The mission of the Institute for the Study of Societal Issues (ISSI) is to:
ISSI realizes this mission by supporting research centers within its institutional structure, encouraging projects and initiatives and securing extramural funding to support these initiatives; supporting a wide range of faculty research; building interdisciplinary networks between faculty and graduate student researchers; providing research training to faculty, students, and professionals in qualitative methodology; providing training, mentoring and professional development to graduate students; disseminating research publications; facilitating graduate student and faculty working groups; and convening colloquia and conferences.
The institute was founded in 1976 as the Institute for the Study of Social Change (ISSC). ISSC was the first institute in the University of California system to focus on race, stratification, and social change. Since the beginning, graduate student training has been central to the work of the institute, which has been home to over 160 students of color who went on to complete their doctorates. In 2003, the graduate student training program was reconceptualized as the Graduate Fellows Program. In 2009, the Institute was renamed when it merged with the Survey Research Center.
Located in the historic Anna Head complex, ISSI provides offices and shared office space to over 75 affiliated faculty, graduate students, research staff, and visiting scholars from more than a dozen disciplines. Graduate students from across campus, especially those who are engaged in dissertation research, are invited to apply for shared office space on an annual basis. Students from different disciplines who have shared substantive interests are placed together in order to encourage interdisciplinary dialogue and enrichment. By having faculty, graduate students, research staff and visiting scholars who are from different disciplines and engaged in research on societal issues all under one roof, ISSI nurtures a lab environment, where informal conversations as well as formal presentations of research spark innovation and nurture community.
A story about the origins and activities of ISSI, "From cracks in the campus budget, a new research community blooms," is featured in the August 22, 2011, edition of The Berkeleyan. Read the full article.