The Commonplace Society is funded through the generosity of Paul Mellon (class of ’29). While each of Yale’s twelve colleges has a Mellon Forum, Berkeley’s Commonplace Society differs not only in name, but in mission and spirit, as well. The name Commonplace Society reflects the spirit of stewardship, community, and growth the society fosters among Berkeley seniors. While the Society’s namesake is Bishop George Berkeley’s Commonplace book, a notebook in which he recorded his philosophical musings as an undergraduate, it is also a reference to a broader practice of maintaining common-place books, individual or collective repositories of literary passages, quotations, ideas, and observations intended for later reflection. The common-place book has for centuries allowed individuals and groups to chart their progress through the evolution of their ideas. Similarly, Berkeley’s Commonplace Society is a space for Berkeley Seniors to share and examine their diverse intellectual paths while strengthening the communal bonds you have formed over the past three years.
The Commonplace Society offers seniors the opportunity to deepen their engagement with their academic life in a supportive atmosphere. At each meeting, selected members discuss some aspect of their senior project. Usually, presenters describe how their project took shape, the conclusions they expect to draw by the time they finish it, and the impact their project is having on their Yale experience. The ensuing dialogue with one’s peers often provides insights greatly beneficial to one’s project.