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CAREERS AND EDUCATION According to the Princeton Review, that bicep-straining tome of college rankings responsible for many a young adult’s breakdown, most of the perennially popular majors (psychology, economics, communications, political science) are still alive and kicking. But plenty of alternative, even radical fields of study are blossoming that meld academic inquiry with tangible work towards change. From crafting tables for an Oakland school library to restoring native California plants, many students around the Bay are getting academic credit for innovative contributions towards a sustainable future. 

CHILD AND ADOLESCENT DEVELOPMENT WITH A CONCENTRATION IN YOUTH WORK AND OUT OF SCHOOL TIME

Ah, to be young… kind of. The adolescent years are rarely anyone’s favorites, which makes SFSU’s Youth Work and Out of School Time concentration in its child and adolescent development bachelor’s degree all the more important. Its students learn to directly address the needs of young people in trouble. Internship-heavy and based on first-hand experience, the program trains students to work with youth in after school programs, the justice system, social services, and beyond.

San Francisco State University, 1600 Holloway, SF. (415) 338-1111, www.sfsu.edu

NUTRITIONAL SCIENCE AND TOXICOLOGY

The Bay Area is not only a gourmand’s nirvana, it’s also at the forefront of food-based activism. Cal’s nutrition-oriented bachelor’s program offers three degrees (physiology and metabolism, dietetics, and molecular toxicology) in addition to courses in “pesticide chemistry and toxicology,” “nutrition in the community,” and “human food practices.” We hope the studies will enable the next generation of food scholars to make a tangibly tasty difference.

UC Berkeley, 103 Sproul Hall, Berk. (510) 624-3175, www.berkeley.edu

AMERICAN SIGN LANGUAGE

A degree in ASL is perfect for those gunning for a career as an interpreter for the hearing-impaired, and this associate’s degree or certificate from Berkeley City College is a great place to get started. Classes provide both practical and theory-based knowledge opportunities for intrepid future signers. Courses in the history and culture of deaf people in the United States augment the study of the language itself.

Berkeley City College, 2050 Center St., Berk. (510) 981-2800, www.berkeleycitycollege.edu

WOMEN’S STUDIES

One of the first such programs in the county, City College’s Women’s Studies department has been feminist-ing since 1971. It schools students in sexual violence prevention, HIV and STI outreach, and the complexities and politics of domestic relationships. Students can study for an associate’s degree, but the sexual health educator certificate programs also a notable thing to walk away with.

San Francisco City College, Ocean Campus, 50 Phelan, SF. (415) 239-3000, www.ccsf.edu

COMMUNITY ARTS

Calling all activist-artists, California College of the Arts’ community arts program is comprised of classes that study and build upon the relationships that creative types forge with their community. Students work aggressively for social change through community interaction. Past projects have revolved around designing furniture for an Oakland school and crafting nesting modules for roosting coastal birds.

California College of the Arts, 1111 Eighth St., SF. (415) 703-9523, www.cca.edu

POLITICAL, LEGAL, AND ECONOMIC ANALYSIS

Fittingly, considering that Mills College is home to less than 1,000 undergrads (all female), students in this popular bachelor’s program can rely on lots of individual attention. Students can choose to concentrate on a political, international, or economic focus, prepping themselves, for instance, for future work in public policy or crusading against the death penalty.

Mills College, 5000 MacArthur Blvd., Oakl. (510) 430-2255, www.mills.edu

ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDSHIP

Crikey. De Anza’s restoration-geared associate’s degree program trains future stewards in wildlife tracking, ecological management, and conservation work. Less alligator wrestling as much as bird-tagging (in Bay Area, anyway), this major arms eco-warriors with courses with names like “Blueprint for Sustainability” and “Community-Based Coalitions and Stakeholders,” and pushes students to spend quality time out in the field.

De Anza College, 21250 Stevens Creek Blvd., Cupertino. (408) 864-5400, www.deanza.edu