Berkeley Changemaker Courses

Berkeley Changemaker courses enrollments are over 2,500 (and counting!) since July 2020.

Spring 2022 Courses 

Course 12: The Berkeley ChangemakerTM

L&S C12 & UGBA C12

Instructors: Laura Hassner (lead), Alex Budak, Brandi Pearce, and Mariana Somma
Class # 29692 and 20367
2 units
You could have gone almost anywhere and you chose UC Berkeley—we’re so glad you did! For generations, people like you have come to Berkeley to leave their marks on the world, questioning the status quo as they think, and act, beyond themselves. Our Course 12 will activate your passions and help you develop a sharper sense of who you want to be, providing the tools you’ll need along the way. Whether you want to start your own company, launch an NGO, discover your passion, or learn how to effect positive, lasting change from wherever you are, our Berkeley Changemaker community has a place for you. In this asynchronous online course, you can engage with our lectures, assignments, and readings at the time of day which works best for you. Our class is taught by an all-star team of 24 UC Berkeley faculty members, representing 19 diverse departments and 8 schools across our campus. Our guest faculty includes Chancellor Carol Christ, former Federal Reserve Chair & Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, and 9 Distinguished Teaching Award winners. This is the only course on campus that introduces you to how more than 20 of our most distinguished faculty think about changemaking and leadership, and how to put all of that into action. This course includes an optional "live" one-hour weekly session featuring guest speakers and opportunities for you to build your Berkeley Changemaker network.
Session Dates: February 28 - May 6, 2021; SINCE INSTRUCTION STARTS AFTER THE ADD/DROP DEADLINE, ENROLLED STUDENTS WILL BE INVITED TO AN OPTIONAL "PREVIEW" SESSION IN THE FIRST WEEK OF CLASSES.

Sense & Sensibility In Science + Berkeley Changemaker

 (In development)

Instructors: ​Co-taught by faculty from Physics (Saul Perlmutter, Nobel Prize 2011), Philosophy (John Campbell), and Psychology (Alison Gopnik)

Note: This signature course will feature special Berkeley Changemaker sections that are currently under development. Here’s a description from Spring 2021 to give you an idea of past versions of the course: This is a course on the ideas from science that are most widely useful for everyone. Many insights and conceptual tools from scientific thinking are of great utility for all kinds of reasoning, from reading the news critically to making decisions under conditions of uncertainty. The focus in this course is on the errors humans tend to make, and the approaches scientific methodology has developed (and continues to develop) to minimize those errors. The course includes a discussion of the nature of science, what makes science such an effective way of knowing, how both non-scientific thinking and scientific thinking can go awry, and how we can reason more clearly and successfully as individuals, as members of groups, and as citizens of a democracy.

Every day we make decisions that can and should be informed by science. We make decisions as individuals, as voters, and as members of our various communities. We make decisions as students and parents and policy makers. The problem is, we don’t do it so well—a fact sadly apparent in political debates. It’s easy to blame poor decision-making on the greed, irresponsibility, ignorance, or incompetence of other people. But the problem seems to be more basic than that. It seems we face a paradox. Living in a democracy means that everyone’s view counts the same as everyone else’s. But to make decisions informed by science, we often need to defer to those with relevant expertise. Therefore, we shouldn't rely on a democratic system to make the best decisions. Or should we? This basic tension between science and democratic decision-making serves as a unifying theme for Sense & Sensibility & Science (SSS), a course that aims to equip students with basic tools to be better thinkers. We will explore key aspects of scientific thinking that everyone should know, especially the many ways that we humans tend to fool ourselves, and how to avoid them—including how to differentiate signal from noise, evaluate causal claims, and avoid reasoning biases. We’ll then look at the best models for using science to guide decisions, since the rational and arational (e.g., values, fears, and goals) then have to be combined. We will explore these themes experientially, often with in-class activities and discussions, and we will culminate in two open-ended projects to design better methods of deliberation and decision making, first as groups, and then as individuals. Co-taught by faculty from Physics, Philosophy, and Psychology, S&S&S fosters intellectual advancement for interdisciplinary knowledge seekers. At UC Berkeley, this course (L&S 22) satisfies the Philosophy and Values, Physical Science, or Social and Behavioral Sciences breadth requirements in the College of Letters & Science. 

