The graphics below show how UC Berkeley’s food and agriculture coursework has changed over time, and how diversity, equity, and inclusion have factored into Berkeley’s pedagogical approach to food and agriculture studies. We analyzed data on UC Berkeley courses from 1900-2009 by entering 150 food and agriculture-related keywords into the University of California ClioMetric History Project (UCCHP) Historical Course Database.* This resulted in over 175,000 lines of data, which we individually read and narrowed to just over 13,600 courses, noting equity and inclusion highlights. Note that Zach Bleemer, project director of UCCHP, kindly shared data with the Berkeley Food Institute prior to cleaning data; as you view the courses here, you will see many irregularities. Furthermore, the structure of the Berkeley academic year and format of the course catalogue has changed many times over the decades—alternating between semester and trimester systems, and between listing single or two years together—which surely led to skews in our course counts. UCCHP’s dataset does not include courses between 1868 (the year the university was founded) and 1899, and the years 1959-60 are also missing. Due to the messy nature of the dataset, we acknowledge that our analysis inevitably includes mistakes, but we are confident that it offers a strong overview of the history of food and agriculture education at UC Berkeley. * The UCCHP has its origin in scanned copies of UC Berkeley’s historical registers made available through the HathiTrust Digital Library (digitized by the California Digital Library) and Doe Library (which digitized their own volumes). UCCHP processed each volume using multiple OCR software packages–including ABBYY FineReader 12, OmniPage 18, Tesseract 4.0, and Adobe Acrobat 2016–into flat text files, and then organized the data into a massive structured course database using a proprietary algorithm. The resulting database includes 525,000 records of Berkeley courses, including duplicates where courses are identified in the OCR-created text files. UCCHP’s Historical Course Database is the largest and most comprehensive publicly-available source of historical course information in the United States, made available in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the founding of the University of California in 1868. The UC ClioMetric History Project is a project of UC Berkeley’s Center for Studies in Higher Education, directed by Zach Bleemer (with P.I. John Douglass).
The timeline below offers highlights of UC Berkeley’s food and agriculture education, with a focus on issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Food and agriculture have been core to UC Berkeley’s pedagogy since its founding in 1868. Under the federal Morrill Act, which established a national system of research stations to foster teaching and research related to agriculture, UC Berkeley became the first state-run Agricultural Experiment Station and the first land-grant college in the western US. As you scroll through the timeline, you will see that Berkeley did not always teach the progressive viewpoints it is known for today. With a history of gender-segregated hygiene courses, eugenics, and exploitation of overseas natural resources, Berkeley’s education has come along way in recent decades toward addressing issues of food systems inequities.
Note that coursework details between 1868-1899 were not available; the timeline simply includes key dates in UC Berkeley’s history as an agriculture school for this period. For 2010-2018 data originated from the Berkeley Food Institute’s own analysis of current food and agriculture-related courses.