Tour Lecturers


Ronelle Alexander is Professor Emerita of Slavic Languages and Literatures at UC Berkeley, and Professor of the Graduate School there. She is the author of numerous books, and is the recipient of a medal from the Bulgarian government and a honorary doctorate from Sofia University. As a linguist, her research interests include dialectology (the relations between different geographical varieties of speech), and sociolinguistics (especially the relation between language and identity as connected with the breakup of Yugoslavia); both have involved extensive travel and fieldwork in the Balkans. As a folklorist, her field extends also to Russia, which she has visited numerous times. She is the co-founder of the Society of Living Traditions, a California-based non-profit organization.

Grand Danube Passage: Prague to Sofia | Sep. 20-Oct. 4, 2019


Gibor Basri received his B.S. in Physics from Stanford University (1973) and a Ph.D. in Astrophysics from the University of Colorado, Boulder (1979). An award of a Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellowship then brought him to the University of California, Berkeley. He joined the faculty of the Berkeley Astronomy Department in 1982, and became a full professor in 1994. A thread that runs through all his areas of research is magnetic activity on the Sun and other stars. He was a discoverer of and early pioneer in the study of brown dwarfs, has studied star formation, and been active in the debate on “what is a planet?”. Professor Basri has extensively used telescopes at the Lick and Keck Observatories, along with space telescopes. He was a Co-Investigator on NASA’s Kepler mission, which has revolutionized our knowledge about exoplanets. In 2007 he also became the founding Vice Chancellor for Equity and Inclusion at UC Berkeley, and in 2015 he received the Berkeley Citation (campus’ highest honor) upon retiring. In 2016 he received the Carl Sagan Award for Popularizing Science. He is still very active with students and research, currently utilizing Kepler photometry to understand starspots.

Total Solar Eclipse: Chile | Jun. 25-Jul. 6, 2019


Stanley Brandes is Professor of Anthropology at UC Berkeley, where he received his doctorate degree. He has devoted his career to researching and teaching about the societies and cultures of Mediterranean Europe, Latin America, and the United States. He is the author of six books and nearly two hundred articles and book chapters concerning a wide variety of topics, most recently ritual and religion, eating and drinking patterns, photographic imagery, and animal-human relations. On two occasions, he served as Director of Study Centers for the UC Education Abroad Program. He has lectured widely at academic institutions all over the world, and accompanied tour groups organized by UC Berkeley Extension.

Spain: Andalucia in a Parador | May 2-10, 2019


John Chere, Colonel, U.S. Army (Retired 2014) is also an alumna of UC Berkeley (1982) in Political Science and Columbia University (MA, 1991) in International Affairs. John served over 30 years of active service in uniform and is currently an instructor at the Defense Institute for Security Cooperation Studies. In the Army John spent 20 years in the Infantry in assignments in the U.S., Europe, and the Middle East and served his last ten years as a Foreign Area Officer in the Middle East and North Africa. More specifically, John was posted in U.S. Embassies as the Defense Attache in Morocco, 2002-2005, Defense Attache in Algiers, 2006-2007, Army Attache in Tel Aviv, 2007-2010, Senior Defense Official, Tunis, 2010-2013 and returned to Israel 2013-2014 before he retired with his family in Santa Rosa, California. Before returning to Government service, John led a Cal Discoveries Tour to Southern Spain in 2015 and maintains an active interest in wines through self education and employment as a wine retail associate at Benziger Winery in Glen Ellen.

Provincial French Countryside | Sep. 28-Oct. 12, 2018

Egypt and the Nile Valley by Dahabiya | Feb. 15-28, 2019


Eric Crystal received he Ph.D. in anthropology from Berkeley in 1971. He has taught anthropology at The Claremont Colleges, U.C. Davis and the San Francisco Art Institute. He served as Vice Chair of the U.C. Center for Southeast Asia Studies until his retirement. A specialist in Southeast Asian cultures, Dr. Crystal has worked intensively in Indonesia and on short term projects in Vietnam. He first went to Vietnam in 1966 as a USAID State Department intern. Beginning in 1988 he actively participated in U.C. Berkeley outreach to Hanoi University. Dr. Crystal led the first U.C. Education Abroad Program in Vietnam in 1999. He has worked on environmental and museum projects with the Vietnamese Ministry of Forestry and with the national Museum of Ethnology. In recent years Eric Crystal has lectured for Cal Discoveries in both Cambodia and Vietnam. An avid photographer, his work has been mounted at The Smithsonian, the Hearst and the Fowler Musuem at UCLA.

