Silicon Valley is a thriving ecosystem of visionaries, where companies, start-ups, and creatives are rapidly evolving the technological landscape to tackle the world’s greatest challenges. From our base at the University of California, Berkeley, go behind the scenes at the laboratories, workshops, and studios of some of National Geographic’s most creative thinkers. Visit influential companies like Google and Apple, and learn how unbridled innovation can harness tools and technology to generate change and improve society on a global scale.
Join a diverse group of students, instructors, and National Geographic Experts at the University of California, Berkeley—our base for exploring the Silicon Valley and the greater San Francisco Bay Area. Settle into our dormitory and get to know your group as you explore Berkeley’s iconic campus.
The workshop will be led by instructors who have experience in the themes of our program: Technology for Social Change, Innovations in Design, and Unleashing Creativity. Each day begins with a hands-on workshop or field project, followed by a lively seminar to further examine and apply what we’ve learned. Our instructors will guide us through each activity and facilitate workshops and discussions with National Geographic Experts. Innovation labs at local universities, start-ups, and tech companies will serve as our classroom as we explore how technology is propelling us into the future.
Kick off the week working alongside National Geographic Explorer Diego Ponce de Leon Barido, founder of the energy analytics company Xinampa, and National Geographic Fellow Bronwyn Agrios, who uses location data technology to change the way people interact with the natural world. Then meet with innovators from Emotiv, a bioinformatics company founded by National Geographic Emerging Explorer Tan Le that designed a revolutionary EEG headset to monitor the brain’s cognitive and emotional states. Hear how Tan and fellow National Geographic Emerging Explorer Tierney Thys have partnered to understand the powerful effects of nature on the human brain, and test out the headset for a chance to watch your brain respond to different stimuli. Then meet with Tierney, a marine biologist, to hear how cutting-edge technologies are being used for oceanographic exploration.
Travel to Stanford University for a session with a Stanford Business School leadership and creativity coach. Train your brain to be more innovative, and observe how researchers at the university are using creativity to solve global problems. Visit Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab, where scientists like National Geographic Explorer Jeremy Bailenson are studying the use of immersive virtual reality (VR) environments, and learn how VR experiences could be used to improve everyday life by promoting conservation, empathy, communication, or enhanced learning.
Visit the headquarters of companies like Apple and Google for a behind-the-scenes look at these digital technology powerhouses. Stop by the Apple Park Visitor Center and learn how researchers are pushing the boundaries of design while making it easier for users to harness the power of technology. Then tour the Google campus for an insider’s view of life as a “Googler,” and learn the latest on the company’s ambitious projects, like self-driving cars. Attend a tech talk by a team of Google Education engineers who are developing software that allows students to virtually explore the globe alongside National Geographic explorers via the Google Earth Voyager platform. Later, meet National Geographic Emerging Explorer Grace Young, a research engineer at X, Google’s moonshot company, which works to create radical technological solutions to global problems.
Collaborate with your group leaders to generate ideas for innovation, and develop your own solutions to an issue that motivates you. Throughout the program, take breaks from seminars to explore the San Francisco Bay Area. Walk along the San Francisco Pier, wander through the latest exhibits at the Exploratorium, hike in the Marin Headlands for a unique view of the Golden Gate Bridge, or cruise the bay at sunset as you celebrate your experience with your new friends.