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Academic Resources

Study and Meeting Spaces

Since September 21, 2013, WISR has occupied a 1,400 square-foot, ground floor of a storefront in the heart of South Berkeley at 2930 Shattuck Ave., Suite 300, near the Ashby BART Station,  near the Berkeley-Oakland border.

This location is less than one mile south from our smaller, previous location of 32 years at 3220 Sacramento Avenue in Berkeley. The new site is accessible for disabled persons. The floor includes a very large seminar room and space for community meetings, two smaller, adjoining office and advising spaces, an ADA-compliant bathroom, and a mezzanine space open for students who wish some space for study, work or conversations.  The larger seminar/meeting space will accommodate at least 40 participants and will not only be used for seminars, but also to show documentaries, videos on current events and other films on social issues.

WISR’s space is a wireless hotspot for internet access, for all students who wish to use the space to do research and work on their studies.

WISR's new location on Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley, near Ashby, and easy access to BART

WISR’s new location on Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley, near Ashby, and easy access to BART

Library and Access to Online Library Databases

All WISR students may check out books from WISR’s library.  Arrangements may be made to mail books to students living at distance for them to borrow for a month or so at a time. Required and most recommended books may be affordably purchased as e-books as well.

WISR’s library currently houses about 6,000 volumes. We have been buying a copy of most books that are required or recommended for reading by WISR students, for courses in each degree program. These books are available for students to check out for a couple of weeks at a time, from the reserve section of our library. Our collection is strongest in these areas: higher education and adult education, education and society, qualitative and action-oriented methods of research and evaluation, counseling psychology and general psychology, ethnic studies and multiculturalism, strategies of community leadership and social change, and environmental issues, as well as recent developments in the natural sciences. Smaller collections are in community development and social policy, human services, philosophy, literature, and the arts. Library shelves are distributed throughout WISR’s two large seminar rooms and one of the offices, so that books, periodicals, reproduced articles, videotapes, and audiotapes are accessible to student and community users.

In the past two years, WISR has purchased a number of recently published books of essential interest to students preparing for the MFT license, and about one hundred books on topics related to action-research, social change and multiculturality. As a result, WISR now owns around 90 percent of the books that are required or recommended readings for WISR courses.  In addition, WISR’s library is in the process of being cataloged and by the end of 2016, half of this cataloging will be completed, and this will include all of the books which are of greatest value to and demand by students. At the end of this process, it will be much easier to locate and efficiently check out and return books.

More information about WISR’s Library, including updates on the cataloging of the library and how you can help.

WISR has arranged for the part-time services of an expert librarian, Cynthia Roberson, who earned her Master’s in Library and Information Science from San Jose State University.  She is available to consult with and assist students and faculty who wish help for their studies, professional development, and research projects– in identifying and locating books at WISR and elsewhere, as well as in giving directions for finding articles and other information from various library databases. The latter is especially valuable for students studying from a distance. She can be contacted by e-mail for advice and help: librarian@wisr.edu 

MFT faculty members are responsible for developing and updating library resources to meet the needs of MFT students, including books, video and audiotapes, and information about local seminars, workshops, practica, and job opportunities. All WISR core faculty are informed about the organization and contents of WISR’s library, and help students to use it regularly in their studies. WISR faculty members routinely encourage and assist students to use the variety of library and other resources that are needed in the preparation of their papers. Students are expected to keep lists of books and articles that they have read, and to make annotated bibliographies of selected readings as noted in the above section under “graduation requirements.”

view of WISR social event from the mezzanine

view of WISR social event from the mezzanine

For the vast majority of our students who are California residents, the best way to access to online library databases from your home, place of work or study, is to get a library card the San Francisco Public Library (near the SF Civic Center BART Station).  By showing your California Driver’s License or other proof of California residence, you may obtain a free library card, which can be renewed every 4 years.  This card gives you a number you can use to access their extensive online database of EBSCO academic journals and other very useful databases–from anywhere.  You don’t have to be at the library to get access once you have a card.  It is our expectation at WISR that all students who are California residents will go to the San Francisco Public Library early in their WISR studies, to obtain this access. 

In addition, MFT students are urged to purchase a student membership in the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT)–this membership has a number of benefits, including a subscription to the journal, The California Therapist, and access to one of EBSCO’s academic psychology journal databases.  Many of the readings required and recommended for WISR MFT program coursework can most easily be obtained through EBSCO’s database–which makes a San Francisco Public Library card or CAMFT membership essential.

Since July 1, 2015, WISR students and faculty have had free access to journal articles and other valuable library resources through the several, significant library databases provided to WISR by the Library Information and Resources Network (www.lirn.net )  For more information on the access password, contact WISR’s libariran (librarian@wisr.edu) or WISR’s CEO (johnb@wisr.edu)

WISR has also consulted with the Director of the Social Research Library of the University of California at Berkeley for ways to make that library accessible and user friendly to those WISR students living near, or visiting, Berkeley. Interested students can learn how to purchase UC Berkeley library access for less than $100/year—by contacting WISR’s President (johnb@wisr.edu ) or Librarian (librarian@wisr.edu )

Also, faculty regularly give students guidance and “tips” on affordable, and sometimes, free, ways to access valuable resources.  Here are some examples . . .

