course
Contemporary Civilization

May 2021

Is there a gold star for being bad?

May 2021

Professor Crawford is an absolute GEM of a professor. You should feel super lucky if you get to be in her CC section! She is incredibly encouraging, warm, interesting, and quirky (in her own fun way). She really pushed me to think about the texts we were reading critically in relation to current events like the Capitol Hill Insurrection, COVID, BLM, etc. She also pushed us to consider the narratives of underrepresented groups/marginalized minorities within the context of a very white-male-dominated syllabus. That being said, she REALLY likes people who participate (it's definitely clear she likes people who participate) so as long as you're comfortable talking a few times per class, you'll be fine. Overall, truly recommend it. She was a VERY lenient grader this semester with COVID and is very fair/reasonable. Can't recommend her enough!

May 2021

Took him last year and it was a very enjoyable experience. He is very accommodating, supportive, and open about different opinions. Also, he lectures a bit every class so that you can get the gist of each book. Also, he is super funny. Highly recommend. He's actually a very generous grader. He really values your work and gives a lot of useful comments on your paper (on average 2-3 comments per page). I don't usually get an "A" on my first Lithum/CC paper but was able to get one from him, but I did put in a lot of effort because I really liked the material that we learned in class. So as long as you write about something you care about you'll be fine. He also gives quite a few options so I'm sure you'll find one that you like best.

May 2021

Took her in 2019, hands down the best CC prof. ever (Professor Thomas Dodman was also fantastic). I'm an introvert and it has always been stressful for me to participate in a small group setting but Prof. Pedersen was absolutely supportive and she made me feel like my view matters. I wasn't very good at writing papers either but her feedback helped me improve a lot both in terms of grades and formulating a philosophical argument as well. Would 100% recommend.

May 2021

Avoid at all costs. Most discouraging professor I’ve had in Columbia. Very harsh grader. No amount of effort seems enough for her if she doesn’t like you. She questions your understanding of the material and overall intelligence for not answering a question the way she likes. Condescending and doesn’t even try to be considerate. Makes you feel dumb whenever you disagree. I got feedback for both essays that basically says ‘you need help’. And when I ask her how to improve I got no useful feedback or something like ‘I don’t know, you tell me. I got commented on my essay of being ‘disappointingly careless’ because I used quotes from the passage ID part of the final exam. The truth is I started the essay before the final exam was posted. She just assumed I copied the passage ID quotes without bothering to ask. Having said that though, I learned a lot from her course. She explains the text and background enough so students are sure to understand the material if they pay attention. Discussions are led to her own conclusion, so are 1 on 1 writing conferences, so you always end up writing the paper she wants you to. To sum up: 1) Informative classes if you don’t mind being fed with her own analysis and interpretation. 2) Avoid if you care anything about your grade or self-esteem.

May 2021

Professor Van Dalen is an absolute gem. Definitely take her CC if you get the chance! She is accommodating, very smart, funny, and genuinely cares about her students as well as the material. I found her grading to be *very* fair. Take her class!!!!!!

Apr 2021

He is the best CC professor ever please take him he literally treated us all like adults and was very understanding!!!

Apr 2021

I took CC with Alma in the Fall 2020 semester. For context, I ended up with an A- overall for the semester. I've gotten As in all my other core classes so far prior to this. The Good: Alma is friendly and nice. The Bad: - Boring: Alma is not a great instructor and an unfair grader. Her class was INCREDIBLY boring (I was falling asleep during most of it) and have a hard time remembering the texts we read last semester or engaging with them at a deep level. After taking CC in the Spring with a MUCH better professor, I can say with confidence that Alma lacks an understanding of how to guide an effective in-class discussion based seminar. This also wasn't because we had a bad group of students – as previous posters have said, we had the BEST and most engaged group of seminar students I've ever had at Columbia. It was Alma's fault that classes were boring. – No breaks: Alma said she was going to give us a ten minute break, but never did. This makes staying engaged with a seminar, ESPECIALLY a two-hour seminar held online, difficult. – Grading: Alma is the worst essay grader I've had at Columbia. I've never gotten below an A in any other core class with essays, yet I got a B on my first paper with Alma. I'm a strong writer and know the grade on my first essay wasn't justified. She is VERY unclear with her standards and what she actually expects a CC paper to look like. It was only till the second paper that I realized that she basically wants a historical explanation for *why* the philosophers wrote what they wrote. Not a commentary or personal reflection, but historical analyses. This isn't a history class...it's philosophy. Total BS. – Organization: Alma said we would do in-class presentations, but those never happened. She's really disorganized. – Feedback: Didn't give us feedback on our writing till we submitted our first drafts. Her feedback is VERY unclear, make sure you go to her in office hours and question her till she gives you a very concrete explanation of what she expects. Overall: Would NOT recommend this class with Alma. It was way to much work for a CC class, and stressed me out too much for someone who's naturally talented at the humanities and gets As in all their core/humanities classes at Columbia.

Apr 2021

You're on the fence about whether you should consider the class, and you're looking for a sign. This is your sign to not take this class. She's a super sweet person, and the discussions aren't bad, but the first grade you get in this class will be the grade you get for the semester, and it can be a C. I got this advice ahead of time, still went through, got mopped. Ended up putting more work into this class than AP and was a letter grade better in AP. Don't romanticize high risk, low reward. It wasn't that rigorous, just risky. If you're deadset, play on the critical theory a little more than usual, it'll help you a lot.

Apr 2021

By far the worst professor I have ever had. Struggled through two semesters with Michelle and am a worse person/academic for it. There is no sense of direction in-class discussion and she often remains silent or turns off her camera when people are struggling to get to grips with complex issues. Honestly not sure she cares about her students at all and it really comes across in her apathetic tone. By looking at previous reviews, I am confident that it is not my personal opinion or just a rough semester. Grading is lazy and we received feedback weeks later with only a few comments.

Apr 2021

The biggest mistake I have made in college is not switching out of Michelle Chun's CC class over winter break. She is truly the most passive agressive and patronizing instructor I have ever had. I could let this slide if she was also a great teacher but no, she is not. Class discussions are underprepared and awkward. You truly have to read every word of every text to be able to write the papers as she will not explain anything in class. Michelle is the type of instructor who makes you wonder whether all the sacrifices you made to be at Columbia were worth it because if I wanted to be taught by my peers who equally don't know what is going on I would have done it for a much lower price. Rising sophomores please listen to me and DO NOT take this class. CC is hard why make it harder for yourself?

Apr 2021

I took Larry Jackson's Lit Hum class last year as well as his CC course this year. He is an excellent lecturer but thrives at facilitating discussion. He knows when and what to add and how to direct conversation. This quality did not translate to the online environment perfectly, although it was still very engaging. If you are taking one of his classes in person, you will not regret it. He is very knowledgeable and approachable, top 3 profs I have yet to find for sure!

Apr 2021

RUNN!!! WORST TEACHER AT COLUMBIA!!! Super harsh grader and assigns way too much work for a core class. She is also a genuine bully so if that's not enough then idk what is. Made me have the worst semester of my life.

Apr 2021

Professor Van Dalen is wonderful! She did a really good job with CC and I definitely recommend her if she continues teaching this class because she knows the material super well and really cares about helping her students understand it too. I feel like her grading wasn't easy, but it was very fair and she gave everyone chances to succeed in essays and in participation. Each student presented on a reading during every class, and Professor Van Dalen would also give short lectures which were lifesavers when I didn't do the reading lol. Definitely a 10/10 CC professor.

Apr 2021

Dude is young, funny, and not a hardass at all. If you need someone to write you a dank recommendation incommensurate with your actual qualities as a human being, this is your guy. Before Dr. DLP, I was a cashier. Now I literally work at the White House. Oh yeah, he knows the classics well and won't let space turn into an echo chamber. Pushback is more than welcome.

Apr 2021

Avoid. She's disorganized, an unreasonably harsh grader, and she doesn't seem to know the stuff we read in CC well enough to be teaching it. In my opinion, she basically uses class discussions and student participation as a crutch for her own unfamiliarity with the material. She will have you write essays on specific prompts and then fault you for actually answering the question she asks/doing what she said she wanted. Though she'd get better with feedback from the fall and made the mistake of staying in her section for the spring; she has only gotten worse. My biggest problem with her class is that it is hard AND you learn little. I'm not hyper grade-focused and I'm generally fine with one or the other, but not both. To her credit, she is pretty lenient with extensions, and sometimes even gives the whole class one. However, this is often because she has not released the paper prompts early enough and there's no way we could get it done otherwise. Don't expect to receive the previous paper back before you have to write and submit the next one. Also, for what it's worth, she has a disposition that is nice and reassuring, maybe a little scattered, and until you get your first feedback you will probably think "wow, that culpa reviewer really must've had an axe to grind, she is so sweet and tells me I'm doing so well and I'm so glad I ignored the advice." Don't say you weren't warned. Amazing people in the class have made the experience overall not bad, but that's no thanks to Noelle.

Apr 2021

I've never had a problem getting an A at Columbia until I took this course -- she's a harsh grader, and it doesn't really make sense given her unclear feedback. Class is less engaging than most others I've taken at Columbia. Avoid if you can.

Mar 2021

As an instructor, Ben is a fair grader and straightforward with his teaching. He is very open to working with students along with giving feedback. My main grievance is his semi-constant annoyance he seems to have with teaching this class. In fact, halfway through the semester, he stopped moderating the class almost entirely (and put the burden on the students). At one point, our class collectively asked for a deadline extension as well which seemed to upset him far more than it should have (even though he said yes). He never let up on this afterward and brought up his disappointment for weeks after the fact. My final comment on Ben is that he does not seem socially aware enough on some issues to teach this class. He would rarely allow us to discuss the prejudices of the philosophers. On the first day of class, a student attempted to start a valuable discussion on Kant's racism and how it related to our text. Ben got defensive, dismissed the racism as "historical blindness," and that student ended up dropping the class. He also discouraged us from discussing our grievances with the CC syllabus being too white and eurocentric (he does not think it is an idea worth exploring). Overall, a very mediocre instructor. Not too difficult to do well in this class but there are probably better people to take this class with if you're interested in learning about the material.

Feb 2021

It's such a shame he didn't teach the spring semester. Billows is HILARIOUS. He's also incredibly knowledgeable about the books we read in the fall semester, especially Plato and Aristotle. Like the previous reviewer mentioned, he always went over the background/main themes of the works in the 1st half of the class and then opened the floor up for discussion. This meant we never really had to read the assigned stuff - Billows doesn't really care about the nitty-gritty bits of each book, which is great for someone like me. The class was also very entertaining, despite being on Zoom - Billows frequently raises his voice and shouts his opinions (his views on Trump are gold). I actually didn't think getting an A was hard at all. If you just agree with everything Billows says in class you will not do badly, as long as you back up the arguments well. If you don't like participating in discussions/are a bit shy, that's fine too - Billows doesn't seem to care and his 'participation grades' reflect that (for context, I got 8/10 and didn't speak up much at all). Just showing up to class seems to be enough. He's very slow with returning grades but seems to be a pretty easy grader. He can also be very understanding - he forgot to post the questions for our final (take-home) on Courseworks and gave us a three-day extension after realizing the mistake. If you're lucky enough to be in his section, don't switch out!

Feb 2021

Kind of a jerk on the surface, but I learned to love him. Some find his method of teaching frustrating -- he spends half the class rambling a bit about the assigned text, and then spends the next half letting us lead the conversation wherever it may go -- but it worked for me. Somewhat harsh grader, but it's possible to get an A. If you want a warm and cuddly and grandfatherly type of professor, Billows isn't your guy. But if you want a hella smart, hella opinionated, hella funny -- and hella nice when you get past the rough exterior -- professor, you can't go wrong with Billows. I had to transfer out second semester due to a scheduling conflict, and I so, so, so wish I didn't.

Feb 2021

Give Professor Isiksel a gold nugget! She is, without a doubt, the best professor I've had at Columbia. Both in discussion and written assignments, she pushes you to think critically and never settle for the easy answer. She makes philosophy feel meaningful and contemporary and brings in all kinds of interesting debates on race and political ethics. The fact that every single student stayed from the first to the second semester attests to just how great Professor Isiksel is. Professor Isiksel is also just an incredibly kind person who clearly cares about her students. She takes the time to stay behind every class to talk and arranges for students to meet her for coffee outside of class. Despite being a philosophical genius, she's very down-to-earth and doesn't put philosophers on a pedestal just because they're part of the Western canon. The writing assignments are pretty rigorous compared to other sections (you have a little over a week to write 7-8 page papers), but it's absolutely worth it. Everyone should take Professor Isiksel's class. Columbia, please make her teach more undergraduate classes.

Jan 2021

Professor Lee is the best professor I've had at Columbia. She is incredibly kind, caring of our learning, and understanding. She is excellent at explaining the relevancy of outdated and boring texts to show us how they connect to issues today (systemic racism, colonialism, globalization). She gives a ton of feedback constantly and is always available to meet to give mentoring and feedback. My writing improved immensely. I took three classes with her. Half of my CC class went on to take her Global Core class so about 50% of us took three classes with her! That is how much we love her. She includes media and film clips and shows how to approach texts thru multiple lenses. She also organized field trips and took us to see To Kill a Mockingbird on Broadway. She took us on a class trip to the Burke Library to look at Bibles and Qu'rans from centuries ago, and she organized an optional film screening. Those additional touches were unforgettable. At the end of the semester, she took us to a class meal at a BBQ restaurant. Her teaching is holistic, and I cannot recommend her enough. I wish I could take all my subjects with Professor Lee.

Jan 2021

Dodman is a balanced CC prof - doesn't speak too much or too little, lets students discuss topics with each other. Thoughtfully will respect students' individual problems, will extend deadlines. Knows books well (taught CC many times), likes Rousseau. Expects reading only excerpts of text (will appreciate reading more if you choose to). While not a revolutionary CC prof, a good choice and a fair grader. Would not recommending switching out if you want a normal workload/predictable semester.

Jan 2021

Prof. Crawford is the best, most understanding, kind, and humane instructor I have ever had at Columbia. If you are considering taking a class with her, do it. Her command of the texts she teaches, her talent on making them relevant to whatever we are living through (politically, emotionally, intellectually), and her pure admiration for writers like Milton make her classes engaging and transformative. For reference, I 'read' Milton in LitHum and did not get much out of it - I could barely understand what the guy was saying. Taking prof. Crawford's Milton class was one of the best decisions I've made academically in this school. She is extremely passionate about Milton's work and that radiates to her students. Prof. Crawford keeps students intellectually engaged, challenged, and happy in her class. She understand what it means to be a student, what it means to struggle personally and intellectually, and what it means to be a student trying to make your way through college. That does not mean that she is a light grader or that her expectations are minimum. She wants you to really engage with the material and she can tell when you have really tried and when you're BSing. She encourages a lot of participation but at the same time can guide the conversation to make it always interesting - and not a few undergrads pretending to have read the texts. Take her classes (whether CC or Milton) if you want to be intellectually provoked, if you want to really engage with the material, and if you are into queer and feminist readings of the Bible, Renaissance English poetry, and the philosophy texts in CC. Julie Crawford is a life-changing instructor.

Jan 2021

Honestly horrible. She and this class were wayyyyyyyyyyy to woke for me. Kinda uncomfortable. I had no clue what was being said at all half the time. But if you feed into the nonsense and pretend well enough you will do just fine. But like omg what is this class LOL

Dec 2020

This was easily the worst class I have taken at Columbia. I know a lot of people who have taken CC, and no one had to do as much work or had as miserable a time as I did. I will start with the pros because obviously some people must like Josh or he’d have no kids for the second semester. Josh is a very nice person. If you’re in the ~zoom~ early and he’s ready he’ll talk to you and be friendly. He also generally facilitates good discussion in the sense that most of the time he is asking questions and guiding conversations rather than talking at you. Some of his essay prompts are interesting/pretty good. On to the cons. This class was so much work. Not only did Josh assign way more readings in the texts we were assigned than anyone else I know who has read them, but he also threw in extra readings. We basically had two discussion posts every week because we had to do the regular ones, and then also share a quote for each week and a reflection on that quote. In terms of how he manages class, some students who seemed to be the favorites were allowed to answer completely different questions than had been asked and derail the conversation, while others would be cut off for having too long of a point despite being on topic and interesting. Essays were graded very harshly and somewhat inconsistently. I felt like when I took the notes from the first essay and improved for my second, he just found other things to hate on. Also wasn’t a fan of comments like ‘your writing seems x’ on like the second sentence when I know it is not true for the whole thing. Also he converted essay grades to out of 15 points (with letter half grades going down by half a point), but if you scaled up from the grades he gave, an A+ would still only be 14.5/15. Not sure what he wants but I guess I didn’t have it. Overall, felt like I was being punished for no reason this entire time. 1/10 do not recommend.

Dec 2020

I really enjoyed Professor Eden's class (2019-2020 year). Incredibly intelligent and focused on helping students understand dense philosophical texts. I disagree with previous posts saying she had a "mean streak". I do think that yes if you say something wrong or something that isn't well thought out, she won't hesitate to correct you or press you to think harder. However, she doesn't intend to be malicious or put you down. It's just her way of instructing. Classes are very much lecture-based rather than discussion. However, I prefer it this way, particularly because sometimes I'd read a text and have no idea what it's about. She distills it all for you in class and enables you to ask questions about it. Her exams are a little challenging (passage ID-based) but she points out key distinguishing features of each philosopher in class. Her paper prompts are very doable (oftentimes comparing and contrasting philosophies and making a statement about them). She's also very available for office hours. I recommend taking her class! She's been at Columbia for so long and definitely a professor you want to take. She teaches because she has a passion for it.

Dec 2020

If Matthew Heeney's been assigned as your CC teacher, rest assured you're in great hands. Professor Heeney is a wonderful teacher. I took his course during the first CC class he's ever taught and you'd figure he'd probably go too fast or that his class would be too complex to grasp (considering he has a Ph.D. and works in the Philosophy department), but it's surprisingly very enjoyable, well-paced and understandable. Professor Heeney is also a really fascinating and intelligent guy, whose love for Philosophy is clearly reflected in the course: it is evident he prepares very well for each discussion and is always ready to explore unforeseen paths that the conversation might lead to. He breaks down the material covered in a pretty comprehensible way and uses the various authors' frameworks we study to address seemingly off-topic inquiries. Even if you might've not understood half of the course readings, he does a great job in analyzing and explaining key ideas from each text, and further secures your understanding of the material with methods like breakout sessions and passage analysis. Finally and most of all, professor Heeney is a really sweet and flexible person, who cares a lot about his students. He's always available to talk, discuss philosophical questions, and help out with assignments and papers.

Dec 2020

I'm honestly completely stunned to see how Prof Callahan is getting such negative reviews... She is far and away an excellent professor and a wonderful person. Her classes are engaging, she makes a real effort to facilitate the feeling of a community, she's hilarious and sarcastic, and I can't speak for life pre-COVID, but she's been super kind and accommodating during the pandemic. Many people have claimed that you have to kiss up to her; that's total nonsense. What she values in a student is that they actually care about learning and discussing the philosophy. I admit Prof Callahan is not perfect, as none of us is. My biggest qualm is probably the amount of time it takes to get back any assignment (in one case, months). But I think we all need to give each other a bit of leeway and the benefit of the doubt, now more than ever, and she did extend a number of deadlines to give us time to incorporate feedback in certain assignments. Ultimately, it's overwhelming clear how deeply Prof Callahan cares for both her students and the texts. She actually loves to engage in the philosophy, and as someone not expecting to feel the same, her enthusiasm and excitement about the content and the class itself meant everything and enabled me to really enjoy the course. With her grading, as others have mentioned, this class is not the easiest A, but if you want a lively, hilarious, caring, and knowledgable professor, I highly recommend.

Dec 2020

Don't take this class. Really, don't. I switched after the first semester. Harshest grading I've seen in my three years at CC.

Dec 2020

NOTE: There's 2 people listed on CULPA, Nihal and Turkuler Isiksel, but this is the same person. I think she generally goes by Turkuler but her legal first name is Nihal. Either way, you should probably call her professor to be safe. Also, note that this review is for CC *online during COVID-19* so it might be different if you are reading this for (one day?) in-person classes. Dr. Isiksel is literally a genius. For every insightful thing or paradox, you find she has at least 3 very profound remarks to share that deepen your understanding of the text or create some kind of mind-blowing moment. She is deeply passionate about what she teaches and has gone many extra miles to make students connect with CC and the Columbia community. She's intimidatingly smart but very affable -- she invited people to get coffee and shared Thanksgiving cookies (socially distant & outside) and sent memes in the class Zoom and emails. She's very good at connecting the texts to contemporary political issues and highlighting how they've influenced history & western political philosophy, since that's her specialty. She even weaves students' discussion posts and in-class comments into her lectures. Each class is preceded by a pre-recorded 20-30 min lecture on Canvas that offers background context and thematic summaries to keep in mind as you read. It's actually pretty interesting information and since you can watch it on 2x speed it's not that much work. There is a sometimes brutal amount of reading, and only 9 days to write 6-8 page essays. She's not particularly harsh with grading (perhaps due to the pandemic) but definitely has high expectations and she gives helpful feedback in the essay margins. If you want to really improve your essay writing and critical thinking skills, Dr. Isiksel's CC class will help you do that. I'm a poli sci major so I may be biased, but I could not have imagined a better or more rewarding CC experience than this class. Definitely deserves a gold nugget.

Dec 2020

PLEASE DO NOT TAKE THIS CLASS. This is a warning--please do yourself a HUGE favor and try to get into another CC section if you can. I really wish I took the time to read culpa before I decided to stay in her section. She is the WORST professor I have ever had at Columbia, and that’s saying a lot considering I’ve had a handful of awful stem professors. Don’t trust the good reviews on culpa--you will see that the positive ones have a lot of disagreements. Michelle is the most passive aggressive, mean, rude, and most horrid professor I have ever had. She was unrelenting and not at all accommodating this semester given virtual classes and covid-19. Here are some examples: 1. A close family member died due to covid and she didn’t care at all, didn’t make any exceptions for work even given what I had to go through as well with my physical health (at the time I had to go to the hospital to get tests done) 2. My friend’s wifi broke during the middle of class so he missed a little bit in the middle and Michelle gave him 0 attendance credit even though he was there the whole time 3. She holds 2 OHs the entire semester and is extremely unhelpful at OH. In OH, she criticizes and belittles students instead of actually giving good feedback. 4. She NEVER responds to emails. A lot of the times the class could not find the class readings either because she did not post it, or it was through the CC Reader where people often had trouble accessing. When emailed about the readings and where to find them, she practically ignored every single one of the emails. If she did respond to emails, she would passive aggressively write that she either “doesn’t understand what the student is talking about or to “refer to the syllabus for any clarifications. She also says that she requires 36+ hours to respond to emails even if it’s about urgent issues, but most times she just never gave a response. 5. She turns off the Zoom chat in her class so that no-one can connect with anyone in this class. She doesn’t want people “chatting about side stuff during the discussion even if it was to help clarify details, etc; This made it extremely hard to collaborate or meet people in the class or study and discuss texts after. 6. She plays REALLY BIG favorites. Those are probably the only good reviews on culpa. 7. For the midterm and final, whereas most classes didn’t have one or just gave a project due to covid/virtual classes, she had us log-in to Zoom and keep our cameras on so she could check that our “eyes didn’t wander or she would give 0's and told us that “if you click out of canvas, even by accident, to close a chat or do any other activity, then you will automatically receive a 0 and fail the class and you will not be allowed to justify your reason on why And folks--this is all during the covid virtual classes, she really tried every way possible to make class unnecessarily hard. Before she came to Columbia, she taught at Hunter’s College and she was literally rated 1.7/5 by the students and you can read about their awful experiences with her here: https://www.ratemyprofessors.com/ShowRatings.jsp?tid=2493220 Overall, I was so excited to take CC because I loved Lithum so much, and I was really disappointed. You will also notice that during registration, her class is always the one with the empty slots. DO NOT FALL FOR THIS AND DO NOT TAKE HER CLASS.

