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UC Berkeley Center for the Science of Psychedelics launches online course

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Berkeley Center for the Science of Psychedelics launched a free course about the history, science and culture of psychedelics and how they interact with the mind and society.


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SEPTEMBER 02, 2023

UC Berkeley Center for the Science of Psychedelics, or BCSP, launched a free online course, “Psychedelics and the Mind,” three years after its inception according to a campus press release.

The course, which launched in August, is about the history, science and culture of psychedelics and how they interact with the mind and society, according to Imran Khan, BCSP’s executive director.  It will be taught by David Presti, neurobiology professor and one of BCSP’s founders. Due to the support of the Steve and Alexandra Cohen Foundation, the course is free for everyone. For verified certification of completion and longer access to course materials, learners can pay $85, Khan added.

“ ‘Psychedelics and the Mind’ is rooted in and based on David Presti’s long-running and highly-popular course on campus, ‘Drugs and the Brain,’ ” Khan said in an email.

The modules will include conversations with 12 experts on certain areas of psychedelics, according to Presti. In addition, Presti added that the course will cover topics such as mushrooms, DMT, ayahuasca and more.

Khan noted that most modules will delve into a particular psychedelic substance, including LSD and Ketamine. The modules will look at neuroscience, contemporary uses and the historical uses of the substances.

“My hope is that the center will continue to catalyze collaboration across the vast multi-disciplinary expertise on the Berkeley campus to creatively address the power and complexity inherent in the subject of psychedelics,” Presti said in an email.

The course is accessible through edX, and BCSP has partnered with UC Berkeley Digital Learning services to produce the course as well, according to Khan.

The current course does not count for university credit, but the center hopes that every learner will garner something valuable from it, Khan said.

“There’s a tremendous amount of discussion, as well as hype and stigma, about psychedelics right now,” Khan said in an email. “A lot of that is based on research and knowledge – but we worry that much could also be based on unreliable sources. Given how important psychedelics may be for research, medicine, and society, the BCSP felt it was vital to get expert, rigorous content out there into the world.”

Contact Ani Tutunjyan at 


SEPTEMBER 02, 2023