Course material was developed by Saul Perlmutter, John Campbell, and Robert MacCoun (along with help from several others) and is expected to appear in a forthcoming Sense, Sensibility, and Science book.

HUM 12: ​Berkeley Changemaker: Humanists at Work 

Instructor: David Dodick

Class # 30120

2 or 4 units

In this course, you will learn the value and application of the arts and humanities to a wide variety of careers. In addition to exploring transferrable skills, career readiness, and public projects, the course features weekly visits by high-profile Berkeley Arts and Humanities alumni. They are leaders and changemakers in their fields, who will reflect on the value of a humanities education in forging their success. HUM 12 is a connector course to L&S 12 “The Berkeley Changemaker,” and can be taken for 2 credits or for 4 credits in conjunction with an internship or public service project.  

Students can take this course for 2 units or 4 units. The 4 unit option requires students to complete an internship. Please contact the instructor before enrolling in the 4 unit option.

EDUC W190A Berkeley Changemaker: Critical Studies in Education

Class # 30857 & 30857

Instructor: Christyna Serrano

4 units

This course examines how learning environments can empower and disempower individuals and explores the role of education in the social construction of hierarchy, inequality, difference, identity, and power. It embodies a democratic philosophy and practice, creating a learning community that encourages students to take responsibility for their own education and learn through theory, experience, dialogue, and a capstone course project titled: the Digital Changemaker Project.

Spring 2022 Courses

IND ENG 95/195/295 A. Richard Newton Lecture Series: A Berkeley Changemaker Course

Instructor: Victoria Howell

Class # 2194919552, and 19555

1 unit

As part of the Berkeley Changemaker, the Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology (SCET) hosts the A. Richard Newton Distinguished Innovator Lecture Series: A Berkeley Changemaker Course.  This course highlights a diverse set of changemakers who have made breakthroughs in entrepreneurship, innovation, artistry and social impact. During the course, keynote speakers will share their insights on critical thinking, communication and collaboration as it relates to innovation and entrepreneurship. They will focus specifically on success and failures around crafting their business idea and story, building a team, creating the trust necessary for investment/collaboration and breaking boundaries to create change. 
This class is a great introduction to technology entrepreneurship and innovation and is required for two tracks of the SCET Certificate in Entrepreneurship & Technology. All majors will feel welcome. 

UGBA 192 Berkeley Changemaker: Edible Education

Instructors: Alice Waters and Will Rosenzweig

Class # 19265

1 to 4 units

Click here for a course flyer.

Edible Education offers a unique systems view of food innovation and entrepreneurship. It is a weekly lecture series that brings renowned food systems changemakers to campus to share their visions,research, and experiences about food and its critical role in our culture, wellbeing and survival. It is a cross disciplinary course that invites all undergraduate and graduate students to explore the future of food, its diverse systems, and the movements that are shaping the way we eat. Past guests make up a “who’s who” of food movements including Bryant Terry, Nikiko Masumoto, José Andrés, Samin Nosrat, Michael Pollan, Dan Barber, Marion Nestle, Al Gore, and Questlove.

This semester, in EE's 11th year, we reimagine eating in and eating out. The food system - a $12 trillion business - was amongst the most impacted areas during the pandemic. The ways we produce, prepare, and consume food have undergone dramatic changes. As we redefine what is “normal”, changes to the food system that directly address climate change and social justice are within our personal and collective reach and power. Edible Education and its guests will help you understand your role in the food system, provide you an orientation to systems thinking, and equip you with useful tools and practices to become a food systems changemaker.

UGBA 157 Berkeley Changemaker: Living with Agency

Instructor: Laura Paxton Hassner

Class # 20176

2 units

Click here for a course flyer.

As Berkeley Changemakers, what does it mean to “live a life of agency”?


In this class, you will strengthen your sense of agency over your own life—defined as a new way of conceptualizing how to construct your purpose with the flexibility to adapt to changing circumstances. You will sharpen your focus on changemaking ethically, acting with sensitivity and compassion. You will learn how to plan for and overcome setbacks, practice negotiating, manage imposter syndrome, and build courage in your changemaking. You will better understand how to communicate with empathy and be a storyteller who 'paints pictures' that inspire others. You will leave as a more effective collaborator whose equity-sensitive leadership brings out the best in your teammates.