Journey Through Vietnam | Nov. 6-22, 2019


As the former owner of Golden Gate Tours, Jack wrote more than a hundred tours for Cal Alumni and personally led almost seventy of them, taking alumni to every state in the U.S. and many lands overseas, including Iceland and Greenland and the Viking site in Newfoundland. This will be his fifth visit to Iceland, which remains one of his favorite destinations. Since retirement, Jack has spent much of his time writing, including four novels as well as topics from his extensive travel journals.

Exploring Iceland | Aug. 14-24, 2018


Tim Duane taught environmental planning and policy at UC Berkeley from 1991-2009, when he became Professor of Environmental Studies at UC Santa Cruz from 2009-2018. He has also taught at Seattle University, University of San Diego, and Vermont Law Schools. Professor Duane’s research and policy work focuses on climate change, renewable energy, resource management and land use planning. He is the author of Shaping the Sierra: Nature, Culture, and Conflict in the Changing West, which has been the basis for comparative work in both Switzerland and Austria. He also has conducted research on land use and environmental planning and policy in French Polynesia. Professor Duane’s work on natural resources and ecosystem management includes service on the California Spotted Owl Federal Advisory Committee for the Chief of the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. Professor Duane has also advised the California Secretary for Natural Resources, the President of the California Public Utilities Commission, the California Energy Commission, the National Park Service, and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management on policy. Professor Duane has led many trips for Cal Discoveries—he previously led trips to the Peruvian Amazon, the Polar Bears of Hudson’s Bay, Patagonia, Antarctica, Switzerland, French Polynesia, and Machu Picchu and the Galapagos Islands.

Moroccan Discovery II | Dec. 4-17, 2018

Cuba: A People-to-People Experience by Land and by Sea | Feb. 3 - 12, 2019

Northern Italy | Apr. 17-May 1, 2019


Dr. Alex Filippenko is addicted to observing total solar eclipses, having seen 16 of them—including one in March 2015, aboard an airplane high above the North Atlantic Ocean, as part of a Cal Discoveries Travel trip. He is well known for his ability to make complex ideas accessible and entertaining. Winner of the most prestigious teaching awards at UC Berkeley and voted the "Best Professor " on campus a record 9 times, he was named the National Professor of the Year in 2006. He has produced 5 astronomy video series with The Great Courses, coauthored an award-winning astronomy textbook, and appears in more than 100 TV documentaries.
An elected member of both the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Alex is one of the world's most highly cited astronomers. His primary areas of research, in which he is a leading authority, are exploding stars, black holes, gamma-ray bursts, galaxies, and the expansion of the Universe. He is the recipient of numerous prizes for his scientific research, and was the only person to have been a member of both teams that revealed the accelerating expansion of the Universe, propelled by mysterious "dark energy. " This discovery was honored with the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics to the teams’ leaders and the 2015 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics to all team members.

Sailing the Windward Islands | Mar. 19-26, 2019


Dianne Fukami is an award-winning documentary and television producer and a graduate of U.C. Berkeley’s School of Journalism. Much of her documentary work has centered on Japan and the Japanese American experience and has been broadcast on PBS stations. As a third-generation Japanese American and with nearly 20 trips to Japan under her belt, she has successfully and delicately navigated her way among the two cultures. She has been invited by the Foreign Ministry of Japan to participate in three delegations which included meetings with the Prime Minister, members of Parliament, and corporate business executives. Her recent documentary about the impact of Japan’s 2011 devastating earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster was screened by the U.S. Embassy and Sophia University in Tokyo, Tohoku Gakuin University, and throughout the Tohoku region. As a TEDx speaker, she’s been able to share her experiences in Japan. She is on the faculty at Academy of Art University teaching TV and multimedia production.

Japan Cruise: An Intimate Look | Apr. 13-27, 2019


Hans Giesecke began his service as Executive Director of International House at UC Berkeley in July 2012. His driving focus has been making I-House students’ residential experience(s) a top highlight of their enrollment experience at Berkeley. Prior to his arrival at Cal, Hans served as President of Anatolia College in Thessaloniki, Greece where he led an "American-style " international campus with more than 2,300 pupils and students from Kindergarten through MBA. Before serving in Greece, he was President/CEO of the Independent Colleges of Indiana, Inc. in Indianapolis, the President’s Advisor for Student Affairs at International University Bremen in Germany (now Jacobs University), President of the Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association in Nashville, TN, and Director of Marketing and Research with the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities (AICCU) in Sacramento. He earned his Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University in Education and Human Development. His M.A. was received from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his B.A. from Williams College. Hans enjoys many opportunities to interact with current I-House residents and the thousands of Cal alumni around the world who recall their I-House residency as one of their fondest, university-related personal memories.

