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Lecture Lust: A list of famous courses at Cal

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AUGUST 15, 2012

Public Policy C103
“Wealth and Poverty” taught by Professor Robert Reich, Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton, is always packed with students and auditors. Reich guides the class through the factors that contribute to the gap between the rich and poor and the policies aimed at shrinking it. Many who’ve taken this class agree that it’s a must-take for students of all majors.

Computer Science 10
Named “The Beauty and Joy of Computing,” the class was created in 2009 by the Computer Sciences department as an alternative for those who did not take AP Computer Science in high school. Geared toward both majors and nonmajors, the class involves minimal coding and focuses more on students’ understanding of the theory and logic behind Computer Science. Instructor Dan Garcia is an engaging speaker, converting many of his students to Computer Science majors by the end of the semester.

Journalism C103
Michael Pollan, author of “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” and “In Defense of Food,” leads discussions in his weekly class, “Edible Education: Telling Stories about Food and Agriculture,” where students debate the costs of America’s industrialized food system and discuss a healthier, more sustainable one. Each week, a guest speaker — such as farmers and policymakers — will be invited to provide a unique snippet of how food affects our society.

Peace and Conflicts Studies 10
The “Intro to Peace and Conflicts Studies” class is widely known for its didactic speaker, Darren Zook. A well-traveled researcher, Zook shares his discoveries and exposure to other countries in a simple language for everyone to understand and enjoy. The class starts off with political theories, then covers the various humanitarian and environmental issues within our society.

Molecular and Cell Biology C62/Psychology C19
“Drugs and the Brain” with David Presti is one of those classes you either love or hate. Some non-MCB majors come out with much appreciation for the complexity of the brain, while some stop going to class the second week of the semester. The class revolves around the effects of drugs on the various parts of the human brain, behavior and mental function. Presti is friendly and engages the class, bringing in a real human brain for students to see and touch, but he shows no mercy for lazy students, evidenced by his compilation of emails (without names, of course) sent by students who try to make up for their failing grades when their final results come out after each semester.

City and Regional Planning 115
“Global Poverty: Challenges and Hopes in the New Millennium” is taught by Ananya Roy discusses the urbanization of developing countries, putting poverty, development and AIDS in context with a global perspective. The class is not actually focused on city planning, but instead covers more of the history and the different areas of poverty in the developing world and connects them to our day-to-day lives.

Contact Alice Oh at  or on Twitter


AUGUST 15, 2012

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