Satisfy your intellectual curiosities: classes to audit this summer

Ziqi Chen/Staff

Thinking of doing something productive this summer? Want to wet your feet with something new and widen your horizons? Try auditing some summer classes!

UC Berkeley classes generally welcome auditors, or folks who want to sit in on lectures without registering for the class or completing assignments. Campus American studies professor Justin Gomer equated one day of a summer course with a week of lectures during a full-length semester, which means you will learn a great deal if you sit in on even one lecture.

Below are a few courses of general interest that you will find both enjoyable and richly educational!

1.  Political Economy 101: Contemporary Theories of Political Economy

  • Class time: Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, 1–4 p.m.
  • Location: 88 Dwinelle
  • Session: July 6 to Aug. 14
  • Professor: Atul Singh

Political Economy 101 is a course that explores the key political theories, figures and events from the 1850s onward, examining the context behind some of today’s most pressing political and economic problems.

Professor Atul Singh said some of the questions that will be asked are: “Is mercantilism dead, or is it just like Dracula that keeps coming back from its grave? What the hell is free trade? Is it free? What is labor — an input, a commodity or an abstraction of humanity?”

Singh himself is a stunning public speaker who is simultaneously a walking encyclopedia. Each of his lectures are delivered with incredible poise, awe-inspiring passion and unbelievable details.

“Take this class if you dare to know and want to think,” Singh said.

2.  Psychology N133: Psychology of Sleep

  • Class time: Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, 3:30–6 p.m.
  • Location: 2040 Valley Life Sciences Building
  • Session: May 26 to July 2
  • Professor: Lewis Lewin

An intriguing introduction to the mysterious field of sleep, Psychology N133 covers topics such as “the amount of sleep in each developmental period that humans should have, how naps affect people’s level of energy and productivity, (and) how sleep loss and sleep deprivation affects one’s mood,” according to senior Den Marcelo, who is taking the class.

Marcelo added that because college students are often sleep deprived, this class is relevant because it “teaches us about healthy sleeping habits and (how) sleep can benefit both our health and behavior.”

If you want to audit this class, just remember: Don’t sleep in class!

3.  Sociology 167: Virtual Communities/Social Media

  • Class time: Mondays, Wednesdays, 5–9 p.m.
  • Location: 56 Barrows
  • Session: May 26 to July 2
  • Professor: Edwin Lin

Sociology 167 has long been one of the most popular classes in the campus’ sociology department. The class takes students through an analysis of how social media, new technologies and our online world is changing social life and interpersonal relationships.

Professor Edwin Lin said the class requires no prior knowledge of sociology and is highly relevant to today’s world, with discussion of extremely recent social media platforms, such as Facebook, YikYak and Reddit. It covers only the past 10 to 15 years, as social media has caused a “massive change in a very short period of time.”

4.  Ethnic Studies 122AC: Ethnicity and Race in Contemporary American Films

  • Class time: Tuesdays, Thursdays, 4–8 p.m.
  • Location: 166 Barrows
  • Session: July 6 to Aug. 14
  • Professor: Darby Price

Ethnic Studies 122AC explores the portrayal of ethnicity and race in contemporary American films from about the 1960s onward, covering mainstream Hollywood films, lower-profile independent films and documentaries. Every class features a screening of a film or documentary.

The focus of the class will be on the underrepresented-minority perspective, the four groups examined being blacks, Latinos, Asians and Native Americans, said professor Darby Price.

Outside his teaching career, Price is also an accomplished filmmaker. Two of his productions — “Crossing the Line: Multiracial Comedian” and “Model Minority: Do the Math” — are award-winning PBS documentaries.

Price said there are still a few open spots left in his class, which he hopes will be filled, adding that the class is an “entertaining and interactive way to learn about diversity.”

Contact Natchapol Praditpetchara at [email protected].