UC Berkeley DeCal courses to be featured at campus expo

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UC Berkeley students will have an opportunity to learn about the many DeCal classes offered this coming semester and interact with their facilitators before the courses start at the upcoming DeCal Expo on Sproul Plaza.

DeCal Co-Director Jennifer Ng said this is the first time the program is putting on this type of event — which will take place on Aug. 24 from 5 to 7 p.m. — so the board members are putting up flyers in main campus buildings, residence halls and campus dining commons.

“We are hoping to attract 2,000 to 3,000 students,” Ng said in an email.

Instead of students having to attend the first day of each class they are interested in, Ng said this event will allow students to meet with the facilitator of a DeCal course and ask the facilitator questions to decide whether or not that course is right for them.

“The whole purpose of DeCal is to give students power,” said CalSERVE Senator-elect Deejay Pepito. “It gives them the ability to teach themselves.”

According to the DeCal website, the program was inspired by the ideas of the Free Speech Movement that took place on campus in the 1960s. The program was then created in 1965 by campus philosophy professor Joseph Tussman.

Controversy arose over the material of the student-initiated classes, and between the years of 1970 and 1980, the program stopped offering the classes because there was no one to manage the Board of Educational Development and the Division of Experimental Courses, which gave official approval of the courses’ credit and courses themselves, respectively.

The program was revitalized in 1985 by campus education professor John Hurst, and the number of student-initiated classes has risen from 10 since it first began to 200 this year.

Ng said the DeCal board has been in touch with student representatives from other universities who would like to create similar student-taught education programs.

According to Ng, 100 DeCals, such as the Feminine Sexuality, Archery and Learn to Solve a Rubik’s Cube/Speed Cubing — the most popular courses in the program — will be showcased at the expo.

UC Berkeley sophomore Alice Han said she will be attending the expo to learn more about the courses and to see whether or not she wants to take them this fall.

“I like the fact that they are doing this event because it allows (us) to ask questions of the facilitators directly in a convenient place,” Han said.