Alumni News

Dear friends,

On behalf of UC Berkeley’s Political Economy Advisory Board, students, and faculty, we write to thank everyone for an exceptional year of accomplishments, to share a lot of tremendous news, and to offer our best wishes for the coming holiday season and new year.

First, we would like to welcome our new Co-Chairs of the PE Advisory Board, Alison Shimada and Andy Barkett. It is hard to believe it has already been four years since Cal’s first ever Political Economy Advisory Board was launched back in September 2018, and that our term as Co-Chairs has come to an end. We are very grateful for the opportunity and privilege to lead this illustrious team and can’t thank Christian Gordon and Anya Essiounina for their tireless guidance and efforts. The Advisory Board, faculty and students came together and achieved more in four years than we ever could have imagined! We are thrilled to share and celebrate these achievements with all of you. As always, thank you to everyone who has volunteered their time, forwarded job and internship opportunities for students, participated in events, or supported the program with a philanthropic gift. You have made an enormous impact.


Political Economy as a Formal Department
Early in 2022, we shared the exciting news that the recently completed “External Review” confirmed Political Economy’s strong positioning as a major at UC Berkeley, and that the major was ready to become a formal department within the university. We continue to progress this important goal as expeditiously as possible, and as a first step, Professor Steven Vogel has transferred half of his FTE into Political Economy, striving towards our goal of having dedicated faculty lines. This is critical for our students because it enables us to expand access to courses for our Political Economy majors and double the number of Political Economy graduates ready to tackle the world’s most pressing problems. It is also interesting to note that 60% of our students and alumni are women (unique for the economics space), which means we are fostering a tremendous cohort of women leaders. Learn more about this and other updates on our dedicated Political Economy Alumni LinkedIn page (and please join if you haven’t already!).

Career Guidance and Direct Support for Students
We continue to hold virtual student career forums twice per year, connecting students to a panel of alumni from around the world who provide resume and career advice as well as networking opportunities. This effort has led directly to jobs and internships for many students. If you have work or internship opportunities for students, please let us know!  We can always post listings through our website, or our LinkedIn PE Group page. This year, we have also offered five career mentorship pods to our students. Students connect with an alumna(us) in a small-group setting, allowing students to connect closer to alumni across a variety of sectors. We plan on expanding and growing these pod offerings next year.

We are also working with alumni to launch an inaugural Political Economy Case Competition in which students will tackle a global issue and present their findings to a panel of judges. This exercise is essential in anchoring students’ studies in real-world applications and providing a significant boost to their resumes. At the same time, this exercise can further build UC Berkeley Political Economy’s brand and global visibility.

Alumni Tadd ‘83 and Caroline Perkins ‘83 have continued to be generous sponsors of the Political Economy Student Association. Last year, they launched the Political Economy Student Research Grant to allow access to research opportunities for all students. We discovered there are many students who can’t afford to join research projects because of their need to earn money, often to support their families at home. Selected grant recipients receive funding to conduct research and help address today’s most pressing problems. One of the awardees, as a result of the research the grant allowed her to conduct, won the prestigious Charlene Conrad Liebau Library Prize and the Global Studies/Political Economy thesis prize. We are grateful for Tadd and Caroline’s support directly impacting and enriching the student experience at UC Berkeley.

Last fall, we received the tremendous news that the Designated Emphasis in Political Economy has been approved by the University. Designated Emphases are “minors” for existing doctoral students. We have 32 students from eight departments and schools declared to date.  The students meet for a workshop once a month, and we are planning other network activities, such as subgroup workshops and presentations. This Designated Emphasis provides an attractive option to recruit PhD students and to position UC Berkeley as a leader in Political Economy education at both the graduate and undergraduate levels.

We are currently conducting our second student placement survey to learn more about our recent graduates’ job placement performance. We were excited to see that 85% of responses last year indicated that they had accepted an offer or enrolled in graduate school upon graduation, almost all in their desired field or industry. We reached out to those who are still seeking employment to provide continuous support and access to resources.

Fundraising and Networking
We continue to grow and strengthen our global Political Economy community through The Charter Hill Society for Political Economy, a community based giving program that supports the very core of UC Berkeley Political Economy: our students and faculty. Our 30 current Charter Hill Society members all made a three-year pledge to support the PE Annual Fund with an annual gift between $1,000-$25,000. Among other priorities, this support enables our program to offer more courses for PE majors and ensures that our students are able to graduate on time. Charter Hill Members also receive a custom newsletter and invitations to special events in PE and across campus. This year, through the generous support of alumni, we have also secured support for faculty research, new class offerings, and student scholarships. We are grateful for the generosity of our donors.

We are slowly returning to in-person events, while also offering a variety of talks on Zoom. Please stay tuned for our events in 2023.

Looking Ahead
We are thrilled to share that Professor Steven Vogel has agreed to stay on as Director of the Political Economy program for two more years through 2024.

To maintain a dynamic curriculum for PE, our faculty and Advisory Board are continually reviewing new course ideas. This academic year, we are introducing a new course on the Political Economy of Finance in the fall, and new courses on the Political Economy of Technology and the History of Pandemics in the spring. All three of these new courses were supported by course development grants from alumni-donated funds.

Thank you
We are very grateful to our alumni network for the tremendous dedication and fabulous contributions that have made UC Berkeley Political Economy a world-class program attracting top students and faculty talent; and is the envy of many academic institutions around the world.

Should you like to get involved, please complete this volunteer form.

Please also consider taking our alumni survey so we can better know our alumni population, and your interests. It will only take a few moments to complete.

Wishing everyone a joyous holiday season and a healthy, prosperous, and fun-filled 2023!

Eric Davis ’93
Co Chair

Katy Reynolds ’87
Co Chair

Political Economy Major Map

How to Declare a Major

The Berkeley Economy & Society Initiative (BESI)