Nordic Magnificence | Aug. 5-15, 2018


Dr Patrick Lloyd Hatcher earned his Ph.D at UC Berkeley in History and went on to teach in both Cal's History and Political Science Departments. For his teaching he won the Blue and Gold teaching award. He has led Cal Discoveries Travel programs to Asia, Africa, and the Americas, as well as Europe. He is the author of three books, several articles, and numerous reviews. Dr Hatcher is often seen on Bay Area television commenting on American diplomatic and defense issues. He has also been a commentator on two History Channel television productions.

Toronto to Vancouver by Rail | Sep. 17-23, 2018

New York Theater: Berkeley Behind Broadway | Oct. 1-6, 2018

France's Champagne Region | Oct. 16-24 2018

Passage through the Panama Canal and Costa Rica | Feb. 10-18, 2019

Springtime in Provence, Burgundy, and Beaujolais | May 8-16, 2019


Kathy Keeler received her Ph.D. from the Department of Genetics at UC Berkeley studying plants in both Central Valley vernal pools and Costa Rica. She was Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln for 31 years. In retirement she became A Wandering Botanist, writing and speaking about plants, travel and history—because plants have great stories! Her widely-read blog was recognized in the Top 50 Botany Blogs by Feedspot in 2017 and 2018. She has published four popular science books, for example Curious Stories of Familiar Plants from Around the World, a book on prairies and more than 50 technical plant ecology papers. She first visited Costa Rica in an Organization for Tropical Studies Tropical Ecology course in 1972. In 1972-4 she did Ph.D. thesis research in Guanacaste, Costa Rica, being the first person to study at the Palo Verde Field Station, now Palo Verde National Park. She returned to Costa Rica as a researcher four more times including a backpack journey surveying an Atlantic rainforest reserve and as a tourist twice. This is her first trip as a Cal Discoveries Lecturer but she has given lectures on tours for Cal Discoveries in Spain, and for other organizations in Costa Rica, Scandinavia, Patagonia, and China.

Costa Rica: Preserving Paradise, Parks, and Reserves | Jan. 28-Feb. 7 2019


Joe Lurie is Executive Director Emeritus of UC Berkeley’s International House where he served for two decades. He has over four decades of intercultural teaching and training experience focused on western and non-western cultural contrasts at UC Berkeley, the Osher Institute for Lifelong Learning, Road Scholar, the Fromm Institute at USF, the World Affairs Council, the Commonwealth Club of California and with various international organizations and businesses in the United States and abroad. A former director of semester and summer programs abroad for the School for International Training in France, Kenya, and Ghana, Joe lived in Europe for four years , has traveled widely in Polynesia, Tahiti and its outer islands; he is fluent in French, as well as Swahili which he learned as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Kenya. Formerly Vice President for AFS Intercultural Programs in the United States, Joe holds an advanced degree and diploma in African Studies from the University of Wisconsin at Madison where he was recipient of an NDFL Fellowhip in African Languages. His writings have appeared in Harpers Magazine, US News and World Report, and profiled on NPR. He was featured in a national PBS documentary about International House and is author of the award-winning “Perception and Deception – A Mind Opening Journey Across Cultures”

Cruising Tahiti and French Polynesia | Feb. 5 – 15, 2019


Laurence Michalak is a cultural anthropologist and specialist in North Africa, originally from Woodland, California. After a B.A. at Stanford (1964), Larry was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Tunisia, then did his M.A. at the University of London (1970) and Ph.D. at UC Berkeley (1983). At Cal, Larry was Vice Chair of UCB’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies and taught for 23 years, retiring in 2002. Besides Arabic, he speaks fluent French, good Spanish, and fair German, and has traveled widely in Europe, Asia, and Latin America. He has taught and lectured on the anthropology of food, tourism, migration, globalization, and problems of economic development. He is the author of books on social legislation and labor migration and is currently working on a book on informal commerce. Larry has a Canada connection, since his grandfather emigrated from Poland around 1900, homesteaded in Alberta Province, and farmed there for nearly 40 years.

