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Decals are 1-3 unit pass/no pass courses that are taught by UC Berkeley students. Students take Decals in order to meet the minimum unit workload requirement or for enjoyment. Unfortunately, FPF and graduate students can not take these classes for units.


Democratic Education at Cal traces it roots back to the Free Speech Movement in 1964. Since then, the movement for the program had been challenged and shut down numerous times, but it continued to thrive under the leadership of student-led organizations. In 1965, Philosophy Professor Joseph Tussman founded the “experimental program,” which allowed undergraduate students to collaborate with faculty in an ungraded environment. Between 1966 and 1968, the ASUC sponsored student group, Center for Participation Education (CPE), was founded and dedicated to creating courses and helping other students to do so. By 1968, CPE established a number of student-initiated courses. In 1980, Education professor John Hurst jumpstarted a Conservation and Resource Studies course called Education for Democratic Action, which is now known as the first DeCal course offered at UC Berkeley. In 2005, the Decal program was expanded to other UC’s and universities such as University of Pennsylvania, Oberlin, and Stanford.

The number of DeCal courses that are offered to students each semester continues to rise. UC Berkeley student Carmen Zheng states, “When the administration banned all on-campus political activities and neglected the students' academic freedoms, it was through Democratic Education at Cal that students could exercise true free speech by teaching their own courses. DeCal gave UC Berkeley a voice.” Presently, the DeCal Program at UC Berkeley offers over 200 student-facilitated courses ranging in topics from environmental and social issues to pop culture or specific career related courses. These DeCal courses are typically fairly small 1-3 unit courses that are taken pass/no pass so that students can actively explore their interests without having to deal with the pressures that they would face in large and academically rigorous courses. Each semester about 4,000 students choose to take these DeCal courses.There are many resources available for those who are thinking about facilitating a DeCal course in the future. Students also have the option to get academic credit for facilitating DeCal courses. Every semester students can attend one of the many start-up workshops to learn about the requirements for starting a DeCal course. These workshops also teach students about syllabus writing, campus policies and guidelines, advertising and managing DeCals, and the general process of establishing a DeCal course.

Examples of Decals

• The Wonderful Wizarding World of Harry Potter

• Cal Spirit and Traditions

• Disney and Our Daily Lives

• Ambience: An Introduction to Lightshow Gloving


Enrollment procedures vary. Some Decals may require students to send an e-mail, complete an application form or audition. Contact the facilitators through e-mail or check the course page for information. Use the CCN (Course Control Number) to enroll in the class through Telebears.


1. "History" « DeCal." DeCal. Democratic Education at Cal, n.d. Web. 03 Mar. 2014. <>.

2. "Profile." Democratic Education at Cal. CalLink, n.d. Web. 3 Mar. 2014. <>.

3. "Undergraduate Course Facilitator Training & Resources (UCFTR)." SLC. UC Berkeley, n.d. Web. 3 Mar. 2014. <>.

4. Zheng, Carmen K. "ASUC Project about DeCal Program." Message to the author. 14 Mar. 2014. E-mail.

External Links