Over thirty years ago, Professor Bill Simmons, architect of the AC requirement at UC Berkeley, asked, “What could be so important? He was rhetorically positioning the teaching, learning, and reflections on race in American life at the heart of what would become the AC requirement (the only campus graduation requirement). Today, that question still holds significance and is increasingly the subject of intense debate, from city hall and governor’s mansions to school boards. What is “up” with this debate? How might we consider UC Berkeley’s efforts to support such conversations with the AC Curriculum and other programs on campus? antmen pimentel mendoza and Victoria Robinson will provide some framework for reflection on these questions and also provide exciting updates on the AC curriculum, new courses, and directions for what Chancellor Carol Christ recently stated was “the soul of UC Berkeley - the AC curriculum.”
PART I: Racism isn’t rocket science, it’s more complicated than that
'This history and curriculum has never been more important. It’s something really worth fighting for[.]' The American Cultures (AC) Breadth Requirement, first instituted in 1991 to introduce students to courses rooted in examining the diversity of American experiences throughout history. The program, which offers courses in more than 50 departments and disciplines ... Read More
PART II: INTRODUCTION TO THE AMERICAN CULTURES REQUIREMENT
History of the AC Requirement and Recent Findings on the Curriculum
Thirty years after the first AC courses were offered on campus, this response reverberates powerfully, continuing to invite the UC Berkeley community of staff, students, and faculty into conversations and analyses critical to our complex, diverse worlds. Evermore necessary in the wake of renewed attention to systemic racism and the long-fought battles for racial justice, the curriculum bubbles with the energy of student, faculty, and community ideas and expectations for their AC classrooms. We invite you to explore the longevity and vigor of the curriculum on the new AC Timeline, ‘Tumbling the Ivory Tower: creating the race requirement at UC Berkeley.’
PART III: FACULTY PERSPECTIVES
PART IV. UC BERKELEY PEDAGOGY PODCAST
In the midst of frozen lives, students in SanSan Kwan's TDPS 52AC course danced, studied dance, and created dance, connecting the meaning-making of dance to the everyday. Chiefly concerned with embodiment and how identity is seen and felt through the body, the dance pedagogies of 52AC have taken on even greater relevance in the past year, from understanding the choreography of street protest to analyses of how the AAPI body has recently been the object of harassment and violence - connections that students felt respected their experiences and interests inside and outside of the classroom - or in one student's words, "To be in the company of someone, right now in ... Read More
"Heck, my major is math, and I've barely taken any humanities classes in my life, but this sure was worth it." So states one student reflecting on their time in Jake Kosek's American Cultures course, Geography 10AC. Drawing students from across the disciplinary spectrum, and for many their first experience of a Geography classroom, the unifying theme of the class is the contested relations, practices, and processes in the making of central geographic concepts (empire, space, nature, and dispossession), concepts that often go unexamined and yet are deeply woven into the fabric of our lives. Geography's central concepts pepper the pages of newspapers almost every day –in stories of ... Read More
Bringing to the fore massive surveillance networks, playful apps, police checkpoints, and social media campaigns, Abigail De Kosnik's New Media 151AC course, 'Transforming Tech,' takes a critical lens to a collection of high-profile issues within an industry of daunting influence, exposing the underpinnings of the power dynamics at play across issues including border enforcement, algorithmic bias, tech worker activism, misinformation, and more. It culminates in a call to action through creative digital assignments that raise the question of what possible interventions could be ... Read More
PART V: DEEP DIVE OF THE AC CURRICULUM
The 'Staff as Students of Social Justice' (SSSJ) Program is an opportunity for up to 25 staff per semester (from the Division of Undergraduate Education and beyond) to audit an American Cultures course and participate in discussions about timely and important topics. Piloted in Fall 2020, the SSSJ Program is a unique opportunity to learn first-hand from leading scholars and American Cultures instructors about the intersections of race, ethnicity, and gender; dig into subjects of personal interests; and build connections with faculty, students, and fellow VCUE colleagues. SSSJ Program Interest Form
The Creative Discovery Fellows (CDF) Program helps instructors incorporate creative assignments into UC Berkeley’s undergraduate social justice graduation curriculum - the (AC) requirement. The CDF program has been built to respond to a core question of anti-racism and social justice education. "How do we design supports for faculty and students in ways that are adaptive, equity-oriented, and foster anti-racism?" This question is fueled by assertions that anti-racism and social justice pedagogy lies along an arc of efforts, which merely begin with considering the "content" of a course.
The Teaching in Troubled Times series began in 2017 as a series of timely dialogues elevating some of the most pressing social and political questions that enter our lives and our classrooms. The series has fermented vibrant discussion and delivered ‘on-the-ground’ tools to support our students’ complex lives. The series is co-hosted by the American Cultures Center, Academic Innovation Studio, Center for Teaching and Learning, and Division of Equity & Inclusion.