Dec 2020

I thought I'd be the one to introduce Andrew to Culpa, so here it goes. Andrew is a young Ph.D. Candidate specializing in Islamic Manuscripts and Historiography. He is such a kind person who is passionate about his research. However, there were a few times that I wanted to switch out of his section. I should preface that this is COVID times, so some of this isn't his fault necessarily, but IDK, I've seen professors successfully ignite some parcel of passion in their students even over Zoom. He separates his class into two parts: hardcore lecture and discussion. Instead of kinda combining the two (which is how all my other humanities classes are organized), he would abruptly end the lecture and then go, "OK, now I won't talk for the rest of class, and you guys have to talk." It's a good intention but poor execution. The space for discussion is so artificial and awkward, and so the class lead discussions don't go anywhere beyond the surface level analysis. He has quizzes every week. Before you get scared, they are only out of 5 points, and as long as you submit something, you get a 4. Assignments are not challenging, and he's a fair grader who gives feedback (and more detailed feedback if you ask him specifically). The dynamic is not really professor v. student but more so a mature student guiding us. I enjoyed this; it made the work--to me-- less intimidating and more approachable. It also in that regard was more intimate, I found. Some people don't like this. Keep that into consideration. Overall, I liked him and will be staying in his section. But I know that many people dropped, so again, take with that what you will.

Dec 2020

Worst professor I had in college by a long shot. I'm not even sure where to begin... but I'll try my best to paint a picture of what being stuck in her class for four hours a week is like. 1. Texts were not discussed much in comparison to how much we were pushed to tie the texts to real-world examples and what not. That's fine in moderation, but I left the class not feeling like I knew much more about the texts than I did before the course began. 2. Assignments are graded very, very harshly. I did pretty well on them (though, as you'll see in point three, that only counts for so much), but I know that she really tore into some people's work that, to my eyes, would have earned an A in a section run by just about anyone else. 3. She assigns way too much work. There is no reason why I should have had more to do in this four-credit class than in the other classes I was taking the semester I had her COMBINED (fourteen other credits!), but that's the way it was. Burnout was par for the course. 4. As others have noted, she reallyyyyyyyyy likes to place a lot of focus when it comes time to grade on participation, and her definition of the term is unorthodox. I participated in dicussions plenty, but my grade was still docked for... I'm not sure, really. When it came to assignments/tests/etc., I earned an A in the class. But because I didn't "participate" in a satisfactory manner, I didn't earn an A in the class. The central problem here is that it is VERY, VERY OBVIOUS that she picks favorites. Wanna succeed in the class? You need to get down and kiss her ass. She spends a lot of time talking about wanting to make the class "like a family," but the environment she fostered when I had her was toxic, toxic, toxic. But hey, at least she baked cookies sometimes! I had some fantastic professors at Columbia that I will remember for the rest of my days. I'll remember Nicole for quite some time, too... but for the opposite reason.

Dec 2020

Matt's a chill guy, who genuinely cares about the class and his students, and is happy to answer students' questions. He is also very chill about deadlines and is more interested in us learning rather than us over-worrying about exams, deadlines, etc. However, the class can get boring. I don't really blame him because I think the course material is very dry, but I feel like there are certain things he can do to increase engagement. He talks a lot...and I mean a lot...which can often be disruptive to class discussions. Often he starts talking about something in a text, and then essentially ends up delivering a really long stream of consciousness, as he keeps getting distracted by what he's saying and gets new ideas, which he starts talking about. Meanwhile, we're just chilling, waiting for him to stop talking. Ultimately, he's well-intentioned but just a bit too passionate. But overall, recommend the class. The workload is fairly light and he's a fair grader.

Dec 2020

If it was not taught by Professor Ahmed, I would have ranked CC class as the worst I have taken at Columbia. I have already learned that the Columbia Core is extremely whitewashed and the concept of "Western Philosophy" inherently is a racist concept. Without Professor Ahmed's additions to the syllabus, this class includes no philosophical works by people of color or women. CC, as taught by the university, is not a collection of iconic works, but iconic works that have aided in the colonization and justification of genocide of Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities all over the world. This class needs more diversity and perspectives. I loved this class solely because of Professor Ahmed, my wonderful classmates, and our willingness to deconstruct the severely problematic nature of CC, its texts, and the ideas it promotes. I would 10/10 recommend Prof Ahmed, as he has been the best, especially during COVID!

Dec 2020

Ok vibes are super good. Charley is super fun, cares a lot about his students and will go above and beyond to help you with whatever you need! If you put the work in, you will do fine. He's a tough grader, but it helps you rise to the occasion. The first B- was a bit of a shock to the system, but ended up getting an A both semesters so it's all good. He does assign more than other professors, but in my opinion, it's worth it. He's a Columbia professor gem!!

Dec 2020

Alexander is kind, funny, and approachable. He's also really into war crimes and human shields. It's the best of both worlds, really. His teaching is equal parts tradition and invention. A lot of discussions will be descriptive. 2-3 breakout room sessions every class where you answer questions of the type "What does X say about Y". They vary in how stimulating they are – regurgitating arguments can be tedious, but sometimes you'll hit on an insight through that process of description that you wouldn't have otherwise. The papers and prompts are VERY conventional - yeah you'll get better at formulating arguments cogently (myeh myeh) but more importantly – if you want to spend 2400 words dropping hot takes, you can pitch your own prompt. For the inventive aspect: our class on Descartes was phenomenal! It was a 2-hour long session debating the certainty of different facts. We didn't explicitly talk about Descartes through most of it, but that's immaterial - we were recreating his process of doubt and it felt like THE most concentrated sense of intellectual community any of my classes have been able to create yet. Alexander will sprinkle in similar thought experiments (+ Curb Your Enthusiasm clips) that are in my opinion the high points of the class. There's also a good dose of pop culture and contemporary politics in this class that isn't tainted with the Boomerian impulse to be relatable, if you know what I mean. If you're looking for a very dialogic section, this is a great option. You will have a lot of freedom to take the discussion in the direction you want to. Alexander's prompts are open-ended enough to allow that. If you think the quality of conversation is dwindling, take the onus upon yourself to make it interesting! Say something controversial. Alexander will welcome it. I had an *amazing* group of peers who asked cool questions and resurrected even the dullest, droning pedants (read: Hobbes) from the dead. He's also very open to feedback. He opened up an anonymous form mid-October and took a ton of our advice. This speaks a lot to his sensitivity – this was his first time teaching CC, and he's genuinely trying to make it a good experience for his students.

Dec 2020

Keep in mind we're not fully done with the semester, but with course registration coming up I feel the need to write this review since she doesn't have any yet. Our class this semester is a really great mix of students. Nobody talks over each other, people participate in discussion with intellectual thoughts, are fun and make jokes from time to time, etc. I have no doubt that if we were on campus, I would've become really great friends with some of the people in this class. Alma does a lot of things well. She starts out each work with context and background and sets us up to talk about the text, and she facilitates discussion really well. She's nice and open to new thoughts and incredibly knowledgeable. She has some breakout room discussions and a Google Drive folder with the materials we use. There are things that Alma does not do well, mostly stemming from her setting up very high expectations but not following through on her end. The syllabus outlines a 10-minute presentation to be done in pairs (each pair is assigned to one work) and presented at the end of each class, with the pair needing to upload a one-page discussion Google Doc into the class drive the day before class. These 10-minute presentations never happen, there is no clear guideline given for the Google Doc, and we don't even use them sometimes. We finished these presentations about halfway through the semester and she asked if we'd like to do them again for the second half, we said yes since they make nice review sheets, and she has not assigned pairs to new works (we have three works left in the semester). She also expects us to submit a 300-500 word discussion post on Courseworks at 8:00pm the day before each class and said she'd give us a check plus, check, or check minus on each post. Sometimes, she posts these discussion boards just a few hours before the posts are due, and the only feedback we've gotten on them are a few sentences for our first post. We have yet to receive any check pluses, checks, or check minuses. She also went on a small lecture during the first class about Zoom fatigue and how we'd do a five-minute break in the middle of each class, but we didn't do them until a student asked if we could do them a few weeks in. After that, we did them maybe two more times. This isn't too big of a deal but goes to show how even with these small promises, they seem like empty words. All this is to say that by the time our first essay rolled around, the only amount of feedback we'd received from Alma was a few sentences on our first discussion post. When we went to office hours and asked how we were doing or how to work on the essay, she'd be very vague about our previous work and say that if something was wrong with our discussion post she would've contacted us directly. She gave two A's on the first essay, which was a slap in the face after this extreme lack of feedback. I'll admit, she gave us a good amount of feedback on the essays, but we could've done so much better on the essays if she'd been following through with giving us feedback on discussion posts and helping us become better writers. She's barely helped us improve in writing since the beginning of the semester. She's acknowledged that she hasn't been giving us enough direct feedback, but we still haven't received any since the first essay and she just assigned us our second essays. It's really a shame - the class is so wonderful and she's so wonderful, but I can't believe a single word she says anymore and she hasn't taken the actual promised steps to help us improve, and I have no idea how I'm doing in the class.

Dec 2020

Like the reviewer below, I've never been so compelled to write a review before. Even though Roosevelt's been the head of the Core department for a hefty amount of time, I'm seriously amazed -- even more amazed than St. Augustine when the Bible magically turned to the verse that changed his life in his "Confessions" -- at how this guy has even gotten any positive reviews. If college students are known to BS their way through college, it looks like Roosevelt is doing that in adulthood too. I've never met anyone more unorganized, and I've never met a professor who is so inefficient in leading class discussions or synthesizing students' thoughts. I've had TA's, who were first year PHD students, who were WAY better at leading discussions. I took a chance in thinking that Roosevelt would be a good, effective discussion leader, I trusted the positive reviews with my soul's content, but alas, my intuition was dead wrong. Some things to know before taking any class with Roosevelt: 1 hour of our 2 hour class time was dedicated to Roosevelt asking invasive questions about our lives. Roosevelt is a nice, mediocre guy, though he has some off-vibes to him. He clearly picks and chooses his favorites. CC wasn't even the worst class I've taken, but Roosevelt himself was probably the worst professor I've had. Take at your risk, but if you needed that one negative review to sway your path, let this be your sign. Fly away, young bird. Fly as far as you can.

Dec 2020

Charley is a nice guy, but there is absolutely no reason to do this much work for CC, only to come to class and not be listened to. Charley very clearly uses notes to guide class discussions and is determined to stick to them. That means that if you bring something up that is slightly different than what he wants to hear, he simply does not hear it. He won't refute your point or anything but instead will repeat what you said back to you and completely change/misinterpret your point in order to fit what he wanted you to say. I genuinely don't think he does this on purpose or even realizes he is doing it, but it is infuriating and makes it feel pointless to talk in class. On the flip side, Charley will not openly correct people when they wildly misinterpret things. And I don't mean super nuanced points, but rather really fundamental parts of the texts/basic definitions. He leaves it up to students to essentially correct one another but never confirms who is correct. I've heard a lot of people say that if you are a "serious CC student" or are super into the texts that you should take this class with Charley, given that he is so enthusiastic (which he is). But honestly, I think that if you are truly looking to get a lot out of CC you'll be disappointed. I was really looking forward to this class and tried really hard but it sucked to not be listened to and to feel like nothing I said mattered.

Nov 2020

I had her sophomore year for one semester for CC and absolutely loved her. She is so cool and does such a great job of facilitating conversation in class while letting all of the students express their own views and opinions. I think sometimes in Lit Hum CC either the prof ends up lecturing too much or gives literally no input to the class and Susan achieves such an amazing balance in between the two. I would agree that her class isn't easy, but it also isn't super hard – you have to work to get an A but imo it is definitely achievable. She definitely is the kind of person that you admire and you want to like you. I'm so glad I took her class and missed her so much in the Spring sem (had to take a major requirement during her class time)! 100% deserves the gold nugget.

Sep 2020

She's left as of this year I believe, but she will be dearly missed and I hope she returns to Columbia at some point! I agree with the other review- Professor Bo is one of the best teachers I've ever had. She knows her stuff, she has reasonable expectations, she knows how to push people to engage with the material and their own beliefs and improve their writing, and how to sustain a lively, thoughtful, and compassionate discussion and classroom environment. I was basically neglected in UW and LitHum by instructors who... could not do these things, but it was Professor Bo's guidance that basically taught me how to write a rigorous and strong essay. Office hours are a must when you're working on papers, but she worked to make scheduling as easy as possible. She also cares about her students on a human level that I think is rare in academia- she wants you to do well in her class, but she also wants you to be happy and healthy and is curious about/interested in what her students are passionate about. She will not go easy on you grading-wise on papers or exams, but she makes her expectations clear, works with you if you're falling short, and gives everyone plenty of chances to improve over a semester and finish with a strong grade if they're willing to do the work (and is never rude, mean, or vague about delivering critical feedback). In conclusion: she is a rare talent and a wonderful human being who brings out the best in her students and is always on top of her game.

Sep 2020

She's left as of this year I believe, but she will be dearly missed and I hope she returns to Columbia at some point! I agree with the other review- Professor Bo is one of the best teachers I've ever had. She knows her stuff, she has reasonable expectations, she knows how to push people to engage with the material and their own beliefs and improve their writing, and how to sustain a lively, thoughtful, and compassionate discussion and classroom environment. I was basically neglected in UW and LitHum by instructors who... could not do these things, but it was Professor Bo's guidance that basically taught me how to write a rigorous and strong essay. Office hours are a must when you're working on papers, but she worked to make scheduling as easy as possible. She also cares about her students on a human level that I think is rare in academia- she wants you to do well in her class, but she also wants you to be happy and healthy and is curious about/interested in what her students are passionate about. She will not go easy on you grading-wise on papers or exams, but she makes her expectations clear, works with you if you're falling short, and gives everyone plenty of chances to improve over a semester and finish with a strong grade if they're willing to do the work (and is never rude, mean, or vague about delivering critical feedback). In conclusion: she is a rare talent and a wonderful human being who brings out the best in her students and is always on top of her game.

Sep 2020

Professor Engelke is a super smart guy - he's done research on atheists and Christians all over the world, and he references his research and current events so that CC doesn't feel so distant from the "real world". He's ok with the discussion getting a little off-topic which is refreshing - in my experience, CC can really polarize people because it's so involved with religion, philosophy, and morality, but with the right time/space (as in Professor Engelke's class), people feel like they have the freedom to listen to each other. All that being said, Professor Engelke sometimes jumps into big, broad ideas and moves extremely fast during seminars, so if you haven't really done the reading and show up to class, it'll be pretty hard to participate. If you want a professor who can break down the arguments in the text for you, this really isn't the guy for you. He's also an extremely tough graders on papers and would make broad comments about my quotes being inaccurate without really explain why. On the midterm and final though, when I thought I was really BS-ing the quotes, I would do much better, grade-wise. The best part though - he has a dog named Willa who does therapy at hospitals who we got to meet when Professor Engelke invited us over to his house for a CC class complete with bagels and coffee! If you meet her, please tell Willa that I love her and that she is a very good dog.

Sep 2020

Really nice, young, and approachable teacher. I had a little bit more work than a different section a friend was in (ie 2 discussion posts a week vs just 1, and 3 essays instead of 2), but it was honestly really manageable and nothing compared to the amount of reading required for LitHum.

Sep 2020

IF YOU ARE REGISTERED FOR THIS CLASS SWITCH OUT IMMEDIATELY! You’re literally better off with any other professor except maybe Callahan. If you want a professor that is so laid back that he won’t reply to any emails, misses your office hour appointments, and provides barely any feedback on his harsh grading - by all means enjoy Billows. His essay grading is EXTREMELY harsh. I received an absolutely embarrassing grade. There were little to no comments written on my essay about why I had received this grade. I spoke to him after class as his office hours appointment times conflicted with my other classes. He said I could meet with him in Fayerweather at his office in an hour. This is when hell started...He didn’t show up, and I waited for over 35 minutes. I emailed him during this time and received no response. I thought maybe something came up for him, so I didn’t hold it against him. I followed up with him the next day and received no reply again. In class, he apologized profusely and said he would make sure to get back to my emails to find another time. I received no reply until the weekend when suddenly we were hit with the news that we would be taking classes online. After spring break, I was getting worried as I had another essay due but still didn’t know why I had been graded down on the last one. There was no way I could talk to him after classes due to the nature of Zoom sessions so I decided to skip my other class taking a hit in that grade to meet with him during his newly set up Zoom office hours. After a long time in the virtual waiting room I was finally face-to-face with Billows. During the meeting he gave very vague feedback, and tried to give a very general overview of how college writing works, and I was still left utterly confused. Keep in mind that I have always been a good student in humanities classes, and got an A in both LitHum and University Writing. As for the midterm, that was also graded relatively harshly, and it took equally long to finally have a sit down with him to understand what I did wrong. I had read all of the books that semester, so it wasn’t like the quality of my responses only showed a spark note level understanding, but I still only received a B- on the midterm. Every one of my passage IDs had been correct, but all the long form responses were graded harshly again, just like the essays. Points were taken off for things that were pretty unfair in my opinion given that we only had the length of a class period to complete the exam, such as not having a deep enough “so what. Just overall this teacher will SCREW YOU when it comes to anything having to do with writing or essays. I’m really grateful for the fact that this class ended up being pass/fail - I cannot imagine having gotten anything higher than a B given my grades the first half of the semester along with the high level of effort I was already putting into the course as is. In class he was generally a very nice person, but I still wouldn’t say this makes him worth taking by any stretch of the imagination given his harsh grading style and generally lackadaisical attitude.

Aug 2020

Honestly I was really let down by this teacher. I went in with much higher expectations given the positive review of Tenen that one of my upperclassmen friends had given me, but unfortunately after it was too late to drop the course I began to hear rumors that in the past two years he had significantly changed in difficulty level - and I can confirm these are true. I did all the work and was very confident in my knowledge of all the readings, but come midterm I got a B- with several of the points he deducted being wrongly taken off in my opinion. I participated heavily every class, but even this wasn’t enough to make up for it, and his essays were still not easy grades either. By the end of his class I ended up with an B+. Not a bad person but by no means is it easy to get a good grade.

Jul 2020

Not sure what all these reviews are about... Let me set the record straight. I read all of the books, participated in the discussions, and even went to a few office hours. I thought I had an A+ in the bag, but I was extremely disappointed after getting my first semester grades back that I received an A-. I'm honestly more frustrated that I couldn't make up for it second semester because of the mandatory pass/fail

May 2020

If you have Jason for your CC professor you are seriously one of the luckiest students around. As a CC alumn, Jason is first and foremost understanding. He recognizes the difficulties of being a Columbia student can bring and is always around for a talk or willing to give an extension. He is also incredibly knowledgable, often starting class with a short history and background before launching into the discussion. His area of research is labor history and rights, topics that come up frequently in class, along with discussions of his bunnies or being vegan. He makes sure all voices in the room are heard, uplifts minority voices, and constantly asks provoking questions that provoke discomfort but eventually insight. Personally, I find that this class is not for people who do not want to do any work, but if you put in the bare minimum of reading the books or at least reading the synopsis when you are short for time, you will be rewarded many times over with an understanding of philosophy and possible changes to your world view or how you view philosophy's relevance in the modern-day. Jason grades fairly and does not test on things that do not come up during class, even giving the class options to help design their midterm and final. When people talked about how CC was transformative or shaped their college career and maybe even their life, I did not understand how that could be possible when I'm not even a humanities major, but I can definitely say that CC is an experience I will carry with me for a long time to come.

Apr 2020

Zac is the BEST CC teacher you'll get. He cares SO MUCH about his students and makes such an effort to make sure everyone is engaged and learning. Sometimes class got a little boring, but for the most part, Zac did a great job of asking good questions and having us think about topics in a different way. He is SO SWEET and is incredibly understanding and supportive.

Apr 2020

Luke really cares about his students learning the CC content really thoroughly. He's really great at directing the conversations and synthesizing all the readings for our understanding. He'll give you a very solid CC experience and I'd recommend him! He seems like he'd be a hard grader, but really he really respects all arguments as long as they're sound and well written.

Apr 2020

The sweetest human being. Incorporates tons of sources from POC to supplement the bias of the core. Grades based on completion because she doesn't want to contribute to stress culture (i.e. guaranteed A). Gives lots of feedback and has been incredibly accommodating during COVID-19.

Apr 2020

Okay, so I think that del Nido genuinely cares about the content of the class, but maybe not the students themselves. The structure of class and grading leaves a lot to be desired. If you're already super knowledgable about religious philosophy then you'll probably be fine, but if you're just there to learn (like a lot of us!) then look elsewhere. Class time is just a bunch of students trying to talk over each other for that sweet participation grade, even if it didn't add anything substantive to the argument. And while I don't expect CC to be an entirely lecture-based class, I sort of expect more involvement from the teacher. His essay grading was pretty harsh and kind of arbitrary, and the midterm and final were way harder a lot of other sections my friends were in. If you needed any more convincing, every single second semester CC section was full except for his (I think there were 14 out of 22 students enrolled by the end of the add/drop period?). All of them. I ended up constantly refreshing Vergil/SSOL during registration for any spots open with literally any other prof. Basically everyone I knew that took CC with him in the fall switched out for the spring.

Apr 2020

Absolute gpa killer

Jan 2020

Lars Thimo Heisenberg is one of the few professors that makes you actually want to come to class and learn. He's an extremely engaging, vibrant, and understanding professor. Much of his class is centered around class discussion, and Thimo is great at providing just enough input for the class to organically discover things about the texts, and somehow can help connect the word vomit that you said into a larger class discussion. It's clear that he really cares about his students and is one of the best teachers out there. In terms of grading, his midterm/final are very fair, with passage IDs that are discussed in class, and his essay grading is not harsh; participation is most emphasized.

Jan 2020

Genuinely one of the best professors I have had at Columbia. She ensures you have developed essay ideas through mandatory 1 on 1 meetings and spends time to help students with essay topics. Midterms were returned relatively quickly for my section. Discussions are good but can be dominated by certain individuals at times, but that could be due to the specific personalities of people in the class. Overall, a good and caring CC professor for students genuinely interested in the material and not only concerned with getting an easy A.

Jan 2020

He does not care about his students at all. Most of the grades are very arbitrary and the tests are hard. Even if you do the reading, you may not do well in his class. He is a religious studies professor so he solely focuses on religion even though philosophical texts extend beyond that... He is not clear about what is tested on nor how to study. You'd basically need a photographic memory to be able to ID all the quotes correctly. He isn't flexible about meeting with students outside of office hours; and if you don't write essays that agree with his own opinion, your grade will so reflect. For crying out loud, this is a core class--he makes it way too difficult. He's the worst core professor I've ever had.

Jan 2020

He is generally knowledgeable, but not very good at managing discussions. He lets people interrupt and rarely can one finish a coherent trail of thoughts. After some time we just give up trying to speak at all. Overall an incredibly boring class. To put in perspective, 21 out of 22 students from my class decide to switch out for the second semester.