Crossing the Caucasas: Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Armenia | Sep. 8-23, 2019

Romance of the Douro River | Oct. 15-26, 2019


Brent Mishler has been a professor in the Department of Integrative Biology at UC Berkeley since 1993, where he teaches about island biology, plant diversity, evolution, and phylogenetic analysis. He is the lead professor in the popular “Biology and Geomorphology of Tropical Islands” course, where undergraduates spend the semester at the UC Berkeley Gump Station on Moorea in French Polynesia. He currently has research projects going on in Australia, the South Pacific, and South America. He is thus a generalist in field biology, with extensive knowledge about many kinds of organisms, tropical and temperate. He is also Director of the University and Jepson Herbaria on the Cal campus, a natural history museum devoted to plants of all types, and with research programs spanning the globe ( One personal research specialty is mosses, plants that are small in stature but big in ecological importance and research interest, especially for studying desiccation-tolerance. He is also interested in more general topics involving the theoretical basis of systematic and evolutionary biology, such as the nature of species. He has been heavily involved in developing electronic resources to present taxonomic and distributional information to the public, and to apply these to conservation concerns.

Pride of South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, and Zimbabwe | Apr. 25 - May 9, 2019


Marissa Moss graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in Art History. She has used her knowledge of historical research to write more than seventy children’s books, from picture books to middle-grade and young adult novels. Best known for the Amelia’s Notebook series, her books are popular with teachers and children alike, using graphic formats to introduce history in an accessible, appealing way. Barbed Wire Baseball recently won the California Book Award, Gold medal and the California Young Reader Medal. Her historical books cover subjects as varied as Ancient Egypt and Rome, Renaissance Italy, Medieval France, and 19th century London. She has spent years living in France and Italy to do the necessary research and brings a vivid mix of art and daily life to her historical work.

Apulia: Undiscovered Italy | Sep. 26-Oct. 4, 2018


Dr. Nadesan Permaul had taught in three departments at UC Berkeley over the past twenty-five years, Rhetoric, Sociology, and Political Science. He has his doctorate in Political Science from UC Berkeley. Dr. Permaul has hosted and lectured on fifteen Cal Discoveries trips. He also retired as an administrator from UC Berkeley after a career of 34 years. During this trip, Dr. Permaul plans to offer the following lecturers: 1. The War of 1812 and the Invasion of Canada; 2. The Battle of Lake Erie in 1813.  

Classic Germany | Jul. 24-Aug. 7, 2019


Vincent H. Resh has been a professor of Environmental Science, Policy & Management at the University of California, Berkeley since 1975. Professor Resh has been an adviser to the World Health Organization and other United Nations Organizations for over 20 years in evaluating human impacts on water resources in developing countries in Asia and Africa. He also serves on various science advisory boards on water issues in California. He received the University of California’s Distinguished Teaching Award in 1995 and has taught about issues related to water and the environment to over 20,000 Berkeley undergraduates.

Taiwan: The Beautiful Island | Nov. 2-11, 2018

Mystical India | Feb. 21-Mar. 9, 2019

Apulia: Undiscovered Italy | May 8-16, 2019

Trans-Siberian Railway | Jul. 30-Aug. 12, 2019


Sheldon Rothblatt has been honored by the Swedish Crown as Knight Commander of the Royal Order of the Polar Star (founded 1748), Sweden’s highest award to foreigners. He is Professor of History Emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley, former chair of History and sometime Director of the Center for Studies in Higher Education. He is a recipient of the Berkeley Citation for “distinguished achievement and for notable service to the University. ” He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society of Britain, a Foreign Member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (the body that awards the Noble Prizes) and a Member of the National Academy of Education (USA). Besides teaching in American universities, he has taught in Australia, Austria, Sweden and Norway. His academic publications are on 19th-century intellectual and scientific history, with translations in Russian, German, Spanish, Italian, Swedish, Japanese and Chinese.

Across Spain and Portugal | Sep. 8-24, 2019


Steve Ruzin received his Ph.D. in Botany from UC Berkeley in 1984. He currently directs the Biological Imaging Facility at UC Berkeley, is Curator of the Golub Collection of antique microscopes at UCB, and teaches three UCB courses. Steve has a classical education in Botany and is knowledgeable about the natural history and biogeography of plants, especially those of tropical and sub-tropical regions around the world.Steve has lectured for Cal Discoveries about the plant biogeography of Borneo, Patagonia, Australia, New Zealand, Vietnam, the Amazon, and Madagascar.

