Review Comment

[MDES W3750] Islam and Western Science

May 20, 2003

Saliba, George
[MDES W3750] Islam and Western Science

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

The most important things every Columbia student should know:
1) always take the elevators in Lerner
2) Islam and Western Science is a class that should be avoided at ALL costs.

I took this class thinking I would be avoiding Saliba's rumored rantings in his Contemporary Islamic Civ course and instead ended up learning about.....well, i'm still not actually sure. The only thing I'm sure of after taking this course is that Saliba owns more turtlenecks than any other person I've ever met. Saliba's teaching style was totally disorganized and quite incoherent (especially if you sat more than three rows from the front of the room). He'd segue from pre-class chatter (the class was only about 30 students) right into the lecture, and after 75 minutes of his chatting, the class would suddenly be over with seemingly no material covered. It took me four weeks to realize that when he said, "I have the funniest story to tell you guys...." it meant "take notes". Assigned reading was two boring books (both out of print) and a coursepack that contained about 25 articles, 20 of which he wrote himself. Believe me, his writing isn't much better than his lecturing. After a midterm that was plagued with arbitrary facts (I had to search through the index of one of the books we read to even find a few of the people he asked questions about on the test b/c he never mentioned them in class), he told the class he decided that to make his life easier, the midterm and final were each going to be worth 50 points (no extra credit), and he'd add together the scores from each exam and that would be our grade for the semester, no questions asked. Apparently, class participation made no difference, and the only other way to affect one's grade was to lower it by being absent more than three times. Btw, for a man who claims to be secular, he is absolutely religious about taking attendance at the beginning of each class. The class was not, as I had expected, a study on the attitude of modern Islam towards modern Science. Rather, it was a confusing montage of Why the West is Evil (Yet Again), Islam: it Totally Rocks!, Islamic Astronomy of the 7-14th centuries (stolen by the West), and How to Compute Kibla (direction one prays in Islam) Through Ridiculously Impossible Trigonometric Functions. The saving grace of this class was that I miraculously emerged with an A (I expected a B) and got to enjoy a pleasant dinner with Saliba and some other students at Faculty House. The bottom line is: you won't learn anything that fits together in the sense of an overall course objective, you may not learn anything at all, you'll be bored out of your ming 2 1/2 hours a week, and it's questionable what sort of grade you'll get.

Workload:

Easy: bi-weekly readings, midterm, final (both 25 multiple choice and 5 out of ten short answer). The only trouble is trying to figure out how to study for the midterm and final.

Directory Data

Dept/Subj Directory Course Professor Year Semester Time Section
MELC / MDES MELC MDES W3750: Islam & Western Science George Saliba 2005 Spring MW / 4:10- 5:25 PM 1
MELC / MDES MELC MDES W3750: Islam & Western Science George Saliba 2003 Spring MW / 4:10- 5:25 PM 1