So, you want to create a DeCal course and offer it through the Polisci Department? Great! Getting a DeCal approved through Polisci requires several steps which must be completed accurately and on time.
Read the info below so that you stand the best chance of having your course approved.
- Student Qualifications
- Faculty Qualifications
- DeCal Course Requirements
- Polisci Course Approval Procedure
- Academic Credit for Facilitating a DeCal course
- Additional Resources
- Proposal submission deadline to Polisci Department: 4:00pm on Friday, October 13th, 2023.
- Interview with Professor Levy: Friday, November 3rd, 2023.
Note: All deadlines are final.
- DeCal courses must be co-taught by two (2) students, at least one of whom must be a declared Political Science major.
- Note, the department has a limit of 3 student facilitators (maximum) per decal course
- Student facilitators must be registered students at the time the course is taught.
- Student facilitators may teach only one Political Science DeCal course per semester.
- Courses must be taught by the student(s) who received approval for the course. If you are unable to teach the course, it will be cancelled.
- As of Spring 2018, COCI will now require that first-time student-facilitators undergo training. The Student Learning Center’s Undergraduate Course Facilitator Training and Resources unit (UCFTR) offers a number of "Start-Up" workshops and one-on-one trainings each semester to support students. (http://slc.berkeley.edu/undergraduate-course-facilitator-training-resources-ucftr)
You should be sure that your sponsor is eligible to sponsor your course. Not all faculty, especially new members, will be aware of the rules. Should your sponsor be ineligible, your course will be cancelled unless you can find a substitute in time.
- The sponsoring faculty member must be a permanent faculty member who is currently teaching a Political Science course the same semester as yours. Please visit the faculty list.
- Faculty sponsors may supervise only ONE P/NP undergraduate course per semester, including DeCal courses.
- If you are unsure of your sponsor's employment status, you can check with the Undergraduate Advisers.
- Beginning in Spring 2018, the instructor of record will need to write a sponsor letter that addresses specific questions. Similar to a letter of recommendation, this document will serve to illustrate the role that instructor will have with the course. The new Faculty Sponsor Letter of Support Instructions document itemizes the questions and how they should be prepared. (https://academic-senate.berkeley.edu/sites/default/files/faculty_sponsor_letter.2017.pdf)
- Courses must have an academic purpose; activity-based courses are not accepted. Courses that involve only advocacy work are not eligible for Decal credit. For example, it would not be appropriate to offer a course on how to set up an NGO or how to influence local politics (however worthy these objectives may be). By contrast, it would be appropriate to offer a course on the role of NGOs in our political system or on state and/or local politics. The course must be taught from a political science perspective, and be of significant relevance to the major.
- Courses must not advocate for a specific political or ideological position. Proselytizing is not permitted. Courses must be academic in tone and give fair representation to all perspectives. They may not advocate for a political position, no matter how apparently innocuous or uncontroversial. For example, it would not be appropriate to offer a course on why we need to save the environment or stand up for women's rights, even if most members of the Berkeley community would be very sympathetic to these positions. By contrast, it would be appropriate to teach a course on issues in environmental policy or political debates surrounding the changing place of women in society. DeCal courses must be academic in nature; activity-based courses are not accepted. The course must be taught from a political science perspective, and be of significant relevance to the major.
- Courses must begin the first week of the semester and must meet continuously throughout the semester for at least one hour per week.
- Unit Requirements (Click here for worksheet)
- The standard of the University of California for determining the unit value of a course is that one unit equals three hours of work per week, or about 45 total hours over a 15-week semester.
- This work includes time spent in class as well as time spent doing work outside of class. (Note that the 15th week of instruction is RRR week, and regular classroom meetings are not scheduled.)
- Two units is the maximum for all DeCal courses
- All enrolled students must be required to do the same work and receive the same number of units.
- All DeCal courses are graded P/NP.
There are several steps to approval:
- Creating a DeCal Proposal: syllabus and statement
- The Polisci Departmental Review
- Obtaining Faculty Sponsorship
A. A complete syllabus. The syllabus must include:
- A description of the course (its purpose, core content, and methods)
- A description of each week's topics.
- A statement of the frequency and length of class meetings.
- A syllabus with specific readings for each week of class.
- A statement of the grading policy, including the weighting of each assignment.
