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, and at 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, discussion-based 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.
Travel to Stanford University for a session with a leadership coach who leads workshops at Stanford Business School. 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.
Work alongside National Geographic grantee Diego Ponce de Leon Barido, founder of energy analytics company Xinampa, and National Geographic grantee Cameron Kruse, a creative technologist who seeks to connect artificial intelligence and virtual reality with the physical world. Use a real-world issue, such as the effect of deforestation on indigenous communities, to learn the basics of data science—how information is gathered, processed, and analyzed. Then dive deeper, employing artificial intelligence and machine learning to extract further insights from your data and shape solutions.
Visit the headquarters of companies like Apple and Google for a closer 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. 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.
Later in the week, learn how National Geographic Emerging Explorers Tan Le and Tierney Thys have partnered to understand the powerful effects of nature on the human brain. Learn from Tierney Thys how innovative technologies are used for cutting-edge oceanographic exploration.
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.