Jan 2020

This is my first time reviewing Kathy Eden. I had her a decade ago back in 2009/2010/2011, and even thinking about her today makes me a bit upset--a decade after the fact. I agree with one of the reviewers below: this woman has a mean streak and an ego --only the latter is understandable. Very judgmental and mean. It's the black mark of my Columbia College experience. If you falter a little in her class, there are no second chances. If she doesn't like you for some reason, she permanently writes you off as not worthy. The environment she creates is cold, not conducive to fostering open friendly discussion. Everyone was too frightened to raise their hand in class. This stands in stark comparison to my other semester of CC which was so much fun: all of us very willing to speak up about what we think and how we felt towards the text. But the semester with Eden (what a deceiving name) was cold and full of judgement. I will never get that semester back. To be completely forthcoming, perhaps you can say I'm a bit biased/bitter because of my grade (B-/C+ with Eden) compared to A/A- my other CC semester. But the one other time I received the lowest grade of my CC years (B- in Jeffrey Sachs' course) was the highlight my undergraduate coursework experience. I loved that class, and will never regret that experience. My differential experience across the two semesters of CC is at least partly reflective of the negative environment she created. STAY AWAY if you know what's good for you

Dec 2019

I switched out right after fall sem and that is probably the BEST choice I have made during my entire college experience. All this time, I haven't made a review just because there's too much to write about Nicole (as you can probably tell by the reviews below). The one benefit I HAVE taken from being in her class was, thanks to her INSISTENCE on making the class feel like home, meeting some other students who I still say hi to every now and then a whole year later. Everything everyone below said is true. These are all things I've experienced as part of the class during that semester or things I've heard from classmates I still hung out with afterwards who stayed in the class for the spring. This confirmation is for anyone who doubts the reviews because they've heard "great things" about Nicole (and I've had multiple underclassmen ask me about her and they'd be skeptical when I said she's not so great. Why do people have such a hard time believing it? Idk.). I can pretty easily guess who exactly wrote the reviews based on some of the incidents described and they are so valid. Disclaimer: I was not so f over like many of the other reviewers grade wise, but my life was sure f-ed over by the expectations she put on us in terms of reading, the dreaded participation grading, etc. You can think, "I'll just do well! It's fine!" ... nope. You wanna spend your sophomore year stressing over discussion posts, calculating when you need to participate, and reading a sh*t ton, just to get a grade that's going to make you feel like all your effort was utterly wasted while your friends are all smoothly skating by with light readings and A+'s, go ahead. You'll see what we all meant after you actually take her class for at least a whole semester, and you'll kick yourself for not listening to us. I went to her office hours to talk about my participation grade (like many others). I brought up a random detail about myself during casual discussion (as you know she LOVES to do.) She told me I should have told her and the class more about my PERSONAL life, but I didn't and so she couldn't raise my participation grade. In my mind I thought, CC is a class not a therapy circle. In her mind I had been useless in making our class- yes you guessed it- a HOME. Okay. I am not trying to personally be too critical of Nicole but Nicole, this is what you allow to happen when you 1. insist that your students participate in therapy circle every M/W and then punish them with bad grades when you don't think they've opened up enough 2. blabber on and on about your and your partner's lives, and your niece baby (we reviewers sound mean when we say this but trust me after a few weeks of hearing about it you get pretty tired of it) I really hope that Nicole takes a break from teaching and begins again when she is less lonely. I'm not going to reveal details as to why because that would just be revealing parts of her life (which I, a student, should not have even known but do know because she tells her students about herself). And Nicole, before you think "how can you all say this about me online when I was vulnerable to all of you?" 1. We did not ask you to be. We were your STUDENTS. You were there because we paid you to teach us. We did not pay thousands of dollars to be ears for your personal stories. Yes you also taught us philosophy, but right now what I remember vividly about that semester is not details about Aristotle and Plato but details about your partner and you. 2. I, and most of the other classmates aren't trying to be insensitive. We tried to be sensitive to you but when we realize our thousands of dollars are spent on becoming chit chat vassals for you, we have become angry. Pay us back. Please, if you're unable to switch out of her class, just push CC off for a year. You deserve better than Nicole, who is quite toxic to be honest. And Nicole I sincerely wish for you the best in your home and work, and I believe you'd be a great teacher if you step away for a bit and just take all of the personal stuff out of teaching CC and be professional in teaching.

Dec 2019

Though I graduated this past Spring, I wandered over to CULPA out of a sense of nostalgia and typed in a few of the teachers that I found most influential throughout my time at Columbia. Professor Jones does not need more praise than he has already received, but I noticed that many of the reviews here are dated. I merely wish to update CULPA to the fact that Professor Jones is still one of the greatest professors at Columbia, and to say that his teaching of Contemporary Civilization fundamentally changed the way that I interact with and view our world. Professor Jones is brilliant. I was a relatively unmotivated student before feeling the excitement that he brought to each class, which in turn made me excited to prepare for each class. Do take CC with him if you are ever offered the opportunity.

Dec 2019

I am not a fan of the way Yayra "teaches" CC. Here's why: 1. The weekly reading workload was ridiculous. This stands for all CC classes, but she made changes to the syllabus (seemingly without reason) and added even more to it. 2. I am not sure that I learned anything, and not for lack of trying. All discussions were theoretical and focused on subjects which were largely tangential. Most of her questions were high-level and arbitrary, and I suspect she would have had a hard time answering them herself. 3. Grading for paper assignments could only be described as 'nitpicky'. Her "evaluative criteria" handout for every paper (which she usually sent out on the night the assignment was due) tended to obscure her expectations for the assignment. 4. The second half of the semester was entirely student presentations with limited input from the actual instructor (come on, Columbia). 5. There was no help for those who had questions. Office hours were largely a waste of time, as she just regurgitated points made in class discussions. Multiple students in my section asked her for help on written assignments, only to have her tell them "no", as if she was not LITERALLY being paid to INSTRUCT. I concede that CC is not fun for students and imagine that it is even less fun for instructors, but this was on another level. No one wanted to be there, Yayra included. Don't take CC with Yayra if you 1) want to learn anything or 2) want to get an A. Oh, and it's a 8:10. TLDR: DO NOT TAKE THIS SECTION UNLESS YOU HAVE TO!!!

Dec 2019

TAKE HER CLASS. Easy is an understatement. I am confident saying that there is no better professor to teach this course. If you are looking for a class that you look forward to, that is an easy A, and also a class you will enjoy and learn a lot in, this is the class. She struck the perfect balance between providing historical context and guiding the conversation while simultaneously allowing natural discussions between students. Her approach to the course wasn't one of overworking students and promoting a monolithic narrative about any specific text. Rather, she lightened the workload when it allowed us to dive deeper into areas and works that were more useful to study in-depth, instead of reading more but less critically. She made sure everyone felt comfortable in class and actively went out of her way to ensure every student had access to resources and that each person felt engaged with the discussion. Her excitement to delve into the works was palpably authentic. Easily one of the most intelligent, most kind, and most effective professors at Columbia.

Dec 2019

I learned how to sleep with my eyes open. Quite literally I learned nothing. Which was only compounded by him canceling four classes and holding one for only an hour-- this is a required class that I pay a lot of money for and don't want to take any more than he wanted to be here. Not only would he cancel class but he also canceled office hours frequently. I emailed him three times to discuss my midterm and he never once made an effort to meet with me. I think I know maybe four of my classmates' names; we have never entered into any sort of debate. The class is very much just listening to him ramble. It was difficult to learn anything when the first hour was spent with useless historical background that Prof. Stanislawski did not want to populate our essays. The second hour was usually filled with him asking one or two questions and not allowing any student to finish their response before disregarding it. The most popular phrase said in class is him yelling "NO" when anyone dares to bring up an interesting/alternative reading of the text. I can think of maybe three classes where we actually looked at the text. There was never really discussions of themes or vocabulary that my peers in other classes have described. I knew I didn't have to read any of the material after the first class because he quite literally only asked the class one question and cut the responder off after her first sentence. Learning about straight white male's opinions by yet another straight white male ***yawn** Also have a good time trying not to stare at the accumulation of spit in the corner of his mouth that stares you in the eye the WHOLE class period.

Nov 2019

Zac is such a sweetie. He is an adorable teacher who desperately wants his class to understand these seminal texts, and gets extremely excited when we do. Over the course of the semester, our class went from being a bit uneasy about discussing these philosophical texts to engaging in pretty good discussions. Zac gets really excited about random topics (does Descartes think animals deserve the same rights as humans? How about Hobbes? -- like what). He also understands that it's difficult to balance reading for CC with everything else we have going on and reduced a lot of our readings over the course of the semester so that we ended up reading only the most crucial parts of the texts, which I really appreciated because I've never had a professor do this before. He also took our class to the Cloisters (and for Dominican food after, which is important) and also screened eXistenZ for us (which was a fun '90s terrible CGI type beat, but free pizza). He really cares about our success and the review from 2015 that's on here certainly does not my experience with him as a professor.

Nov 2019

Have to agree with the previous reviewer. I had a wonderful teacher for LitHum that fostered a supportive and friendly learning environment, pushed us to think in new ways, and built wonderful personal relationships with us. Stanislawski has done exactly the opposite. I think that most people in our CC class are having a really bad time. Most of our classes begin with 1+ hour of him lecturing about the historical context of the reading. It takes at least an hour for us to even open the book. He almost always interrupts students when they are speaking. If he disagrees with you, he won't even let you finish. He also asks questions about the historical context that don't have much to do with the reading itself and is surprised when no one answers. He ends classes with drawn-out conclusions about what he thinks the text is about, presenting his own beliefs as facts. Imagine a vibe of "This is what I think, this is what's correct, and this is what you should think too." He has been at Columbia for 30+ years and it's clear that he realizes the world has changed since then. But he seems vastly uncomfortable with the fact. He has asked several times about our personal religious experiences/beliefs/practices, which I find highly inappropriate. Our class spent an exorbitant amount of time on the Bible compared to other classes and it's clear that he, as a Jewish historian, favors these texts over everything else. He was surprised when most of us didn't know what happens at Catholic Mass. To me, he seems to be stuck in a past where Columbia was predominately white, male, and Christian. Put simply, he lacks cultural awareness and does not know how to talk about issues of race, class, gender, etc. in a sensitive and nuanced way. He does not expect participation and it can only affect your grade positively. He sometimes calls on random people to read out loud, but it's always the same people, and I suspect that he doesn't know half of our names (the semester is almost over). He cancels office hours very often due to "important department meetings" and I honestly get the feeling he does not care about this class much, save for the fact that he comments on our essay drafts. He is tenured and it allows him to get away with bad teaching, poorly planned lessons, and generally a terrible class experience. The only saving grace is that he allows laptops for taking notes (he requires that we turn the wifi off but obviously most people don't do that). If you are the type of person who hates participation, you may be drawn to his class. However, be wary that you will be suffering through lecture-style classes where he rambles about the history and you don't learn much about the texts. I would avoid him at all costs. Thankfully for us, he is leaving next semester to go teach in Paris and we are getting a different professor. I don't think it could get any worse from here.

Oct 2019

Before reading this review, I think it is important for you to get a sense of my expectations and desires for the course. I wanted to take CC and had been looking forward to it ever since I arrived at Columbia. I like hard classes and I don’t mind spending a significant amount of time reading and writing for a course if the teacher is excellent and the subject matter interesting. I expected CC, with the right teacher, to be a valuable experience. Based on the other reviews of Charley’s class, I expected his section in particular to be challenging, rigorous, and rewarding. At the end of the semester, I did not feel that my expectations had been met. Here is what I wish I had known before enrolling in Charley’s section: -If you read everything Charley assigns (and, to his credit, Charley does assign reading and always makes the text the center of class, unlike some other CC teachers) carefully and critically, and if you feel like before you go into class you have a halfway decent idea of the concepts discussed in the reading, you will probably come into class one day and ask yourself “Did Charley and I read the same book? This didn’t happen to me until Tocqueville, but looking back, I can see that there was reason to feel this way from the beginning. Charley likes to ask what I think he believes are thought-provoking questions. Here are some examples: “Did equality create Cleveland, Ohio [asked during a discussion on Tocqueville]? “Is Wollstonecraft just trying to turn women into men? “Are we [i.e., students of Columbia] the colonized intellectuals [discussed in Fanon]? “What would Fanon think of Brexit? “Is it worth it to have double-consciousness [as described by Du Bois]? If you have carefully read any of those texts, the absurdity and irrelevance of these questions should be apparent. Charley misses the main point of nearly every text and, as a result, fails to ask genuinely thought-provoking questions. -He is not very good at guiding discussion. He comes into class with notes, so he isn’t totally unprepared. But there were countless times when a student would raise a point or ask a question and Charley’s only reply would be “hmmm or “I don’t know. For example, when reading Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions, the question came up as to what changes Einstein had made to Newtonian physics. No one in my class knew the answer but neither did Charley, or if he did, he never shared it. The idea of the shift from Newton to Einstein is a central idea in the text and it would have been extremely useful to have the actual scientific facts in our discussion, but Charley didn’t have or refused to share that knowledge. He just let the question hang in the air and then moved on to a new student who had a new question. This method of refusing to answer students’ questions and refusing to challenge anything anyone says provides for very boring and scattered discussion. It rarely felt like there was a point to anything we talked about. -In a similar way, there was no perceptible through line that connected the texts. In my LitHum classes, my teachers always brought the new ideas that we were discussing into conversation with ideas that we had previously encountered. This made the curriculum feel cohesive and progressive. Charley did not do this much at all, and when he did, it was superficial at best. For instance, there were numerous times when we would read someone who could be considered a social contract theorist or read something about social contract theory. Every time this topic arose, without fail, Charley would ask “Who should we be thinking about? and someone would dutifully answer “Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau and then we would move on to another question/topic. The conversation about social contract theory rarely went deeper than that. -Charley does not play Devil’s Advocate. He does not take the side of the text and defend it against students’ criticisms. Rather, he is often the instigator of questioning a text for any and all reason. If you aren’t careful, you will leave class thinking that Kant, Marx, Wollstonecraft, Nietzsche, Arendt, Woolf, etc. were all utterly foolish. -He does not leave room for nuance in his questions or discussions. For example, when discussing the Communist Manifesto, after reading aloud a particular passage, he asked something along the lines of “Okay, so what is Marx getting rid of here? Students responded with “property, individuality, freedom, etc. Charley wrote those words on the board and then moved on to his next question, without taking any time to discuss the fact that Marx makes an important distinction between property, individuality, freedom and bourgeois property, individuality, and freedom. If Charley had brought this distinction (which is clearly articulated in Marx’s text) into the conversation, the class could have had a fruitful discussion about how Marx’s conceptions of those ideas differ from the conceptions held by others and whether or not we thought those distinctions were accurate or warranted. It could have culminated in a conversation about whether or not universal concepts such as freedom really exist, or if they are just situational, which could have had ties to numerous other authors in the syllabus (particularly Kant). But Charley failed to note Marx’s distinction, so the class was left with the simplistic idea that Marx advocates for abolishing all notions of freedom, property, and individuality. Charley is young and modern and is beloved by the Core Office. He knows what a meme is and can use “woke in a sentence. Those qualities were charming to many of my fellow students. If you want to have a teacher who assigns a significant amount of work but who does not challenge your intellect more than a peer (and often challenges it less than that), and are enticed by the idea of having an Internet-literate teacher, Charley’s class may be enjoyable for you. But if you want to learn about CC’s texts in a deep and nuanced way, Charley is not the teacher to provide that experience.

Oct 2019

This has been one of the worst experiences I have had at Columbia. Michael is a horrible prof for CC. He cuts students off literally every single time they speak. It’s october and I’ve yet to hear a classmate finish a thought out loud because the prof will interrupt. If you disagree with him he basically calls you stupid and does not let you full articulate an argument. He also handwrites notes on your essays that are completely indiscernible scribbles. He does not fact check himself and will say you are wrong about something even if you have researched it. I have to say if you get him SWITCH NOW!!!!!

Sep 2019

I disagree with the previous reviewer who states that RRJ plays favorites and is impatient with students. This is just my subjective experience, but I got the opposite impression: he really wants to see all students succeed, even ones who are struggling. When I was in his class, I was at a very low point in my struggle with mental health issues. This severely interfered with my ability to perform academically, and I covered it (poorly) up by pretending not to care, by pretending I was slacking by choice: bragging about never doing the readings, joking about how lazy I was, putting on the persona of a class clown. But Richard didn't yell at me or hold it against me. He tried to hard all year to reach out to me and encourage me and try to bring out the best in me. And despite my own best efforts, I came away from the class feeling that I'd learned a great deal and grown in my understanding of the texts. That said, my class absolutely was full of the "classic CC kids" and it did get kind of annoying at times. Particularly in the fall semester, I felt this toxic atmosphere of one-uppmanship in which students vied to show off their extensive knowledge and ~profoud intellectual appreciation~ and to me it felt like it was not out of a genuine desire to add to the discourse, but just to show off, suck up to the professor, and flex on each other. One guy in my class even harassed me in the class group chat after I made a point in class that the professor seemed to like, saying my point was the most basic and elementary observation about the CC author in question, and telling me to "read a book" (although to be fair, I did openly admit to seldom doing the readings, so maybe I brought it on myself?) Honestly, if Richard got impatient in class, it was in response to this kind of obnoxious, posturing rambling that took up too much time. (I do wish he'd taken a stronger role in directing the conversation instead of letting the classic CC kids take turns flexing, though). If you're looking for an easy A or a light workload, this class definitely isn't for you. Richard assigned lots of additional readings other classes didn't have; this is probably why our class was composed predominantly of "classic CC kids." But if you can try to ignore the one-uppmanship that dominates class discourse, you'll learn a lot from Richard and come away with a richer appreciation of the CC texts and (as problematic, racist, imperialist, and grossly oversimplified as this term is) the "Western philosophical tradition."

May 2019

Take his class if you have a chance!!!! He's great. Lars Thimo Heisenberg is the best instructor I've had at Columbia. Because of him, I had the peak of the possible CC experience. There's a chance I'll end up in as an instructor in academia, and if this ever comes to be, I will model myself after him. Thimo (Prof. Heisenberg) somehow made class discussions flow naturally, and yet kept them informative. My grasp on the texts was always much more solid after class discussion; Thimo would consistently clear things up, seemingly by doing very little, and I understood the fundamental structure, argument, and methods of the texts as a result. At the same time, our class laughed- together- more than any other I've been in at CU. Consider this: I was always overloaded and sleep-deprived this semester and yet always looked forward to my 6-8 PM CC session. (I actually had Columbia-subsidized tickets to a concert during a session a couple weeks ago and resold them when I realized I had few sessions of CC left and didn't want to miss one.) Thimo also somehow perfectly balanced direct explanations and discussion-moderating; we got enough clarification that it cleared up some of our mis-readings and enough discussion to actually think through the texts and analyze them critically. Another thing Thimo did perfectly was nurture diverse opinions in the class and get people to treat them seriously (with respect), and he did this naturally, without invoking rules or authority. In other words, he’d prod us with questions, directing the discussion simply by calling on people, and sometimes he’d say “To summarize...” and then a nuanced summary of developed ideas and how different people disagreed, structured in a way that would clear things up and highlight the strong points and crucial parts of the thoughts. We’ve noticed that Thimo, crucially, really listens to our comments, as if he expects there to be something interesting in what we say, which allows him to challenge the points honestly. The discussion was thus usually beautiful, and we got the most out of both the texts and our fellow classmates’ differing opinions and backgrounds. Thimo's always incredibly prepared. He’d come to class with some background information about the authors and the texts (he told us about Nietzsche’s linguistics background, and the complex history of “Ain’t I a Woman?” as a text, etc.), and then after an analysis of what the passages were doing (their arguments, methods, assumptions, conclusions drawn), he’d bring up some common criticisms of the works to put on the table for the discussion (this also often happened when a student criticized the text). Sometimes passages were unclear, so we'd ask, and Thimo would either clear things up or provide some theories “in the literature” about interpretations, often also telling us his personal opinion. Obviously, Thimo sometimes did not have exact answers, and he was very upfront with this, usually offering to find out what he could. Thimo is also truly invested in our experience in CC and simply as humans. He really wasn’t treating us as just a job (although I’m sure we often tired him out). He’d stay for a long time after the classes talking with us, was available to talk outside of class-time, offered help with papers in office and Skype meetings, organized midterm and final review sessions, etc. My only complaint is that now my expectations are completely ruined, and so I will probably wait for a long time before another instructor manages to meet my new standards. Also, Thimo has genuinely terrible handwriting. (Seriously, it's chicken scrawl.)

Apr 2019

Pablo has been one of my favorite teachers at Columbia so far. He's super chill and incredibly smart. I absolutely loved him for CC because discussion was always interesting and he guided it very well while also allowing everyone to share their own thoughts. He's definitely not THE easiest CC professor, and you do have to do SOME work, but that being said, you can easily get an A in the class without doing much more than the sparknotes readings. He's lowkey pretty lazy as far as grading goes; he assigned us a "group essay" second semester which let's be honest we all knew he just didn't want to grade 20 essays. But it's nice because CC shouldn't be about a heavy workload. The class is always super engaging and I thoroughly enjoy going to it. 10/10 would take this class (or any class with Pablo) again. He's incredibly intelligent and interesting to discuss texts with and this class was the highlight of the core for me.

Apr 2019

Prof. Robertson is amazing! She always leads engaging discussions and is very flexible. Would recommend!

Jan 2019

Rebecca's class will chiefly be defined by the group of people you take it with. She generally is well versed in the works, but has a particular reading of each piece with different aspects that particularly caught her eye which she creates the lesson plan on. She doesn't lecture much, and students will do a presentation on each work so there's lots of room for varying ideas about the texts. That said, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that this openness will not equate to guiding the discussion, but that one can add their ideas on Rebecca's pre-planned discussion topics. For class, there are three short essays of 2-3 pages which she grades a bit easier than the final paper which is between 6-8 pages. There are the aforementioned presentations, and class participation (which can be substituted for office hours discussions, but you do still have to show up to class even if you don't talk during it). The midterms and finals are a bit stressful, but she provides a study guide and a session in which she helps guide us to the answers she's looking for (she expects us to reach the final answers for the study guide, but is willing to help lead the class to where to look for those answers, and to a more refined understanding of answers which students have come to themselves). This guide is comprised of questions that won't be on the test, but that if one understands how to answer the questions on the guides they will be able to answer those questions that will be on the exams.

Dec 2018

I know that everyone has said, especially in previous years, that Nicole has been a great teacher who has helped everyone grow and learn from CC. However, her class in Fall 2018 was special in the sense that she said nothing but nonsense in class and never actually taught the texts in the curriculum. She frequently spoke of outside matters that sometimes had nothing to do with the books and then handed out extremely hard midterms or impossible essays where she deducted as she pleased. I've heard of numerous people already trying to switch out of her class now because of her immense workload and intense grading style. DO NOT take her. She is not the grand teacher everyone had spoken about in years prior. Do take another teacher that seems nicer and easier than her.

Dec 2018

Richard says he's been teaching for 35 years and that he knows how to teach and what counts as good student work, but honestly he just plays favorites. He has no rubric for grading any essays, he just gives you a grade at the end. On the midterm and final essays, he told some students that all he does is read and if a certain point is compelling he gives you 2 pts until you hit full points. There is no format. If you ask him how to do better on essays, he just tells you to include more historical context and he doesn't help you further develop your argument. He spends way too much time in class on historical context too. We spent an hour and thirty minutes going over the history of the Qur'an. If you read the texts and don't really understand them, you shouldn't expect to be able to understand them after class either (Richard someone expects you to know it though). He also cuts students off all the time and doesn't let them formulate complete thoughts. Once you start to say something he automatically thinks he knows what you're saying he tries to explain it for you but sometimes he's way off. Additionally, if he asks you to explain your discussion post and you have to pull it up because you don't remember what you wrote, he just skips over you and is like okay never mind. When students are talking and presenting their points in class, He gestures with his hands like "ok keep moving, hurry up," and he would talk over students all the time. Despite his impatience, he's horribly inefficient with time. We spent an hour and forty-five minutes introducing ourselves on the first day of class because he kept interrupting the students' introductions and trying to explain them himself. We ended up with only 15 minutes to talk about Plato that day. He does offer extra credit, but he doesn't tell you how much it's worth, AND he gives a lot of these opportunities out during his office hours, so not everyone has a fair chance at doing them. I got to do a couple and present in class, but other students didn't even have a clue that that was an option. Additionally, he keeps telling us to stop stressing out about grades and to just relax, but at the same time, he assigns a ridiculous amount of reading and he says the second semester will be even more reading intensive. We read 40 texts this semester, which is almost 40% more than other classes. Finally, my class was full of variations on the "classic CC kid." People in my class would quote Kant ( a spring semester author) halfway through the fall semester, they would quote Descartes in Latin 5 weeks before we got to him, they would say shit like "his cosmology is complete", they would correct Richard if he misquoted something, and Richard lapped it right up. HE LOVES those kids and would tailor the discussion to best fit them and revolve around them, while a lot of other people had no idea what was going on. There's a very specific type of student who chooses to stay in his CC class, and his class self-weeds out any of the normal kids who aren't philosophy fanatics, usually during the first week. I stayed because I got lazy and didn't want to switch sections, plus i had a great schedule. I took LitHum last year, so I thought this class would be similar, but it's not. I was used to reading a good amount every week, but this class assigned way too much. This professor was just not helpful, and I desperately want to switch out for second semester but all the sections are full. Hopefully they'll open up later so I can get out of this class. I seriously hope some other classic CC kid will be dying to switch with me. Tldr; if you're a "classic CC kid," Richard will love you, and you will love him. If you're looking for a chill semester of reading, Richard is not for you. If you are looking for a professor to explain the texts and clarify, Richard is not for you.

