November 16 Town Hall for Berkeley Discover Departmental Innovation Award Program

November 16, 2020

The final Town Hall meeting on the Berkeley Discover Departmental Innovation Award Program is taking place Monday, November 16 from 4-5pm. Please join us to learn more about the program and get your questions answered. Pre-proposals are due Friday, December 11

For more information, please see the CALmessage “Request for Proposals - Berkeley Discover Departmental Innovation Awards” from October 29 that follows below.


Dear Colleagues,

Through a generous gift from the Chernin family, we are launching a new initiative to develop and infuse the Discovery Arc throughout the undergraduate experience. A key instrument supporting this goal is the Berkeley Discover Departmental Innovation Award Program. The RFP process described below is designed to support departments in a multi-year process of weaving discovery into the fabric of the curriculum. Town Hall meetings are planned to answer questions about the proposal process on November 6 from 12-1pm and November 16 from 4-5pm (view November 16 event details). Pre-proposals are due Friday, December 11, 2020.

What is the Discovery Arc?
Berkeley Discovery is a campus-wide initiative to transform undergraduate education. Born out of the 2018 Strategic Plan, Berkeley Discovery envisions a new framework for the undergraduate experience where students embark on a journey of creative exploration from the moment they arrive on campus. Discovery writ large is more than a single discrete experience or one-semester capstone project. Discovery is an intentional and holistic arc that supports students on a journey of self-actualization. Discovery ultimately aims to instill a life-long ethos of engaging with grand challenges, fostering creativity, and journeying toward innovation.

The Discovery Arc unfolds in three phases. In the opening phase, students are introduced to a creative vision of higher education: one where they can bring together their unique academic interests with the University’s vast resources to create a personalized journey. During this opening phase, the Berkeley Connect program— in partnership with other student support efforts—provides entry to the many paths of Discovery by fostering a sense of belonging at the University and a culture of personal agency. In the second phase, students are exposed to Discovery early in the curriculum through immersive, engaged, and inquiry-driven learning. This second phase invites students to grow beyond being passive recipients of knowledge and become self-directed and creative agents in their education. The culminating phase of the Discovery Arc allows students to apply and express their knowledge and passion through a personalized Discovery experience, whether through original research, artistic production, entrepreneurial initiatives, or community-engaged service. Ultimately, the Discovery Arc invites students to engage boldly with their own journey—and with the world.

What are the Berkeley Discover Departmental Innovation Awards?
Berkeley Discover is a new initiative to develop and infuse the Discovery Arc throughout the undergraduate experience. The Departmental Innovation Awards will provide funding and Berkeley Discovery staff guidance to departments in a multi-year process of weaving Discovery into the fabric of the undergraduate experience.

The initial cycle of the Departmental Innovation Award Program will focus on creating models of success in a selection of departments (or clusters of departments) across campus. These departmental pilots will foster innovation through an iterative process. During this pilot, selected departments will be awarded up to $200,000 annually for up to 4 consecutive years. The current academic year (2020-21) will be dedicated to developing partnerships and beginning a collaborative design process. Academic year 2021-22 will focus on initial implementation of new programming. Years 2022-24 will focus on broadening, assessing, and refining pilot offerings. Year 5 will focus on sustainability of programmatic efforts within departments and sharing best practices across campus to help Discovery become an integral and universal component of the UC Berkeley experience.

Grant funds can be used in a variety of ways including faculty summer salaries, postdoc discovery fellowships, graduate student instructor stipends, undergraduate project grants, campus and community partnerships, and technology support. Ultimately, resources should be used to build programmatic innovations that will be financially sustainable for the department after the end of the grant period.

Participating departments are expected to take bold strides toward creating a Discovery Arc in their unit and advance a number of shared goals. However, each department is encouraged to approach this challenge in different ways. There are no prerequisites and no expectations of a one-size-fits all solution.

What is the proposal process?
Interested departments—or clusters of departments— are invited to submit a short pre-proposal by Friday, December 11 at 5pm to (and cc’d to Pre-proposals should address the specific questions on the program webpage and should identify a project lead and a development team that, if selected, will be involved in full-proposal development during the spring term. Pre-proposals will be reviewed by a broad-based committee with a balance between senior leadership and faculty with disciplinary diversity. Teams with successful pre-proposals will be notified in January and will then be supported by Berkeley Discovery staff and campus partners to develop full proposals and detailed budgets via an iterative process. Full proposals will be due in late March 2021 and departmental awards will be announced in May 2021. Proposals that are not funded in the first round may be offered fundraising support for a development phase as additional funds are sought.

Where can interested departments receive additional information?
We will host Town Hall meetings to address questions on November 6 from 12-1pm and November 16 from 4-5pm (view November 16 event details). Further questions can be directed to Berkeley Discover Faculty Director Bree Rosenblum at


Catherine P. Koshland
Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate Education

This message sent to all UC Berkeley deans, department chairs, faculty, and instructors.