Review Comment

Religion and American Culture I and II, Religion and the Civil Rights Movement

November 14, 2004

Balmer, Randall Silver_nugget
Religion and American Culture I and II, Religion and the Civil Rights Movement

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

I cannot praise Professor Balmer enough!! Not only is he one of the best lecturers I have ever had, but he is undoubtedly the most approachable. While grading can get tricky because his TA's are often very very picky, grammatically-oriented, and subjective, he is more than willing to meet with a student and review your work if you have a case. He is very personable, inserts wit and humor into his lectures (which admittedly can get very repetitive very quickly), and really knows and explains his stuff well. I would recommend taking anything you can with Balmer!

Workload:

Tons of reading- in theory. You dont really have to do any of it, as he will cover it in his comprehensive lectures. He uses slideshows for the majority, interspersed with video presentations to keep it interested. A few short papers (graded harshly by TAs) and SUPER easy midterm and final if you show up to class and listen (which isnt hard considering that hes terrific).

August 09, 2004

Balmer, Randall Silver_nugget
Religion and American Culture I and II, Religion and the Civil Rights Movement

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

Simply put, this man is brilliant and teaches some fantastic courses. The common complaint among the detractors on this site seems to be that he doesn't grade his own papers. This is true, but it hardly takes away from the experience of hearing one of the leading scholars in American religion lecture twice a week. If you are not interested in American religion (particularly American Christianity and evangelicalism, since that is where Balmer has done most of his groundbreaking work), you will not enjoy this class. However, if you are a religion major or have more than a passing interest in the state of religion in America, the class is a must. His credentials as a researcher in this field are nearly unrivaled, and he is passionate about teaching undergraduates. For those people who think he is arrogant or disinterested, try demonstrating genuine interest in what he's saying. I once went to his office hours to ask about a paper and ended up talking about Bush and religion for about an hour because he was so glad to see a student who actually cared about what he was talking about. Don't take the class for an easy 'A'; it's an insult to a great professor. Take it because you'll learn something from one of the greatest Columbia has to offer.

Workload:

relatively mild: easy final and midterm, several short papers on topics of your choice--a chance for students to explore their own interests, so there shouldn't be many complaints.

Directory Data

Dept/Subj Directory Course Professor Year Semester Time Section