Merrill College

Merrill College
Merrill College Administration Building

Academic Programs

Academic Literacy Curriculum

College Scholars Program

Academic Emphasis

Founded in 1968 with a generous gift from Charles E. Merrill, Jr., Merrill College is the fourth of the pioneering living-learning communities at UC Santa Cruz. From its inception it has focused on the challenges raised by global economic disparity, and on solutions that can be imagined when young people have the opportunity to learn via direct experience. Such opportunities are often associated with the social sciences, though Merrill’s students and faculty apply them to the full range of academic studies. 

The college ethos is “Cultural Identities and Global Consciousness.” This pairing signals the college’s commitment to drawing on the “funds of knowledge” brought by individual college members to the community of scholars, and a corresponding commitment to understanding these identities within a larger global context.

Core Course

MERR 1, Academic Literacy and Ethos: Reading Ourselves, Reading the World
Offered fall quarter

MERR 1 introduces students to analytical reading and critical thinking at the university level. It is the required first part of a larger program of study, the Academic Literacy Curriculum, which includes formal instruction in university-level writing. Core offers students a foundation for intellectual exploration and personal development as members of an academic community. It teaches reading and thinking processes essential to success at the university, and “habits of mind” that demystify academic work and promote independent, self-reflective, and collaborative participation in campus culture. It focuses on Analysis, Critical thinking, Metacognition, Engagement with others across difference, and Self-efficacy—“ACMES” for short—and assigns carefully chosen readings designed to teach these concepts.

Students also read a range of texts specific to Merrill’s intellectual traditions. These focus on historical or political flashpoints, particularly those illuminating social, cultural, and economic change in relationships between the developed and the developing world. Students read the daily New York Times, which provides an unfolding narrative about events around the world and offers a valuable opportunity for students to analyze how these events are represented for a U.S. audience. They also read book-length texts and complementary secondary literature. These works show individuals and groups dealing with critical issues of nationalism, globalization, war, economic underdevelopment, and social and gender differentials, and encourage students to examine critically their own underlying assumptions and positions. By closely examining these readings in discussion with others, students develop strategies for effectively engaging different kinds of texts, formulate their own analyses in relation to these readings, and share their ideas in course projects and seminar discussions. The course thus emphasizes skills central to intellectual life at the university: critical reading, analytical writing, oral presentation of ideas, and reflective consideration of how these ideas and methods apply in other settings.

College Advising

Contact Information:
Phone: 831-459-2144
Merrill College Administration Building

Merrill College advisers help students interpret academic policies and procedures and clarify educational goals. They provide support to students to ensure their academic success and progress toward their degree throughout their time at UC Santa Cruz. Advisers help students make informed decisions, develop resiliency, and develop the ability to take ownership of their academic choices. Advisers also connect students to resources that will enrich their academic experiences.

Other Academic Programs

Merrill College offers several grants and paid internships. These include the Merrill Undergraduate Research Mentorships and the Sandra Frausto Education Abroad Scholarship. The college also sponsors a variety of two-, three-, and five-credit courses. A key characteristic of Merrill’s academic program from its founding has been the importance of experiencing the world, not just studying it. Thus Merrill’s academic programming focuses especially on theory-backed experiential learning. Merrill offer a field study practicum that teaches methods of responsible participant observation and helps students arrange internships in local agencies and organizations. An education-focused service-learning course, Classroom Connection, addresses current issues in educational theory and arranges for students to volunteer in local public schools. Merrill also provides experiential education in the academic world. Our paid Merrill undergraduate research mentorships prepare advanced undergraduate students to pursue graduate studies and provide invaluable research experience and personal and professional development for Merrill students. We also encourage students to apply for college special projects funds and campus-backed research funds.

In keeping with Merrill’s spirit of community-mindedness, we now offer a Careers in Public Service course that features Merrill alumni as weekly speakers. Continuing the college’s long history of involvement with Africa studies, Merrill also offers a series of alumni-led courses that focus on Africa and will soon involve a remote exchange with students in Kenya. Eligible first-year students are also invited to join the College Scholars Program, which provides a series of stimulating research-based opportunities (a speaker series, seminars, and research funding opportunities).