UC Santa Cruz honors Joseph Berney with Distinguished Social Sciences Alumni Award

Innovative educator and social justice advocate Joseph Berney has received the 2008 Distinguished Social Sciences Alumni Award from the Division of Social Sciences at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Berney, who graduated from UCSC's Cowell College in 1975 with a B.A. in economics and a secondary teaching credential, will be honored by the division on Thursday, April 10. Following a private reception for family and friends, Berney will give a public talk entitled "Bringing Education into the 21st Century: One Person's Incomplete Path to Stop Education from Trying to Get People to Fit into Society, and Start to Get People to Change It." His talk will begin at 7 p.m. in the University Center Alumni Room.

"He embodies and exemplifies hope and accomplishment for self, community, and society," professor emeritus of education Art Pearl wrote in his letter nominating Berney for the award.

Berney has taught high school, helped design California's first statewide drop-out prevention policy, expanded opportunities for incarcerated youth, served as assistant director of the Community Services Administration during Jimmy Carter's presidency, launched California's first agricultural training center in Watsonville, and led a grassroots labor-management organization in Watsonville that lobbied for "county of origin" labeling requirements for agricultural products. After moving to Oregon, Berney initiated a "Networking for Youth" community collaborative, served as an elected board member of the county office of education in Lane County, advocated for greater funding of anti-poverty programs, and is currently working to increase investment in renewable and alternative energy sources.

Social Sciences Development Director John Leopold, chair of the selection committee and a UCSC alumnus, said Berney "has used the interdisclipinary education he got at UCSC to make major impacts in education, labor, and the struggle for social justice."

"We are proud indeed to claim Joe Berney as a Social Sciences alumnus, and we are looking forward to welcoming him back to campus to meet with students," said Social Sciences Dean Sheldon Kamieniecki.