The addition of fall and spring classes marks the return of a regular-term undergraduate journalism degree program at UC Berkeley not available since the 1970s.
The summer-only journalism minor has become one of the most heavily enrolled summer programs at UC Berkeley, drawing hundreds of students from across the hard sciences, social sciences, as well as the humanities in 2020. Now students will have options to continue their minor studies in the fall and spring terms.
Building upon the existing summer minor framework, classes will be made available year-round to UC Berkeley undergrads of all majors. The inaugural course, Foundations of News Gathering, will be taught by veteran Berkeley Journalism Professor Bill Drummond, starting in the fall of 2021.
As the program evolves, other members of Berkeley Journalism’s top faculty will begin teaching courses in the program, including four-time Pulitzer Prize-winner David Barstow, Bloomberg Prof. Richard Koci Hernandez, former Dean Edward Wasserman and MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Fellowship winner Mark Danner.
“The information explosion has enabled anyone with a phone to reach millions of people,” says David E. Thigpen, Berkeley Journalism’s director of undergraduate programs. “But there is little attention paid to using this power responsibly. Training students to produce journalism and other media content according to rigorous standards will help push back the tide of misinformation and disinformation seeping through our civic discourses.”
Dean Geeta Anand is buoyant about the program’s expansion, crediting her predecessor Dean Wasserman for doing much of the hard work during his tenure. “As one of the smaller professional schools at UC Berkeley, this not only gives us a bigger footprint on campus, but also a wider pool of students from many areas of study to learn our profession.”
“The role of journalism has never been more important than it is today, and I am delighted that more of our students across disciplines will now have the opportunity to benefit year-round from the extraordinary instructors at Berkeley Journalism,” Carol Christ, Chancellor of UC Berkeley said. “In this age when disinformation proliferates, everyone from law students to our young scientists can benefit from having these skills.”
The summer journalism minor was launched in 2016 through a generous $100,000 seed-funding grant from the Heising-Simons Foundation of Los Altos, Ca. Alum Liz Simons (‘82), chair of the foundation’s board, played a key role in making the donation possible.
Then, in 2019, Tad Taube, the chairman of Taube Philanthropies, donated $30,000 in honor of alumna and Advisory Board member Esther Wojcicki (’64) to help explore making the summer minor a year-round program.
“Taube Philanthropies is proud that we could provide the seed funds to develop Berkeley Journalism’s new undergraduate journalism initiative,” Taube said. “We look forward to following the program’s progress and wish the School great success in this and all its endeavors.”
Journalism instruction was first introduced at UC Berkeley in the 1930s and became an academic major in 1940. A decade later a Master’s of Journalism degree was added. In the late 1970s, the undergraduate major was discontinued and resources were shifted to graduate education. Since then, a small number of undergraduate journalism courses have been offered, but no degree program.
Berkeley Journalism is one of the top graduate journalism programs in the United States and is a leader in upholding the values of a free press. It remains one of the only two-year master’s programs in the country and the only graduate-level professional journalism degree program in the 11-campus UC system.
June 15, 2023
Geeta Anand. Photo by Christopher Michel. Dear Berkeley Journalism Community, We live in a moment like no other. The threats to democratic culture posed by weaponized disinformation, partisan disharmony, and…