One of the things that separates UC Berkeley from most campuses is the DeCal (Democratic Education at Cal) program, which can usually be summed up as classes “by students, for students.” Now is around the time DeCals start, so we figured we’d give the rundown on a (somewhat random) few. A word of warning, though—the DeCal list changes every semester, and some classes start before others. Oh, and did we mention you can get units?

First, a shameless plug:

Daily Cal DeCals
Photojournalism: Split up into two semester-long parts, an introduction and an advanced section. Basically, this class is not for sissies—the “introduction” is itself described as an advanced class for people already familiar with SLR cameras and who—no surprise here—have a camera.

Intro to Newspaper Journalism: Probably the most popular of the Daily Cal classes, this serves primarily as a class to train new Daily Cal reporters—but it’s not exclusive to them. The best part is that anyone who takes the class has a shot at having their final project published in a news medium.

In-depth Reporting: Kinda self-explanatory. Apparently, this DeCal also covers investigative journalism—but does that include running around Berkeley looking for news, asking private figures questions and shoving microphones in their face? No. No it doesn’t. Why would you think it did?

Music DeCals*
The Life and Legacy of Tupac Amaru Shakur: A strong academic emphasis analyzing everything Tupac. They might even answer how he’s able to come out with new albums up to 11 years after his death.

The Lyrics and Music of Bob Dylan: If you take this class, you’ll probably learn such things as how he helped introduce electric sound into folk music, how he revolutionized pop music forever, and how his lyrics went from direct and brutal to surrealistic. You might even learn how his protest music influenced the political atmosphere in Berkeley!

Bob Marley and Rastafarianism: Emphasizes the relationship between Marley’s music and his involvement with the Rastafari movement. A Bob Marley shirt would be appropriate.

Other Stuff
The Simpsons and Philosophy: Not to be confused with “Philosophy of The Simpsons” (which doesn’t actually exist). This class instantiates philosophical concepts with pop-culture references and culminates with a visit from 3 of The Simpsons animators.

Batman as American Mythology: What’s there to say? This class compares the Batman canon to contemporary problems and stuff. It might even hold the key to understanding Christian Bale’s deep, rough baritone voice or (SPOILER ALERT) whether Harvey Dent survived falling a few stories.

The Craft of Facilitating: Most useful for people who already run their own DeCals. This class teaches you neat and sadistic things like how to give your students an in-class exercise only to stop them when 20 percent of the class hasn’t finished.

The full DeCal list for this semester has over 120 classes, so we obviously neglected to mention a few. Why don’t you check out some more?

Image Source: cafemama under Creative Commons
*These categories are completely arbitrary and don’t really represent anything.

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