“What we’ve found at Berkeley about how to get people to work together is that you define some kind of very big problem that needs to be solved, and attack it from a range of viewpoints.”

Richard Newton

What is an IdeaLab?

IdeaLabs are multidisciplinary collaborations between UC Berkeley graduate and undergraduate students working on developing a common application, product, or service.  Big Ideas is interested in supporting like-minded groups in a wide range of areas, including groups that might bring together students in science, engineering, social sciences, humanities, and more.

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Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. To ensure your application is reviewed in a timely fashion, email us at ude.y1503529955elekr1503529955eb@sb1503529955alaed1503529955i1503529955 once you have submitted your application online.

Key Characteristics of IdeaLabs:

Past and current IdeaLabs have focused on a wide range of topics, including: Safe Water, Rural Energy, Climate Change, BioFuels, Point-of-Care Diagnostics, among many others.

While broad in scope and diverse in character, these working groups have similar identifying attributes, as follows:

    • Focused on a broad issue area of global significance to advance human well-being, environmental sustainability, and social justice
    • Advances creative participation and active collaboration within the IdeaLab theme
    • Interdisciplinary participation (minimum 5 team members, from at least 3 different departments/majors)
    • Open to students at all levels (graduate / undergraduate)

How the Blum Center supports IdeaLabs:

    • Seed funding may be available, via an annual application process, for group-related costs such as outreach, speaker fees, meetings and events, and prototyping
    • Meeting space in Blum Hall (subject to availability) for IdeaLab meetings, and Blum Hall room discounts for special events/lectures hosted by IdeaLabs
    • Inclusion in events, mixers, and seminars at the Blum Center
    • Mentorship on IdeaLab processes, program development, and campus-community collaboration
    • Promoting group activities across campus and with Blum Center networks at UC Berkeley, the Bay Area, and beyond

Current IdeaLabs

Anti-Human Trafficking IdeaLab

The Global Slavery Index estimated that there are nearly 36 million people trapped in slavery worldwide. The Anti-Trafficking IdeaLab brings together academic researchers, students, and community partners to educate the campus community about the complexities of slavery and human trafficking, and to engage in interdisciplinary and cross sector scholar-activism. We are committed to looking at the intersecting social issues that inhibit human freedom and dignity such as poverty and gender inequality. We encourage discussion between people with different conceptions and experiences of human trafficking, we aim to present best practices for engaging in anti-trafficking work, and to connect with local organizations leading the anti-trafficking movement. Together, we are committed to eliminating all forms of human trafficking in the Bay Area, United States, and the world – Join us! No experience necessary, just an interest and willingness to learn!

Meeting Times for Fall 2017: TBA
Contact: Kathy Brasil, co-Director (kbrasil[at]berkeley[dot]edu)
Connect: The Berkeley Anti-Trafficking Coalition on Facebook

Berkeley Water Group IdeaLab

Are you passionate about water issues? The Berkeley Water Group, now in its third year as an IdeaLab, focuses on issues, projects, and ideas related to clean water, sanitation, hygiene, and international development. The group links undergraduates with graduate student mentors and faculty; supports student work for the Big Ideas competition and other social ventures; collaborates with faculty to start a Water Science, Sustainability, and Policy minor; launched a weekly digital newsletter on water news and employment opportunities; forges new relationships between campus and community entities; and is working to produce an academic journal with student papers on water-related topics. Reach out for more information, including regular meeting times.

Meeting Times for Fall 2017: TBA
Contact:  Liz DeBramo, co-Director[at]berkeley[dot]edu
Connect: Berkeley Water Group on Facebook

Point of Care Diagnostics (PoCDx) IdeaLab

The Point of Care Diagnostics (PoCDx) IdeaLab aims to foster an interdisciplinary community that is passionate about inventing novel solutions to the challenges of remote diagnostics. We understand this innovation must come from a concerted effort across fields, and our members represent a wide spectrum from engineering, biology, chemistry, public health, medicine, and public policy. We provide a forum for members to share their ideas and technologies with the group, and to learn more about the state of the art in the field from our world-class guest speakers. Visit the PoCDx IdeaLab website to learn about upcoming seminars and other opportunities to get involved.

Meeting Times for Fall 2017: TBA
Contact: Marc Chooljian, Director (mschooljian[at]berkeley[dot]edu)