30 Years of Freshman and Sophomore Seminars: Make a Difference

January 27, 2022

Dear Colleagues,

The 2022-23 academic year will mark the 30th anniversary of Freshman and Sophomore Seminars at Berkeley. We write to invite you to participate in this vital program by teaching a seminar and helping new students become active members of Berkeley's intellectual community.

Most seminars meet once a week, for one unit of credit, and are meant to be discussion-based and interactive. In 2022-23, we especially welcome seminars that take up the question "What is a fact?" That said, seminars can be on almost any topic you can dream up. This semester, faculty are offering seminars on topics as wide ranging as "Physics and Materials Science of Skateboarding," "Athenian Democracy," "Buddhist Economics," and "Welcome to California in 14 Plants."

One faculty member told us, "Working with undergraduate students through the seminar program has been one of my favorite teaching jobs at Berkeley. The students are a delight to work with, always so appreciative, and I have subsequently gotten to work with some of them on research through URAP." Another faculty member shared that she used her seminars as incubators to develop innovative courses that are now part of her department's regular course offerings. Senate faculty members who teach a Freshman and Sophomore Seminar as an overload will receive a $3,000 grant that can be used for anything related to their teaching or research.

If you are interested in teaching a seminar in Fall 2022, please let your department chair and scheduler know, and then submit a Faculty Participation Form by Thursday, February 17, 2022.

To receive more information about Freshman and Sophomore Seminars or to brainstorm ideas, contact Aileen Liu, Director of Curricular Engagement Initiatives in the College of Letters & Science, at aileen.liu@berkeley.edu.

Our thanks to all of you who have taught Freshman and Sophomore Seminars in its first 30 years. You have made an immeasurable difference in the lives of thousands of students.


Oliver M. O’Reilly
Interim Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education

Jennifer Johnson-Hanks
Executive Dean of the College of Letters and Science