Student-designed courses thrive at Cal-Berkeley
- Courses on wizardry allegories in Harry Potter and political strategy as illustrated in ‘Game of Thrones’ are just a few of the courses available in the University of California - Berkeley’s "Democratic Education at Cal" program.
- The noncredit initiative, which encourages student innovation in teaching and learning on important topics, enrolls more than 8,000 students annually in 200 courses throughout the university.
- Students say the courses offer a productive opportunity to relieve stress, to expand personal networks and to gather new perspectives on culture and society.
While students may embrace the novelty of noncredit courses in pop culture and the multi-layered benefits of innovative courses, this is also the kind of program which can invite legislative scrutiny for a perceived waste of resources. Colleges can walk the fine line between exploration in the liberal arts and social sciences, while using the course time to engage students in opportunities for professional development or exposure.
Could academic officials find ways to incorporate script writing in courses centered on television programming, or community outreach administration in courses about homelessness and drug addiction? There are unlimited opportunities for colleges to expand the collegiate enterprise, even in courses designed to give students relief from the same.