J264 Open Source Investigations (OSINT)

In this foundational investigations course, students will use legal, reporting and digital research methods to investigate a series of human rights issues for real-world partners. The outputs will be journalistic, including a series of audio, written and/or visual stories. For 2023-2024, the investigation and resulting publications will be designed to bring broad attention to environmental destruction and violations of international, regional and domestic law in the Brazilian Amazon. Students will learn the following skills: beginning and intermediary digital research and investigation methods, including advanced Boolean searching, social media discovery and analysis, site domain and filetype searching, and deep web mining; verification techniques for digital materials (including photographs, videos, and printed documents); introductory geospatial and network analysis; traditional investigative methods, including interviewing and other offline investigative techniques; relevant ethical considerations; holistic security (including physical, digital and psychosocial risks and mitigating techniques); cross- disciplinary communication and collaboration; the collection and analysis of large datasets; how to work effectively in multidisciplinary teams; and relevant legal frameworks, including an introduction to human rights, humanitarian and international criminal law. Students will also learn the history of digital open source investigations, including their use in legal and journalism practice; how such investigations are transforming the communication of facts in media and courts; and the impact of law and reporting on peoples’ lives—especially their human rights. Students will work with award-winning faculty and staff from Berkeley Law’s Human Rights Center and Berkeley Journalism’s Investigative Reporting Program. Each class will include two hours on Tuesdays of a “Seminar Class” with skill building including open-source investigation methods (OSINT), along with two hours on Thursdays of “Story Lab” for collaborative research and trouble-shooting with the team and instructors. In addition, students will be expected to read all assigned materials and work independently on their research.



Time:  TU, TH 2–4pm

Location:  2481 Hearst Ave (IRP)

Class Number:  16321

Section:  003

Units:  4

Length:  15 weeks

Course Material Fee:  None

Enroll Limit:  16

Restrictions & Prerequisites