Berkeley Discovery Initiative

October 28, 2020

Dear Campus Community,

We are excited to announce a new implementation phase of the Berkeley Strategic Plan focused on discovery in the undergraduate experience. The Berkeley Strategic Plan envisions discovery as “the foundation of the Berkeley experience and the heart of our campus identity.” Building on the investment of many working groups and innovative efforts across campus, we are now poised to scale discovery across the university and weave discovery into the heart of the undergraduate experience.

The Berkeley Discovery Initiative is a campus-wide effort to transform undergraduate education, and support students on a journey of engaged creativity and self-actualization. The “Discovery Arc” will begin the moment students arrive on campus as they are introduced to a creative vision of higher education. The journey will continue as students are invited into immersive and inquiry-driven learning across the curriculum. The arc will culminate with a personalized discovery project, whether original research, artistic production, entrepreneurial initiative, or community-engaged service. Ultimately, Berkeley Discovery aims to instill a life-long ethos of engaging with grand challenges, fostering creativity, and journeying toward innovation.

The core goals of the Berkeley Discovery Initiative are to:

  • Elevate Discovery to become a universal signature of the Berkeley undergraduate experience
  • Catalyze curricular innovation at the department level to better weave discovery into the fabric of undergraduate education
  • Expand capacity in co-curricular programs by providing more opportunities in research, entrepreneurship, public service, and creative discovery
  • Develop a scaffolded arc for undergraduates from Berkeley Connect to Berkeley Discover that fosters a sense of belonging, builds a culture of student agency, and promotes authentic mentoring
  • Provide equity of student experience by ensuring that all students have access to Discovery, with active recruitment, and retention strategies for first generation and underrepresented students
  • Promote resilience and creative opportunities for Discovery during periods of remote learning

We are pleased to announce two new appointments to support the broad vision of Discovery and several specific phases of implementation. Dr. Bree Rosenblum and Dr. Sean Burns will provide leadership for the Discovery initiative and work collaboratively across VCUE and EVCP. Bree Rosenblum - a faculty member in the Department of Environmental Science Policy and Management - will build on her leadership as Faculty Director of Berkeley Connect by taking on the role of Faculty Director of Berkeley Discover. Sean Burns will build on his longstanding involvement in Discovery and his leadership as the Director of the Office of Undergraduate Research & Scholarships in a new role as Director for the Center for Undergraduate Discovery. These two appointments will provide a new level of coherence for Discovery planning across campus and continuity for the Discovery Arc.

We are also pleased to announce a new gift from the Chernin family that aims to infuse discovery into the fabric of undergraduate education and provide a dynamic arc from Berkeley Connect to Berkeley Discover. This gift will fund multi-year awards to departments that seek to innovate in the Discover space. The Request for Proposals for Berkeley Discover Departmental Innovation Awards can be found here. Town halls to discuss the RFP process will be held on November 6th at 12pm and November 16th at 4pm. Pre-proposals are due on December 11, 2020.

We are deeply grateful to the campus community that continues to embrace – and invest in – innovative and bold efforts to provide a transformative learning environment at UC Berkeley.


Carol Christ

A. Paul Alivisatos
Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost

Catherine P. Koshland
Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate Education

This message has been sent to all UC Berkeley deans, department chairs, senate faculty, CAOs, and department managers