Nov 2018

Honestly, no idea how she is one of the core lecturers. She is like the worst professor I have ever encountered in Columbia. Grading is extremely harsh with no explanation at all. Very unhelpful and rude. She may seem nice by bringing snacks to class but don’t be deceived by that: she is an extremely rude and harsh who does not know basic respect to students. Honestly, I learnt nothing from her section at all so steer away from her section!

Sep 2018

Mediocre professor, not great at leading an interesting discussion, as he’s more interested in covering the material he prepared than engaging students. Gives minimal feedback on essays unless you follow up with him. That said, exams are pretty easy, but he doesn’t use the grading scale that literally every other professor uses and does not disclose this unless you ask about it. Overall, look elsewhere if you want a more intelligent or lively class leader.

May 2018

Writing a review here because I forgot to to the course evals! Nicole is a very kind, fun person who's very well-intentioned. That said, I did not think that she was the greatest of CC professors. Her classes are rarely ever discussion based, but rather led like a high school English class in which Nicole goes through important passages in the book and we are expected to nod along. Any questions we ask are answered by her in a clear yes/no way, and there is little room for discussion by the students on the actual ideas presented in the readings. Her workload is pretty light, and the only thing you will have to really do is the bi-weekly commentaries. However, the problem with her assignments is that she is unbelievably late with the feedback--for the spring semester, we got our only long paper back the day before our final, which was a paper of the same format. All in all, she's a sweet person to take CC is, but I'm not sure it's the best class if you want to actually engage with the material and get fair grades that are reflective of your performance and improvement in the class.

May 2018

While Nicole is an engaging and relatable professor, her many downfalls and shortcomings outweigh her praise-worthy qualities. She begins the year by making the content of the works relatable and interesting, but her constant interjections of her personal life, although applicable to the matter at hand, blur the line between professor and friend. She emphasizes that, with the midterm, she does not intend to "trick you," but her grading of the written portion of the exam negates the ease of the passage ID's. Although there is only one real paper per semester, she hands it back the day before the final exam (which is the same format - an in-class application essay) and grades them so much harder than she has made her standards out to be in class. This is on top her inappropriately close (friendly) relationships with some of her students which creates blatant favoritism and an unclear dynamic between herself and the entire class. For the whole year, we were kept guessing how she would grade us and on what scale because, in class, we spent time talking about the history and lives of the philosophers and relating shallow versions of their ideas to whatever was going on in Nicole's life at the moment, but on exams and paper, she would expect the utmost and deepest understanding of the texts. When we had questions about papers and exams, she would either take a week to email back or just never do so. All in all, I began to dislike Nicole and her "teaching" style very early on. She has clear favorites and blurs the line between professor and friend.

Apr 2018

One of the greatest minds of any core instructor. Really understands and is passionate about morality, political science, and humanity. Don't you want someone to teach you that loves what he teaches? This man is the definition of passionate. He may ask a bit of you in terms of workload, but man, Kevin is A1. His discussions are always enriching, and he really seems to connect with students and is a funny guy too. We love Kevin!

Apr 2018

Daniel del Nido is the most lovable professor I have had at Columbia. The man is very intelligent and runs a great discussion. He is very quirky and uses some pretty outlandish hand motions but it's all pretty entertaining. Really makes me enjoy the texts and discussions that we have. The only problem is that when some students would make stupid comments he wouldn't really shut anyone down even though we all know he has a much better grasp over the material than we and could easily shut them up. Overall though, I love this man!

Feb 2018

While I can sympathize with some of the errrr... harsher... reviews... and definitely see where disgruntled former students are coming from I don't think that Professor Elliot is an absolute monster. I'm hope to offer a fairly tempered response about what I thought of his class. He's definitely one of the harder CC teachers out there so if you're taking other difficult classes in addition to his class, I would recommend either dropping that other class or switching out of his to one of the more lenient CC professors in his stead. But CC in general is a very difficult and time consuming class in my opinion. Columbia administrators even recommend not trying to take on too much whilst you take CC. So if you're looking for a quote unquote "easy" CC professor, you won't find it in Professor Elliot... but I'm not entirely convinced that you'll manage to find it anywhere. While his discussion question handouts that he passes out can be... annoying... and distracting, especially for people who feel pressured to follow them religiously in fears that the questions will be on the midterm, they are merely things to consider as you are reading. They aren't mandatory persay. I can sympathize with how the sheer quantity of things to look for might come across as overwhelming. I would recommend keeping them in the back of your mind... but not actively hunting for answers. There aren't many opportunities for participation it seems like, especially for students who seem a little bit on the shy side but the discussion board posts give you an opportunity to at least attempt to make up for it. He's fun to listen to... so even though the class isn't particularly discussion based you won't be bored for two hours. All in all... is he the best CC professor you could ever hope to have? Probably not. Are there worse out there? Most likely. The one thing I will say is that I would not recommend taking his class if you have a disability because he isn't particularly accommodating or understanding of your limitations.

Jan 2018

Lectures too much, and doesn't have anything to say that you won't find in any online cliff notes. Discussions are heavily summary-based; professor rewards vague academic psuedo-intellectualism over any kind of substantive or deep analysis. Somewhat fair grader, but he has an unorthodox grading scale that he doesn't disclose until the end of the semester that may lower your grade by a few points. Overall, I found his instruction mediocre at best. He doesn't put in too much effort, and he's an intellectual lightweight. He'd fit in better at an average high school than an elite institution like Columbia. There are definitely better CC professors out there. Don't waste your time.

Jan 2018

Jeremy is honestly just a really good person who cares about his students and the philosophical texts in the curriculum. He really trims the fat for the readings to keep things manageable for the students and is always very understanding of circumstances that lead to missing a class or a reflection. Classes aren't always the MOST engaging but I suspect that had more to do with the people in my section than Jeremy. He discusses the text in such a way that you really get the core ideas without having to deal with fluff. That being said, if you're interesting in philosophy he makes sure you get your fill of the fluff. He puts a lot of effort in writing emails to the class chock full of historical context, interesting anecdotes, and various perspectives and analyses on the readings. Truly, these emails get to the lengths of UW papers. He's also very lenient on papers. We wrote very few compared to other classes and the ones we wrote were very short. Jeremy focuses on understanding of concepts and ability to argue rather than extensive knowledge of the authors and pieces and ability to apply MLA formatting. The guy also hates giving exams. He says this a lot and it's hundo p true. Exams are short and there's no funny business with the texts. There are passage IDs but the passages are extremely representative of the texts. To the point where if you only came to class without having read the texts you could probably get most to all of them.

Jan 2018

I had a truly terrible experience with this professor in my sophomore year (fall 2016). I came to Columbia for the core curriculum, and I was really looking forward to CC, especially the first semester. So initially I counted myself lucky to get Professor Fusco. She is an actual tenure-track philosophy professor teaching CC, which is a rarity. At our first class, Professor Fusco seemed like she was a nervous and inexperienced but well-meaning professor who would go out of her way to try and learn to cover the material. Instead of talking about the Republic or anything related to CC that class, she gave a long lecture on the analytic/continental divide. She seemed pretty embarrassed when we admitted we'd read the first 5 books of the Republic for that class and quite eager to meet our expectations for the next class. I couldn't have been more wrong in my initial assessment of her. Professor Fusco turned out to demonstrate she was shockingly unwilling to try to actually teach the CC syllabus. She outright ignored the assigned reading for about 90% of class, instead focusing on her own personal research interests. The entire semester was dominated by tangents and I felt like I barely learned about the texts. Some days were better than others, but here's what happened our worst class meeting: we had read about 200 pages from Aristotle's Politics for that class, but after a five-minute attempt to discuss the text, Professor Fusco gave up. Literally, she took out a box of cookies, and told us that right before class, she realized she didn't know anything about The Politics. Her boyfriend suggested that she bring cookies to class to make up for the disappointment. So she ran to Hungarian Pastry Shop and bought some pastries. The remaining hours of class were spent discussing a book review she was writing and eating cookies. Most of the time, if we got off-topic, we discussed topics in her area of research, which was philosophy of language and game theory. Sometimes she brought in worksheets she'd prepared on random game theory experiments. Occasionally, she would go on tangents about her/the class' personal lives that were flat-out unrelated to philosophy and bordered on inappropriate. For example, she once asked us to explain the vibes of different bars Columbia students tend to frequent. Then she furnished a vivid anecdote of her own, about a bar she frequented in grad school that had a concrete floor so they could hose the vomit off at the end of the night. On the occasions she actually decided to address the text in class, she focused on incredibly narrow and usually irrelevant aspects of them. When we discussed Hobbes' Leviathan, she spent an hour on the crozier that the monster holds on the front cover. During our discussion of The Republic, she spent at least an hour trying to draw the physical configuration of the cave. Which she followed up on next class with printouts of various cave layouts from the first page of results on Google Images. That took another hour. Professor Fusco's administration of class discussion was also terrible. The class was primarily dominated by 4-5 guys who liked game theory, some of whom actively interrupted class members or laughed at the comments of other students. When we actually *did* discuss the texts, she encouraged comments from the group of guys, who liked to attack the authors before the text had been thoroughly understood. It didn't make for great discussion but it did make for some great comedy: sophomores in college who did the reading on Sparknotes bashing the founding ideas of the Western canon with the intellectual force of middle schoolers. Someone would dub Martin Luther's salvation by faith alone or Descartes' cogito ergo sum as "dumb," then pat themselves on the back for their intellectual achievement as Fusco noted that they "raised a good point." I'm not saying that CC shouldn't allow students to form their own evaluations of the text, but it is the responsibility of the instructor to encourage thoughtful responses to them, since they contain deeply historically important and philosophically compelling ideas. Even if you disagree with the authors, the point of CC isn't to randomly bash their ideas, but to understand then critically evaluate them. Fusco failed at fostering this kind of atmosphere. On top of not teaching the material and administering class discussion badly, Professor Fusco seemed to be quite a harsh grader. I got an A- in the class doing all the reading and starting the first essay about 2 weeks in advance (the second essay I did right before the due date, which tanked my grade). I have no grudges about my personal grade, but the class was only 33% A-range, which is pretty low for CC (usually it's around 50%). I think she was probably too harsh on students who don't have experience writing philosophy papers. In summary: Don't take Fusco's class if you want to actually cover any of the material in CC or have thoughtful and respectful discussions of the texts. Do take Fusco's class if you want to be questioned about your drinking habits and discuss the prisoner's dilemma like 10+ times in a semester. My choice? Second semester I broke out of jail, switched to another section taught by a great professor, and had an intellectually fulfilling experience. I recommend you do the same.

Jan 2018

A nice guy, does his best to engage with students, but if you are looking to get an A in this class, good luck to you. If you find philosophy difficult to understand - as many people do - you will be severely disappointed by his grading scale. He grades incredibly harshly on the 2 essays - so much so that it ended up tanking my grade and the grades of my friends in the class. Again, he is a nice guy and doesn't make class miserable, but it will come at the expense of your final grade. This is not an easy section of CC.

Jan 2018

Charley is an amazing professor, particularly for CC. He is very passionate about the texts and, as a result, wants to make sure we cover all themes and important ideas in class. I really liked how structured his classes are and how he demands effort and application from his students (not by being a harsh professor, but by his mere love of the class texts). After a semester of CC with Charley, I feel like I have actually learned a lot in this class and have a good grasp on all of the readings--despite the magnitude of the syllabus. He is a great guy, but a harsh grader. If you go to his office hours and speak to him beforehand about your ideas and then carefully read his comments after he returns your essay (he spends a lot of time grading papers and gives excellent feedback), then you'll definitely receive a grade above a B/B+. If you want an easy CC class where you can bs your way through discussion and get away with reading less than half of the texts, then this is not the class for you. But if you take CC seriously and value an exceptional professor (that will definitely mark your university experience) over an easy A, take Charley's section.

Dec 2017

If you are not a philosophy major, do not take this class. Her grading is extremely harsh and she makes you learn the minute and intricate details of texts, not for the sake of understanding them, but for passage IDs. You have no explanation of how and why you were graded and the paper submission process is unnecessarily complicated. If you're the kind of person that likes an arrogant professor, this is the section for you.

Dec 2017

Michelle is a genuinely nice professor. She apparently said some intimidating shit to scare people off in the first class. I switched in late, so I wasn't there for that, but in my experience she was not anywhere near a strict professor. Her classes go by pretty quickly and I found her to be a pretty nice grader. I handed in some incoherent garbage (I'm in SEAS so I do mean garbage) for the first essay and got a B+, which I could have raised to a B+/A- with a rewrite. Her midterm was also pretty straightforward, I got an A with a reasonable amount of studying. She gives the midterm and final essay questions ahead of time (although she gives more options than will appear on the day of). She's a great lecturer, but she's not so great at leading class discussion. She often asks a question fishing for an answer. She frames it as a discussion, but she's clearly looking for a correct answer. It makes it harder to want to jump in when you know that your answer will be brushed off as wrong if it isn't the answer she's looking for. That said, she became a lot more self-aware about it by the end of the semester, which makes it a lot less awkward.

Dec 2017

I can't say enough good things about this professor, and I disagree with the other reviewer (I can't believe the reviewer almost discouraged me from taking his class). He is one of the most engaging, energetic, and intelligent professors I've had at this school. Our class discussions are always lively and interesting, and he is extremely clear about the ideas he wants us to take away from the text (and, if you have a hard time understanding, he is happy to take his time thoroughly explaining a concept). He often discusses the texts alongside contemporary legal issues, and I will really miss this aspect of the way he teaches his class. A lot of professors focus on the text without discussing how those ideas apply to the real world - but that's exactly what makes ideas in CC so meaningful and important, and I'm glad that Zach does this. Also, in general, he is nice, approachable, and funny. He can be casual in a way that might rub some people the wrong way (and I see how that can come off the wrong way) but, trust me, he's NOT rude, as the other review makes him seem. He genuinely cares about his students and will always make time for office hours. Yes he is harder than the average (and can grade harshly), but I'm glad I was forced into a section where I couldn't slack - this class and this professor made me fall in love with political theory/philosophy. Overall, workload is fine, it's just the grading that can be harsh. I know my classmates struggled with their essays. His exams are fair, he won't surprise you with anything that wasn't discussed in class. Take his class!!!

Nov 2017

Despite some of the reviews on Culpa, Kevin Elliott is a pretty good professor. His classes are very interesting and by the end of the semester Kevin ended up being one of my favorite professors. He gives a little more work than other professors, but he grades fairly, so if you do the work you will probably end up with an A/A-. His midterm was very straight forward, it was mostly quotes we had covered in class. At the beginning of the class he seems intimidating and he tells you have to do all the readings, but the workload is very manageable. Only a certain amount of the discussion posts are graded, so most of it goes to your participation grade (which is really good if you don't participate much in class). As far as the readings go, it's just like any other class; some kids do none of the reading and still do fine. There are more essays than other classes, but the first few are really short, the third one is an outline of an essay, and the last one is a standard essay. He also let's you rewrite an essay with the new grade replacing your old grade, so the amount of writing assignments really helps your grade.

Oct 2017

I can start off by saying that Professor John's CC class is not the place where you go if your goal for CC is to skate by doing as little work as possible. I had him for 2nd semester, and it was a significantly most intensive course than my CC class first semester. With that disclaimer, Prof. John is an engaging, skilled professor who's class was not only fascinating but truly impacted the way that I view the world. Every class truly allows for a comprehensive discussion of the text and leaves everyone with a deeper understanding of the material covered. Prof. John does not shy away from conveying his opinions about the text but leaves room for dissenting students to disagree. The classes tought workload ensures that a large number of the students who stay in are genuinly interested in the subject matter. The net results is that class discussions are sophisticated and infomative. The best part about the course is Prof. John's dedication to teaching it. As he will tell you repeatedly (and he means it) he is always happy to go meet over breakfast to discuss a text that students felt was missing from the course material or to engage in other discussion outside the classroom. In short, if you are looking for the easy A, this is not the class for you. But, if you are looking to get the most out of CC, look no further.

Aug 2017

Disagree with the previous post. Amazing teacher!! Always open for discussion and really wants her students to learn the material and participate. Grading is very lenient and is especially more easily graded if you participate a lot. Midterm was fair, she gave us a lot of review time to be prepared. Take her!! You won't regret it.

Aug 2017

The previous review is unnecessarily harsh. While this class probably is more work that the average CC class, if you actually participate/do the majority of the readings, you will probably get more out of it than you would in the average CC class. Kevin is great at facilitating discussions and balances lecture and discussion really well, and I got many take aways or new ideas to think about from almost every class. He even illustrates difficult concepts with diagrams that are super helpful and tries to cut down the volume of reading when he can. Kevin can definitely come across as a little bit of a know-it-all initially, especially when he interrupts students, but throughout the semester his quirks and mannerisms become much more endearing and you realize that he is just really excited about the texts and discussion. In response to the paragraph about the additional guided reading questions that he distributes, they don't really add to the workload of the class because you do not have to even look at them if you don't want to. He specifically said that they are to help us and guide our reading, especially if we are struggling to glean the important ideas from a text. He does not expect you to write answers to them or turn anything in. If you do choose to use them, you could probably just think about the questions and formulate an answer in your head. Personally, I never looked at them after the midterm first semester and it was fine. The discussion board posts before every class were a little annoying, and I did always have to manage my time carefully that day in order to submit mine before the deadline, but they were effective in making me read more closely and think about the text critically. In the future, it would be a lot easier if the posts were due the day of the class rather than the night before to give students more time to do the reading and come up with something to write about. As far a grading, I thought that Kevin was extremely fair. From what he said in class regarding his expectations for our essays, I thought it was going to be much more difficult to get a good grade on the essays than it was. The prompts definitely made you think, and some were pretty challenging, but he was always willing to help students work through their thoughts and the logic behind what they wanted to write during office hours. He also dedicated a large portion of class to answering questions that students had about the essays a few days before they were due. My only issue with the essay assignments was that a few essays were due during midterms/finals. It was really difficult to dedicate enough time to the essay when there were so many other things to study for. Overall, I was really glad that I was in Kevin's class. I really enjoyed it and felt like I learned a lot. I would definitely recommend taking CC with him!

Jul 2017

This is coming from a SEAS person who didn't read or write before this class: Jason was overall a great CC professor! He was extremely prepared for every class - he read students' responses to the reading before class and incorporated those into discussion; he knew where all the quotes were at all times and if he didn't know the answer to something right away he always followed up in the next class. His style of teaching was all discussion based - no lectures. He would give an introduction to the reading in the beginning of class and then open up the floor for discussion in which he participated just like the rest of the students. He never imposed his opinions and always heard everyone out. He also replaced some of the texts on the syllabus with more 'progressive' texts - feminist authors, readings about race struggles, different religions, etc. He was also very open to discussing current political events in relation to the readings (we spent half the class on the recent election - not fighting, but trying to connect it to some of the readings) Workload wise: Discussion posts: very short and pretty easy - 150-250 words Essays: two essay - any topic but he gave a list of prompts to help us. All the essays had to compare two or more texts. Midterm: a few easy questions (had to answer 1 or 2 out of 3) - just facts or definitions, passage IDs (also like 4 out of 12) - had to know dates and connect each passage to other texts - not tricky aka nothing we haven't talked about in class Final: similar to midterm plus two essays (choice of topics, cumulative and broad)

Jun 2017

I am speaking for myself, but if you would like a teacher who on the 1st day of class drives home the point that he doesn't teach because he has to like other professors but because he can, tells you to buy a second set of books if you want to return one set, uses rape as an example of the contrast b/w the Lockeian/ Hobbesian conception of natural rights, then McCaskey's the one for you. I was told that I have a "thinking problem" that I must work with him to fix...because he cannot tell me what is concretely wrong--syntax, grammar, whatever,--only that there is something wrong but he cannot tell me. I was told that my essay wasted his time, was singled out as the only one in class whose essay was NOT given back, was given permission to *not talk* for 2 class sessions to observe role model class participants, was told I was better off not talking, was told to seek life skills workshops to improve my essay *writing*--was given the choice b/w accepting this feedback or getting no feedback at all. 57% of the class got As but do you really want to be in the same class as such an asshole to get there?

May 2017

Professor Arsic is a incredibly knowledgeable and engaging teacher. If you are interested in taking a CC class with a non-traditional curriculum then Professor Arsic is your woman. Arsic replaced Burke and Mill, and shortened the amount of time spent on Kant, in order to make room for more contemporary thinkers such as Glissant, and earlier American philosophers like Emerson and Thoreau. She is an expert on American transcendentalist thought and is quite facile in post-colonial literature and thought. As she is the head of the graduate department in English and Comp Lit at Columbia, you are unlikely to get a more experienced, over qualified teacher for CC.

May 2017

Definitely one of the most incredible professors at Columbia. He cares tremendously about the class and the students and it was an absolute pleasure and honor to be in his class. Background: Professor John is a tenured professor at the Columbia Journalism school and his specializations are in communications and in American history. He's honestly an amazingteacher and actually cares about what the students think and what the students get out of the material. That being said, if you're looking for an easy-A professor that assigns minimal reading, Professor John probably isn't who you're looking for. Not that his class is like super hard or anything but if you want a good grade you're gonna have to work for it and actually engage with the material. If you're a student that actually cares about the core and CC and actually learning from these texts -- Professor John is right for you. He's also incredibly accessible outside of class which is not something that is true at all for many of the tenured professors here; he's always willing to have breakfast with students to talk about the texts or sometimes meet at times outside of office hours. We also went as a class to the Met Cloisters during the first semester and the regular Met in the second semester and both times were a ton of fun -- we all went out to dinner after and had a great time talking about what we saw and the course in general. Finally, in reference to the post above this one, I'm not quite sure I agree with the characterization of how different opinions were presented in class. It's true that as a class we did not really focus that much on identity politics or race (although we did read MLK, Du Bois, Fannon, and Amartya Sen), and we focused instead on themes such as political economy, moral philosophy, and liberalism. But that being said Professor John is definitely not a conservative (more of a moderate liberal) and is incredibly tolerant of differing viewpoints. We had people in our class who were very critical about the Core in general and they were able to voice their opinions freely and I was friends with a few of these people and they never felt like they were being penalized by speaking their mind. In conclusion, I highly recommend his class and I only wish there were more teachers here like him.

May 2017

I had Professor Ivanyi this past semester for CC and really enjoyed it. The discussions were solid and she is very easily reachable. If you have any questions regarding reading or papers she answers very fast and is flexible to meet with you at times that work best for you. She is a little awkward at first with the class but as the she and the class get comfortable with each other it's a lot better. I would definitely recommend her for CC if you are looking for an interesting teacher. This is not one where you can just skip out on the work though or you will have trouble with the papers and exams.

May 2017

Malgy is quite a character. We only had her for half a semester, as our first teacher (Michelle Chun love you miss you), ran out of teaching credits and had to leave. Malgorzata is a very Polish, very communist hard ass with a heart of 50% goal, 50% coal. She started our time with her pretending to be a hard ass, but ended up being super chill. Her final and midterm were purely quotes that we talked about in class, no essay. She's a fairly chill grader on the tests and 2 essays. Her syllabus makes her seem much meaner than she actually is.

Apr 2017

Kevin definitely grew on me over the course of the year. At first, I was disappointed by the amount of time he spent speaking to class instead of inciting discussion (because I was comparing it to Lit Hum, which for me was entirely discussion), however I ultimately became really grateful for the balance he placed between explaining concepts and moderating discussion. He cleared up a lot of difficult concepts at the first of class, then let us discuss with a reasonable amount of moderation. He has a great ability to make things understandable and explains things in a few different ways, which allows him to be effective for many learning styles. In particular, I really liked his analogies and the incredibly helpful diagrams and visuals he drew out to explain important concepts. I'm a visual learner and normally struggle with classes that are entirely discussion, so this was indispensable for me. He did a really good job starting discussions and gauging the mood of the class to find what the students were interested in. He's also freaking hilarious in a very Kevin Elliott kind of way. You'll grow to enjoy his fondness for The Matrix and Star Trek references, his adorable love for his daughter, his annoyance with flies, and his tendency to swear for emphasis. Some complaints I do have are that his feedback oscillated between being somewhat thorough and useful and being literally one or two sentences and confusing squiggly lines. Moreover, this class is, without a doubt, more challenging than other CC classes. We probably do about 25% more reading than other classes, and the workload itself is more than that of other CC classes I know of. I also sometimes felt that he made some of the essay prompts intentionally almost impossible to answer in the way he was looking for. Despite all this, if you end up in Kevin's class and you don't want CC to be a complete joke for you, then I'd stay in it. Overall, I feel lucky to have had Kevin and wouldn't have changed professors if I could.