This course emphasizes the three Berkeley Changemaker pillars of critical thinking, effective communication, and productive collaboration.  It combines critical examination of theories with self-reflection, interwoven with implementable strategies to help you to increase agency over your own life. You will develop a sharper sense of who you want to be, along with tools to make that happen.

UGBA ​​​Berkeley Changemaker: Big Ideas “Special Topic” Innovations OnRamp

​​Instructor: Joe Dougherty

Class # 20308

1 unit​

Click here for a course flyer.

The topic for this Spring’s course is Financial Inclusion – the challenge of ensuring that all people have access to affordable, helpful financial services such as savings, payments, insurance and credit in both the developing world and in more developed markets like the US.
The course will begin by defining the challenge/opportunity of financial inclusion and exploring how it differs across countries in terms of who has access to affordable, helpful financial services and who, typically, does not. It will explore some of the controversies and challenges involved with expanding financial inclusion: For example, what’s the difference between access and usage? What are the downsides or risks associated with financial inclusion and how does consumer protection fit in? How do policy and regulation help or hinder financial inclusion?
We will then explore leading-edge approaches to financial inclusion being pioneered in Africa, Latin America and other regions, and hear directly from leaders in the field (e.g. Kiva, FINCA).
Finally, the course will feature a practical, team-based project to allow students to sharpen their entrepreneurial skills.

This class meets for 8 weeks starting on January 24, 2022 and ending on March 28, 2022. For questions, please contact the instructor.

COLWRIT 11 Berkeley Changemaker: Public Speaking

Instructors: Carmen Acevedo Butcher and John Levine

Class # 30719

1 unit

Emphasizing the Berkeley Changemaker pillars of critical thinking and communication, this one-unit practicum is designed to help students refine their academic speaking skills. Students will learn the techniques of effective public speaking, practice their skills, and develop confidence in oral communication. Online, asynchronous class sessions will be complemented by “live” opportunities that enable students to practice course content in front of an instructor and audience and receive feedback.

Discussion Breakout Session

Photo credit: Jim Block

I'm thankful that I've been able to learn so much from this course! I truly believe this is the greatest preparation I could have received going into my first year at Berkeley. I'm sad this has come to an end, but excited to apply the lessons and principles I learned into my Berkeley journey and my life!
Grace Kelly, Course 12 Student, Class of 2024

Fall 2021 Courses 

COLWRIT 11 Berkeley Changemaker: Public Speaking 

Class #32632

Instructors: Carmen Acevedo Butcher and John Levine

1 unit

Emphasizing the Berkeley Changemaker pillars of critical thinking and communication, this one-unit practicum is designed to help students refine their academic speaking skills. Students will learn the techniques of effective public speaking, practice their skills, and develop confidence in oral communication. Online, asynchronous class sessions will be complemented by “live” opportunities that enable students to practice course content in front of an instructor and audience and receive feedback.

IND ENG 95/195 A. Richard Newton Lecture Series: A Berkeley Changemaker Course

Class #28079/19410

Instructor: Victoria Howell

1 unit

As part of the Berkeley Changemaker, the Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology (SCET) hosts the A. Richard Newton Distinguished Innovator Lecture Series: A Berkeley Changemaker Course.  This course highlights a diverse set of changemakers who have made breakthroughs in entrepreneurship, innovation, artistry and social impact. During the course, keynote speakers will share their insights on critical thinking, communication and collaboration as it relates to innovation and entrepreneurship. They will focus specifically on success and failures around crafting their business idea and story, building a team, creating the trust necessary for investment/collaboration and breaking boundaries to create change. 

This class is a great introduction to technology entrepreneurship and innovation and is required for two tracks of the SCET Certificate in Entrepreneurship & Technology. All majors will feel welcome. 

