The academic and social atmosphere at Merrill College -- situated in a beautiful, compact pocket of redwood trees -- is friendly, engaging, and accepting. Our excellent students, faculty, and staff represent numerous cultural groups and nationalities. Merrill's central goals are to promote respect for all world cultures, and for the individual cultural heritage of each Merrill student in particular. Merrill students develop a sense of social consciousness and social responsibility, both locally and globally. They come to appreciate how people from the most diverse cultural backgrounds can work together, both to form a local community and to serve humankind.

Experiential Education

In accordance with its founding philosophy, Merrill College projects a cohesive vision, sustained and advocated by our committed faculty and staff. We take necessary steps to assure the continuity of this vision so that Merrill remains, within the larger UC Santa Cruz campus, a community of people who manifest a distinct consciousness of global issues and willingness to serve others in the greater local and global village that we now occupy.

The Merrill Core Course is explicitly dedicated to issues falling within the rubric of our College theme, Cultural Identities and Global Consciousness. The course is intended to provide an occasion for analytical and creative thinking as students work to understand the nature of cultural identity and struggles worldwide.

To provide a local connection to these issues, Merrill sponsors several programs, such as the Classroom Connection program, a vital community-oriented credited class involving weekly volunteering as a teacher's aide at two local elementary schools or up in Pescadero, CA. Our Field Study program offers you the opportunity to intern within the Santa Cruz community with specific goals and tasks, or you can design your own research question and learn how to do qualitative social science research. Our field study office will assist students with finding a community that complements their interests as we strongly believe field study contributes to a well-rounded liberal arts education. The Merrill Undergraduate Research Mentorship Program for Merrill juniors and seniors pairs students with a Merrill Faculty Fellow to work as paid research apprentices on the faculty member's research. The purpose of the program is to inspire and prepare Merrill students to pursue graduate studies upon graduation from UCSC and is designed to provide research experience and personal and professional development.

Careers in Public Service offers Merrill students a chance to talk shop with alumni with careers in public service. Merrill alumni have frequently chosen careers in public service—careers dedicated to making positive change. Among other pathways, Merrill alumni have worked in advocacy organizations and organizations focused on broadening access to health care, education, legal service; in entrepreneurial social change; in investigative journalism; in public office. These career paths are tied to the Merrill ethos: knowledge of and active engagement with the larger world. You’ll have the opportunity to hear from successful alumni about how they found their career paths, what skills they needed to develop, what twists and turns their paths took along the way.

Last year's Focus on Africa class posing by a Nelson Mandela statue in Parliament Square, London.

2014 - 2015's Focus on Africa class by a Nelson Mandela statue in Parliament Square, London.

Focus on Africa is a new course offered through Merrill College beginning in the 2014 - 2015 academic year that equips students with the skills and background necessary to be informed observers of current affairs on the African continent. Last year, the year-long multidisciplinary course gave students the unique opportunity to serve as documentarians during the 2015 World Economic Forum on Africa in Cape Town, South Africa celebrating the remarkable economic turnaround that the continent has achieved over the last 25 years. This year, the course focuses on the upcoming 2016 Zambia General Elections scheduled for August 11, 2016 as Zambia pursues an economic diversifiation program to reduce the economy's reliance on the copper industry. The government seeks to exploit other components of Zambia's rich resource base by promoting agriculture, tourism, gemstone mining, and hydro-power. The ultimate goal of “Focus on Africa” is to re-establish a viable constituency for Africa - both on the UCSC campus and in the home communities of participating students.

Community

Merrill students painting murals on Moat Day in the spring.

Merrill students paint murals during the annual Moat Day.

To complement our academic mission, Merrill offers a variety of innovative co-curricular activities; we take pride in the quality of our residential life programs. Our unique and newly renovated Pottery Co-op, and our Merrill "Moat" Murals allow Merrill students to express themselves creatively. To further provide opportunities for creative expression for our students, as well as developing cultural appreciation, we offer quarterly college nights featuring performances and special menus that reflect a variety of cultural traditions, such as Asian/Pacific Island themes and Black History. The Merrill Activities Office also sponsors special events, such as Cinco de Mayo, International Women's Day, and various concerts.

In addition to the events sponsored by the Activities Office, the Residential Life office provides themed housing options: Co-ed, Scholars, transfer, substance-free, academic intensive, science learning, arts floor, outdoor interest, world culture, Asian and Pacific Islander, Chicano/Latino, and the Gay, Lesbian, Bi-sexual/Transgender floor. Through themed housing we hope to provide students with an experience in cross-cultural education and living consistent with the theme of our college and our core course.

Merrill students can also apply for positions as Academic Peer Advisors, Residential Assistants, Events/Tech Crew members, and Orientation Leaders, and can participate in Merrill Activities Council or Merrill Student Government. In sum, Merrill students have ample ways to contribute to and develop a vibrant Merrill neighborhood; our community is a stimulating, healthy and focused environment.

Merrill is also home to the Chicano/Latino Research Center, the department of Latin American and Latino studies, the department of Politics, the popular Santa Cruz radio station KZSC, and the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Resource Center.

Our advising staff assists Merrill students with course offerings, majors, other academic support services, and career opportunities; they also carefully monitor students' academic standing, and help students in academic difficulty to find ways of improving their academic performance. Merrill is committed to supporting the academic success of all students; to this end, our staff conducts advising outreach programs, works closely with the EOP (Education Opportunity Programs) office, and regularly recommends academic success courses and tutoring to students in need. For example, the Science Learning Community -- a joint venture with neighboring colleges -- offers multifaceted assistance to students from these colleges who have a strong interest in science but who feel slightly under-prepared for university-level work.

Leadership

“Leadership for Social Change” is a 2-unit course facilitated by the Housing and Residential Education staff at Crown and Merrill Colleges. The course is very collaborative in nature and centers around the Social Change Model of Leadership Development as a basis for leadership and community building skill development. Key highlights of the course include a call-to-action community assessment group project, journal reflections, and hands-on class activities regarding the "7 Cs" that propel social change. The targeted audience for this course includes student staff and leaders at Crown and Merrill and is primarily serving Residential Assistants during Spring 2016. Cultural identities, global consciousness, and ethics within society are major threads of this course, which combines the Merrill ethos and Crown theme quite seamlessly (Crown College is the sister college to Merrill). Eventually, this course is anticipated to serve as the introductory requirement for a Leadership Program that results in a certificate, and which will be open to all Crown and Merrill students.

A group photo of last year's Resident Assistants and student leaders at Merrill College.
A group photo of 2014 - 2015's Resident and Program Assistants, student leaders, and associated staff at Merrill College.