WISR Seminars, Events, Announcements

Western Institute for Social Research
A Premier Academic Institute for Social Change Since 1975

2930 Shattuck Avenue, Suite 300, Berkeley, CA 94705 (510) 655-2830
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You can download this flyer in adobe pdf format at


The Western Institute for Social Research (WISR -- pronounced "wiser") offers individualized BS, MS and EdD degree programs for working adults living in the Bay Area, throughout the US and around the world. Tuition is an affordable $625/month, our MS in Psychology leads to the State MFT and LPCC licenses, and students may design interdisciplinary and tailored-made areas of study within Education and Social Change, and Community Leadership and Justice. WISR faculty are a distinctive group, who combine intellectual rigor with practical know-how, and they are eager to guide, mentor, support and collaborate with each student in personalized ways.

Students, Faculty, Alumni, and People from the Larger Community Invited!
Saturday, January 21st, 2017
9:30am to 1:30pm

Facing Today’s Crises: Beyond Survival –
Education for Transformative Social Change

The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice
            ~ Martin Luther King, Jr
Please join this gathering of nonprofit leaders and other activists to talk about education for social change: taking responsibility for bending the arc of the universe towards justice. How can education contribute to constructive social change and justice? Let’s use challenge and crisis to come together to learn and to create positive societal transformations.
We will talk about crises faced, challenges in our local and global communities, and opportunities for transformation and growth. What educational strategies have you chosen or imagined that WISR and other groups can use to move forward?
If you can’t make it, you can email comments in advance to We plan to have small breakout groups to allow for individual expression. Have ideas in mind for topics that lead to constructive action - we want to hear them!
Please RSVP by e-mail to if you plan to participate by webinar from your computer, tablet or smartphone and provide a number where you can be reached that morning in case of technical difficulties.

Log in at:

You can also dial in using your phone:
United States: +1 (872) 240-3212 
Access Code: 151-087-373
Abstracts of papers and power point presentations from WISR’s recently completed 7th Annual Conference are now available online as is the video of the Graduation Ceremony:

Institutional Loans ($225/month) and Limited Number of Work-Study Positions now available. Also contact us to find out about a Special Tuition Reduction in our Cohort Group Bachelor’s Program. 

Encourage friends and prospective students to visit: to learn more.

Look for updates to this flyer monthly online: and find us on Facebook.  

INTERDISCIPLINARY SEMINAR(S) are a way for WISR students to learn about core subjects of social change, writing, multiculturalism, adult/higher education, community leadership and social action-research. Community members are welcome to participate as well.

Students are strongly requested to participate in at least one seminar each month, unless they have an unavoidable conflict. Students who have enrolled on or after October 1, 2016 are required to do so. Students also have the option of creating seminars on topics of interest, of forming their own peer discussion groups, and developing regular collaborations with other WISR students.



Monday, December 12th, 6-8pm

Vera Labat, MPH, & Michael McAvoy, MA, WISR Faculty, co-facilitators. Please read the following article: Participatory Action-Research, Inclusiveness, and Empowering Community Action at the Western Institute for Social Research, written by WISR faculty, John Bilorusky, the late Terry Lunsford, and Cynthia Lawrence, from Democracy Works: Joining Theory to Action to Foster Global Social Change, edited by WISR Faculty Torry Dickinson, PhD and Terrie Clark.  You can read the article here: Students should also be prepared to discuss their current projects and what questions they have.

Vera Labat worked for many years in the field of public health, especially in the field of immunization for the City of Berkeley and as a health consultant to Berkeley schools. She taught community health at the University of California, San Francisco, and taught in the School of Medicine at the University of Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania. She was the second Executive Director of the Over 60 Health Clinic in Berkeley in the late 1970s. Vera has served on WISR’s faculty for most of the past thirty years.

