Information for Advisors

Welcome Advising Colleagues!

The American Cultures (AC) Center is extremely grateful for your support of the AC curriculum. The advice you provide to students about AC helps prepare them for the exciting opportunities within this unique UC Berkeley curriculum. And in recognizing that critical role, we would like to share some information about and opportunities to assist you in advising students on the AC curriculum. 

General Information about the AC Requirement

History of the AC Requirement

Unlike other requirements on campus, students organized and protested for the campus graduation requirement that would eventually become the American Cultures Requirement. After a successful campaign to divest billions from South African businesses, students fought for ways to "desegregate the campus" and "the curriculum." The result was the American Cultures requirement, a curriculum that constitutes a new approach that responds directly to the problem encountered in numerous disciplines of how better to present the diversity of American experience to the diversity of American students whom we now educate. The AC Center encourage advisors to watch our short video that discusses the history and intent of the AC Requirement and its connection to the South African Apartheid Divestment movement.

AC Curriculum Snapsot

The late Professor Bill Simmons, the 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 to 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? This page will provide some framework for reflection on these questions and 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.”

Opportunities for Undergraduate Students

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Creative Discovery Fellows Program

The Creative Discovery Fellows (CDF) program supports instructors and students to exercise their creativity in ways that challenge existing assumptions, beliefs, and power structures; that propel discovery and meaningful self-reflection; and that contribute to and strengthen Berkeley's mission as a public institution.

American Cultures Engaged Scholarship (ACES) Program

Some AC Courses offer students the opportunity to learn from community organizations and experts about some of the nation's most pressing social issues and what innovative practices and opportunities are being implemented to address those issues. These courses are known as American Cultures Engaged Scholarship or ACES courses. The ACES Program homepage page provides more information about the program generally and lists which ACES Courses are being offered.

ACES Student Projects

American Cultures Engaged Scholarship (ACES) courses also offer students and faculty the opportunity to work with community organizations to develop cutting edge research projects associated with some of the challenges pressing society. Please visit our ACES Student Projects page to learn about some of the powerful projects growing from the collaborative understanding and effort developed in UC Berkeley's ACES courses.


Student Prize

The AC Student Prize provides students with the opportunity to highlight work developed in an American Cultures course that promotes understanding of race, ethnicity, and culture. Recipients of the AC Student Prize will receive a $1,000 award, be honored at a public award ceremony and have their submission published on the American Cultures eScholarship site.

AC Courses

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AC Courses

AC Courses are offered in over forty academic departments during any given semester of the academic year. Students learn about and engage with issues critical to America's dynamic ethnic, racial and socio-cultural landscape in disciplines such as Engineering, Integrative Biology, Education, Anthropology, City and Regional Planning, Architecture, Ethnic Studies, Environmental Science, the School of Public Health, and others.

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Spotlight on AC Courses

The AC Center works with AC instructors in developing introductory videos about their AC Courses. Please peruse the Spotlight Videos on AC Courses to learn more about the AC courses that are offered. Please contact the AC Center for any questions about these courses.

General Information about How to Satisfy the AC Requirement

All UC Berkeley undergraduates (admitted after fall 1991) must fulfill the AC requirement in order to graduate. The AC requirement is fulfilled by taking a pre-approved course from UC Berkeley or a partner institution that is at least 3-semester units (or 4 quarter units).

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Frequently Asked Questions

Please visit our FAQ Page to read responses to the questions regularly asked of the AC curriculum.

Presentations to Advisors

The American Cultures Center staff is happy to schedule a meeting with you and your advising colleagues to share information about the latest initiatives, programming, and policies of the American Cultures Requirement. If interested, please email