hss grad slam contestants
HSS Slam contestants: first row: David Wheeler, Alberto Sanchez Sanchez, Andrew Schwartz, and Bo Chung. Second row: Laleh Cote, Aileen Liu, Jeffrey Martin, and Brandon Chuang.

On February 2, 2018, Berkeley held its inaugural Humanities and Social Sciences Grad Slam. Eight graduate students, from diverse programs of study, presented compelling three-minute narratives about their humanities and social science research. The lively talks spanned topics from Shakespeare’s romances, to wolf-livestock coexistence, to re-entry for formerly incarcerated people.

“We want to encourage graduate students from the humanities and social sciences to participate in the Grad Slam competition and make their research better known,” said Fiona Doyle, Vice Provost for Graduate Studies and Dean of the Graduate Division, in her opening remarks. “Their research concerns the study of people and what it means to be human.  As human beings, we can all relate directly to this, so this work provides an accessible insight into the intrinsic intellectual merits of research, as well as the societal benefits.”

Judges Lura Dolas, Larry Johnson, and John Paulas brought their expertise to bear, rating each presentation on criteria such as intellectual significance, clarity, delivery, and visuals.

Alberto Sanchez Sanchez, a Ph.D. student in Architecture, took home first prize for his talk entitled “(almost) no one lives here: a genealogy of extreme depopulation in rural Spain.”

“All of today’s talks showed how powerful it is when humanities and social science grad students make their research visible to the public,” said Linda von Hoene, Assistant Dean for Professional Development. “In preparing for the competition, students had the opportunity to practice their delivery, refine their visuals, and hone their ability to narrate their research in compelling ways. These are valuable skills for all grad students to develop.”

Andrew Schwartz, a Ph.D. candidate in Finance, won second prize for his talk entitled “A Harming Hand: The Predatory Implications of Government-Backed Student Loans.” “Grad Slam gave me a great opportunity to think about the core of my research and the main messages I wanted people to take away from my work,” he says. “I also enjoyed thinking about why my research would be of interest to a broader community beyond just my field of study.”

Historically, UC Berkeley’s campuswide Grad Slam competition has drawn few entries from humanities and social sciences students, but it looks like this year will be different. Many of the participants in the Humanities and Social Sciences Grad Slam are planning to compete in the campuswide Grad Slam as well. All graduate students engaged in original research can enter the campus competition by submitting a video of their three-minute talk — the deadline is Monday, February 19, 2018.

Read a Q&A with Alberto Sanchez Sanchez, winner of the 2018 HSS Grad Slam, and check out his tips for a successful presentation! 

Learn more about how to enter the campuswide Grad Slam by February 19! 

2018 Humanities and Social Science Grad Slam Participants

  • Brandon Chuang, Clinical Psychology, “Reappraising and Persisting in Social Situations”
  • Bo Chung, City Planning/Public Health, “Restoring Our Communities: Reintegration After the War on Drugs – Rethinking Re-entry for Formerly Incarcerated People”
  • Laleh Coté, Education, “Science Identity and the Pursuit of a Career in STEM”
  • Aileen Liu, English, “Why Read Shakespeare’s Romances”
  • Jeffrey Martin, Geography, “Rewilding is a Political Project: Wolf-Livestock Coexistence in the ‘New West'”
  • Alberto Sanchez Sanchez, Architecture, “(almost) no one lives here: a genealogy of extreme depopulation in rural Spain”
  • Andrew Schwartz, Finance (Business Administration), “A Harming Hand: The Predatory Implications of Government-Backed Student Loans”
  • David Wheeler, Ancient History and Mediterranean Archaeology, “Greek Visibility in Ancient Egypt”

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