Apr 2017

Professor Malgorzata Mazurek's class is structured around passages she pre-selects, that students have to present to the rest of the class. Don't let that fool you! She does give you the option at the beginning of the course to add/change material to the syllabus. However, the professor assumes that you already know what she’s talking about and can be very condescending.

Apr 2017

If you have an opportunity to take him, pull the trigger. Without a doubt the best professor I've had at Columbia. I switched in to his CC section after the first semester (not knowing who he was) and it might have been my best academic decision yet. He's knowledgeable on every text and pushes for a more diverse selection of literature. Also very athlete-friendly but does not treat athletes any more special than other students. Includes field trips (movies) and activities (mock trials, organized debates, etc.) to keep us engage. Also a lenient grader. I went from a B- essay writer to a A- essay writer.

Apr 2017

Absolutely amazing professor, probably the best CC professor you could possibly have. He is super organized, super prepared, he is super flexible regarding extensions and super considerate towards the students. He also plays a lot of music in class to illustrate historical backgrounds, which is awesome. I definitely recommend him.

Mar 2017

Do whatever you can to get into his class. Joel was the best professor I have ever had. He manages to relate the readings to contemporary situations and plays funny videos at the beginning of each class. As for grading, if you don't want to do any work, this is not the class for you. There are countless papers and two presentations each semester plus an in class midterm and final. However, if you read summaries of all the books and listen to him in class, the papers are graded fairly and the exams reflect what he says in class and are totally fair. I got an A both semesters and thoroughly enjoyed CC, even though I am a science major and absolutely loathed Lit Hum. I had this class at 810am and he still made it the only class I looked forward to. If you are looking for a fun CC professor and a good grader, take his class you will not regret it. Yes it is more papers/presentations than other CC classes, but totally worth it and his grading is very good.

Mar 2017

Prof.Klein is one of the most interesting professors. He took the Core and made it both interesting and fascinating. He is approachable and truly cares about his students. Take his class you wont regret it!

Mar 2017

Best CC teacher hands town. If you have the chance to take his class you definitely should. Keeps things interesting even for those not interested in philosophy. Overall just a really good guy.

Jan 2017

Professor Pazzaglini is one of the most powerful teachers I have ever met. He cares tremendously about the course and his students. He pulls thoroughly accurate and relevant quotes out of thin air. He provides highly insightful advice that one can use in their academic or personal life, or both. He has a passion for the subject, and it shows. He encourages thoroughly interesting class discussions, in which everyone seems to participate without further prompting. I do not think that I need to say more. This is an exceptional course with an exceptional professor. If you ever have a chance to take this class, it will be a life-changing, one-of-a-kind opportunity. It could well define your Core experience here.

Jan 2017

I never do these things... but for Professor Elliott I just felt as though I had a responsibility to warn people. The man is a certified lunatic. He's one of those CC teachers where looks can be deceiving. He comes across super gregarious and fun and engaging and sucks you in. But he's definitely one of those teachers where he forgets that you're taking other classes apart from his own. He has you submit multiple discussion board posts per class so if you fall even a little bit behind on the reading... you're effectively screwed. And each one requires so much reading and so much evaluation that you're pretty much working on it up until the point of submission. If that isn't bad enough, he hands you a list of 25 or so questions that you're supposed to answer for each reading... as if we're in high school and we're filling out a worksheet to prove to the teacher that you have basic comprehension skills. But they're so distracting that you're not able to process and absorb the material in your own way since you're too consumed with trying to answer the questions that he deems important. He's one of the only CC teachers open every semester because people just do not want to deal. I promise you that if you take his class you will regret it. Run while you can.

Jan 2017

Great guy with a load of information about the course. His personal background and story really allow him to delve into the text in a very personal manner and he's really dedicated to making sure students do well in the class. He has a weird sense of humor at times which can make things kind of awkward in class and on the first day he told us he doesn't believe in A's. So if you're looking for an interesting class with a huge participation grade, but hard grading, pick this course.

Jan 2017

She's a sweet professor, new this year. Chill and goes on lots of tangents. the class was okay. But don't take her section of cc if you actually want to talk about the readings instead of game theory which was every class.

Jan 2017

I don't think Zachary Herz was a very successful professor. I didn't enjoy CC and it seems like the majority of my class agreed with me, since only 4 students didn't switch out of his section. He often let students take over discussions and was easily distracted, which invariably led to good portions of every class being dedicated to topics completely unrelated to the texts. He seemed proud of this, and thought that it made his class "entertaining", but I would have liked to have learned something from CC. Personally, I didn't find him a very pleasant person either, especially when he made fun of some students who left the class. I make fun of people too, but I'm not their professor. He grades harder than your average professor, especially on your weekly responses. If you're really interested in law, he's really knowledgeable about that and spends a lot of the class discussing legal issues in the texts, but if you're not I would recommend avoiding his class.

Jan 2017

DenTen, as he is colloquially known, is quite the character. One of the main features of this class is that there are no essays, no graded assignments outside of the midterm and final, and attendance is not mandatory. This makes the class a very interesting mix of people who never show up and never participate, and people who always show up and always participate. This makes the class frequently half-empty, but the discussion can sometimes be interesting. The only assignment for this course is a weekly Piazza post, or a comment/response to a classmate's Piazza post. If you miss class, you have to complete an additional Piazza post. These posts were graded for completion, and could really include any ideas you had about the text. DenTen does this to encourage us to actually read the texts. He also significantly cut the amount of reading for the semester and substituted with texts that he enjoyed from the CC reader. This made the workload very manageable, and this becomes a fairly simple class as long as you complete most of the readings. Overall, most of the class received an A-range grade, as long as they completed the mandatory assignments and did fairly well on the midterm/final(mid -80's range). Would recommend.

Jan 2017

I've had one semester of CC with him and he is up and away the best instructor I've had at columbia (granted that's only been a year and a half at this point). Infectiously nice and actually made me want to go to class, and read the material, but you can totally get by in the class without doing so. Specifically wants you to understand the discussion in class on tests (midterm/final) more than random quotations from the reading. Makes sure everyone gets a chance to participate and really wants you to be interested in the material. He may look like a little bit of a straight-edge kinda guy, but he's really willing to work with you if you can't make a deadline/have any sort of issue in the class.

Dec 2016

Professor Chong is phenomenal. He's by far the best Prof. I've had at this school, and I'm almost done with my time here. Obviously, CC is what you make of it, but if you're the kind of person who is even marginally interested in the reading list, then you're in luck, because Prof. Chong's class will be amazing and give you exceptional insights into the texts. Prof. Chong is incredibly knowledgable (he's a music scholar but he knows more about philosophy than the philosophy department), and has the ability to elucidate crucial themes and explain them in a way that stays with you after the class is over (you're never going to forget what Nietzsche was trying to say after Prof. Chong's lecture about it). He makes you actually care about what you're reading, because he shows you why it's relevant for understanding the way our society works now, which is supposed to be the point of CC, even if the course usually doesn't seem to have that effect on people. His class is the answer to the "why are all these dead white guys on the syllabus" question, because he demonstrates the way that Western philosophical thought builds on itself, and he connects it to important historical events, as well as modern examples and broader moral questions. Basically, Prof. Chong can give you a more engaging and rewarding overview of why Western Civilization works the way it does than any actual history or philosophy class at this school. Prof. Chong is also an extremely approachable, respectful and organized person, and he puts a ton of effort into his class preparation, so you feel like the workload for the students and Prof. is completely reciprocal. He's enthusiastic and humorous and makes class entertaining (the two hours never felt too long) but he's also a serious lecturer: he wants you to take something away from the course that will impact your life and worldview, and his teaching style turns a core class that could be tedious into an experience where you feel like you're actually investigating important ethical and historical topics. He strikes a good balance between class discussion and more lecture-based exposition, which is helpful since the texts can be dense and it's nice to have a guiding thematic outline of what's going on. He compiles useful handouts about the readings when they're challenging (Kant), and uses outside material like art and music to bring themes together (Wagner and Nietzsche on aesthetics, Hamilton for the American founding documents). He is always available to meet with students about papers, and will help you formulate a topic or a thesis if you make the effort to ask. He is also extremely flexible about giving paper extensions (if you ask him, he'll grant it, including extending it beyond the final exam). He's a fair and straight-forward grader, and will give you good comments and advice on your writing. He also meets with every student after the first paper to discuss how you're doing in class -- he definitely rewards effort, and will take into account people who are trying to improve. Basically, Prof. Chong will give you all the tools you need to succeed in his class, since he's clear about his expectations, (which are very reasonable and standard for CC), as well as the motivation to succeed, since his lectures are so dynamic that they make you want to put in the effort to actually understand (and read) the texts. He takes CC seriously and makes you want to take it seriously too, and I think he instilled in the class a genuine appreciation for what we studied and why it matters so much. I cannot recommend Prof. Chong highly enough.

Dec 2016

Prof. Avgousti is an excellent Core Lecturer. He clearly conceives of himself not only as an academic but also as an educator. His classes are entertaining, and he provides a clear analysis of each text. In contrast to Lit Hum, CC requires some instruction and exegesis, which he provides well. He is incredibly responsive to email and engages well during office hours. He has thought seriously about his pedagogy and enacts it well. Prof. Avgousti often spent between 15 and 45 minutes lecturing, which I found interesting and helpful to my understanding of each text. He was adept at managing discussions, which were generally strong, although not mind-blowing. On the whole, it's not a mind-blowing class. But it is an engaging class, and it's one from which you'll walk away with a strong understanding of each text, an ability to write about works of philosophy, and a measured approach to discussion.

Dec 2016

Dan is an encyclopedia. He seems to be familiar with the literature, history, and philosophy (academia, culture... you name it) of any time period and geographic region in any field. I feel like I become smarter by just being around him. Dan's teaching style is fairly consistent. He poses questions, allows people to respond, and each time summarizes their responses in much more eloquent terms that make it easy to follow the authors' arguments. He is genuinely intellectually curious, which means sometimes he entertains questions that stray outside the texts and may take away from class time that can help us understand the writing itself (something that is often hard to do). However, I still feel like his class has given me a great foundation in our readings. He is super available (always willing to meet, even if not in office hours), and his comments on graded work are always super detailed. He also asked for our own anonymous feedback at the midpoint of the course, and I have noticed changes (for the better) that have likely been in response to our suggestions. He clearly cares a lot about his students, and this translates to enthusiasm for his class (never have I consistently gathered with friends after a class to rehash its goings on, but I do after this every M/W for lunch). He is also remarkably personal. It's almost become a game amongst our class to wheedle details of his personal life out of him just because he's so candid and funny. P.S. I'm not writing this as an A+ student that's so happy about their grade – Dan's class is challenging in a good way, and I accept the rigor with which he looks at our work because honestly, he is usually right.

Dec 2016

I really liked Dr. Ramsey for a few reasons: first, her class is very clearly structured: she posts discussions questions for each reading to respond to on Courseworks, and that's what you spend a good portion of the class talking about the next day. She also comes up with pretty cool activities to go with each reading. She definitely helped me understand the books a lot better. Also, she is definitely one of the nicest teachers I've had at Columbia: she's really funny, cares about her students, and actually spends the money that the Core office earmarks for us on a game night, outings, and museum trips. The grading as far as I know, isn't too bad. It's more than possible to get A's on the papers. She also gave us a curve on our midterm which isn't too bad. Also, if you don't do well on your papers then she actually provides a lot of feedback that can help you improve. Her feedback is actually really helpful and will help you get a better grade if you follow it.

Nov 2016

Like another reviewer said, Andreas should not have a silver nugget. DO NOT TAKE HIS CLASS. I originally switched into the class because of the good reviews on this page and because a friend in the class (who also ended up hating it) recommended him based on the good culpa reviews and his good first impressions. I was genuinely excited to take CC with Andreas but was very quickly disappointed. I switched out for the spring semester as soon as possible. Do no disregard the negative reviews about this professor and don't fall for his marketing techniques. Andreas makes a good first impression, presenting himself as fair and open minded. He is not. Although he encourages questions and engagement with the texts he really only encourages these things as long as they fit into his plan for the class and his narrow conception of what CC should be. The essay questions he poses seem open ended but given the stringent restrictions he imposes, his students are really pushed into corroborating the viewpoint he espouses. There is only the illusion of freedom with his prompts and for most of his assignment. Though he says he is not looking for specific answers, students will do far better grade wise if they regurgitate what he preaches in class rather than forming other arguments, even if those arguments are valid and supported by evidence. He is arrogant and the quirks that seem intriguing at first really turn out to be those of an overly pedantic professor with an axe to grind. All of this would be somewhat mitigated if he offered good insight and analysis of the texts and their significance, but that is not the case and the class discussions are often basic, limited in their scope and sometimes just downright illogical/nonsensical. Overall, this has been the most intellectually impoverished and frustrating experience I have had at Columbia.

Nov 2016

Amazing professor. Engages the entire class with thought-provoking discussion and really tries to make sure everyone feels like a part of the class. I can't think of any word other than "chill" to describe her. She certainly isn't overly permissive, but she is very understanding of our problems as students. She always offers thoughtful feedback on essays in meetings, and I feel like she respects all of us as intelligent people with diverse but valid viewpoints.

Oct 2016

I love Michelle. She has a very dry, biting sense of humor but doesn't take herself too seriously. She's very thought provoking, and while she's a hard grader, I get the sense she actually cares about her students. Would definitely recommend.

Oct 2016

Professor Pazzaglini is the best teacher I've met during my college career. He really listens to his students and cares deeply about their mental and physical well-being more than many teachers I've met. He then adapts his teaching method and the length of reading assignments to meet what he understands as a reasonable requirement. From the day we first met, Pazzaglini brought his extensive knowledge of Latin and the Catholic Church into class discussions, thereby enriching our understanding of Core texts. As a scholar himself with many years behind him, he is a source of great knowledge in the classroom, allowing him to clearly and confidently articulate complex philosophical ideas. He is most importantly attentive to his students in ways many teachers are not. He notices the small details, the small gestures of friendship students make or the moment a student reaches out to help another in need. He pays attention to these details and accesses a student not only on how she performs academically but also on how well she treats her classmates and herself. Professor Pazzaglini is more than a teacher of CC. He is a teacher of life values of companionship, friendship, and caring. He is a teacher whose lessons transcend the text themselves and enter our hearts and minds. In short, he is a mentor and a leader.

Jun 2016

You're a lucky student if you get Nicole Callahan as your CC teacher. She made CC incredibly interesting and entertaining. She really understands her students and tries to relate the texts to situations that we might face so that we can understand the texts better. Most text discussions would start out as little group discussions and if we got stuck on an idea she would steer us in the right direction. She also made the class feel very familiar with each other so you were very comfortable sharing your ideas every time you stepped into the class. Furthermore, she usually baked us something! Nicole bakes some of the best banana bread and chocolate chip cookies i've ever had. All in all, it's been the greatest class I've taken at Columbia and I wouldn't hesitate to take it again if I could.

May 2016

I've never felt compelled for write a review for a professor but when I come across someone this inspiring and impactful, I feel that it is the least I can do. I had Roosevelt Montas for my second semester of CC. He is the director of the core curriculum, a master in American studies, and a strong defender of the value of a liberal education. He is extremely personable, kind, knowledgable, passionate and fashionable. He teaches you engage with the readings in a way that changes the way you think about life, and forces you to constantly self-examine, remain critical, skeptical and open to the new. Participation is incredibly important to him- it constitutes a significant portion of your final grade. He wants to see that you are not only doing the readings but engaging with them, finding holes in them, and putting them into conversation with each other. If you prefer a strong, seminar, discussion-based environment, you should most definitely take his class. You get as much out of this class as you want. While there are so many readings on the syllabus and it is absolutely impossible to discuss them all in depth (as Roosevelt knows and regrets), I strongly recommend that you do as much of the readings as you can- it will be reflected in your grade and it will profoundly impact your life and the conversations you have outside of class. I wish I could have had Roosevelt for the entire year, but I am incredibly grateful of everything I have taken away from his class. This guy deserves a gold nugget.

May 2016

An absolutely incredible professor, and the other reviews are correct - one of the smartest people you'll ever meet. Class was mostly discussion-based with occasional mini-lectures. She does a great job bringing out the significance of each text in context, without forcing tenuous modern-day connections. Because her main field is political science, discussions about the political implications of the texts were always pretty interesting. Although CC has its drawbacks, she makes it a worthwhile class. There are four essays throughout the year (two per semester). For each one, you hand in a first draft (worth 5% of your final class grade), she gives it back with extensive comments, and then you hand in a final draft (worth 15-20% of your final grade). Her feedback is very helpful in refining your argument for the second draft, and it's definitely a great way to improve your writing skills.

May 2016

Nicole is honestly awesome. She's a friend to all of her students, looks out for everyone in her class. She is engaging and makes even the driest parts of CC interesting and applicable. She is very fair with her grading and if you go to her office hours and reach out for help she definitely appreciates it and is more than happy to help. She will push you and challenge you with some difficult assignments and papers, but she is always looking out for her students and doing whats in their best interest. Highly recommend for anybody looking to have a positive CC experience.

May 2016

ANNIE RUDD IS A GODDESS AMONG MORTALS She will (regrettably. so, so regrettably) not be coming back to teach next year, but I felt that it was still necessary to tell the world how much I love and appreciate Annie as a professor. In my experience, Annie has only given back positive feedback. As long as you write something coherent and hit the word count, she will give you at least an A-. She says 30% of the grade is participation, but I have spoken maybe 5 times and never had a problem. I think she just really understands that CC shouldn't be about showing off how much of the reading you did but about really getting each student to engage with the subject, understand it, and (dare I say) enjoy it. It's a shame that future students will not get to experience the wonder that is Annie, but that makes me all the more grateful to have had the chance to be in her class.

May 2016

You would be very lucky to have Kevin Elliott as a CC instructor. I've heard about a lot of bad experiences with CC teachers, and I was so thankful to have Professor Elliott. If you're looking for a joke CC class where you don't have to read the books, then this is not it. His class is taught the way CC classes should be taught. You have to read the books and pay attention in class but you will gain a lot from it. He makes the works incredible accessible and explains them in ways that will clarify all the questions you had when you were reading Marx or Hobbes that you thought were blatant contradictions or totally vague. He hands out reading questions for each thinker which are extremely helpful in terms of guiding you through your reading and helping you understand some of the focal points of each writer's thought. His class is mostly lecture, but he lets it evolve into discussion when people have things to say. When people disagree he may also try to encourage the debate or ask people for suggestions. Most people find CC classes with lectures very boring, but you will learn A TON if you pay attention in his class. He knows all the works well, unlike what I've heard about many CC teachers unfortunately. Even though the course is a serious one, he's kind of a funny guy and the feel is very laid back. The grading is fair. If you want to get an A you have to read the books, pay attention in class, and try hard on the essays. Highly highly recommend if you can get in.

Apr 2016

Prof. Klein is truly a genius. He is able to make CC both interesting and challenging. The texts are preset by the department but he was able to lead meaningful discussions. He communicated with the class weekly (if not more) to add readings and meaningful material. He enjoys teaching and it shows! Definitely recommend!

Apr 2016

This man is so so intelligent. YES, he has a very autocratic teaching style - he will cold call students and holds high expectations; he will shoot you down if you are wrong; he will remain in silence waiting for students to respond. However, there was not one class where he did not blow my mind with his insights. Take his class and don't be put off by his demeanour, he is a really fantastic person.

Apr 2016

If you want a good grade, don't want to put in too much work, and want to walk away from CC having learnt something, THIS IS THE CLASS FOR YOU! He begins with class everyday rocking in his chair like your typical grandpa, and briefs us about each author. It is obvious he is very well-read, has his own perspective on each of the others. After an introduction, he usually asks for our opinions. Most people haven't read the material or don't know what to say about it, and Billows doesn't mind continuing talking by himself. We spend most of the class debating a lot of contemporary issues. So if that's problem for anyone, this isn't the class for you then. However, Billows is able to tie back those issues to the text, and draw some interesting conclusions. I have probably put in zero work (besides essays), but I've walked away learning something substantial. He takes forever to hand back assignments, but its not that big of a deal. Grading: Overall, he seems relatively simple. Just agree with what he says in class, and you can't do too poorly.

Apr 2016

If you have Prof Marcus for CC, you are very lucky. She might be scary at first, and requires written responses emailed in before every class (with citations!) but this is to make sure the majority of the class has a good enough understanding to have a good discussion. She leads discussions amazingly well. Even if I barely got a text reading it myself, I always came out of a class with a much better understanding of the author's argument, assumptions, weaknesses, and how it relates to broader issues. I took this class spring 2014, and now looking back and reading some of my responses and essay, I realize how much the class has prepared me for other philosophy courses by teaching me how to think creatively. Prof Marcus really brings out the best of her students! This being said, the workload is definitely heavier than other CC courses, but you will be rewarded for your work. If you are interested in philosophy and willing to put in effort, this class is for you. If you want to blow-off CC class, then it's not. This class probably embodies what the Columbia core wants to do for its students. Prof Marcus also stays after class every time if you have questions for her. She's pretty accessible despite being the dean of humanities, but if you want to meet her outside class you'll have to schedule and not just drop in.

Apr 2016

Professor Armstrong is an absolutely wonderful professor who cares deeply about his students. I have had some of the most interesting and thought-provoking discussions in his CC class and he made a good-faith effort in bringing in alternative viewpoints from non-Western cultures. The only downside is that I believe I would have got more from this class had it been more rigorous.

Apr 2016

IF YOU GET INTO THIS CLASS THANK EVERYONE WHO HAS HELPED YOU GET TO THIS POINT BECAUSE YOU JUST WON THE LOTTERY. Annie gives nothing but positively constructive feedback and will give you an A on practically every assignment (including exams and papers). She tells you everything you need to know for exams in a 20 page studyguide that she makes herself and if you study this you are set. You don’t even have to read the books because she goes over them in detail during class and then leads a surprisingly engaging discussion. Also, the grade is 30% participation (which as long as you don’t sleep through class you’ll be fine)

Sep 2015

So, like stated in the other reviews, Heather is NOT an ideal person to be leading a CC course. The Core is here for us to engage our ideas with those of one another and explore various concepts through the texts. Now, in Heather's class, that is not the case at all. She pushes discussions so they follow what SHE believes about the text and what SHE wants to discuss. She could give less of a sh*t about what we as students want to talk about. Her grading is beyond unfair -- she's so ridiculously anal and nitpicks the smallest details. When going into office hours, any questions she is presented with get thrown back with either super vague answers or no answer at all. Also, for those dealing with any psychological struggles, transfer out of her class ASAP. I have several clinically-diagnosed psychological issues, one of which is severe social anxiety. I reached out to her so I would not have my participation grade affected as much by this, and it turned out to be a ridiculous mistake on my part. She brushed it off, saying "social anxiety isn't real" and that my being nervous was "all in my head." Never had I felt more dismissed. She then proceeded to tell me that had I told her this in the beginning of the semester (which I did -- I came to her in the second week of class), she would have encouraged me to switch out. God knows why I didn't just run then. So all in all, if you're looking for the worst possible CC experience AND have your psychological issues both exacerbated and dismissed, you can get it with Heather.

Sep 2015

Porter's a really chill guy. I would say that the class is about average, maybe a little above average since the work-load seemed less than others. He's a really understanding guy and is very reasonable. However, classroom discussions can definitely get dull. I would say it's an easier section of CC compared to what I've heard from others. Not a bad section to be in, but also didn't get me very excited about the texts. Grading is very reasonable.

Aug 2015

Alheli is a queen.

