I'd like to bring a more positive note to this course's reviews: This class is an "experience," meaning there it's not about memorizing some facts and vomiting them on a page, its more about what you take from his class. A previous reviewer mentioned they didn't learn much, but thats not the only type of learning. He assigns readings, which only serve to catch you up to speed with the bio side of the ethical debate: you do have to know some facts about the scenario to truly understand what ethical questions arise. Aside from that he expects you to show up to class, once a week, and engage in a discussion about the ethical dilemmas of said issue. Now, it is true that Prof Loike can get curt sometimes (he'll cut you off in the middle of a point and start talking about something totally different), but that's mainly because he's trying to guide the discussion to his points of interest. It can be rough listening to someone argue a point about what might happen with biotech if the science already proves that you can control that aspect. He often mentions taking his arguments "with a grain of salt," which is true because he does mention some disagreeable opinions given columbia's liberal community. The readings don't always match up with the class content but he'd catch you up to speed at the beginning of class in that case. Take away message: take this class with an open mind and try to participate because that's what he likes. Don't take offense to how he may respond to your comments in class and engage anyway. Overall, it can be a rewarding experience and a great way to learn about the future of biology and medicine with a focus on the ethical questions that come out of it.
I can't say I really learned much of anything in this class. Dr. Loike is an incredibly frustrating teacher in terms of the way he conducts his class. This is mostly because he values his opinion more than anyone else's, so when he asks a question he only has his answer in mind. This would work for say, a math class in which there is only 1 right answer, but for an ethics class there are multiple right answers assuming they can be supported by reason--if not, then there wouldn't be ethical issues in the first place! As a result, Loike makes the class guess until someone (if anyone) reads his mind, all the while cutting people off. Equally frustrating was that he made us read his poorly written, pdf file "textbook" that he made us by and post on a discussion board--not too bad, but we never discussed our posts in class! What's the point of the homework then?! I think the class has a lot of potential, and is definitely very easy--you don't take notes, there is a midterm and final paper and it only meets once a week for 75 min. Just don't expect an amazing, life altering experience, or to learn much of anything.
If you're lucky enough to find a class Dr. Loike is teaching at the undergraduate level, take it! Perhaps because he normally teaches at the med school, he was gushingly enthusiastic about teaching bioethics to undergrads. He literally overflows with ideas, almost all of which are brilliant. A great resource for anyone looking to soak up wisdom from a phenomenal mind; he has much useful information to impart about the course material and the research process in general. My only complaint is that he doesn't talk enough in class; compared to his treatment of the material, student comments often seem uninteresting. Take anything he offers; this is the kind of professor that makes tuition worth all the loans.