With so much brilliance at UC Berkeley — from headline-grabbing research to stellar faculty members across disciplines — it’s impossible for undergraduates, many scouting for their academic passions, to sample it all while on campus.
But this week, a new spring semester course, Brilliance of Berkeley, kicks off with space for 744 in-person participants and 5,000 more online. In 14 weeks, students will meet 28 Berkeley luminaries, including three Nobel laureates and several MacArthur Foundation "genius grant" awardees, from a wide range of fields and hear lectures about their research.
Staff members can attend in person on a first-come, first-served basis. Each presentation will be recorded and made available afterward, with captions, to the campus community.
The one-unit pass/no pass course will run from noon to 2 p.m. each Friday and feature one or two faculty members a week, each delivering a 50-minute talk. Students will receive modest online assignments and invites to an array of out-of-class activities — such as a campus athletic event or musical performance — designed to help them connect with their peers and with Berkeley.
Oliver O’Reilly, vice provost for undergraduate education, said the primary goal of the College of Letters and Science course, which starts this Friday, Jan. 19, is to give students potentially life-changing exposure to "the immense spectrum of academic and intellectual pursuits" at Berkeley.