Jul 2015

Professor Pedersen changed my entire attitude toward the Core. After several lackluster Core professors, I had almost given up on getting the kind of Core education that I had dreamed about when I came to Columbia, but Professor Pedersen completely renewed my hope in the Core. In her section, I was able to dig into (very difficult) classic texts and really understand what they were saying, and actually discuss deeply with my classmates what it all meant. The section was really discussion-based, which was great. Professor Pedersen was really good at moderating the discussion and getting everybody excited enough about the texts as to participate in class. She also sometimes broke us into smaller discussion groups to talk about various important points in a text, and then we would come back together and go over all of them as a class, which really helped my understanding. Professor Pederson showed us constantly that she really cared about our education and that we were getting the most out of the CC curriculum. As I realized partway into the class, she's a named professor of the Core, so she has a deep interest in making the class the best it can be. She always wanted to hear feedback on her teaching style, the selection of books on the syllabus, and the general method of CC instruction. She also knows every single book on the syllabus inside and out, and can (being a History professor by trade, not a Philosophy professor, remember) discuss so knowledgeably any of the books that it will astonish you. Be advised, Professor Pedersen has extremely high expectations for the course. Hers is not a CC section in which you get an easy A--you really have to work for it. There were times at which I got really frustrated with how easy my friends' experiences in CC seemed in comparison to mine, and how much harder I had to work to get comparatively lackluster grades. But ultimately, I think it was definitely worth it, and I did pull out a respectable grade in the end. I learned so much in this class--and so much that I can actually remember, since it didn't just go in one ear and out the other--and it left me with the kind of education that I'd been craving in all of my Core classes previously. Professor Pederson completely deserves the gold nugget CULPA gives her, and, her high standards notwithstanding, I would jump at the chance to take any class with her again.

Jul 2015

he was a legend bro

Jul 2015

This was by far the worst class I have ever taken at Columbia. My biggest regret to this day has been switching into this class second semester. I will corroborate previous comments referencing his knowledge of course content but his efficacy as a professor unworthy of any praise. He is so soft-spoken to the point that students 3 chairs away from the head of the table will only hear indistinguishable mumbles. If you are so blessed to actually hear what he says, he provides explanations without any references to the text. Seeing as though papers and examinations are all take-home, you end up with a notebook full of notes, without any textual support. His grading is extremely harsh with minimal feedback and only question marks on the margins. He does offer to discuss papers before they are due but you basically have to have the entire paper written weeks in advance in order to receive any meaningful feedback. Finally, his course expectations are extremely unclear. For instance, he provides no feedback on weekly discussion posts, yet these posts are graded based on quality and content. As a result, you spend the entire semester trying to ask meaningful questions with no idea whether these questions are acceptable. Overall, his grading criteria for all aspects of the course lacked transparency and detail. STAY AWAY FROM THIS CLASS. Yogesh has the lowest A-range percentage out of any CC professor. Even if you want to learn philosophy or political theory, you won't learn anything here unless you spend hours and hours poring over notes and trying to comprehend his esoteric pedagogy. Seeing as though most students have 4-5 other classes to worry about as well, doing well in his class is nearly impossible without sacrificing time and effort for other courses TL;DR: Yogesh is an extremely knowledgeable individual who is able to draw upon his expertise in anthropology but as an educator, he fails at every aspect.

Jul 2015

This man changed my life. He is everything you can want in a professor: he cares about the subject matter more than anything else. Sure, Beau's class has a little more work than other CC classes, but this is because he actually wants you to get something out of CC and philosophy in general. He actually wants you to engage with these texts. And, in my opinion, he 100% succeeds. There will not be a dull moment in his class. This man actually gets you to philosophize and WANT to continue philosophizing both inside and outside of class. Now that is something special, especially considering how much work we all have and the fact that most of us would probably rather sleep through CC. A lot of people (like the reviewer below) will probably complain about the workload, but honestly its not much because the work is NOT busy work. It is Beau's attempt to get you to philosophize. The weekly response papers are 2/3 pages of whatever the hell you want to talk as long as you relate it back to philosophy and the text. And, for this reason, he is a generous grader and it is not hard to do well. All you need to do is engage with the ideas at hand and—more importantly—CARE about the ideas at hand. And, trust me, that will not be a problem because 4hrs of Beau's magic a week will make you care. Beau Shaw is a freaking legend. This man absolutely deserves his gold star. Columbia needs to wake up and TENURE HIM IMMEDIATELY. He is by far the best professor I have had and I am confident that he is better than most of the professors at Columbia. TAKE HIS CLASS.

Jun 2015

Jay is great as far as CC lecturers go. He is responsive, thoughtful, and overall a 10/10 human being. tl;dr: You're far better off taking his CC class than another's. You don't have to do all the reading to get something out of the class, exams are easy & straightforward, papers don't have to be difficult. As long as you try, you'll be fine. Jay recognizes effort. Class: Before each class he'll send out discussion questions; this helps cut down on the reading if you read selectively. For the first half of class, he'll give a brief overview of the important points, and also sometimes show relevant multimedia. Then he has you pair up and discuss for a few minutes, then opens it into a class discussion. He usually takes the last two minutes to recap and offer his feedback & thoughts. Jay is a good facilitator. He really seeks to give all students in the class a chance to speak, but never forces anyone to talk either. Participation is 3/7th of your grade, so make sure to say something every class. He takes REALLY meticulous notes every class about who raised their hand, who spoke, what they said, who brought notes. He once told me the exact number of times I didn't speak in class and the dates of those classes. Jay doesn't expect anyone to say something revolutionary; as long as you bring a few quotes that interested you and not speak complete bullshit, your participation grade will be fine. Papers: I've heard people say he's a tough grader, but I've never had a problem. Start your paper on-time/early. Then you'll have time to go to his OH and get feedback. He gives a lot, and is willing to read anything you've written up to that point. He also likes a very specific paper style/structure. Clearly state your claim in the beginning of each paragraph. Follow every quote with background & analysis. Don't use passive voice. Be straightforward. He'll usually grant you an extension if you ask. Exams: Very straightforward. He allows you to have a 8.5x11 cheat sheet, front & back. You turn this in with your exam. He gives you a list of possible ID sources beforehand. He also gives a list of 7-8 possible essay topics, with 4 of them on the actual exam. On the flip side, because you're allowed to bring a cheat sheet & you get the essay topics beforehand, he expects you to use quotes (paraphrased or not) & cite them in your essay. Review the main points, have your quotes ready, and you'll be A-OK. Misc: This is not a hard class as long as you put in effort--and usually, you'll want to. I hated CC the first few weeks of school, and it ended up being my favorite class. I've left every class having learned something new. He truly cares for his students. He's the first instructor I've actually been excited to go to OH for. He does this activity at the end of every semester where he has you write your future self a letter, and he sends it to you in a year. Also, he does a giant Pisticci brunch every semester, paid for by CC. You won't regret having him as your CC instructor.

Jun 2015

was in Andreas's section for a semester. okay teacher. -watches family guy and has fabulous hair -makes fun hand motions and paces as he talks. tried to tell us, on the first day of class, that the texts were "serious" since they've "killed people." -very dedicated to his students, in a kind and also neurotic and overbearing way. commutes from philadelphia but is willing to skype with you, in his pajamas, and send you weird emails about your potential -begins every class with a lecture, though occasionally experiments with entirely student-led discussions. -described the quality of one of these student-led discussions as "mediocre" -as a previous reviewer mentioned, his lectures could be a little unclear/completely nonsensical, although they got better as the term progressed. -sample quote from lecture: "Judith butler would say you can't know whether this is a water bottle." (from a class on hobbes) -likes machiavelli, and augustine, although plato is his favorite. -doesn't like "jargon." thinks that words like "ideology" and "heteronormative" are jargon. -used the c-word in class while reading a translation of a bizarre and very explicit letter machiavelli wrote about having sex with a prostitute (purpose of letter-reading was somewhat unclear, might have simply been to demonstrate how funny misogyny is). -recently got his Ph.D -i wanted to take philosophy away from this man

May 2015

Professor Folch's class was one of the most challenging I'd ever taken at Columbia. It also had the strongest impact on my academic skills and career. He was knowledgeable and generous with helping students after class and over email. I generally found him to be respectful and kind (though he had a few colorful moments, to be sure). And hilarious, which is why I think most people in my class loved him (that, and the fact that his charm and beauty are pretty much unparalleled). His essay feedback was sometimes brutal, but always useful. And, as I suppose one might expect from a Classic professor, he harbored an intense loathing for split infinitives. Professor, thanks for a life-changing academic experience that was, for the most, part a great one.

May 2015

WARNING: STAY AWAY FROM HER CLASS! I had Heather for CC and because of her it became one of my least favourite classes at Columbia. She has a very weird way of teaching. This class is suppose to be about building/sharing your ideas with other students. It has to have a professor that is slightly flexible (not asking for much), but Heather is the opposite of that. I agree with the review that explains how she begins every class with a 5 min introduction, stating random facts that don't really help with the discussions. It kills your mood at the very beginning of the class. Also she has a habit of putting people on the spot, and judges you if you don't say what she wants you to say. In short, not a chill professor at all! She cares about her work, but cares too much, and that becomes an issue. Grading: She is pretty harsh when it comes to grading. For example, in my 12 page research paper, the spacing between the paragraphs weren't according to her guidelines (forgot to mention.. she has a 12 page guideline for a 12 page research paper) and while talking to me about it I am pretty sure she said "the paper looks atrocious" (REALLY??!!) there are better ways of saying things.. Moreover, this just shows how anal she is about things. Honestly I dislike her so much.

May 2015

This class validated my decision to come to Columbia. In order to give you an idea of who I am, and the background from which I am approaching this course, let me tell you about my Lit Hum experience. As someone who is not keen on the humanities, the Core has not been my greatest ally. Lit Hum was a harrowing experience for me, characterized by a terrible professor who refused to teach and somehow found a way to make the greatest works that the West has ever seen more tedious than the most annoying problem set one could fathom. As a result, I read approximately 30% of the Lit Hum syllabus. However, Beau reversed all that. He somehow inspired me to want to read every word that was assigned. I would find myself compelled to finish each text, just so that I can fully engage with everything that he says and is said. He has a way of inspiring people to speak. Discussion becomes interesting. He does not shy away from confrontation but invites it. If you have something to say, it will be fully considered. Some days which I would make sure not to miss: Plato, Maimonides, Bible, Rousseau, Marx, Kierkegaard, and Nietzsche. Pay special attention to Kierkegaard. My world view was very shaken by this discussion. A typical day proceeded like this: We would arrive at class and put our response papers (if you chose to do yours that day) on the stack in the front of the room. Then, once the class settled, he would give a 5-30 minute background on the text we are reading (length varies dependent on how much he likes said text). Next he will ask, "so what did you think?," prompting an informal discussion. Finally, we would go through parts of the texts that Beau deems as particularly important or informative until the end of class. Often, this last part of class is not long enough because Beau likes to be thorough in what he talks about, so large portions of the texts are on you to figure out (he has nice, long office hours though). When class ends, you'll find yourself surprised that it's been two hours and wishing there was some more time! There are some things though to be wary of when choosing this class. If you are religious, while Beau tries to be respectful, the Bible and medieval texts may be an unpleasant experience for you because he has a strongly secular bias. He will listen to and fully consider anything you say, and only critique in an intellectual and thoughtful way. Next, if you do not want to put in the work, I would not take this class. While you could probably get away without reading, not reading greatly diminishes the experience. Of course, there will be times during the semester when it becomes difficult to read before class. However, if you plan on not reading consistently, I would not advise taking this class. Otherwise, he taught sections from 2-4 and 4-6 on MW my year. Try to get into this section!

May 2015

Agreeing with the two reviews below mine for sure. All in all I had a pleasant experience with Karen, enough so to stay in her section for two semesters. She has the following way of dissecting texts: she offers up an idea which initially sounds extremely confusing, yet intriguing enough to keep you listening, then builds on the idea throughout class, molding it in different ways according to other thoughts the class pitches in, until finally it starts to emerge with clarity and you find yourself with a solid grasp on the text. You aren't quite sure how you got there, but you're there. There are definitely times when the class never quite reaches this moment of clarity. but luckily there was almost always some brave soul who would flat out ask "what exactly does this mean?" in which case Karen would eagerly try again and take another approach to explaining. That being said. there was never any question left unfulfilled. If you are into getting your facts hard and fast, this isn't the section to take. Personally, I found myself getting a lot out of the process approach we took-- tossing ideas around and around until we finally come to something gold. It encourages deeper thinking, which yes, is draining and annoying at times, but worth it in the long run, in my opinion. Something to note about Karen is that she feeds off the vibe of the class. I feel like our first semester class was a lot more enthusiastic and conversational, and as a result Karen was always very chipper and into her lectures. In the second semester, there were times when she made it clear that she was let down by our frequent silences and tendencies to leave the talking to individual people, rather than responding to one another. Because of this, I think the experience you get with Karen can really depend on your classmates. This is generally true with newer teachers. As stated below, Karen is very fair with grading in terms of essays and tests. She never makes the workload overwhelming, and you won't find yourself scrambling to get stuff done for CC with her. However, she's pretty strict about participation. You won't make an A if you only participate one and a while. She will notice if you're absent, and she even got mad once because people kept leaving for the bathroom. It's definitely rooted in good intentions, though, because she just wants her students to be as enthusiastic about the material as she is. Also if you frequent the gym you can probably bond with her over that. I lost track of how many times she related our texts to working out at the gym, or like restraining oneself from eating a brownie.

May 2015

(Jennifer Rudd goes by Annie Rudd in class) Annie is an amazing instructor. She knows the material very well and presents it very clearly in class. She also finds many ways to relate the material to current events or the media by showing relevant video clips. She is also very good at facilitating class discussions and asking the right questions. Annie also provides very comprehensive and detailed notes for review before the midterm and the final exam. There are no surprises on the exams and everything is extremely straightforward. She also cares a lot about the students. She arranged a few outings for the class and even an end-of-the-semester picnic. Overall, if you get Annie Rudd, take the class! Also, no laptops in class (except for review sessions).

May 2015

For anyone considering taking Beau Shaw, a few words of warning. His class is 'intellectually engaging' in that he attempts to make philosophy interesting. Though you probably won't fall asleep in class and he keeps conversation interesting, the work you do for his is very time-consuming as compared to other CC sections. The papers especially are a struggle because of their much greater length. The midterm and final are straightforward. His grading is very inconsistent and unclear, and he is absolutely unflinching on changing your grade after he decides it. His method of calculating the final grade is also not clear. Overall, Shaw is completely undeserving of the gold nugget he has- I'm almost certain there are professors who can both facilitate good discussion and not give busy work.

May 2015

Beau is the man. I lack words to describe him as a professor. If you take him, it's a guaranteed 4h of intellectual orgasm a week, plus the countless other hours you'll spend thinking about the stuff he said and was discussed in class. He has inspired me to take more classes in philosophy, to become a better person by thinking about my actions, and perhaps most importantly, to become a better thinker. Want a class that helps you develop power of thought? Take CC with the Beau. This class has probably made the entire Columbia experience worthwhile--he's that great.

May 2015

Like the review below, I had a good time in Karen’s CC section, so I will refrain from repeating it. I agree with most everything they said: she had a sort of humor that some people did not appreciate, or were less obvious in their appreciation of it. That being said, she was very careful to illuminate all the points of the reading that she thought were important, or that others thought were important. She did, however, seem to be a little too eager to solicit class participation. She would often stop what she was saying as someone raised their hand, and I would rather she finish what she had to say, then call on the person, so that they could form a discussion. That’s not to say we didn’t have discussions, but I felt that most of the comments from the students were often very, very discursive (one brought up his aunt’s experience in Macedonia under Tito, and another brought up a comment Karen made **literally** a month earlier), yet she often entertained these sorts of comments by replying to them. But, all in all, she is a good CC professor who will only improve as she teaches the course. She is more than fair when it comes to grading, and often praised the class for our successes on the exams and essays. She isn’t some amazing professor, definitely not gold-nugget material, though she is a solid professor and if you have her, I would not change. One thing to note is that Karen makes some very liberal changes to the syllabus. I felt that some were very welcome, while others would have been better left off. That being said, she is careful to introduce ideas that are important in academia, especially from a leftist slant, which she will come at you with **very explicitly**. Seriously, she is incredibly well-read in all sorts Marxist theory, and will often take the time to explain it. She once spent quite a bit of time explaining the theory of nations. But she is very open to understanding all other ideas and, as long as you can support them, will be more than happy to entertain them and take you seriously. For second semester, if you are **really, really** looking forward to reading Wollstonecraft, Woolf, Du Bois, Fanon, etc., then you should switch out. She removed all of those authors and replaced them with “Dead White Men.” She did add, however, Toussaint Louverture and other documents from the Haitan Revolution. The additions were welcome, though I would have appreciated reading Woolf, Du Bois, Woolstonecraft, etc., even if just for their historical importance. To give you an example of the changes she made, just looking at the CC website, I can tell you we did not read (or read different selections than my other friends): American Revolution texts, Burke, Wollstonecraft, Du Bois, Woolf, The New Testament, or Scientific Revolution texts. If having these texts is important to you, then I suggest you change. However, you may appreciate the different slant she takes, so if you think you would enjoy it, I would definitely stay. In all, Karen is a very solid choice. She will entertain you with stories of mango peelers in Washington Heights, her Marxist take on almost every aspect of life, and *incredibly* obscure references. I found her hilarious and am very glad to have been able to take her section.

May 2015

I think people are missing the point with some of these reviews. Most of what I've read sounds like it was a judgement made on the first day of class and then the person just held onto that for a whole semester. Yogesh is brilliant, no one on this page argues with how intelligent he is. Now here's a question; if your teacher is brilliant, and knows the texts way better than you ever will, why wouldn't you try to learn from him? He's the teacher, that's the point of the class. You will get nothing out of this class if you don't put anything into it. Yogesh is a demanding professor who wants you to think critically about the texts. If you want to make up your own interpretation and never be challenged on it, take a different section. In class he is going to offer his own interpretations, and I know some people don't like being told things that contradict what they think. It's not that he wants you to just blindly accept everything he says, its that in order to have a nuanced conversation you need to be able to understand what he is saying. Most of his notes require a lot of thought to fully comprehend, I know I usually only fully got them after hours of writing an essay. With this in mind, you will be far better off if you try to understand where he is coming from on each text. The reason he shuts people down in class is because their arguments don't make much sense. If he challenges ideas (what people have called condescending) it is usually just, "What do you mean by that?" or "How do you define X?" and other questions that make you reflect on your interpretations. If your ideas don't work, and you can't articulate them, then you need to fix them. That's not a mean professor, that's a great professor. Learning means changing what you think, if you think the same thing the same way before and after a class you didn't learn anything. This class is difficult, not an easy A, but it is possible. If you are taking CC because it is a requirement and couldn't care less, do not take his class. Yogesh requires you to think deeply about each text. If you want to learn the texts and are willing to put in work, this is the best class you can take. I would say he is one of the best professors I've had at Columbia. Also, GO TO OFFICE HOURS! He is extremely helpful and can help make sure you understand each text before he moves on to the next one. CC builds on itself, so it is dangerous to start falling behind early.

May 2015

Beware of this class. I'm not going to say take it or don't -- just know that this section is not for everyone. The class is basically a debate class, so if you like that sort of thing then this is the CC section for you. If you prefer a class where you will learn about the themes and complexities of the texts (which, in my opinion, is the point of CC) take someone else. The basic setup of this class is this: every class period, students are required to come prepared to speak about a short passage (like 1-3 lines) and pose an opinion on that passage, at which point the class becomes a discussion over the various opinions about that passage. Alex doesn't seem to prepare for class at all because, honestly, he doesn't need to since the entire discussion is dictated by the passages students pick and the opinions formed about them. The workload is very different from most other sections with the blog posts and C3 experiment (explained below), but neither the syllabus nor Alex himself were ever very clear about requirements, so there was a lot of student discussion outside of class just trying to figure out what was required from us to get a good grade, which was insanely frustrating. I felt like this class was a waste of my 2 hours 2x/wk, but I know there were students in the class that really enjoyed it so maybe it's just me. Just know that this is not a traditional CC class in that you will not even attempt to unpack what the text is saying -- you will only talk about very little snippets at a time.

Apr 2015

Loved CC with Nicole! She made excellent additions to the syllabus second semester including Foucault, MLK, and Animal Farm. We even delved into Baldwin and contemporary texts and explored the relevance of philosophic texts in light of recent events in Ferguson, Baltimore, Paris (Charlie Hebdo), etc. She also prompts us to make connections between authors, to modern events, and to our own lives in our weekly commentaries and long essays. Nicole is a fair grader and a kind soul who bakes us muffins and cookies on a weekly basis. She is kind and attentive in office hours and the passages she chooses for the midterm and the final are ones we have discussed in class at length. I highly recommend taking CC with her if you can.

Apr 2015

Best CC teacher at the school. Very helpful with students and bakes muffins or cookies for a lot of the classes. Can't ask for much more.

Apr 2015

Luke is the best. That is all there is to say. I was so happy to finally have a normal core professor. Class discussions are very relaxed and Luke is very understanding about our workload as Columbia students. Readings are extensive and you should try to get through some of them to actively participate in discussions because there is a significant participation grade. 3 papers--1500 words, 0 stress, very good comments that are constructive and not demeaning Participation grade--make 3 intelligent comments every class and you'll do fine Final-- Luke will give you essay questions and a list of terms. Define all of the terms and plan the essay Midterm -- 10% of your grade, 2 quote id and explanations 10 discussion posts <200 words, counted as a completion grade You won't regret taking Luke for CC.

Apr 2015

Professor Cohen is fierce, smart as a whip, and a bit scattered. Expect no emails longer than a sentence, cozy office hours, or gentle let-downs. Do expect to learn from a scholar who knows her stuff like no one else and teaches the texts as theory more than literature. By the standards of Contemporary Civilization, this class will include relatively little discussion. Thorough notes of her perspective on the text is absolutely crucial for the 1-2 papers, midterm, and final. Both exams comprise essays. She is a stickler for use of clear language and her own ideas (but her ideas may well be better than yours - at least better than mine - so that is not such a big deal). She will not tolerate questions about grading or rubrics, which she sees as secondary to the actual business of learning. Taking Professor Cohen's CC is worth it just for her explanation of Kant.

Apr 2015

Worse teacher I have ever had. If you see that you have Jenny Boulboulle for CC, DROP OUT IMMEDIATELY. Switch sections, even if the only available section is with a very hard teacher at an 8:40am class.... To stay in Jenny Boulboulle's class is to learn nothing at all, thus wasting 100 dollars an hour for 4 hours a week being bored out of your mind by a "teacher" who does the reading at the same time as her students....Jenny Boulboulle is thoroughly unprepared to teach - not only CC because she hasn't read or understands the texts - but she cannot teach, period. She is even less capable of leading a class discussion, because she simply does not know what she is talking about. When students contribute a comment to the discussion, Jenny Boulboulle stares back at the student with blank, uncomprehending eyes, and then without a single word of acknowledgment of the comment, points to the next raised hand she sees. And so on, for the entire 2 hours. Not only is class incredibly dull, Jenny Boulboulle consistently demonstrates her belief that CC is the ONE AND ONLY class that each of her students take...she has no regard for course load, piles on reading and assignments over school breaks like Spring Break and Winter Break. She gives egregiously inconsistent examinations and requirements for papers and assignments...on one paper, she only wants completion grade (and won't hand back the papers until several months later, no exaggeration)... on the midterm exam, she out of the f**king blue decides that in a half page "quote close-reading," she wants us actually to reference other authors from the last semester, and touch on all general themes and ideas of the entire book - opposite from what everyone has learned thus far to entail "quote close-reading". I could go on for days about why you must avoid Jenny Boulboulle at all costs. Save yourself the feeling of slowly withering away for 2 grueling hours with an incompetent teacher twice a week, only to be slammed with ridiculous expectations of reading material and "take home midterm" exams that take over 10 hours to complete... only for her to flippantly declare in class (read: not on paper, but to the whole class, because she cannot take the time to write valuable comments/explanations as to why you received a B- on an exam you spent a full week and 2 all-nighters on and was incredibly proud of). No explanation at all - and when a student asked for her reasoning, she straight up looked at the student and then IGNORED HER QUESTION. Please, save yourself. Or better yet, Columbia: don't impose terrible teachers on your students. We work way to hard to come here to get teachers that wouldn't have been coherent or experienced enough to be hired at my public elementary school.

