Prison and its affiliated domains—probation, parole, intensive policing, a totality of human experience we are calling “carceral geographies”—have long and complex genealogies.
This Course Thread examines the nature and experience of these spaces, the distributional geographies of carceral systems, and the relationship between the carceral in its totality and the state.
Students will explore a range of foundational questions including: How do we understand the historical and juridical relationship between carcerality and conceptions of human being? How do the domains of carcerality move across a range of global sites and scales? How does this relationship inform concepts of time, place, culture, policy, etc.? How have artists, scholars, and activists, including those who have experienced incarceration, produced representations of, knowledge about, and challenges to carceral life?
Culture and Globalization | ISF
UC Berkeley undergraduates interested in the Culture and Globalization Course Thread should contact Patrick Civello, Student Academic Advisor, Interdisciplinary Field Studies.
The Course Thread on Culture and Globalization conceives of our world as transnationally connected through migration, markets, and media. Our intellectual maps and cultural policies, however, still tend to rely heavily on categories of identification that are defined by a fixed territory, national origin, and “authentic” heritage.
This thread redirects attention to mediation and interdependence on local and global scales. Courses within the thread seek to examine archives of cultural memory, multilingualism, circulation and valorization of aesthetic forms, and performances of ethnicity and national identity.
Course offerings span a wide range of departments including Anthropology, Folklore, Film and Media Studies, Music, Rhetoric, German, and Spanish/Portuguese. New forms of spectatorship in relation to cinema, popular music, and digital media—along with the production of new traditions, such as art and musical forms that embody indigeneity—form a common ground of investigation.
Historical and Modern City | ISF
UC Berkeley undergraduates interested in the Historical and Modern City Course Thread should contact Patrick Civello, Student Academic Advisor, Interdisciplinary Field Studies.
From Athens to Rome, San Francisco to Tokyo, the city has existed throughout history as one of the most complex manifestations of human civilization. While cities have existed for thousands of years, the study of cities is an emerging scholarly activity.
Among the many questions that the study of cities raises are those of relationship, including the rapport between time and space; centrality and marginality; national, ethnic, and urban identities; mapping and narrative; and everyday life and material culture. The connections in and among these relationships engage a wide spectrum of topics, such as modernity and modernism, the geography of power, the role of representation, and visual culture.
The Historical & Modern City Course Thread introduces students to historical, theoretical, aesthetic, and other approaches to the city through a variety of interdisciplinary methodologies. Investigating these approaches through a grouping of course offerings in English, Architecture, Art History, and many other departments, the thread engages students in a broad study of cities that paints a portrait of metropolitan evolution and its effects.
Human Rights | ISF
UC Berkeley undergraduates interested in the Human Rights Course Thread should contact Patrick Civello, Student Academic Advisor, Interdisciplinary Field Studies.
Human rights have become the moral language of today, the idiom in which we discuss our common humanity and weigh competing claims for resources, rights and protections. In recent years, premiere universities across the country have begun to develop human rights curricula, allowing students to shape their education around coursework that investigates the legal, political, historical, economic, social, psychological, and representational dynamics of human rights.
The Human Rights Course Thread illuminates the many different intellectual spaces in which human rights questions are currently being posed on the UC Berkeley campus. In so doing, it encourages students to recognize how human rights questions are intertwined with fields as disparate as postcolonial literature and medical ethics, as well as with the more familiar fields of politics and international law.
UC Berkeley is a fertile ground for human rights study and work: dozens of individual faculty members do research into human rights issues, and over one hundred courses across campus are offered each semester which directly treat human rights, while dozens more are indirectly related.
Humanities & Environment | ISF
UC Berkeley undergraduates interested in the Humanities & Environment Course Thread should contact Patrick Civello, Student Academic Advisor, Interdisciplinary Field Studies.
The Humanities and Environment Course Thread connects students to new approaches to understanding the ways that humans imagine, represent, and interact with the natural world. The humanistic study of the interplay of natural and cultural environments raises challenging questions about how our imagined and thought-about relations with the natural world have contributed to our strained relations with our environments.
