This is now a hybrid course. Lectures are watched online, and the discussion sections meet in person. 

Instructor: Alix Schwartz

Discussion Sections: 



Purpose of the Course:

Letters and Science 1 is a course for entering students, particularly those who are excited to be here but uncertain of where to start their explorations. It provides an introduction to the intellectual landscape of the College of Letters and Science, revealing the underlying assumptions, goals and structure of a liberal arts education. Guest speakers, drawn largely from the faculty and recent graduates of L&S, will shed light on the nature and attractions of their disciplines. Topics will be both theoretical and practical: for example, you’ll learn why the L&S breadth requirement exists and also get a good sense of which disciplines would be most engaging for you to pursue while satisfying breadth. The ultimate goal of the course is to transform students into informed and active participants in their own educational experiences at Berkeley.

Purpose of Discussion Sections:

The discussion section will help you to explore the five disciplinary and interdisciplinary areas in Letters & Science and to understand the rewards and challenges of pursuing a liberal arts education. The discussion section is also an opportunity to build a sense of intellectual community. We will spend our time doing exercises to keep you engaged with the material, discussing the readings and the lectures, and sharing the results of the homework exercises. The discussion section will provide you with a venue to think about what your education means to you and how to make the most of your years at Cal.

Course Website:
The course website will be updated on a weekly basis and you will be expected to visit the site regularly for updates or announcements.

Course Reader:

The Course Reader can be purchased at Copy Central, 2560 Bancroft Way (above Telegraph Avenue), 848-9600. We have also posted an electronic version of the reader on the L&S 1 bspace site. If you choose to use the electronic reader you will be required to print up each article and bring it to class the day it is scheduled to be discussed.

Office Hours:

Each discussion section leader will hold a weekly office hour; you are invited to meet with him or her during that time to discuss any questions or concerns you may have. In addition, each student will have at least one mandatory ten-to-fifteen-minute meeting with his or her discussion section leader. You will be asked to sign up for a specific appointment time during the discussion section.

Course Requirements:

* Attendance:

Discussion Sections:This course is designed so that learning occurs through participation in class and in the activities done in class. You are expected to attend discussion sections regularly. If you miss either the first or second discussion section meeting you may be automatically dropped from the class to make room for someone on the waitlist. (As always, it is your responsibility to check your schedule to make sure you know what you are enrolled in before the add and drop deadlines occur.) Attendance will normally be taken at each discussion section. If you miss more than three discussion section meetings you will not pass the course. If you cannot attend your section for any reason you must contact your discussion section leader in advance and inform him or her of your absence. In addition we request that you arrive on time. Repeated late arrivals will affect your grade and are disrespectful to your classmates. Your attendance and participation in the discussion section will be assessed by your discussion section leader.

Lecture: You are also required to attend lecture regularly: if you miss more than three lectures you will not pass the class. Your attendance in lecture will be measured by your votes in the Question of the Week contest, and your lecture participation will be based on your participation in the question-making process of your team.

*Homework assignments:

Written Assignments: There will be three short assignments (usually 2-3-pages in length). Each of these assignments will prompt you to explore some facet of the campus or the surrounding community. One way to get the most out of your education is to become familiar with the campus and the Bay Area, by engaging in activities that take you beyond the residence halls and the classrooms. Unless otherwise noted, all assignments should be typed and double-spaced, using 12- point font, and 1- inch margins. 

In addition, there will be one longer essay assignment, due at the end of the semester.

You will earn participation points for completing a few shorter assignments (including short in-class writings). Other ways to earn participation points include speaking up in class, coming to class with your reading assignment marked up, and engaging actively in classroom exercises.

All homework assignments will be due at the beginning of the discussion section.  Late assignments will be docked two points for each day they are late. Assignments that come in at the end of the discussion section or later on the day that they are due will be considered a day late. If you have extenuating circumstances, please be sure to contact your section leader to discuss them before the paper’s due date. 


The course is graded on a Pass/Fail basis only. In order to pass the course you will be expected to attend the lectures and discussion sections regularly, keep up on the reading, complete written assignments and exercises, and participate actively.

Participation: 15 points possible 

Essays:  80 points possible, with this breakdown:

Arts Event (up to 20 points)
On the Same Page event (up to 15 points)
Faculty Office Hour (up to 20 points)
Self-reflection essay (up to 25 points possible)

Library tour and photo: 5 points possible

Students must earn at least 70 points to pass the course. As indicated above, students will automatically receive a No Pass, regardless of points earned, if they miss more than three lectures or more than three section meetings.

Statement on Academic Integrity:

Any work submitted by you and that bears your name is presumed to be your own original work that has not previously been submitted for credit in another course unless you obtain prior written approval to do so from your instructor.

In your assignments you may where relevant use words or ideas written by other individuals in publications, web sites, or other sources, but only with proper attribution. "Proper attribution" means that you have fully identified the original source and extent of your use of the words or ideas of others that you reproduce in your work for this course, usually in the form of a footnote or parenthesis.

If you are not clear about the expectations for completing an assignment, be sure to seek clarification from your instructor or discussion section leader beforehand.

Finally, you should keep in mind that as a member of the campus community, you are expected to demonstrate integrity in all of your academic endeavors and will be evaluated on your own merits. So be proud of your academic accomplishments and help to protect and promote academic integrity at Berkeley. The consequences of cheating and academic dishonesty – including a formal discipline file, possible loss of future internship, scholarship, or employment opportunities, and denial of admission to graduate school – are simply not worth it.


If you need accommodations for any physical, psychological, or learning disability, please speak to your discussion section leader after section or in office hours.