Grand Danube Passage: Sofia to Prague | Oct. 5-20, 2018


Alex M. Saragoza has served as Chair of the Center for Latin American Studies at the University of California, Berkeley (1994-1997), and subsequently as Director of International Education Programs (1997-1999). He is a member of the systemwide UC-Cuba Initiative, and a member of the Cuba Working Group at the Berkeley campus. Professor Saragoza regularly teaches a course on Cuba, and has visited the island several times over the last ten years. He led two UC Berkeley Extension tours to the island, before the Bush administration imposed restrictions on travel in 2003. He worked on a collaborative project with the Center for Hemispheric Studies and of the United States (Centro de Estudios Hemisfericos y sobre los Estados Unidos) of the University of Havana from 2006–2009, including a two-day symposium with Cuban scholars that he organized and was held in Mexico City in 2009. Professor Saragoza is currently conducting research for a comparative study of the tourist industry in Mexico and Cuba. Along with Professor Barry Carr of Melbourne University (Australia), he is editing a volume on tourism and Latin America. He is a professor of history in the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.

Chile: Culture and Cuisine | Feb. 27-Mar. 8, 2019

Great Pacific Northwest | Sep. 15-23, 2019


Robert Gordon Sproul III graduated from UC Berkeley in 1969. He has worked with several music publications, including No Depression and Black Music and Jazz Review, a British R&B magazine, and occasionally at the roots radio show on KKCY. Joining Robert in a joint lecture will be musicologist and Sun Records authority, John Siamas (Boalt ’70). John’s father, the former owner of Keen Records, recorded hits for Sam Cooke, gospel albums for Lou Rawls and a variety of rhythm and blues, and doo-wop and rockabilly tunes. Robert has recently retired as the Director of Stewardship and Alumni Scholarships in the Development department of the Cal Alumni Association.

Southern Grandeur | Apr. 7 – 15, 2019


Born to German parents in San Francisco in 1930, Professor Emeritus Frederic “Fritz” Tubach grew up from the age of three in Nazi Germany. Following WWII, Tubach regained his American citizenship and returned to San Francisco in 1949. He attended the University of California, Berkeley where he received his doctorate in German Literature in 1957. He taught at UC Berkeley from 1959 to 1994. Engaged throughout his career in international education, he served on the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the UCB Fulbright Committee. He directed the UC Education Abroad Programs in Göttingen and Bordeaux, where he received an honorary doctorate in 2002. Author of numerous scholarly articles and books on medieval German literature and folklore, Tubach has also written widely acclaimed books for a general readership, including Germany 2000 Years: From the Nazi Era to the Present, a Cultural History of Modern Germany. With co-authors, Bernat Rosner and Sally Patterson Tubach, he wrote An Uncommon Friendship: From Opposite Sides of the Holocaust (University of California, Press) and German Voices: Memories of Life During Hitler’s Third Reich (UC Press). He is a frequent lecturer for Cal Discoveries in Europe.

European Coastal Civilizations: London to Lisbon | Sep. 4-13, 2018

Journey along the Elbe River | May 27-Jun. 7, 2019


Edward W. Walker is Executive Director of the Berkeley Program in Eurasian and East European Studies and Associate Adjunct Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley. His book Dissolution: Sovereignty and the Breakup of the Soviet Union (Rowman & Littlefield, 2004), explains the breakup of the Soviet Union, emphasizing the role of the institutions and the mythologies of Soviet federalism and nationality policy. He has written and taught on problems of federalism, secession, and nationalism; religion and the state; ethno-politics and ethnic conflict; Islamist movements in the former Soviet and East Central Europe, and geopolitics in Europe and Eurasia. His blog on the latter topic can be found here. here.

Circumnavigation of Iceland | Jul. 24-Aug. 1, 2019


Darren Zook teaches in Global Studies and Political Science and has been a member of the faculty at the University of California, Berkeley, since 2000. He taught previously at the University of California, Davis, and at the Claremont Colleges in southern California. In 2012, he was a Fulbright Research Scholar in Singapore working on a project that focused on cybersecurity in the Asia-Pacific region. He has received numerous teaching awards for his creativity in the classroom, and most recently was named as one of the “Top Ten Most Inspiring Professors at UC Berkeley” by the popular online journal College Magazine. He has lectured all around the world, and has traveled extensively in the course of his professional work. Zook’s interest in the Celtic lands draws from several areas of his professional work. He has been involved in several projects dealing with The Troubles in Northern Ireland and the ongoing peace process, and since 2014 has been conducting research on identity politics in France, specifically in Bretagne. He has also followed with keen interest the emerging political and cultural battles over food and drink in Europe, in which the Celtic Lands have been key and crucial players. Zook has published six books, including most recently The Cedars of Lebanon, his first novel.

Celtic Lands 75th Anniversary D-Day | Jun. 4-14, 2019

=  Cruise or Partial Cruise
=  Land Trip