, UC Berkeley
"ISSI should remain supported! The ISSI should find a new home in the Data Hub building. Given the Data Hub’s focus on human welfare & social justice, there should be a place in this new building for the Institute for the Study of Societal Issues which has been a home of interdisciplinary engagement for BIPOC graduate students.
Now is the time for UCB to expand its commitment to racial justice, yet the University has decided to close the Institute for the Study of Societal Issues, home to many scholars and students of color. The institute is a historically BIPOC space, an island within the Historically White Institution of UCB. The Institute's legacy and contemporary practice affirm and nurture current students, faculty, and staff of color, as well as white affiliates."
Claire Snell-RoodAssistant Professor, Public Health, UC Berkeley; Faculty Affiliate
"ISSI is a critical resource to support research furthering equity and diversity on campus--expanding the questions that define Berkeley's research horizon, scaffolding researchers who do not benefit from the same privileges as others on campus in order to make sure their perspectives get out."
Toni MendicinoLegal Assistant III, faculty support at Berkeley Law
"I have witnessed many brilliant graduate students benefitting from ISSI and doing important social justice work and research in my capacity as a 20+ staff assistant to Law and Jurisprudence and Social Policy faculty. ISSI needs to be a priority for UC Berkeley and funding devoted to keeping this important institution alive and well!"
David MorenStaff volunteer working on anti-racism work across campus
"While I don't know much about the specific budgeting constraints or the decision-making processing, the proposed closure of ISSI sends, as has been said, 'a troubling message about the university's priorities.' In a day when there are relatively so few BIPOC-serving resources on campus, and with our elevated priorities around DEIB, this proposed closure feels counter-intuitive and counter-productive to helping us become a more racial-equity minded and serving institution."
Jan Crosbie-TaylorOrganizational Development Consultant, UC Berkeley
"Closing ISSI which is a home for many People of Color, including LGBTQ folx, is misguided and does not change the trajectory of white supremacy that we must interrupt."
Karen BennettStaff, UC Berkeley
"I know we are in the midst of an unprecedented budget crisis. But we are also in the midst of an unprecedented opportunity for a paradigm shift in our country's cultural identity and now is the time to apply our full attention to creating positive change, and supporting the agents of change that ISSI nurtures."
Natasha SandefordHR Business Partner, UC Berkeley
"Over the past 4 years, ISSI has provided so much culture and educational direction to many. For these reasons it allowed me to explore the opportunities available and learning interests. Without this institute, I am afraid there will be a void in the community and campus for diversity and cultural awareness - most of all the engagement with others."
2015 External Review
"In our judgment, the Institute serves important and distinctive -- and indeed, as far as we could tell, unique -- purposes at the University of California Berkeley as a high quality research center with a strong educational component and an obvious commitment to serving diverse graduate and undergraduate students. ... Much of its research centers on questions of interest to students concerned about social inequalities and discriminations. The result is a place -- and a supportive space -- where students in general, as well as minority students in particular, find their academic work validated and supported. This also seemed the case for many faculty. Consequently at least for some number of diverse faculty and students, it seemed like ISSI was the place, more than anywhere else on campus, where they felt very much at home. We see this as extraordinarily important and valuable for UC Berkeley."