New Certificate Focuses on Multidisciplinary Design & Innovation

A new certificate program launched this month provides undergraduates with a chance to learn how design and innovation are taught across the UC Berkeley campus.

The Berkeley Certificate in Design Innovation (BCDI) program is a first-ever collaboration between Berkeley-Haas, the College of Engineering, the College of Environmental Design, and the College of Letters and Science’s Arts & Humanities Division.

An open house for students to learn more about the program is planned for April 21 at noon at the Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation.

With its focus on problem-solving, dialogue, and “non-linear creativity,” the new certificate will connect design approaches to the disciplines within each school.

“The problems that need to be solved in the world are more complex than they used to be,” said Senior Lecturer Sara Beckman, the Berkeley-Haas academic advisor for the program and co-instructor of the Collaborative Innovation course. “Design offers a toolkit for framing and solving those bigger kinds of problems.”

Students who enroll in the BCDI program are required to take a total of four courses: one chosen from a set of foundation courses such as Needfinding in the Wild, taught by Michael Barry of Berkeley-Haas; two courses selected from a wide variety of designated design and innovation skills courses at the different schools—from theater design to solar power use in vehicles; and one course that requires applying design and innovation skills to a project, ideally in a cross-disciplinary setting. Beckman’s Collaborative Innovation course, which is jointly taught across Business, Art Practice, and Theater and Dance Performance Studies, is an example of an applied project course.

The program will encourage students from different schools to work with and learn from one another about how design is applied within their own fields, said Berkeley-Haas lecturer Clark Kellogg, whose Innovation and Design Thinking in Business course is part of the certificate curriculum.

Joe Wilson, BS 17, who has taken design courses, said he regrets that he’s graduating too soon to complete the new certificate. “The skills I’ve learned through design have really helped me to be a more big picture thinker,” he said.

Students may apply to the program on the BCDI website by submitting an Intent to Complete the Certificate form. A certificate from all four BCDI sponsors will be issued to students who complete the requirements. The certificate will not appear on students’ academic transcripts.