  1. ScribD (www.scribd.com) is the “Netflix” for those who read a lot—it has an enormous collections of books and articles—not just novels, but books like Howard Zinn’s writings on American History and articles about Paolo Freire, to mention a couple of examples. You pay a monthly fee of less than $10, and you have access to their entire collection (even the first book off WISR Press is available for free at ScribD).  You can go to their website and browse their collection before deciding whether or not you wish to have a trial membership.
  2. Questia has a more limited, but still significant, collection of academic books for $100/year. http://landing.questia.com/lp6/?refid=free_usca_se1&gclid=CL-_3fzP3sQCFdKIfgod24UAHQ      Discount code:  SAVE25P  And other groups like these are emerging such as “Oyster.”
  3. Some articles and abstracts of articles and journals on education are available online for free through ERIC: ERIC—abstracts and full texts of many papers and articles—Institute of Education Sciences: http://eric.ed.gov/?    http://eric.ed.gov/?advanced
  4. If you wish to research which libraries in the US (for example, in the area where you live) have books you are looking for, then you can do a search through: https://www.worldcat.org/
  5. And, of course, there is an ever-growing array of online classes (MOOCs) and instructional videos, for free. Examples include:  courser, khan academy, EdX, UCTV, MIT World, TED.
  6. For those looking for instance in organizing and listing the references in your bibliographies or footnotes, consider using: 1) for tips on footnotes and references in your bibliography,  go to:  http://www.easybib.com/  2) In addition, EasyBib Pro ($20/year– https://www-secure.easybib.com/products/easybibpro ) creates your citations for you, perfectly. Cite your sources in APA, Chicago and MLA formats, as well as 6 new citation styles: AMA, ASA, Harvard, Chicago Author-Date, CSE and ACS.

7.         Finally, well-known online retailers such as Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com not only sell used books through other merchants, but also sell e-books which are often less expensive and you can carry what you’re reading on your computer and your mobile phone, in most cases.

WISR students, Jill Arrington and Osahon Eigbike

WISR students, Jill Arrington and Osahon Eigbike

The Western Institute for Social Research Media Center

WISR has a computer that is available for student use. Students may also bring their own laptops and access the internet over WISR’s network.
WISR also has a wide screen TV with an HDMI cord that can be used with a laptop to show films at WISR. Sometimes students present films on social change topics for other students and interested people from the larger community. In addition, a high quality speakerphone and free access to a conference call line enables students to have group discussions and even seminars with other students who are studying at a distance from WISR.

In April 2015, we began using an integrated video and audio web conference system at WISR, so that students, and faculty, from afar may participate in online, live real-time video conferences during most WISR seminars and events.  We are using Citrix’s GoToWebinar and GoToMeeting services. This has immediately given us the capacity to upgrade the current WISR learner services delivery system and expand the individual and community educational experience to include the following benefits and functionality:

    1. Web conferencing to better facilitate face to face classes and collaboration, even with some of our students and faculty residing at a distance from WISR.  With the addition of the media center WISR is now able provide access to learner-centered, face to face collaboration and dialogue, even with 1/3 of our students and faculty living in other parts of California, the US and occasionally around the world.
    2. Upgrade facility capacity for the delivery of live media-based events, community think tank meetings and enhance live class presentation.
Ties with Community Organizations

WISR has close ties with a large number of community organizations in the Bay Area and elsewhere. For some of these groups we have provided consultative services; with others, we have planned or operated cooperative community programs; and at others our present or former students are staff members. Staff from these groups periodically participate in WISR seminars and enrich our discussions of community issues. They also provide advice to WISR students on projects in their study programs, and about opportunities for paying jobs, volunteer work, and other community involvements. Examples of these groups are: EcoVillage Farm, Neighborhood House of North Richmond, Ecocity Builders, the African American Health Initiative of the Bay Area Black United fund, the Over 60 Health Clinic of Berkeley, the City of Oakland’s Senior Companion and Foster Grandparent Programs, and the Berkeley Black Repertory Theater.

New Partnerships with Professional Education and Development Programs

During the past couple of years, WISR has developed partnerships with several professional education programs–to offer the participants in these non-degree programs the opportunity to pursue WISR degrees. WISR does not grant credit simply for documenting such participation.  Instead WISR faculty work collaboratively with the faculty of these programs to enable interested learners to integrate, and build on, their studies and activities in these programs while pursuing WISR degree projects and studies.

  • The World Dignity University Initiative, an affiliate of Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies is Joining with the Western Institute of Social Research to Offer Dignity Studies;
  • We are now partnering with the Center for Critical Environmental and Global Literacy (CCEGL), and their Executive Director, Dr. Sudia Paloma (supaloma@ccegl.org) to offer CCEGL participants the opportunity to use their studies, travel and learning with CCEGL as important projects and studies for two of WISR’s degree programs; and
  • WISR has a partnership with Impact Coaching Academy (ICA), enabling WISR students to use, if they wish ICA coach training as central parts of some learning projects, towards their BS, MS or EdD degrees. As an added bonus, WISR students will receive a 15% discount off of ICA’s published tuition fees.

For more details, go to:  http://www.wisr.edu/academics/sample-page-2/collaborative-learning-with-other-professional-education-programs/