Berkeley to offer course on the ‘politics of needing to go’

Last Summer’s heated debate over North Carolina’s controversial “bathroom bill” inspired the University of California, Berkeley to devote an entire course to the “politics of needing to go.”

A course description for the four-credit class confirms that students will spend an entire semester discussing how “a public restroom is a charged social site,” addressing questions such as: “Who has access to it? Who cleans it? How have public restrooms segregated people into strict categories of gender, race, class, and ability? What does it mean for a public space to be designed for private activities? [and] Who are we socially when our bodies need to go?”

Students taking the course will apparently “hone academic research skills” by writing a “substantial research paper” on the topic, earning students who successfully complete the class four academic credits, or units, as Berkeley refers to them, towards their degrees.

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In fact, Berkeley students may even elect to take the class as one of the two courses needed to fulfill the school’s general “reading and composition requirement,” according to Berkeley’s academic guide.

Notably, the course will actually be taught in Berkeley’s “Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies” department, which will offer a host of courses on social issues during the approaching calendar year, including one on the “artistic, scientific, and philosophical imaginings of a sustainable society.”

That course will address concerns about the “impending climate-related apocalypse,” asking students if they can “imagine a society that would be ecologically sustainable over the long term.”

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“Rather than focusing on ideas of large-scale collapse, this course will explore writings and media pertaining to ways of human life that don’t rely on petroleum for energy, and that cooperate with nature rather than utilize it as a resource,” a description for the theater course explains.

Students enrolled in the two-credit seminar will even have the opportunity to watch films such as Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth, as well as Mad Max: Fury Road and Avatar, all of which “thematize ecological crisis and potential solutions.”

Campus Reform reached out to the department for comment on what relation these courses have to theater, but did not receive a response in time for publication.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @AGockowski