L&S Curricular Connections

Berkeley Arts Seminars

Berkeley Arts Seminars are small, faculty-led seminars that give UC Berkeley freshmen and sophomores an opportunity to explore the rich array of arts experiences available on our campus.


When you were an undergraduate, did you have an encounter with the arts that opened your eyes, broadened your horizons, challenged your assumptions? Our campus arts departments and organizations offer students a wealth of opportunities to have this kind of transformative experience, but many students coming to us from California’s under-funded public schools have received little arts education and have not been encouraged to see the arts as crucial to their intellectual, cultural, and personal growth. How do we help students to engage deeply with the arts available to them at Berkeley?

In response to this challenge, we are excited to announce the launch of Berkeley Arts Seminars, a new program that will make it easier for you to give incoming freshmen a firsthand experience of the rich array of arts resources at Berkeley. The goal is for ladder faculty from any and all disciplines to teach undergraduate seminars that focus on performances or exhibits at a variety of campus venues, with classroom time (one hour a week with a maximum of 15 students) devoted to preparation before and reflection after.

Thanks to a generous donor, and under the umbrella of the existing Freshman and Sophomore Seminars program, the Berkeley Arts Seminar initiative will provide:

  • A one-time curricular development grant of $500 in addition to any other stipend for which instructors may be eligible.
  • Underwriting of all admissions costs to assigned campus arts events for students and instructors. (Underwriting is not available for off-campus events; however, instructors may choose to use their curriculum develop- ment grants for this purpose.)
  • Advance information about upcoming events at Cal Performances, the Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archives, the Departments of Art Practice, Music, and Theater, Dance & Performance Studies, and other venues across campus.
  • Model syllabi and assistance with course planning.
  • Staff support for buying tickets, making reservations, and/or arranging “behind-the-scenes” experiences.
  • Opportunities to brainstorm with other faculty.
  • An end-of-semester gathering with all the program participants.

Berkeley Arts Seminars should expose students to at least two different arts venues on campus. Staff are available to assist faculty in identifying events that tie in to their teaching interests.

Support for this pilot initiative will be provided by the staff of the Arts Research Center


If you have questions about the Berkeley Arts Seminars program, would like feedback on your course proposal, or need more advance information on upcoming arts events on campus, please contact Michele Rabkin, Associate Director of the Arts Research Center, at micheler@berkeley.edu or (510) 642-4268. For general information about Freshman & Sophomore Seminars, visit http://fss.berkeley.edu/index.html or contact program coordinator Alix Schwartz at alix@berkeley.edu or (510) 642-8378.

Once you are ready to submit your proposal, go to the Faculty section of the Freshman & Sophomore Seminars website (http://fss.berkeley.edu/facstaff/index.html) and fill out the online Faculty Participation Form. Be sure to place a checkmark next to the question “Do you want this seminar to be considered for the Berkeley Arts Seminar program?”

Shortly after your proposal is submitted, you will be contacted by ARC staff to confirm that your course meets the program criteria, or to discuss ways in which it could be revised to meet them. Even if your course does not meet the Berkeley Arts Seminars criteria, it can still offered under the general Freshman Seminars umbrella. Those courses that do meet the criteria will be provided with the additional support outlined above in INFORMATION FOR FACULTY.

In Spring 2011, funding is available for a maximum of six Berkeley Arts Seminars.


Please contact Michele Rabkin at micheler@berkeley.edu or (510) 642-4268.