June 07, 2004

Massad, Joseph
[CLME W3042] Palestinian and Israeli Politics and Societies

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

Many students take offense at the very quality that makes Massad such a brillant academic and honest, effective teacher: he neither claims nor supports purported academic 'objectivity.' He holds an intellectual conviction and offers rational, clear, and cogent arguments (supported with a wide-range of evidence including facts, figures, dates, and documentation) to support it. One of the very first lessons learned is that it is impossible to show both sides of the picture. Regardless of one's previous knowledge or bias on the topic, Massad forces the student to confront typical themes and at least question one's own beliefs by presenting the student with a broad base of pertinent and strong knowledge from his incredibly informative lectures, ranging from social, religious, and racial relationships and discrimination, to feminist issues, to historical development. He doesn't expect you to always agree with him and welcomes active debate in and outside of class. Of course, the typical knock on Massad is that he often interrupts the questions asked by the students. This critique is true, but is often engendered by students making arguments or asking questions that were clearly answered or addressed in the reading. Massad expects the reading to be done and gets somewhat offended if it is not. He is always available outside of class for his students; however, he changes his office hours quite frequently but always gives students ample notice and alternate times to meet, making him very accessible. But most of all, he clearly cares about his students. Outside of class, when bumping into students, he takes the time to see how they are doing, being truly inquisitive and caring. He also knows each of his students; rather than just melting into the background as spoiled kids he must teach, he takes the students seriously and gives them the respect that many professors on this campus do not.

Workload:

The reading is heavy: typically 150+ of academic reading/week (can get worse). An easy mid-term with a few IDs and lengthier IDs (mini-essays?). 8-10pg paper and a final (which was cancelled). Section attendance is mandatory and he and the TA's confer to make sure students are coming (they take attendance).