Michael McAvoy works in narrative medicine which has to do with storytelling in relation to health.  He has been an activist for many years as well.  He worked for three decades at New College in San Francisco, serving for a while as Dean of the Humanities Program and co-Academic Vice President. Currently, Michael is also seeking ways to theorize and create a social movement which combines a spiritual change in consciousness, with healing ourselves and others, while also resisting injustice, in line with Martin Luther King’s vision for a universal “beloved community.”
Please RSVP: if you plan to participate by webinar from your computer, tablet or smartphone. Log in at:

You can also dial in using your phone. 
United States: +1 (224) 501-3412
Access Code: 114-867-997
 Mondays, January 16th, 23rd, 30th,
Feb. 20, Feb. 27                         7:00 to 8:00 pm
For five (5) Mondays, 
except for the second Mondays in Jan. & Feb. WISR  faculty member Torry Dickinson, PhD is offering individual and collective writing assistance to all WISR students. This writing course will help students work alone and together to build connections through words, ideas, collaboration, and knowledge gained through engagement in social change. 
If students are interested in participating, they're encouraged to email Torry
( and send her one to five pages of something they are writing. Or they can email her one to five pages about a writing idea. Students should let Torry know the seminar dates that they expect to participate. The instructor will email these writings to students in the seven seminars. She'll also send you the link to sign in or to call in to each class.
Torry is an interdisciplinary teacher, researcher, writer, and social-change practitioner who has a Ph.D. in sociology. She serves as professor emeritus in Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies, Sociology, and Nonviolence Studies at Kansas State University. If you're interested, contact WISR for her short bibliography of relating to post-colonial writings, feminism, environmentalism and social change.

MARRIAGE FAMILY THERAPY (MFT) SEMINARS are for students pursuing an MFT license. Other interested persons are welcome but you are requested to RSVP the faculty member (see email contact info below) in advance. They are typically held at WISR from 10am to 2pm (unless listed otherwise) with a short break so bring a lunch. MFT students must participate in a total of 48 such seminars in order to graduate. These required seminars for our MS program lead to the State of California’s MFT and LPCC licenses and are now available by telephone conference call and video webinar.

Saturday, January 7, 2016
(change in scheduling)
Ronald Mah, MA, LMFT, PhD, WISR Faculty.

This will be a study of the use of psychotropic medications in the treatment of various psychological disorders. We will examine the role of the psychotherapist and psychotherapy in the use of such medications. We will study the biological bases of behavior, basic classifications, indications and contraindications of commonly prescribed psychopharmacological medications so that appropriate referrals can be made for medication evaluations and so that the side effects of those medications can be identified. We will study specific medications that are used in the treatment of psychiatric disorders, including antidepressants, mood stabilizers, anti-obsessional, antipsychotic and antianxiety drugs, and how they are used in conjunction with psychotherapy, as well as the abuses of drugs in each category.

Please RSVP by e-mail to Ronald at
if you plan to participate by webinar from your computer, tablet or smartphone and provide a number where you
can be reached that morning in case of technical difficulties.

Log on from your computer, tablet or smartphone at:
You can also dial in using your phone.
United States: +1 (646) 749-3122
Access Code: 407-625-565
The next seminar with Ronald Mah will be on February 18, 2017.

Brian Gerrard will lead a MFT/LPCC seminar on February 4, 2017: topic TBD.

MFT Students: Attendance at the All School Gathering on Saturday, January 21st from 9:30 to 1:30 (see above) counts as attendance at an MFT seminar this month.



WISR Press: The inaugural issue, Multiculturalism, of The Journal of the Western Institute for Social Research can be purchased by e-book at, and order a hard copy at, or Barnes and Noble of start a discussion at Goodreads.

Included are articles on such topics as: multicultural therapy, ethnographies of learning, Chinese learners working in groups, the role of language in multicultural relationships,as well as the role of language in indigenous education among the Omaha people, and action-oriented research methods to pursue racially and ethnically inclusive historical analyses.

Articles were the result of the inquiries of faculty, students and alumni of the Western Institute for Social Research (WISR). Since 1975, WISR has successfully supported the creative, community involvement efforts of hundreds of adult learners--through its highly personalized, socially progressive and interdisciplinary BS, MS and EdD programs. WISR students and the communities with which they are involved, reflect great geographic, intellectual and cultural diversity. WISR’s extraordinary students and faculty together have created a dynamic and inquiring learning community where “Multicultural is WISeR.”

Needed: Volunteers to Catalog WISR’s Library!

As part of WISR’s pursuit of national accreditation, we are in the midst of cataloging the books in WISR’s library.  We very much need a half dozen, or more, people who can volunteer about 4 hours per week for at least several months. If you are interested or have questions, contact WISR’s librarian, Cynthia Roberson, MLIS at or John Bilorusky at .


     Prospective students and Community Learners are invited to attend these seminars.

     Contact WISR if you need a ride from the BART or want to carpool.
     Please avoid wearing perfume or cologne to WISR gatherings as requested by those with asthma & allergies.

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