UGBA 96 Berkeley Changemaker: Big Ideas

Class #32586

Instructor: Jorge Calderon
1 unit
We are a new exciting entrepreneurship course being launched as part of the Berkeley Changemaker series in collaboration with the Blum Center’s Big Ideas program and the Center for Social Sector Leadership (CSSL) at the Haas School of Business. This high-octane, fun, startup leadership course is well suited for undergraduate students who are interested in meeting other innovators and getting hands-on experience developing a new “impact” startup concept. A proven roadmap and methodology are used to help guide you through ideation, team formation, business model design and startup pitching. Startup teams are organically formed during the first few weeks. All “social and environmental” impact themes are welcome. Through activity reinforced lectures, classroom dialogue, guest speakers, readings and media content, students will learn to think strategically and act opportunistically with social and financial perspective. Class structure includes dedicated “lab” time for students to develop their ideas with teammates and exchange ideas with classmates. The final project for this course is a team presentation in the form of a validated concept “pitch” to a panel of impact venture experts and the finalized set of course assignments (including a draft application for the Big Ideas competition).

EDUC W190ABerkeley Changemaker: Critical Studies in Education

Class #29079 & 29085

Instructor: Christyna Serrano

4 units

This course examines how learning environments can empower and disempower individuals and explores the role of education in the social construction of hierarchy, inequality, difference, identity, and power. It embodies a democratic philosophy and practice, creating a learning community that encourages students to take responsibility for their own education and learn through theory, experience, dialogue, and a capstone course project titled: the Digital Changemaker Project.

This course provides a broad, inter-disciplinary overview of the U.S. labor movement in the fight for social and economic justice. It will introduce students to critiques of racial capitalism and the power dynamics inherent in paid work, while considering why and how workers form unions in response. One of the primary objectives of this course is to develop a theoretical and analytical understanding of contemporary workers’ experiences of work in the U.S. shaped by race, class, gender, sexuality, immigration status, language, religion, and other social constructs. There will be a special comparative focus on the role of structures and the space for agency and mobilization in the Latinx, Black and Asian American communities. 
Accompanying this course will be a one-unit practicum in Labor Research for Action and Policy (L-RAP) included in theBerkeley Changemaker suite. The practicum will allow students to gain critical thinking, collaborative learning, and effective communication skills in a structured community-engaged research project with Bay Area labor partners. In the process, you will learn highly valuable skills in data collection, data analysis, spatial mapping, and digital communication for graduate studies and professional career tracks. Students who are proficient in Spanish, Tagalog, Chinese. and Nepali are especially encouraged to enroll as these languages are needed to understand and amplify the voices of diverse communities.  

In development for Fall 2022​

Berkeley Changemaker:​ Thinking Entrepreneurially (In development) 

​Instructor & ​Description TBD

1 unit​

Being a part of this class is life changing and it truly shapes your identity, and I am so glad to be a part of this community.
Milo Harmon Maurer, Course 12 Student, Class of 2024
Student listening under "Lead with trust" caption

Photo credit: Jim Block

Previous Courses

Summer 2021 

Course 12"The Berkeley ChangemakerTM"

L&S C12 Class #10651

2 units
Faculty Lead: Alex Budak
Contributing Instructors: Laura Hassner, Brandi Pearce, and Mariana Somma
You could have gone almost anywhere and you chose UC Berkeley—we’re so glad you did! For generations, people like you have come to Berkeley to leave their marks on the world, questioning the status quo as they think, and act, beyond themselves. Our Course 12 will activate your passions and help you develop a sharper sense of who you want to be, providing the tools you’ll need along the way. Whether you want to start your own company, launch an NGO, discover your passion, or learn how to effect positive, lasting change from wherever you are, our Berkeley Changemaker community has a place for you. By taking this asynchronous online course you will meet incoming Berkeley students from all around the world before you arrive on campus. You can engage with our lectures, assignments, and readings at the time of day which works best for you. Our class is taught by an all-star team of 22 UC Berkeley faculty members, representing 16 diverse departments and 7 schools across our campus. Our guest faculty includes Chancellor Carol Christ, former Federal Reserve Chair & Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, and 9 Distinguished Teaching Award winners. This is the only course on campus that introduces you to how more than 20 of our most distinguished faculty think about changemaking and leadership, and how to put all of that into action. This course includes an optional "live" one-hour weekly session featuring guest speakers and opportunities for you to build your Berkeley Changemaker network.