Mar 2015

I am not exaggerating when I say that Jay is one of the best professors I've ever had. His classes are lively, the discussions are interesting, and he is a fair grader. He comes prepared to each class with PowerPoint slides and up-to-date videos that relate directly to the texts. He is funny, charismatic, extremely intelligent and kind-hearted. Jay makes sure his students understand the key details in each text which is beneficial in doing well on the exams. If you don't completely understand the readings or if you haven't had a chance to finish reading everything, Jay makes sure he explains the important ideas in the text so that you always leave class understanding at least the bulk of the material. His exams are fair as long as you take the time to make the study guide at home. You will get an A if you prepare the essays in advance and study the main ideas of each philosopher. The slides and videos Jay shares during classes are engaging, but make sure you take note of each one and not simply enjoy them because they usually end up on the exams. Before each class we take about 5-10 minutes discussing any news or personal stories students want to share rather than diving right into the teaching material. Overall, Jay treats his students with respect and never puts himself on a pedestal. His positive attitude implies that he is learning just as much from us as we are from him. I definitely recommend taking this class.

Mar 2015

Don't know how this man has a silver nugget. DO NOT TAKE THIS CLASS. I entered expecting Avgousti to be competent and challenging, and while he was certainly challenging, his lecture style is far from competent. I'd often leave class with a jumble of nearly incomprehensible notes that were absolutely useless for studying for his midterm and final. He would get stuck on exploring a paradox within a work and never get around to lecturing as to the big picture and the actual objectives of the authors. Also, he picks names out of a jar to introduce something interesting to start off the discussion, but it was never clear exactly what he wanted from these presentations, and as the semester progressed (and less people did the readings), they became absolutely horrendous. Perhaps worst of all, he has an incredibly rude and condescending way of speaking in class (needs to show his students who is in charge or something). Switched out for the second semester and now I have an equally challenging, but much more illuminating professor!

Feb 2015

Jeremy Forster was a fantastic preceptor for CC, and I can see him working well for any type of student. If you're like me, and you're just in a philosophy course because it's a core requirement, Jeremy will really sell you on these texts. If you have a genuine interest in the field, Forster knows his stuff, and he can get into very nuanced discussions about the arguments that most of the class will enjoy. One of the best parts of the class was that Jeremy really limited the amount of reading required. Instead of trying to digest a book per week, Jeremy selects chapters and excerpts that you will actually discuss in class, and they were often only 40 or so pages per week (although occasionally you had to read the whole book). The class was usually structured as 1/3rd Jeremy lecturing on the work, 1/3rd class discussion on the work, and 1/3rd class discussion on a concept that was related to the work but allowed everyone who had not actually read the works to particulate. He also gave us a ten-minute break to eat snacks in the middle. Each week you had to write a one-page response paper, although I forgot to do one or two and it didn't end up having an impact on my grade. The papers were also very straight-forward, and you could either write a fairly straight-forward paper on one of the prescribed topics or a more creative paper on the topic of your choice. The midterm and final were both fairly easy, with one of them taking place in class and one as a take-home. The excerpts on the exams were incredibly easy to identity, and the essay topics were taken straight from the class discussion. Participate a lot, write good papers and you'll be fine!!

Feb 2015

Great lecturer for CC. He definitely does the background research on the the different authors and texts. He even took a class just on Kant to make sure that he understood the text inside and out. He spends about half of class lecturing with slides and often includes real-life examples or multimedia, such as contemporary movies or news segments. For the readings, he sends out discussion questions beforehand to guide your reading and the discussion in class. The discussion is pretty lively, but that obviously depends on the other people, but he does a good job of keeping the discussion lively. I'm not going to lie, Jay is a tough grader on essays and participation (I think its like 30%), but that just makes you a better reader and writer, in my opinion. And he definitely is sympathetic and just a great guy overall.

Feb 2015

Heather is committed to you getting the most of our your CC experience. If you are looking for an easy and unstimulating experience where your teacher doesn't push you, switch out! She can be intimidating and doesn't pat you on the head if you say something stupid, but you might actually learn something about the texts you are tackling. Its near impossible to bullshit your way through the class, especially on the paper (18 pages) and midterms, but she incorporates enough contemporary discussions that those who haven't read the text can offer a comment. That being said, she emphasizes doing the reading a lot. She is obviously very smart, knowledgable about the texts, and a good teacher. That being said, she is impersonal.

Feb 2015

This is the best teacher EVER. CC is the best class ever. He makes every class SO interesting and I understand everything so much better after I go to class. CC flies by because he engages everyone in our class so much. I love him I would date him if I could because he is so stimulating. LITERALLY THE BEST CLASS EVER. He's a pretty easy grader too.

Jan 2015

One of the worst professors I have had at Columbia. Her discussions were always disorganized. She strayed so far from the text which made it difficult to follow her logic. When students attempted to challenge or questions one of her views, she would never seem to be receptive to these comments. The biggest problem with her class was her harsh grading. When you go in for feedback, she destroys your essay without acknowledging anything that you are saying. If you essay disagrees with her views on the text, don't expect to get a good grade. Her comments on the essay were not helpful. She likes to use a lot fancy phrases like the reviewer below described, but these comments never help you improve as a writer. Avoid this class at all cost. There are so many better CC professors out there.

Jan 2015

Justin treats this class more like Philosophy 101 than like a course in "Contemporary Civilization." We usually extracted arguments from texts, and then evaluated them with no regard to historical context. A lot of times, Justin would take an argument and frame it in the form of a contemporary scenario. If you're not very into history or contextualization, and generally enjoy analytical philosophy discussions, this may be great for you. This also means it isn't very important to read - it's super easy to contribute without having read, and as long as you keep your ears open during class you should be fine on the exams. The class also focused a lot on epistemology and consciousness, and less on ethics and morality. We would often spend entire class periods discussing whether it's really that bad to live in the Matrix or not and stuff like that. I didn't particularly enjoy that, but a lot of kids in the class really loved those discussions. The papers are also different from those assigned to most other CC sections. We were asked to evaluate very specific arguments and critique them on their logical structure. Grading seemed harsh to me, but it did get easier once I figured out what exactly he wants us to do. Again, the papers didn't feel like CC papers, but they are a great way to improve your writing skills. Also, I must add, he's a very nice and helpful guy. He's always willing to chat in office hours and help you out with papers and the class in general. He's also quite light-hearted in class. He's also very articulate and great at explaining ideas and concepts. However, he doesn't always assign readings on time, which can be a little frustrating at times. All in all, it's not too bad, but make sure you're comfortable with a class that focuses on the more analytical parts of philosophy.

Jan 2015

A great professor for CC, and I was lucky to have him for a term. He's very knowledgable about a lot of the books, and I especially loved our classes on Hobbes and Locke (he is less knowledgeable about Al Ghazali and the Qur'an). He is full of himself and he knows it, and he tells us the most interesting, sometimes hilarious stories about his life. My biggest complaint would be that sometimes he would follow a student's point on a tangent for a very long time and it frustrated me that it seemed like we'd gotten nowhere, really. But generally he was able to keep conversations interesting and focused on the stuff that he prepared. The essays are graded fairly. He likes for you to be succint and not include lots of fluff. Every sentence should have a purpose in the essay. It's great to learn to write like this. The essay prompts are short, just a couple of sentences each, all based on the texts. But they are not often straightforward, and for CC essays you really should think through your points before starting to write. They are on the short end (1200-1500 words). If you have him for your professor, I would definitely keep the class! I certainly had a great CC experience.

Jan 2015

I have to disagree with the previous two reviews as I feel like they are a bit too salty and biased. I had Heather for CC this past semester, and while I think she has plenty of weaknesses as a teacher, she has plenty of strengths as well. First, compared to other core teachers, she is in the middle of the pack. There are great teachers out there and shit teachers, I think she is neither, due to her young age she has the potential to be either. Heather is very rigid and clearly inexperienced as a teacher, and I think because of this she tries to impose too much authoritarianism on the classroom. She does prevent the discussions from being organic, but it is in the spirit of hearing everyone's voice. In short, Heather seems insecure about her authority and so choke-holds the class in an attempt to maintain it; put simply, she needs to chill. Now for the pros: Heather really cares, and she knows her shit--she isnt one of the CC professors who A) doesn't know what they are teaching or B) simply doesnt gaf, and this allows for some great discussions to take place, inorganic as they may be. Secondly, she wants her students to read the books, to engage in the discussions, and most importantly, to care; though some of her policies are pragmatically inept, they are well-intentioned, and a refinement of these policies will lead to her becoming a great teacher (looking at the quiz/grading style of midterms and the paper). Many people were upset by the quiz at the beginning on Plato and its brutal grading (along with the midterm and papers), though the grades seemed to be curved by the end--I think frustration of low grades angered students more than her actual teaching. If Heather relaxes, makes it clear that grades will probably be curved (or rather more clear what is expected and what will be given for types of work), but most importantly, chills out, she will make a great teacher. Contrary to a prior review, I don't understand how one would find her unintelligent--also, if you came to Columbia for the teachers, most of the good ones are reserved for the grad schools (refer to last year's Varsity Show- "fuck the undergrads"

Jan 2015

Jay isn't the most spectacular professor but he makes the class enjoyable, accessible and keeps things lively. He likes to focus more on discussion between students rather than dictating his own views. This also translates into 40% of your grade being class participation, which can be good or bad depending on how much you like talking. Overall he's a fair grader and provides several options when it comes to paper topics. His exams consist of passage IDs and an essay section, but he actually gives you a list of 7-8 topics beforehand and says he'll put 3-4 of them on the exam for you to finally choose one. You're also allowed a letter sized cheat-sheet, and you can write on its front, back and sides as he likes to say. He usually opens class with a presentation on the text at hand, which includes some pictures, historical context, a summary of concepts presented, and often movie clips and writings that he likes to relate to the text. Some of these clips usually also show up on his exams so it's good to keep a note of them. He has some other quirks like insisting you submit a hard copy of papers by 5 pm sharp on the deadline, and asking you what kind of bubble tea you're having, but he's a nice, friendly and reasonable professor who puts in a lot of effort into the class. Overall, I had a good experience albeit not a mind-blowing one.

Jan 2015

Charley is incredibly intelligent, knows the material inside and out, and is very good at explaining the more abstract concepts. He will go out of his way to make time to meet with his students and really wants to get to know them. This is, however, the most work-intensive CC class that I've heard of and, on top of that, he is a very tough grader. I'm all for working hard, but in this case, I found the workload ridiculous and unnecessary. A huge chunk of our class switched out for second semester. Hopefully he'll respond to the critiques and adjust his syllabus, but fair warning: if you're in this class you have to be prepared to work HARD with no guarantee that you'll be rewarded with a good grade.

Jan 2015

This class was pretty good. You barely have to read the books - get the main points, have some questions, and come to class - his presentations do the rest. Sometimes I wish the class was more discussion-based, but then I remembered that would require maximal effort on my part, rather than just reading a little and studying my notes from class. Sometimes we have good discussions in class, but not that much. He assigns small papers as reading checks - they're basically participation points, but they require you to write like two pages. There are two larger papers that you have to write (around 6 pages) that take up more time than normal, but he grades these pretty nicely. The midterm and the final for this course is a lot harder than the essays or in class discussions, but that is mitigated by the fact that he gives you way, way, way more time than you need to finish everything, and he doesn't believe in passage IDs. He grades you solely on the basis of how you write, think, and come up with ideas about the text (and he generally likes most ideas that can be backed up). Additionally, there's a question on every exam that deals with art history (he discusses a lot of paintings along with the works that we discuss in class, which is really cool because he really knows his stuff when it comes to art), which is different than most CC classes, but in my opinion, a lot more fun. All in all, having Professor Barriendos made this course a lot more bearable, grading-wise, work-wise, whatever - it was just a lot better with him. If you get him as a professor, rejoice.

Jan 2015

wow, heather is easily one of the worst possible experiences I've had not simply with the core, but throughout my entire academic life. yes, it was pretty bad — i almost want to transfer out of columbia because of her. so here it goes. her class is discussion based, where she gives a brief 5 minute background of the author of the books we are talking about and then opens the floor. the problem with her discussions is that she fails to make it organic. in class she’d go, “OK Person X talks, then Person Y, then Person Z, and then we’ll spend 7 minutes talking about …”. this stifles the flow of conversation as she fails to foster a natural progression of ideas. she would disrupt interesting ideas that people had thoughts on and jerk the conversation in a direction that she deemed fit. while some people like the intense rigidity, it didn’t provide the experience I was looking for. also, though admittedly a more minor point, CC is also supposed to be a class where we can see how the ideas of philosophers centuries ago are relevant to modern day, and we only began doing this at the end, at the request of students. while i respect her intelligence, she still has a lot to learn about what a CC class should be, and more generally, how to teach. she also needs to be more comfortable in our skin — she’s a little awk. now for the worst part, the grading. the main parts of your grade are participation, the midterm, 1 10-12 page paper, and a final. for our first reading quiz, some people thought it was out of 50 instead of 100 it went that bad. that was our first and last reading quiz. our midterm was graded pretty harshly too, and who knows how she did participation. now you might be thinking, “wow only one paper how great!”. but here’s the problem —(1) you have no idea what she looks for in your writing (2) there is no room for improvement/rewrites since she literally gives the paper back the day before the final (3) she does a poor job encouraging students to meet with her. writing is like a muscle that needs to be exercised, and even though CC isn’t university writing, it is a class based on the expression of ideas and writing is a medium in which we do that. now I’m not saying that we should have had a writing assignment due for each class, but I’d prefer having multiple smaller papers so professors can see the evolution of our writing and work with us to strengthen our writing abilities. for the record, i read a majority of all the books, genuinely attempted to think and tackle with the ideas talked about in CC, and received a pretty bad grade. the only good thing that heather did was bring in bryonn bain for class one day. he was such an inspiration and legend, and his performance about prison injustice was awesome. that’s the only credit she gets though. P.S also, never say "I FEEL THAT…” when expressing an idea. she’s a stickler about this one and will dock you participation points.

Jan 2015

Can't stress how awesome Luke is (echoing the person below me). He's relaxed and does a fantastic job incorporating class opinions as well as his own thoughtful reflection on the CC content. You could get away with avoiding the reading for the whole semester as he never put you on the spot and provides extremely specific study guides for the midterm and final. That being said, you'd do yourself a disservice since he does give a participation grade- but because the class often goes off on tangents related to philosophy/politics/contemporary world affairs, you could probably get away with talking during those segments. Luke's the chill albeit geeky teacher you want to impress. Go to office hours to talk about papers (which can be on the longer side) or just chit chat; essentially, you should befriend him! He's an incredibly smart, amiable guy and I'm a total fan girl in case that wasn't obvious already.

Dec 2014

Emily is very smart and knows her stuff. She will work you very hard and can be very intimidating. I don't think she knows she's intimidating, but when she asks you a question, she expects an answer, and I always felt a little unsure of myself because it's impossible to know the material better than she does. Not everyone in the class felt intimidated, but I know it was a common theme. She's a hard grader (didn't get my final grade back yet, but reading almost all the material and putting in an honest effort, based off the feedback I've gotten so far, I expect to be borderline B+/A-). That being said, I do feel like she pushed us so that I got a lot out of the class. If you are really interested in CC, she's a good teacher. If not, just know it's not an easy A.

Dec 2014

Carol Rovane’s section was almost interminable and I always found myself looking at the clock to see how much longer I had to sit in class. Although I read every book for the class and took copious notes while reading, when I got to class, I would without fail be lost in her lecture by 10 minutes in. Rovane’s idea of “discussion” meant literally zero discussion among us at all. Basically, the class structure was this: Rovane gave a long lecture on the topics discussed in the book at hand, then she (kind of) opened the floor for questions from us. What frustrated me the most is that every time someone asked a question or explained some reasoning they had about a subject, she would proceed to shoot it down and trump it with her own apparently higher reasoning abilities. There was really no interaction or passing of ideas between students at all. Rovane is a very kind lady, but she was not all that helpful when I went to her for help. She also took an unbelievably long time to return our papers to us (I think her record was 6 weeks), which tended to be a problem when we wanted to gauge how we were doing in the class before, say, the midterm or the final. The only great thing about Rovane’s section is that she cut down the readings A LOT, which helped us both to focus in on the important topics and to maintain our sanity in the class.

Dec 2014

I suppose when it comes to how much you enjoy Prof Yogesh's class, it's really about learning style. He tends to lecture a lot, but my class did have good discussions almost every class. Sometimes, if not many people have done the reading, it can get awkwardly silent, but most days it's fine. He does ask really difficult questions which can stump the class, but he'd then follow up with more manageable questions for us to guide the discussion the point he's trying to make. He's a very intellectual and knowledgeable professor. Personally I had a great time. His background in anthropology means that he really focuses on the social context and impact of the texts, which really helped in my understanding of the concepts raised in the books. A lot of theories can be easily misread when taken out of their social contexts after all. After discussing the background he would then walk you through the logic of the authors - it can be easy to get lost in this part of the class since he makes logical jumps sometimes, but not understanding his exact logic won't cost you much in the assessments. If the older reviews are true, then I'd say that he has definitely improved as an instructor of the course. He did not give off a sense of being condescending to anyone. Sometimes he'd play the devil's advocate, but it's really all to get us onto the right track of thinking about the content. Grading wise, it would be difficult to get an A in this class, though a solid A- is pretty achievable if you have taken good notes in class during his lectures. I had a pretty bad experience with a LitHum instructor that often graded us based on how much our interpretation of the texts aligned with his own interpretations, and I'm really glad Prof Yogesh doesn't do that despite his slightly intimidating class style. He would accept your interpretation as the logic was sound and you could follow through with it in your paper. His paper topics are also pretty straightforward and draws on content that he has given lectures on. His assessments are manageable and humane. Overall - pretty great professor if you prefer a more lecture-y style class with a focus on history/social impact!

Dec 2014

How do I love Jeremy? Let me count the ways: he only assigns the most necessary chapters. Though he lets discussion go where it will and keeps the class pretty flexible, his lectures are well prepared and he makes sure he knows his stuff (though he made it clear on the first day that he was NOT a professor and NOT in expert in anything except Nietzsche maybe sort of). He prefaces each philosopher with a funny story. He's fine with fast-and-loose weekly responses even if they're ranty. He brought us jellybeans once. He sends long in-depth emails. On papers he gives LOTS of feedback and makes sure to comment on the things we did well. He is a fair grader. He has a sense of humor. He makes sure everyone gets to talk, and the class feels like a very safe space to have opinions. He devoted an entire class to Ferguson and came equipped with a hefty pile of police violence and mass-incarceration statistics to refocus the discussion when it strayed. He showed us Philosopher Football in class. Knowing that he is always stressed out about his dissertation and is basically a malnourished grad student with chronic migraines made it all the more impressive that he brought as much attention and care to this class as he did. He's the nicest guy and I feel like I learned a lot this semester.

Dec 2014

Susan is one of the very few human beings in this world in whom I cannot find fault. She's absolutely amazing at what she does, and despite the fact that she would frequently stress that she was more accustomed to teaching in a lecture style, her ways of running discussion in CC were fantastic. She can effortlessly stimulate conversation for the entire two hours, and after two drab lithum teachers last year, Susan was a welcome change (also, keep in mind that these discussions were always somewhere between mildly inspiring and ground-breaking). And her fabulous teaching methods aside, she is a wonderful person to be around. She fully understands the stress that this school puts on us, and because of this, she sets up the curriculum in the most painless way possible. Two papers balanced so that their due dates were not during midterms, NO MIDTERM in the class, and very easy pop quizzes (easy as long as you read, that is) made it so that I hardly had to stress about the course as long as I kept up with the readings. Overall, I'd call it a privilege to have Susan as a CC instructor, and if you're lucky enough to get her, consider yourself blessed.

Nov 2014

Heather was one of my worst academic experiences at Columbia. Intellectually, I was not impressed. I felt like I was talking to an intellectual equal, whereas my ideal CC professor would have spent years or even decades thinking about the CC texts and drawing profound connections between them. She's rigid and inflexible when it comes to attendance and due dates--she refuses to extend a deadline even if you explain that you have 2 papers and a final on the same day, and WILL take marks off for late submissions. Apparently, this is supposed to instill self-discipline and help us come to terms with the fact that sometimes, life is hard.

Nov 2014

Overall I found it to be a pretty interesting class and Stanislawski helps foster discussion. His humor helped keep us awake in our 9 am section so that was definitely a plus. He's not super strict in terms of class participation, it can only boost your grade, not lower it. So if you're not much of a talker, don't fret! Professor Stanislawski is very knowledgeable and because of that he's quite the chatterbox. Often times he'll forget to give us a break because he's too much into our debate or giving us background info on our text. Although he encourages you to disagree with him and engage in open debates, he'll often talk over students which is annoying at times. So the solution is just to continue talking so that he knows you're not done. When you get to the religious texts, he'll question them from a historical stand point so don't be offended when he questions the basis of your religious foundations (if you are religious). He's not insensitive to people's beliefs, he just questions the texts like any academic would, and this can make some people uncomfortable so just make him aware of that in class. Aside from that I enjoyed my time in this class and would recommend him to others if for no other reason than that the midterm and final are open note and book. Also, he doesn't believe in pop quizzes so you won't ever have to worry about a reading quiz in his class.

Nov 2014

Andreas is quite literally the best teacher I have had at Columbia so far. Brief bio - he's from Cyprus, and is brilliant. I mean brilliant. He's a PhD candidate in political theory, and he specialized in Plato, so he know his shit, and he communicates his knowledge EXTREMELY well. I have learned so much from this class. However, he is formidable, and he doesn't take bullshit. You have to do ALL the reading, because he has a lottery system at the beginning of every class where he pulls your name from a hat, and if you're called you have to give a 5 minute lecture on the points of the reading. Also, he calls on random people in class, and he can tell when you're bullshitting and he will call you out in front of everyone, because he's dead serious about the text. You have to come into this class well prepared, and thought out if you want to do well. Overall, if you keep up with the reading, prepare questions in advance, and go to office hours when you have questions about the text, you will gain SO MUCH from this class. If you're prepared and you ask him for help, you will do well. But this is not a class for the faint-hearted. You HAVE to put in all your effort. I strongly (really, REALLY) recommend taking Andreas for CC. It's tons of work, but his teaching is incredibly rewarding.

Nov 2014

One of the better CC professors, Charley is actually a grad student. Appears to put a lot of time into studying the texts. He even offers to meet you outside of class at lunch or something to talk about your problems. Pretty laid back and tries to call on people equally. Studied Latin extensively and brings in his training. Class goes by fast with hardly any silence. Someone is sharing or he is giving his interpretation. If you don't like to analyze texts, he gives opportunities to just read the text for participation.

Nov 2014

Yohann is the smallest most adorable French professor you will ever meet. He made class more interesting that it should have been, given the texts, and always brought about interesting points and sections to reread and analyze. His type of personality is one I wish to see more often in professors here on campus. He was very approachable and willing to compromise if something was not working out. Some of the down sides: We moved extremely fast with the texts, often two or three book ahead of other classes. (one weekend, we had to read a book in its entirety). Also, if you don't like in-class debates where you go against another group of four while the rest of class stares at your waiting to rip you apart with questions you don't have the answer to, this section might not be for you. But overall, I would greatly recommend this professor.

Aug 2014

Professor Hirota is a very nice person, really smart too (he is a history Phd from Boston with a special interest in early US immigration). However, if you can avoid it, do not take his section. The first half of the semester he would barely guide the class discussion, opting instead to appoint 'discussion leaders'. I understand that he wanted us to have control over the class dialog, but we were dealing with some really dense philosophical material and none of us were philosophy majors...so people usually left really confused/unsure of what they were supposed to have gleaned from the past 2 hours in class. He got better during the second half of the semester, but there was still a lot left to be desired. Aside from this, the real issue I had with his class were the essays. First I'll start with the prompts. The prompts would require you to FULLY incorporate all the authors that we'd read up until that point. Usually 6+ authors into ONE paper...it was bound to make your paper sound incoherent. It was just too much information to cram in. And he expected a full expose on each author...it was ridiculous. My second qualm has to do with the grading. There is no rhyme or reason to the grade he gives you. The essay that you write in 3 hours will get a higher grade than the one that you takes you 3 weeks. Jury is still out on whether or not he actually reads them. This was incredibly frustrating. I hate to leave him such a bad review, but this class really was painful to get through.