- A statement on policies regarding absences. Barring extreme family or medical emergencies, no more than two absences should be accepted.
- Information on how to create a fully developed syllabus can be found at http://teaching.berkeley.edu/sites/default/files/syllabus_components.pdf
B. Course Proposal Form
The form is available at https://academic-senate.berkeley.edu/sites/default/files/course_proposal_form_packet_2017.pdf
C. A separate statement. This statement must describe each of the following:
- The nature of the subject matter or course content.
- The key learning outcomes: what will students know or be able to do as a result of this course?
- The methods of instruction (e.g., lecture, discussion, collaborative learning, etc.).
- The methods of evaluation of student performance.
- How the Instructor of Record (the faculty sponsor)will supervise the student course facilitator(s). Supervision can take the form of in-class observations, review of course materials, and/or meetings with student course facilitator(s), among other options.
D. Unit Value/Workload worksheet
- The worksheet is intended to aid student facilitators and their respective instructor of record in developing the course and determining its workload and unit value (Click here for worksheet)
E. Faculty Sponsor Letter of Support
Similar to a letter of recommendation, this document will serve to illustrate the role that instructor will have with the course. Faculty Sponsor Letter of Support Instructions are available at https://academic-senate.berkeley.edu/sites/default/files/faculty_sponsor_letter.2017.pdf
Submit all FIVE documents: the course syllabus, Course Proposal Form, statement, the unit value/workload worksheet, and the Faculty Sponsor Letter of Support to Bryana McBride (email@example.com) via email by the deadline.
After submitting your proposal you will meet with the Undergraduate Faculty Advisor, Prof. Jonah Levy, to discuss the course. You will be scheduled for this meeting when you turn in the DeCal Course Proposal to Bryana McBride. The interview will take approximately 30 minutes. These interviews are scheduled for Friday, November 3rd, 2023.
All DeCal proposals must be approved by Professor Levy, and by the Department Chair.
Once approved, you will receive a Course Scheduling Form from Bryana McBride.
If you have not yet approached a member of the Polisci faculty for sponsorship, you should do so now. Before doing this, read the rules governing DeCal faculty sponsors to be sure your sponsor is eligible. Have your sponsor sign the Special Studies Course Proposal Form (external link)(pdf).
All subsequent steps on the Special Studies Course Proposal Form, including obtaining the Chair's signature, will be handled by Bryana McBride. She will also obtain a room for your course.
You will later receive a copy of the "completed" Special Studies Course Proposal Form, signed by the Chair.
Note, please refer to the Decal website regarding how to get your Decal posted on their site.
Student Facilitators can receive academic credit through the Political Science Dept. by enrolling in PS 99 or 199. See below for details.
Only TWO student facilitators (per decal course) can receive academic credit through the Political Science department.
Enrolling in a PolSci 99 or 199:
- PS 99: For students with 59 or fewer units by the beginning of the semester in which the course is held. PS 99 requires a cumulative gpa of 3.3 and the prior completion of at least two Political Sciences courses.
- PS 199: For students with 60 or more units. PS 199 requires a minimum 2.0 gpa overall and in the major.
- PS 99 and 199 forms are available in the Political Science Undergraduate Advising Office. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The deadline for submission of PS 99 or 199 forms is the end of the 2nd week of the semester. Completed forms, signed by the faculty sponsor, must be emailed to the Undergraduate Advising Office (to email@example.com).
- You will receive a Course Control Number for PS 99 or 199 when you turn in the signed form. Failure to submit the form by the end of the 2nd week will result in the forfeiture of credit.
- Student Learning Center Undergraduate Course Facilitator Training and Resources
http://slc.berkeley.edu/ucftr (external link)
- New DeCal Start up Clinics
http://slc.berkeley.edu/ucftr/decalstartup.htm (external link)
- Special Studies 98 and 198
See this site for complete information on DeCals including Student, Faculty, and Chair checklists.
http://education.berkeley.edu/specialstudies/ (external link)
- Accommodating the Academic Needs of Students with Disabilities
http://dsp.berkeley.edu/berkacompolicy.html (external link)
http://dsp.berkeley.edu/dspfaq.html (external link)
- Undergraduate Course Facilitator Training & Resources (UCFTR)
http://teaching.berkeley.edu/bgd/syllabus.html (external link)
- DeCal Office
- Unit Value/Workload Worksheet