Spring 2021 Courses 

UGBA C12 "The Berkeley Changemaker"(link is external) and L&S C12 "The Berkeley Changemaker"(link is external)

Class #33085 and 33048

2 units
Coordinating Instructor: Alex Budak
Contributing Instructors: Laura Hassner, Brandi Pearce, and Mariana Somma

This course is rooted in the belief that all Berkeley students are in the process of becoming Berkeley Changemakers. Changemakers make their impact everywhere on the campus intellectual landscape – through scientific breakthroughs, artistic imagination, social action projects, and entrepreneurial ventures. It is a course for entering students, who will learn to employ creative and critical thinking to imagine better futures, and then develop leadership skills to mobilize others to help create them. The ultimate goal of the course is to help incoming students discover their own identity as Berkeley Changemakers through shaping their educational experience at UC Berkeley.

This special 8 week course runs from March 1 - May 2.  By taking this course which features all asynchronous lectures (and lots of optional but highly recommended synchronous group office hours), you will meet fellow Berkeley Changemakers and you can engage with lectures, assignments and readings at the time of day which works best for you.   
Note that students can elect to enroll in either the Undergraduate Business Administration or Letters & Sciences course sections.

IND ENG 95/195 A. Richard Newton Lecture Series: A Berkeley Changemaker Course

Class #28409/19947

1 unit
Instructor: Victoria Howell

As part of the Berkeley Changemaker, the Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology (SCET) hosts the A. Richard Newton Distinguished Innovator Lecture Series: A Berkeley Changemaker Course.  The newly relaunched Series will highlight a diverse set of changemakers who have made breakthroughs in entrepreneurship, innovation, artistry and social impact. During the course, keynote speakers will share their insights on critical thinking, communication and collaboration as it relates to innovation and entrepreneurship. They will focus specifically on success and failures around crafting their business idea and story, building a team, creating the trust necessary for investment/collaboration and breaking boundaries to create change.

Political Science 198: Berkeley Changemaker: Topics In International Ethics(link is external)

Class #23807

1 unit
Instructor: Amy Gurowitz

As Berkeley Changemakers, how do we apply ethics to critical policy questions? Designed for students who have had, or are currently taking, PS 124C Ethics and Justice in International Affairs, this 1 unit course allows a small group of students to select and engage deeply with a critical policy question that emerges from the course. Working in groups to develop a specific question, you'll craft solutions grounded in the ethical theories of the course while gaining a new perspective on how to lead change by engaging with the practical implications of implementation. This course also features practitioners in areas such as humanitarian intervention, international criminal justice, etc. who provide their perspectives on both the ethics and courses of action required for implementing change.

The Berkeley Changemakers' inclusive curriculum activates your passions and helps you to develop a sharper sense of who you want to be, while providing you the tools to take those next steps. Our curriculum focuses on critical thinking, communication, and collaboration complemented by an emphasis on creativity, community, and belonging. 

In conjunction with PS124C, the two courses meet the following requirements: 

  • Meets International Studies, L&S Breadth
  • Meets Philosophy & Values, L&S Breadth
  • Meets Social & Behavioral Sciences, L&S Breadth
  • Meets the Human Rights Course Thread

COLWRIT R4B 016: Berkeley Changemaker: Writing the Change We Seek(link is external)

Class #25292

4 units
Instructor: Ryan Sloan

U.C. Berkeley has long been a place for innovative ideas and creative, out-of-the-box discovery. What role might you play on campus, in your communities and beyond as a passionate writer and thinker?

In this special R4B course, in collaboration with The Berkeley Changemaker™ series, we’re going to roll up our sleeves and get into the thick of some of the most interesting and complex issues of our time. We’ll explore the extraordinary opportunities and ethical quandaries of CRISPR and bioengineering. We’ll look at big tech and social entrepreneurship in the Bay Area, balancing connectivity and access against privacy and the flood of misinformation online. We’ll learn about social justice in a time of polarization; environmental threats and opportunities for impact; public health and the rebuilding of trust in science; internet culture and personal identity; street art and social change; distance learning and the rethinking of what a liberal arts education can be.

