Alumni News

Dear friends,

On behalf of the Advisory Board, students and faculty of UC Berkeley Political Economy, we write to offer our best wishes for the coming holiday season and new year. The Political Economy Advisory Board is now in its fourth year, and we are delighted to share the progress our community is making. A special 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 this year.  You have made a substantial difference!

Through our coordinated efforts with the Political Economy Student Association (PESA), we plan to provide several meaningful opportunities for you to continue to engage with the University, PE students, and PE alumni in the year ahead. Our community is growing and increasingly interconnected.  We currently have 21 alumni board members, representing four decades of graduates who are actively engaged in creating the best Political Economy major anywhere in the world. The Political Economy major at UC Berkeley graduates 250 students per year and remains one of the most competitive L&S majors on campus. A recently completed external review confirmed the major’s strong positioning and ability to continue to expand. Alumni support was noted as a critical factor in Political Economy’s success on campus. Our student and alumni Linkedin Groups have over 550 members. Furthermore, we now offer several live and virtual events each year informing the critical issues of our time, as well as  providing opportunities to network with friends and peers.


Supporting Students
As students have returned to campus, 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, in addition to our virtual student career forums, we will be hosting small student/alumni Zoom mentoring sessions and in-person gatherings for alumni to share career advice with smaller groups of students, organized by expertise and area of student interest. We also aim 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 will significantly boost their resumes as they graduate. At the same time, this exercise can further build UC Berkeley Political Economy’s brand and visibility globally.

Alumni Tadd Perkins ‘83 and Caroline Perkins ‘83 have continued to be generous sponsors of the Political Economy Student Association. This year, they have launched the Political Economy Student Research Grant to allow access to research opportunities for all students since 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 will receive funding to conduct research and help address today’s most pressing problems. The program just announced the first four awardees and we are excited to keep you apprised of their progress.  We are grateful for Tadd and Caroline’s support directly impacting and enriching the student experience at Cal.

The Advisory Board’s goal these past four years has been to position UC Berkeley to be the leader in Political Economy globally. This 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. Additionally, we have secured modest funding for graduate students in Spring 2022, and will be working to augment these funds for summer stipends, research expenses, and conference travel. This Designated Emphasis will provide an attractive option to recruit PhD students and to position Berkeley as a leader in Political Economy education at both the graduate and undergraduate levels.

We conducted our first student placement survey to learn more about our recent graduates’ job placement performance. We were thrilled to see that 85% of responses indicated that they had accepted an offer or enrolled in graduate school upon graduation, almost all in their desired field or industry. We have reached out to those who are still seeking employment to see how we can help them as they apply for jobs – providing ongoing access for recent graduates.

Fundraising and Networking
We continue to grow and strengthen our global PE 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 25 current Charter Hill Society members all made a three-year pledge to support the PE Annual Fund with a yearly gift of $1,000-$25,000.  We have seen the early results and impact with our annual fund growing by nearly 2000% in the past three years– creating an annual revenue stream of over $120,000 which can be used directly by the major. 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.

In order to further leverage our tremendous PE alumni, we have established a program to spotlight PE alumni each week through our LinkedIn group and are actively seeking alumni to share their stories.  Please share your story with us by reaching out to Anya Essiounina for more information.

Our events have had exceptional success and traction across all constituents. For those who are unable to attend, we have saved recordings which can be accessed here under our Network for a New Political Economy. Stay tuned for our upcoming events in 2022!

Looking Ahead
Our faculty and leadership are considering a list of possible new courses for 2022, such as Political Economy of Public Health, Political Economy of Technology, Political Economy of Finance, Political Economy of Development, and Introduction to Economics. We are aiming to introduce 1-3 of these in 2022-23 and will continue to build relevant and meaningful course offerings. We also aim to offer more alumni-focused courses that may be taken online with a cohort of fellow alumni — stay tuned for that announcement.

Becoming an official department. Our long-term goal remains becoming an official department at the University.  This fall, a four-person review committee comprised of an external-reviewer from Stanford and three Berkeley faculty members visited us on October 15th for a regularly-scheduled program review, which only happens once per decade. Fortunately, the results of this review were very positive for the major and  can be leveraged as an initial step in helping us overcome institutional barriers to our growth that have existed since the PE program’s inception 40 years ago.  However, achieving this important goal of becoming an official department will take a concerted strategic and financial effort by the Advisory Board and UC Berkeley faculty over the next few years.

There has never been a more important time to get involved with UC Berkeley Political Economy to ensure proper leadership, funding and valuable resources are available for our major to elevate itself to a greater level of impact globally. We can’t thank you enough for getting involved and donating to UC Berkeley Political Economy – giving back to a major that gave thousands of us an incredible start to our amazing journeys in life.

Thank you! – and may 2022 be a healthy, prosperous and joyous year for all!

Eric Davis ’93
Co Chair

Katy Reynolds ’87
Co Chair

Political Economy Major Map

How to Declare a Major

The Berkeley Network for a New Political Economy