Humanistic reflection further challenges the ways in which we draw the very distinction of “nature” and “culture.” While these are questions with deep roots in the humanities, they have been reinvigorated by new developments in conservation, environmentalism, and bio-engineering, and they have produced across the humanities new scholarly engagements, including animal studies, post-humanistic philosophy, environmental history, and the visual culture of nature.
The Humanities and Environment Thread links courses in a wide array of departments across the humanities and the social sciences that offer a variety of methodological and thematic approaches to the humanistic study of our places in and our transformations of the natural world.
Understanding what justice demands requires struggling with basic questions of form, history, interpretation, memory, emotion, and value that are sometimes given short shrift in more empirically oriented approaches to law.
This Course Thread makes participants aware of the importance of the humanities in relation to questions of law and literature, law and history, law and philosophy, law and music, and law and the visual arts. Through this Thread, students consider what law is and where it resides.
By including departments across the humanities and the social sciences, the Course Thread allows students to interrogate formal texts of law as well as the intellectual and cultural contexts through which law has become the complex practice and knowledge that it is.
Sciences and Society | CSTMS
UC Berkeley undergraduates interested in the Sciences and Society Course Thread should contact Morgan G. Ames, Interim Associate Director of Research (firstname.lastname@example.org) at the Center for Science, Technology, Medicine & Society.
From climate change and nuclear risk to the promises and challenges of new developments in biomedicine, the pressing problems of our time are simultaneously scientific and social, technological and political, ethical and economic. Beyond the confines of traditional disciplines, the Sciences and Society Course Thread helps Berkeley undergraduates investigate the complex relationships between perspectives and practices too often kept apart.
Courses in this thread give students opportunities to consider how science, technology, and medicine change our horizons of political possibility and social (in)justice and how social and ethical commitments, historical processes, and political formations shape authoritative knowledge and viable technologies.
With courses in departments including Integrative Biology, Rhetoric, History, Environmental Science, Policy and Management, Ethnic Studies, Engineering, Geography, and Anthropology, the Sciences and Society Course Thread encourages Berkeley undergraduates to consider such topics as the histories and futures of artificial intelligence; race, identity, and genetics; the politics of access to medicines and medical technologies; and global environmental politics, social justice, and sustainable development.
UC Berkeley undergraduates interested in the Technologies of Writing Course Thread should contact Patrick Civello, Student Academic Advisor, Interdisciplinary Field Studies.
For at least five thousand years, people have used standardized signs and symbols to communicate. These signs and symbols express, create, and notate languages, mathematical concepts, administrative records, music, and dance, among other things.
While technologies of writing, from clay tablets to electronic media, have changed dramatically over time, the underlying human processes of adapting forms and functions to various media and to the social needs of the time are nevertheless comparable.
This Course Thread investigates technologies of writing as cultural practices that follow rules dictated both by the social environment and by the technical constraints and possibilities of the medium of writing. It uses the historical to reframe modern experiences of writing, and the modern to reframe our ways of understanding historical practices.
Visual Cultures | ISF
UC Berkeley undergraduates interested in the Visual Cultures Course Thread should contact Patrick Civello, Student Academic Advisor, Interdisciplinary Field Studies.
This Course Thread examines the breadth, depth, and complexity of the image’s role in shaping aesthetics, politics, and social culture. A single image can reflect and influence social change, provide historical record, offer opportunities for personal and aesthetic expression, serve as legal and scientific “proof,” and often is used to build and forge identity.
Despite the multiple applications or modes of visibility that this thread brings together, it is structured around the concept and principles of the photographic. It includes not only courses on the practical, theoretical, critical, and aesthetic approaches to image making, but also courses on photography, digital imaging, installation, and film. By considering how images are created, presented, discussed, used and documented, students gain an intimate knowledge of the ways in which images increasingly structure modern society and consciousness.