Throughout my (now) 2.5 years here at UC Berkeley, I have taken a lot of classes. And, when I say a lot… I mean A LOT. I’ve taken classes almost every semester (including the summers), which has given me the really cool and unique opportunity to explore my academic interests deeper at Cal. Through this exploration, I realized my true passion and what I wanted to do post-Cal. So, here’s a quick rundown of some of my favorite classes, which helped shape me into the student I am today!
Before jumping in, you’ll notice that many courses on this list have an “AC” at the end of the number, which stands for American Cultures. At UC Berkeley, every student is required to take at least one American Cultures course to graduate. The “AC” courses explore race and ethnicity in the United States through various academic fields. This is a unique requirement for Berkeley students, ensuring that we get a diverse and inclusive education and learning environment.
AFRICAM 27AC (Lives of Struggle: Minorities in a Majority Culture): This was my first class at Cal as part of the Summer Bridge program. I had never been exposed to Ethnic Studies until I took this course. My time in the course focused on the intersectionality of race and technology. We learned about how technology can be a source of societal advancement and marginalization for communities of color. This class left a lasting impression on me, making me more curious about Ethnic Studies as a major.
THEATER 40 (Beginning Modern Dance Technique): This was originally going to be just an elective I took for fun. I used to dance as a kid and in high school, so I thought this class would be a good opportunity to get back into dancing. This class made me fall in love (again) with dance (and I fell in love HARD). What made this class one of my favorites was the amazing community and support system I found in it. I had never studied modern/contemporary dance techniques before and learned so much from my instructor and peers.
SOCIOL 3AC (Principles of Sociology: American Cultures): This course was a great introduction to sociology. I did not intend to major in sociology at Berkeley, so this course provided an amazing overview of the field without diving too deeply into theory. This course also focused on how sociology intersected with race and ethnicity!
ETHSTD 22AC (Introduction to Abolition Pedagogy and Practice): This class made me decide to take on the Ethnic Studies major. It dives deep into police brutality within the United States and worldwide, drawing from all sorts of academic fields. Even though it’s a larger lecture class, the teaching team ensures that each student feels seen and heard as they navigate the course. I loved every lecture and learned so much about abolition in a modern context. This class will empower you to take action in your community about an issue you’re passionate about!
SOCWEL 125 (Sports, Social Work, and Social Justice): This class exposed me to a topic I did not know much about: how sports and social work intersect and the need for social workers in professional athletic settings. I dived into how social work can play a pivotal role in helping develop athletes from when they begin playing sports in little leagues to transitioning out of sports or into a professional sports career. It was really interesting to also work on developing a project to integrate sports and social work, creating equitable opportunities for athletes, regardless of their identities. This class ultimately helped me understand a potential career I could pursue in social work!
ETHSTD 150 (People of Mixed Racial Descent): Wow, this class blew my mind. As a mixed-race person, I learned more about myself and my identity. I also learned about how my identity and mixed-race background intersected with the world around me. The class dives into so much literature surrounding the experience of mixed-race people in the United States. I loved discussing all the readings in class. I still have many of the books we discussed in class on my bookshelf now!
ETHSTD 127 (Queer of Color Critique): This class also blew my mind. It intersected well with my other classes, as it discussed race, sexuality, and gender identity. I enjoyed learning more about different theories of how sexuality is viewed amongst different racial groups and how they are all intersected. What I also loved most about this class was the amazing community our instructor facilitated, as we discussed very serious topics in the class. We all learned and grew from each other, which was one of the best parts about taking this course!
EDUC 182AC (The Politics of Educational Inequality): When I saw this was being offered, I was so happy. This course dives deeply into the history of education policy in the United States and how modern schooling came to be. What makes this course even more interesting is the added emphasis on how race intersects with educational access. In this class, I also learned how to become a much better writer, inspiring me to hopefully write a thesis next year.
Well, folks, there you have it! When you come to Cal, I highly recommend looking at all these classes. With over 5,000 courses to choose from (just within the College of Letters & Science alone), you’ll find many classes that will spark your interest. Remember these as you explore your interests and how you want to get the most out of your time at Berkeley!