Berkeley Connect in Philosophy

PhilosophyThe Berkeley Connect program opens up the extraordinary resources of the university to you: the extraordinary students on our campus. By joining, you will become part of a community of like-minded faculty, mentors, and students that will provide a supportive environment in which to exchange and discuss ideas and goals. Berkeley Connect will help you to make the most of your time at the university as you learn more about the major in Philosophy. We’re excited to get to know you!

Message from the Director

Kristin PrimusHave you been enjoying your philosophy classes but want more occasions to talk about philosophical issues (and the discipline of philosophy itself) in an informal, friendly setting? Do you wish you could develop closer relationships with other people—professors, graduate students, and peers—who share your interests? Would you like some more guidance on how you can continue to grow as a student of philosophy? If so, we would love to welcome you to Berkeley Connect in Philosophy, a program designed to foster connections among the members of the philosophical community at UC Berkeley.

Kristin Primus
Faculty Director, Berkeley Connect Philosophy
Associate Professor of Philosophy

Program Description

Berkeley Connect links undergraduate students with experienced mentors in Philosophy. These mentors lead small groups of 10-20 students in regular meetings; they also meet with students one-on-one to provide guidance and advice. The core of the Berkeley Connect program is a one-credit, pass-fail course that is designed to create a community of students with similar intellectual interests. There is no homework associated with Berkeley Connect: no exams, no papers, no quizzes. Instead, small group meetings focus on sharing ideas and learning new skills within the Philosophy major as a way to foster friendships and provide a supportive intellectual community for Berkeley undergraduates. The only requirement for joining Berkeley Connect in Philosophy is that you have an interest in the field of study. You do not have to be a major in order to participate! Undeclared freshmen and sophomores are welcome, along with entering junior transfers and juniors and seniors who have declared the major.

Every semester, Berkeley Connect sponsors a wide range of activities and events for participating students. They include:

  • small-group meetings led by your mentor;
  • one-on-one meetings with your mentor;
  • special events, including informal lectures by professors and guest speakers, and panels on career options, graduate school admissions, and other topics;
  • and visits to Berkeley resources.

At the heart of Berkeley Connect is the relationship between you and your mentor. The Berkeley Connect mentors are advanced graduate students or recent PhDs in Philosophy, who are chosen both for their demonstrated commitment to undergraduates and for their scholarly achievement. They are dedicated to providing the kind of close-knit community and one-on-one attention that can be hard to find at a large university.

When you sign up for Berkeley Connect, you will join one of several small groups of participants in Philosophy. Your small group will be led by your mentor, and will meet every other week during the semester for an hour-long discussion session. Discussions will focus on key intellectual issues within Philosophy as well as key skills you need to succeed in the major. Above all, the small groups will focus on building connections among students, so that each group becomes a supportive community for all participants.

You will meet with your mentor one-on-one at least twice during the semester, to talk about anything you choose related to your academic life—questions you have, challenges you are facing, resources you are seeking, goals you are seeking to achieve. Your mentor will also hold open mentoring hours throughout the semester, during which you are free to show up and continue these conversations, or just check in.


Kristin PrimusKristin Primus has been a professor in the Philosophy department at UC Berkeley since 2016. Her research and teaching interests are in 17th- and 18th-Century European philosophy, and she is particularly fond of Spinoza. When she’s not thinking about philosophy, you can find her hiking, skiing, enjoying time with friends, or playing with her cat.

Berkeley Connect Mentors

Caitlin Dolan recently received a PhD in Philosophy from UC Berkeley.Caitlin Dolan

Where did you grow up?

Berkeley, CA

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

NYU, Philosophy

How would you describe your research in a sentence or two?

I work on issues at the intersection of philosophy of mind and aesthetics, like the nature of visual representation.

Tee (Tyler) Haddow is a PhD candidate in Philosophy.

Where did you grow up?

Seward, Alaska

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

Stanford; Philosophy

How would you describe your research in a sentence or two?

My dissertation project examines domestic caregiving from the perspective of philosophical ethics. It's organized around close readings of Virginia Woolf's novel To the Lighthouse.

Joseph Kassman-TodJoseph Kassman-Tod recently received a PhD in Philosophy from UC Berkeley.

Where did you grow up?

London, UK

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

University College London, Philosophy

How would you describe your research in a sentence or two?

I'm interested in questions about art appreciation and art criticism.

Semester Activities

During a semester in Berkeley Connect in Philosophy, you will participate in one-on-one conversations with your mentor, small-group discussions, special events and field trips.

Recent discussion topics have included:

  • What is philosophy and why should we study it?
  • Is there such a thing as objective truth?
  • Ethics: what makes an action right or wrong?
  • Philosophy, politics, and society

Berkeley Connect discussion sessions are informal and interactive, with time allowed for students to check in, talk about their experiences on campus, and reflect on current events that create the context for their academic studies.

Recent special events and field trips have included:

  • Philosophy writing workshop
  • Alumni Career Panel: What Can You Do with a Degree in Philosophy?
  • Applying to Graduate School in Philosophy

How to Sign Up

To sign up, enroll in a Berkeley Connect section when course registration opens.  To participate in Berkeley Connect in Philosophy, you enroll in a section of Philosophy 98BC (primarily for freshmen and sophomores) or 198BC (primarily for juniors and seniors). Both are offered for one unit, taken on a Pass/Not Pass basis. Participation is NOT restricted to declared majors.

You may enroll in Berkeley Connect more than once (some students choose to participate for a full year by enrolling in both the fall and spring semesters), and you may enroll through more than one department. You may NOT enroll in more than two sections of Berkeley Connect in one semester, or enroll in more than one section in the same department in the same semester.

Contact Us

Please see our FAQs.  If you have additional questions about Berkeley Connect in Philosophy, please contact: please contact Kristin Primus, Berkeley Connect Director, at

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

Links & Resources