UC Berkeley’s journalism summer minor expands to year-round program

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Maya Valluru/Staff
UC Berkeley's journalism minor, which was previously only offered during the summer, is now being extended into the fall and summer semesters. The curriculum is expected to maintain the same core classes with the same course professors.

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UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism extended its five-course, 15-unit undergraduate summer minor program to spring and fall semesters for students.

Since campus reinstated journalism courses in 2016, the undergraduate minor has only been offered for completion in the summer and has had limited options for instruction, according to Graduate School of Journalism director of undergraduate programs David Thigpen. While the minor will continue to offer its core and elective courses over summer sessions, it is now connecting class availability during the standard school year for students’ schedule flexibility.

“Journalism is a really popular minor at Cal and has one of the highest enrollments on campus, so we knew that there was an appetite for this course schedule expansion,” said Graduate School of Journalism student affairs coordinator Michele Kerr. “By offering journalism courses in the fall and spring semesters, it enables more students to do it.”

This transition process into a year-round schedule will encompass a slow rollout, according to Kerr, with one journalism course being offered this fall and another core course in the spring.

The minor program has been of interest to students of all studies and majors but has posed issues of completion with classes only being available in the summer. About 225 students complete the minor each summer, but some individuals need to carry over the coursework into the following summer, according to Thigpen.

“Nothing has changed for the students who want to complete the minor over the summer,” Thigpen said. “We wanted to create flexible options for students who cannot complete the full program within the summer and don’t want to have to wait until the following summer to finish the minor.”

The curriculum will still include the same core classes and will incorporate additional elective courses in the future, Thigpen said. He added the course professors will remain the same over the summer, and more faculty will be added for fall and spring courses.

Campus journalism faculty Bill Drummond said this change is “long overdue,” as he has always enjoyed teaching journalism to undergraduates. He added he views this as an opportunity to teach journalism in a way that makes students better citizens.

“This is a service that we can do for the undergraduate population at Berkeley to give them some professional training in a field that really needs bright, motivated people,” Drummond said. “I send students out to get as much exposure to real people in real-world situations from different social, economic, racial and cultural groups as possible. My ambition here is that people turn into better human beings.”

This structure is being established to allow more students to take journalism courses, as Thigpen believes all the tools that journalists use are beneficial to any student, regardless of their major.

Thigpen said journalists use skills — such as gathering information, reporting and writing concisely — that should be widely available to students.

“Those are fantastic skills that any student can use, whether you’re in journalism or not,” Thigpen said. “The more skillfully you can communicate, the greater the chances are that you’re going to find that audience that you’re looking for.”

Isabella Ruiz is a general assignment reporter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @Isabella_Ruiz3

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that faculty for the minor would remain the same. In fact, more faculty will be added to classes in the fall and spring semesters.