Most importantly, this course is increasingly choose-your-own-adventure: what are the issues and ideas that most motivate you? We’ll engage with an array of inspiring and provocative talks by thought leaders across U.C. Berkeley. We’ll play with new tools and practice some vital skills: gaining confidence as a writer; learning to navigate digital resources; mapping ideas with visual thinking; learning to flexibly listen while interviewing others; persuading and engaging peers with public speaking; designing dynamic slides and an interactive writing website of your own. We’ll return to this core question: what does lasting change look like — and how might your own writing serve as a means to enact it?

This Reading, Research, and Composition Course satisfies Part B of the College of Letters & Science's Reading and Composition Requirement.

XL&S C12 "The Berkeley Changemaker: A Discovery Experience"

Fall 2020
2 units
Instructors: Alex Budak and Laura Hassner
Fall Program for Freshmen
This course is rooted in the belief that all Berkeley students are in the process of becoming Berkeley Changemakers. Changemakers make their impact everywhere on the campus intellectual landscape – through scientific breakthroughs, artistic imagination, social action projects, and entrepreneurial ventures. It is a course for entering students, who will learn to employ creative and critical thinking to imagine better futures, and then develop leadership skills to mobilize others to help create them. The ultimate goal of the course is to help incoming students discover their own identity as Berkeley Changemakers through shaping their educational experience at UC Berkeley.
This fully-online and aysnchronous course exceeded maximum enrollment and led to a waiting list.

Thank you for visiting our Berkeley Changemaker courses page.

We'd love to hear what you think and what future courses you might like to see: changemaker@berkeley.edu.

Staff Offerings

Berkeley Changemaker: The Conversation

December 8, 2021 | 1:00-2:00 p.m. | Zoom

Our fourth Berkeley Changemaker staff workshop will focus on excerpts from the book, The Conversation – How Seeking and Speaking the Truth About Racism Can Radically Transform Individuals and Organizations, by Dr. Robert Livingston. We will be joined by Dr. Livingston.

Berkeley Changemaker "The Sum of Us: Building a Culture of Belonging"

June 3, 2021 | 11:30-12:45 p.m. | NOW Conference 

Berkeley Changemakers lead inclusively, understanding that by working together we build a better society. Participants will acquire tools and apply practices that create inclusive spaces by providing opportunities to connect through narrative and lived experience and engage people as they are. We will dive into the concept of belonging, why it matters, and how to build a culture of belonging in the workplace. Belonging is that sense you get that you are a valued member of a community. Feeling valued in a community puts a sense of purpose and meaning to our lives.

In this third offering in the Berkeley Changemaker staff series, we will offer a hybrid workshop: providing information about the Berkeley Changemaker and sharing tools around belonging that will empower our colleagues and ourselves to lead from where we are.

Over 100 staff members from across the UC campuses attended our breakout session.

Managing Turbulence: A Berkeley Changemaker™ Workshop

February 24, 2021 | 1-2:30 p.m. |  Zoom

How might you lead by setting culture? Whether you are a team member or leader, this dynamic workshop will introduce you to the levers you can use to shape culture at UC Berkeley. Together, we'll spend the first hour exploring strategy and tactics that set and shape culture. The optional additional half hour will enable you to explore these concepts in greater detail in small breakout sessions while you meet and engage with your colleagues across campus. 

200 UC Berkeley staff members enrolled in this workshop.

You are a Berkeley ChangemakerTM!

October 28, 2020 | 1-2 p.m. |  Zoom

Regardless of role or title, we can all lead from where we are. When we recognize opportunities for impact and agency, we have greater power to be intentional, to affect our culture and the world around us. This is the concept of the Berkeley Changemaker. Values like impact beyond oneself and questioning the status quo have drawn people to Berkeley for generations — this narrative doubles down on those values and is part of a suite of new courses being taught to UC Berkeley students. Our faculty are expanding these offerings through a customized workshop for staff. In this 60-minute workshop you will discover what it means to be a Berkeley Changemaker, learn how to build the changemaking skill of resilience, and leave inspired by stories from UC Berkeley faculty and staff.

Over 120 staff members from across the UC Berkeley campus registered for this workshop.

BERKELEY CHANGEMAKER is a trademark of The Regents of the University of California through its Berkeley campus.  It is not affiliated with any third parties using “changemaker” or similar terms