Tim Ferriss Gift Creates Journalism Fellowships at Berkeley’s new Center for Science of Psychedelics

September 14, 2021

An $800,000 gift supports The Center for Science of Psychedelics at Berkeley Journalism

Leading podcaster and bestselling author Tim Ferriss has made a substantial gift to help grow the University of California, Berkeley’s Center for the Science of Psychedelics (BCSP).

Launched last fall, the BCSP was co-founded by Michael Pollan, a longtime faculty member at Berkeley Journalism. The center is distinctively broad and interdisciplinary, incorporating a diverse expertise of neuroscientists, psychologists, educators and journalists.

A bald man with a light beard and blue long-sleeved shirt sits on outdoor stone steps, hands clasped, and slightly smiling at the camera. The background features a blurred, leafy setting with additional steps in the distance. His calm demeanor reflects his passion for Berkeley Journalism.

Author Tim Ferriss. Photo: Todd White

The Saisei Foundation, led by Tim Ferriss, is contributing more than $800,000 over three years to create fellowships for early- and mid-career journalists. They will report on the science, business, policy, and culture of psychedelics for mainstream news outlets and develop the knowledge needed to cover this fast-moving subject in print and audio media.

The Ferriss – UC Berkeley Psychedelic Journalism Fellowship will be overseen by Michael Pollan, and modeled on the UC Berkeley – 11th Hour Food and Farming Journalism Fellowships program, aimed at early and mid-career journalists and established in 2013 through a grant from the 11th Hour Project. The fellowship will be based at Berkeley Journalism.

“As the field of psychedelics explodes, we’re going to need sophisticated journalism to provide the public with reliable information and the field with accountability,” said Pollan, whose book, “How to Change Your Mind,” explored the resurging science of psychedelics. “The Ferriss Fellowship will help the Graduate School of Journalism to support young journalists working in this area, which in turn will hasten the establishment of psychedelics as an important and vibrant journalistic beat.”

A smiling man with glasses and a bald head is wearing a dark shirt. He has fair skin and is looking directly at the camera. The background is dark, emphasizing his face and expression, embodying the focused intensity often seen in Berkeley Journalism graduates.

Prof. Michael Pollan

“I couldn’t be more excited to support the Ferriss – UC Berkeley Journalism Fellowship,” said Tim Ferriss. “If you want to bend the arc of history, longform and investigative journalism is one of the best contemporary tools that we have. The Cambrian explosion of psychedelic medicine brings with it both incredible promise and incredible complexity. Dedicated journalists are needed to help separate fact from fiction, hold people accountable, and much more. Michael Pollan is the perfect person to spearhead this ambitious fellowship, and I am very grateful to be involved.”

Geeta Anand, dean of Berkeley Journalism, is excited to see more fellowship programs grow out of public graduate schools. “We need more opportunities for journalists to delve deeply into underreported topics,” Dean Anand said. “I’m thrilled for Michael Pollan and his groundbreaking new program that is made possible through supporters like Tim Ferriss.”

The application form will go live on December 1, 2021. Learn more here.

-Marlena Telvick

Dean's Newsletter

Black and white portrait of Berkeley Journalism Dean Geeta Anand with short hair and hoop earrings, wearing a dark top. The background is blurred foliage.

Quarterly Newsletter From Dean Geeta Anand

Spring 2024 Dear Berkeley Journalism community: With great optimism about the future of our school, I share with you news of the largest gift in the history of Berkeley Journalism:…