Undergraduate TrainingThe interdisciplinary major in Cognitive Science allows Berkeley undergraduates to gain broad exposure to the various fields of cognitive science. Although it is officially administered within the division of Undergraduate Interdisciplinary Studies (UGIS) within the College of Letters and Sciences, the faculty primarily responsible for teaching its courses and overseeing the program are the members of ICBS.
The undergraduate major in Cognitive Science began in the academic year 1991-92 with just three majors, two of whom graduated that first year. In the succeeding 7 years, it has grown to more than 150 majors. There have also been increases in the number of Cognitive Science courses listed in the General Catalog (from 1 to 13) and in the number of students enrolled in those undergraduate course offerings. Cogsci 1 (Introduction to Cognitive Science), for example, has grown from 45 to 138 students, Cogsci 100 (Fundamental Issues in Cognitive Science) from 75 to 161 students, and Cogsci 101 (The Mind and Language) from 73 to 158 students. Moreover, we have been routinely turning away significant numbers of students in all three of these courses.
The presence of ICBS and the major in Cognitive Science have significantly enriched the interdisciplinary offerings available to Berkeley undergraduates over the past 5-7 years. All of the following courses are strongly interdisciplinary programs of study that have been developed by ICBS faculty and are offered on a regular basis:
Cogsci 1: Introduction to Cognitive Science (Ranney Education)
In addition to these regularly staffed courses, there are a large number of interdisciplinary seminars offered by our faculty on special topics of interest to cognitive science students.
Undergraduate research in Cognitive Science is supported mainly through the two listings for independent research (Cogsci H195 and 199). A total of 14 students to date have taken advantage of participating in research projects with ICS faculty, usually in pursuit of honors in the Cogsci major.
1998-99 Revision of the Cognitive Science Major
During the past year the faculty of ICS undertook a complete review and revision of the undergraduate major in Cognitive Science. The new major retains the strengths of the original program while addressing its most important weaknesses. For example, each major was required to take two elective courses in the old major,with which they were supposed to create a focus in an area of his or her choice. In practice, however, too many students ended up merely taking two unrelated courses from the long list of electives that we allow. The new major now requires all students to select an area of concentration (cognitive neuroscience, cognitive psychology, computational modelling, linguistics, or philosophy) and to take their two additional courses from a structured list of alternatives within that area. This forces students to learn at least one of the disciplines within cognitive science in some depth rather than becoming "jack of all trades, master of none." Another major change was strengthening the representation of cognitive neuroscience in the major to reflect a corresponding increase in the importance of that field. A lower division prerequisite was added (MCB 61: Mind, Brain and Behavior) and the list of courses in this field was greatly expanded. A further change was to strengthen the students' formal background for computational components of the major by requiring them to take a course on probability and statistics (Statistics 2, 20 25, or Math 55) as a prerequisite for the major.
The major has also spawned an active and enthusiastic student organization, the Cognitive Science Student Association (CSSA). CSSA has sponsored several campus-wide lectures by renown cognitive scientists which have been very well attended. They also have sponsored numerous topical meetings on important issues in cognitive science. They participated in a "shadow-day" program for high school students from Berkeley and Oakland in which about 20 CSSA students were "shadowed" for a day to give the highschool students a feel for what it is like to be a student at Berkeley.
It is also worth mentioning that the ICS faculty have published three important new textbooks that are (or soon will be) widely used in upperdivision undergraduate and/or beginning graduate courses relevant to Cognitive Science: