As a member of the organism community: Ecosystems as UC Berkeley majors

Illustration of ecosystems in front of Dwinelle
Cameron Opartkiettikul/Staff

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According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, an ecosystem is “the complex of a community of organisms and its environment functioning as an ecological unit.” If you think about it, there really isn’t that much differentiating an ecosystem from UC Berkeley students of a particular major: both are made up of organisms, both have many complexities and both bring these complexities together as a unit. Therefore, in honor of Earth Day, we at the Clog have decided to compare different UC Berkeley majors to the various habitats that make up the planet we are lucky enough to call home.

Tropical rainforests Environmental sciences

Tropical rainforests are located near the equator, receive constant rain and are teeming with so many plant and animal species that scientists still discover new ones to this day. Environmental sciences majors are central to our campus just as tropical rainforests are central to the globe because UC Berkeley was founded as an agricultural school. With their passion for the well-being of the planet, these students are ready to keep the forests teeming with life.

Temperate forests College of Environmental Design majors

Temperate forests are known for their four distinct seasons, and therefore the trees change their leaves according to them. Similarly, students in the College of Environmental Design are working to design buildings that are fit for any environment or season.

Taiga College of Engineering majors

Taiga, or boreal forests, make up the largest of the seven land biomes. Though engineering majors definitely do not compose a large part of the student body, they share in common the need for mammals here to have a thick coat for the winter — in the case of the students, the thick coat is needed to hunker down and do their work.

Deserts Computer science

Similar to the little rainfall that deserts receive, computer science majors rarely receive a break from their work. Cactuses in the desert have developed the capacity to store water, just as CS majors sometimes have to stock up on food to work on projects for hours on end.

Grasslands Rhetoric

The rhetoric major at UC Berkeley is all about argumentation, discourse and interaction with one another, which is why these students resemble the large herds of grazing animals  think buffalo, bison and deer — that enjoy the plains of the grasslands. At UC Berkeley, however, rhetoric majors will be found on the grasslands of Memorial Glade.

Savannas pre-Haas/Haas School of Business majors

Predators such as lions, hyenas and cheetahs thrive in savannas, meaning that there is a competitive aspect in that ecosystem. This is similar to how students aiming to get into the business school have to compete when applying in their second year.

Tundra Molecular and cell biology

The cold, flat plains of the tundra are often underlaid by permafrost, or frozen ground, just below the surface. This is representative of the stress of getting into medical school that underlies the day-to-day life of many molecular and cell biology majors, even if from the outside they appear to be doing fine.

Though this is not a comprehensive list in the least we could go on all day if we had time it’s a good place to start. Reminding ourselves of how similar we can be to the ecosystems the Earth comprises is a great way to remember how important it is to protect them!

Contact Beatrice Aronson at [email protected].