Jul 2014

The previous reviewer is correct about the lack of enthusiasm in our class--which is a pity, since in my opinion Professor Schneider Reich is a stand-out teacher with a talent both for covering the major points of each author in an objective manner and for bringing out their stunning political implications. She is always friendly and willing to meet for a good chunk of time to explain essay comments and to help you understand difficult texts. She once gave me her complete lecture in office hours when I missed a class. It's true that she is an uncompromising discussion leader: her attitude is that these books have real arguments, so she doesn't dole out any particular encouragement to people just to comment, but rather to get it right. Take this class if you don't like your CC as philosophical shooting-the-sh*t, if you want to learn your Smith from your Marx, minus the tangent discussions accessible to you whether or not you bothered to read the book. If you make sure you really understand the arguments of the authors you discuss, she's likely to grade you fairly, and if you go and talk to her before and after assignments, she's likely to help you succeed. This is the kind of CC class that will challenge your abilities as a reader and thinker, and radically change your understanding of the world.

Jun 2014

Pros: - Relatively easy grader Cons: - Easily angered. Two notable examples: 1. someone mentioned game theory in the class and then forbade anyone else from mentioning it ever again without giving the class a 10 minute lecture on the topic. 2. a student went to visit him during office hours and was welcomed in by the other grad student who shared his office even though Mr. Yasin was not there at the time. Upon returning, Yasin became offended and harshly criticized the student for going into his office without him being there. - Discussions were disorganized and he would comment only to further confuse issues, and not in a way that was academically rigorous--he would most often just misinterpret what someone was saying. - He would routinely arrive late for class (to get Starbucks, of all things) - Obliquely criticized particular students; passive-aggressive. - He offered inconsistent, contradictory and vague instructions and feedback for essays. - Biased against engineers for whatever reason. The class was not enjoyable. Several people switched sections after the first semester and the rest stayed because of the one pro listed.

May 2014

I have many mixed feelings about CC with Suzanne, but overall my experience was pretty negative. It's important to mention, however, that the poor quality of the experience wasn't all her fault. This year she taught a 9-10:50 section of CC that was filled with pre-med sophomores who didn't really care about the texts (me included for part of the semester, but I really did put the effort in to learn and understand the material). So if you really want a good CC experience maybe don't choose the 9-10:50 MW slot unless you can't fit it in any other time due to other classes. Because of this fact, the discussions in class were dry; nobody had read the texts/everyone was always too nervous about mowsh bio and physics to care about CC. As for Suzanne herself, she's a young graduate student and recent mother, which clearly affected her teaching by making her super tired and late to some 9 am classes. She is an incredibly intelligent woman, and she explains the material very well. However, she is not great at making students participate, and the feedback she gives on her assignments is limited/not helpful at all. For the essays she wants "arguments" that are basically regurgitations and comparisons of the authors' different views on particular topics. Not to mention she's a tough grader on the essays, and her only criticism is always that "your sentences aren't clear enough." Because, you know, it's easy to write a clear, concrete philosophy-based essay. My writing has not improved at all from taking this class. Don't expect to get anything above a B or B+ on the essays either...maybe an A- on one of the two or three essays if you're lucky. Her midterms were easy, but very arbitrarily graded with ZERO feedback on what you could have improved on. The final was pretty easy first semester but second semester it consisted of two long free-response essays with prompts that were difficult to work with. Based on her teaching so far, I'm going to guess I'll never know how I did on the final paper and final exam since she never gave feedback on them last semester. The workload itself is pretty average for CC even if Suzanne adds a few extra Middle Eastern readings (she studies the Middle East). This CC class probably would have been better if the students were more engaged, but there's no doubt Suzanne was unhelpful and distant from her students. She’s probably just teaching CC because she has to, and she doesn't really care about her students or the subject matter unless we’re talking about the oppressive nature of the West. It's a shame because she's definitely smart, and she has interesting ideas. The way she ran her course was just perfunctory and stress inducing—surprising considering she took CC herself as a Columbia student like ten years ago! Maybe a class with her in her own field of study would be better.

May 2014

Katie Keenan was a really excellent choice for CC and there isn't much bad that I could say about this class. She should have a silver nugget here, if not gold. The workload might be a bit heavier than a typical CC class, but I think it was well worth it. Katie is knowledgeable and friendly, and she shows her enthusiasm in teaching. She also has a pretty cool sense of fashion, though that's unrelated. She's very willing to talk to you and answer your questions whether after class, in email, or in office hours. In fact, I'd absolutely recommend going to her office hours-- I think I was the only student to do so (and if she's reading this, she'll probably know who I am. hi.) but I think that those 1-on-1 conversations were what really made this class so great for me. I was able to learn a lot about myself and the way I live life (and about how other people do, and how society comes to be), throughout the semester. The previous reviews are fairly accurate. Her syllabus includes a few more readings than those of other classes, which can feel a bit overwhelming at times since any CC class already has a lot of reading, but I really liked her choices (Orwell, Camus, De Beauvoir), and in fact, they were probably some of my favourites. I'm actually not sure if she'll still be teaching here next year, but if she is, then I would absolutely recommend her. I switched into her class halfway through the year due to a conflict in my schedule, and I think that the 2pg reflections that we have to write make people more likely to take the time to do the reading and really think about what they've read, leading to interesting discussions in class. My previous class didn't have these, and the discussions weren't nearly as interesting there. I think the only reason not to take this class would be if you're taking 7 classes and you don't have time to write a couple pages every now and then. However, first, I'd maybe recommend dropping a class or two, because, wow that's ridiculous (just kidding, you're amazing if you can handle that; just do your thing).

May 2014

I don't want to make this review long, because the December 2013 comment pretty much sums up what this class was like. Yogesh is extremely condescending and often times unresponsive to students' efforts to participate in the lecture and discussion. This year he taught two sections of the class, however he clearly treated each section differently as is apparent in the other reviews. Yogesh did not start off being a terrible professor, but his snide and hypocritical comments/remarks slowly began to build up and some respect was lost; this may have been a major contributor to the lack of participation by the class. It's almost pretty sad how every day, half the class would faithfully arrive 15-30+ minutes late every single day. I don't blame them though. I would agree that Yogesh is very intelligent and sometimes has insightful tidbits of information to share/discuss with the class, but he is very ineffective when it comes to stimulating a meaningful class discussion that assists with your understanding of the text. He forms skewed and often times flawed perceptions of some of his students which are often times flawed and unprovoked. His condescending mannerism goes as far as to question your time, schedule, extra-curricular, and honor to the class. He has no problem accusing students of dishonest work, and you should also be weary of the "hints" he gives you in preparation of the exams. He may opt for a take-home exam, however be mindful that it is A LOT more work than you would have to do for an in class final, and he does not allow you enough time to submit quality work. Yadda yadda yadda. He sucks. If you want to get something meaningful out of CC then find a different professor. CC > Yogesh

May 2014

Despite the fact that this was Veli's first time teaching CC (and a class in general I think), he showed that he could definitely guide the class to understand the different texts in relation to each other. He decided to teach CC to prove that it could be more intellectually stimulating than it was when he took it. He's obviously really smart and did a pretty good job explicating certain concepts. I'd say the one thing he should focus on is better guiding discussions for the class. It often seemed like he let us make points and just go back on forth on those until someone else brought something else up. I would have liked a bit more structure instead of depending on the questions the presenters asked. About half of the class from the first semester stayed, although I think he was much improved in the second semester. Along with the new students, he was just more open and approachable which I think led to a better class dynamic with more lively debates occurring. He was very receptive to feedback and it showed that he took his role as a preceptor seriously. Veli's a very fair grader, although the amount of points he takes off per the portion of the overall grade can seem a bit daunting and the feedback he gives back is very minimal. In all, I definitely learned to both appreciate and better evaluate the texts we read in CC, thanks to in particular the extra reading Veli introduced to our class.

May 2014

Going into this course I was a little bit nervous. I had read some of the more scalding reviews below and was expecting the worst, but Chandrani's section of CC was the only one that worked for my schedule, so I had no other choice. Ultimately, though, I ended up staying in his class for both fall and spring semester, and I can safely say that he is a fine professor. He possesses a tremendous amount of historical and cultural knowledge on a wide variety of topics, text-related or otherwise, and he's also very up-to-date with current events. More importantly, his explanation and critical analysis of the texts was always enlightening and informative, if you show up awake enough to listen. Yogesh will generally open the class with a discussion. A reviewer below mentioned that, after a student speaks, he will often call on another student without responding to the first student's comments. This is true, but you shouldn't take it personally; he intentionally stays out of the class discussions as much as he can in order to let the students talk among themselves. As with any discussion in any CC course, this part of the class hinges upon many students show up prepared and awake. After the discussion proceeds for a while, he will then turn to his own notes and begin a more lecture-like phase of the seminar, where he does most of the talking. This is the most important part of the class, as the passages he points to and the concepts he highlights as important will directly translate to what shows up on the exams and essay prompts. So, following on that, the essays and exams are all very fair. Even if you only skimmed the readings (I admit to doing this pretty often), as long as you took adequate notes in class you'll be fine, because when he goes into "lecture mode" he gives you all the ammunition you need to earn an A. He's very fair about essay extensions and missed classes, too, and as long as you give him notice in advance, he'll gladly see you during his office hours to talk about an upcoming essay or anything else. Yogesh is not an easy A. If you're interested in a CC class that you can sleep through every time and still succeed, this is not one of them. But, he is a "straightforward" A; his work is very manageable, even for a lazy person like me, and there are no surprises on any test or essay. Most importantly, if you do apply yourself, you're really able to learn a lot and have a rewarding experience. All in all, he's very friendly, and not at all the uptight egocentric man some previous reviewers have made him out to be.

May 2014

DO NOT TAKE THIS CLASS! DO NOT TAKE THIS CLASS! DO NOT TAKE THIS CLASS! DO NOT TAKE THIS CLASS! DO NOT TAKE THIS CLASS! DO NOT TAKE THIS CLASS! DO NOT TAKE THIS CLASS! DO NOT TAKE THIS CLASS! DO NOT TAKE THIS CLASS! *****DO NOT TAKE THIS CLASS!***** ~~~~~DO NOT TAKE THIS CLASS!~~~~~ ~*~*~DO NOT TAKE THIS CLASS!~*~*~ DO NOT TAKE THIS CLASS! DO NOT TAKE! DO. NOT. TAKE!!!!!!!!!!!111111111!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!~~~~~~~~~~~ !!!!!!! !! ! ! ~~~DJAFLSJIOF34URIOJDLKFJASDJFKL;SADJKLFJASKDL;FJ89Q275VN98QNRCIOEWAIF;LDFJKL;DANSFKL;AEFL;KVAJLKSDFJKLSDFJ;LAVSJDFKL;NASDFNASJDFASDLFJASKD;L~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ … Seriously, if you have the luck to be put in this class, switch into another section immediately. Put off CC until next year. Do whatever it takes. I’m writing this instead of studying for the final in two days because I’ve honesty reached the point where just looking at the books for this class makes me angry. Maybe it’s just that this was Prof. Hirota’s first time teaching CC, and maybe it’s just that my CC professor last semester was so awesome. Maybe I’m the only one who feels so much resentment. But this was easily my worst experience with the Core. Simply put, Professor Hirota made this class unnecessarily painful. He just took himself and his class way too seriously, and he had a penchant for reminding us just how important his class is. Two days before our midterm, he verbatim told us that he wanted the class to "be desperate in studying for the exam, as if the entire class got a B+ on the first paper." Then in the last class, he made it a point to shove his belief that his class would be "guaranteed the most academically stimulating course" we would ever take down our throats. It also didn't help that he had a rather bad accent, which only added insult to injury. At least I got a few giggles out of hearing “library” pronounced as “lie-blare-lee” and Kant’s name as a certain part of the female body (CRINGE). As for our class discussions, they were never engaging due to the “discussion leaders” that Prof. Hirota favors. Instead of preparing his own materials for class discussion, Prof. Hirota liked having 2-3 students prepare discussion questions for him every week. The result was a mess. Every week’s discussion would consist of jumping from one student’s question to another student’s without any logical connection between the two, and while Prof. Hirota did try to get more involved in class discussions toward the end of the semester, going to class was always a struggle. Of course, I couldn’t skip class not only because of the usual CC attendance policy, but also because we had wonderful 9AM pop quizzes! These were stressful and didn't add any value to the course. I had the luck of missing a pop quiz the one class I accidentally missed at the end of the semester, and now I can’t make it up. Papers were terrible, too. Prompts were unreasonable, with Prof. Hirota expecting us to analyze 5+ works in a 6-8 page paper. I’m sorry, but the theme of human liberty cannot possibly apply to all of Mill, Marx, Frederick Douglass, Darwin’s theory of evolution, AND a random ass collection of Abraham Lincoln speeches equally. To make matters worse, we just didn't have enough time to write papers. We almost had four days to write the first long paper before we begged Prof. Hirota to give us two more. But really, the worst part of this class was the grading. Never have I ever seen grading so arbitrary in my entire Columbia experience. On the syllabus, Prof. Hirota specifies that he will grade papers so that “stylistic sophistication” is worth as much as your actual argument. Yes, grading papers is subjective in its nature, but there's something to be said when a professor says your ideas are well-developed and strong but knocks your paper down a grade because "your paragraphs are too long." (True story.) I also got a B+ on the midterm despite writing "one of the best midterm essays in the class" because Prof. Hirota thought my responses for the passage IDs were "too short." (He never specified a length requirement for the midterm passage IDs.) At some point, I gave up on submitting my best work because there was no point in putting in the effort if I was going to lose points for stupid things. And I consistently received A/A- grades in previous semesters of Lit Hum and CC, so it’s not like I can’t do the work. I’m looking at something in the B-range now. tl;dr: Prof. Hirota’s CC class was a terrible experience, and I actually still feel disgusted thinking about it now. I had the chance to switch into another section at the beginning of the semester and am now seriously regretting that I didn't make that decision. Please don’t make the same mistake.

May 2014

Overall, I had a decent experience in Professor Benezra's CC section. Karen Benezra is a very sharp, kind woman who is receptive to our ideas regarding the texts, even to the tangential ideas we sometimes asked about in class. She does tend to speak very quickly, but has improved on this a bit (I know because I was also in her section first semester). I acknowledge that the vast majority of the class moved out of her section after first semester, but this was due to a combination of her being a new professor, her exposition of the texts was very scholarly (sometimes not the best approach for an undergraduate, intro class), and the kind of students who simply wanted an easy ride through CC. The class typically opens with a question about how we found the reading, a short presentation from one of the students, and then a lecture style introduction of the text, with a few stopping points for discussion here and there. I think this is one of the few qualms I had with the class - sometimes the lecture style makes it difficult to interject with a comment, if you're one of the more quiet types, such as myself - but I realize that it's her first time teaching an undergraduate, seminar style class, so I expect that she will become one of the better CC profs in the future. She's very practical, so we usually get out of class 15-20 minutes early if she feels we've covered the material that she planned to go over. She has a self-deprecating sense of humour, which I found slightly endearing, especially since it provided some sort of comic relief when we were analyzing heavy political philosophy texts. On top of that, she's extremely respectful of us as students, sometimes openly calling us smart and hard-working, to the point where it once made me feel slightly uncomfortable. I guess it's rare to have a professor who is not only not condescending, but understanding of her students. One of the only other qualms I had was that she changed most of the second semester CC readings to political philosophy and theory, so I feel like I missed out on a bit of the experience I was "supposed" to get out of CC, even though I'm aware that the relationship between the texts on the original syllabus is slightly superficial. I wish we could've read Woolf, Gandhi, and du Bois, but I still did get a lot out of the last few readings. This being said, if you're simply looking for an easy CC experience, I wouldn't recommend this class. Prof. Benezra grades very fairly, so if you work really hard and really know how to write, you'll scrape by in the A-range. She gives number grades, BTW. If you're a decent student, you'll probably end up with a B+. I seriously think this is the most anybody could ask for in a fairly rigorous CC class, though. It may not be a life-changing or mind-blowing experience that some students purport to have in the best CC sections, but I feel those kind of experiences are rare, even at Columbia. Oh yeah, and try office hours if you can. I never had time to go to her office hours, except for one time the first semester, but it was really helpful to talk to her and know how to write for the essays. She also checks up on how you're doing at school, so I would've gone again if I had the time.

Apr 2014

I don't think I could form any kind of strong opinion about Mark after having taken CC with him. He's a nice guy and there's no question that his genuine passion is for philosophy, which is often made clear when he says things like "Alright. So. Let's get started. We have a loooot to talk about. I typed up twenty pages of single spaced notes for today." Although at first this made me think there might be long, drawn out lectures ahead, I'm glad to say we never had any of that. He just really did have a lot to talk about. A lot of the time, he taught by drawing very large flow charts, which I think was a thoughtful attempt to clarify what he was saying, but it ended up making everything more confusing. I found that if you copy down in your notes what he writes on the board, it's sort of difficult to make sense of all the arrows and bubbles and things later on when studying for the midterm or final. When he disagreed with a comment someone made, he usually said "we want to be careful about saying that [----] is [----]," or "that's actually a really big question for [rousseau/plato/berlin..etc]." He usually then provided a cut and dry rebuttal to the comment, which turned the class into more of a series of "Q and A" sessions with a few individual students than seminar conversation. Perhaps that's the nature of philosophy, and to be fair, that's where his background lies, but I think CC in particular is an opportunity to do more than decide whether or not we agree with each text, acknowledge our 21st century bias, and then move on. One time he planned a group activity for the lesson on the bill of rights, and that did a much better job of getting interesting discussion going. Overall, I think he's still refining his teaching technique right now, but it seems like he's on the right track.

Mar 2014

Awful. Overly demanding, and too harsh of a grader. She told my classmate that in the three years she has taught CC that she has only ever given out two A's. Outrageous, especially considering that she went to Columbia College and had to take Contemporary Civilizations herself and should take a second to realize how it is not the priority of most students here. Not to say that effort shouldn't be put forth but her workload (outlined below) is unreasonable. She is not great a facilitating discussion, which can be convenient if you haven't done the reading I suppose. I am still wondering what she did with the allocation that core classes get - we never had any sort of outing with the money or "party" like many Lit Hum and other CC classes do.

Feb 2014

Bob is a living legend. If you got him for CC go out right now and dance naked on the steps, cause you just got lucky. He is one of the nicest, most caring, and brilliant people I've met at columbia. He really goes out of his way to help his students, not just with CC stuff, but with anything you ask him. I reached out to him several times for advice on classes / internships and he was always so willing to help. Classes: Classes are fun most of the time. He opens with a ~20 minute lecture with slides, explaining the context and the main points of the text. I found these to be really helpful in summarizing the main points, so you could participate in the discussion even if you haven't done every reading. There's a 10 minute break, which helps you stay focused. He also does a great job in leading class discussion, he loves different opinions and criticism/support for the text, just make sure you say something meaningful. He's never harsh, but he will kindly ask you to clarify if you say something stupid Trips: Trips are great, and you get to see some of the stuff we touch upon in class in a different settings, which is awesome. The highlight was when Bob took us to the rare books library, which doesn't sound all that interesting, but is actually awesome. The good thing is that these trips are instead of classes. So it's not like Art Hum where you have to spend hours outside of class. Grading: So I would definitely say that Bob is not an easy grader. He's a lawyer (well he's a legend at heart, but a lawyer by profession), he doesn't like bs, and doesn't want you to recite what's in the text. What he's looking for is for you to make a solid argument, base it on the main points of the texts, and give counter arguments. If you do that, and do it fast, you'll be good. *BUT: What he really wants from you, is to see you care about the class, and most importantly, participate. I got a B on the first paper, a B on the final, and still got an A in the class. I did well on the midterm and second paper, but it was mostly because I participated a lot and went to office hours / email etc. If you do that, and do fairly well on the tests and paper, you're good. Final words: Bob is the best, it's an amazing class, thank God (core office?) that you got him.

Jan 2014

She was assigned to teach the CC section I was in last semester. Her class was a very average experience, if not a sort of bizarre one too. Even though she was perfectly normal when people talked to her individually, the class-teacher relationship was very odd (silent, awkward, not knowing when to laugh). Like one time she told us she was going to play a song that related to the text, which everyone got really excited about. But then she just played it for the whole class on her iPhone, which made it pretty difficult to hear, and we all just sat there silently listening. Then we moved on to the next topic. It felt like a weird tribal ritual. Some of her other "activities" were just as questionable, including randomly having us write a tweet by one of the philosophers (the connection to twitter was not explained), or use markers and posterboard to summarize the reading. It felt like fifth grade. I think "Ms. Ramsey" (she asks you to call her that) means very well and genuinely cares about the students in her class...sometimes a little too much. Two times during the course, she related a philosopher's ideas to the perils of drunk driving, and urged us not to do it. No one really knew how to respond to it. Then again, the part about Epicureanism she related to drunk driving is one of the things I remember most from the course, so maybe it's just her method. The biggest flaw in the class is that 40% of your grade is based on in-class participation, which at first stimulated a lot of good discussion about the material, but then seemed to only incite banal, pointless comments for the sake of commenting. She would agree with everything everyone said, even if it was flat out 100% wrong. The final and the midterm were the easiest two tests I've taken at Columbia. You had to identify and write about quotes like "I think, therefore I am" and "Life is nasty, brutish and short." There was also a "human interest" question along the lines of "Which of the philosophers do you most identify with?" I might have been able to pass the test without knowing anything except the most quoted lines from the books. I think it's great that she repeatedly told us she wanted to take her time grading our essays because she wanted to give us helpful comments. Strangely enough, however, I would usually only receive two or three comments in the whole paper and then perhaps a one sentence recap about one thing she didn't like. I got the same grade on every paper even though I gradually spent less and less effort on each one.

Jan 2014

If you want a CC professor who makes his expectations for assessments and papers as clear as the stagnant murky ponds in Sub-Saharan Africa that serve as the breeding grounds of the female Anopheles Mosquito, look no further. This is the class to take if you want Sparknotes' perspective to offer a considerably more substantive addition to your understanding of the texts than the vague glimpses into the obvious the professor occasionally offers. This is the class to take if you want your two-hour bi-weekly discussions to feel like a particularly painful season 8 episode of The Office, sans the humor. Take this class if you want your papers back just as they came out of the printer save for a chicken-scratched grade at the end. Take this class if you like hearing the words "epistemological, teleological, ontological, and solipsistic" injected ad nauseam into parenthetical antics that serve as little purpose at elucidating the important elements of the texts as might the rug on the classroom floor. If this is not what you're looking for in your CC professor, consider looking a little further.

Jan 2014

This was a great CC class, although I admittedly have none to compare it to. Discussions were either excellent or very dull, depending on how exhausted the students were (and how many of them fell asleep in class). Yogesh is also extremely intelligent and gives interesting lecture breaks in class. Grading was fair, exams and essays were pretty much straight out of class notes and discussion. As long as you do the readings and short, weekly response assignments you should get a lot out of the class. It is a good idea to write the responses with a purpose. It's a lot easier to talk in discussion if you already have an idea of what you want to say about the reading instead of coming up with stuff on the spot. The other reviewers are very mean and I'm not sure why.

Jan 2014

After reading the other two reviews posted by members of my CC class fall semester, I feel compelled to write another one to do justice to Professor Gatta and her class, which I believe the other two reviews failed to do. Yes, the class is a lot of work and a lot of reading...welcome to Columbia, if you haven't realized already for the past year. Gatta laments the fact that she already cut the readings substantially, and frankly, I don't understand how people can claim that they're not understanding the main gist of a work if 1) the "required" reading gets cut even more and 2) you don't actually read. That being said, I don't think class dynamics (a pretty small sample size of 20 or so people and varies) should wholly determine how you judge Gatta ad hominem. Yes, our class last semester had a pretty disruptive student, and for the first couple of weeks that student monopolized discussion to the point where our discussions weren't productive and Gatta didn't seem to really do anything about it. I think later on in the semester, "Ragemonster" sobered up, and discussions became slightly more profitable. I think Professor Gatta, unlike other professors, really takes her students' comments to heart. At the behest of one student, she changed the weight of the final and midterm exams, while another student's suggestion prompted her to allow us to respond to each other's posts and have that count as our "mandatory" weekly post. Gatta incorporates our weekly posts (which, I will concede people do bullshit) into her lectures because she thinks that those are the topics that we as a class may be interested in or have questions about. She sincerely tries her best to help her students make the most out of their CC experience, so I wouldn't let the actions and words of some students ("Ragemonster," par exemple) affect your overall impression of Gatta or her class. Furthermore, by allowing students to lead a 15-minute class discussion on a work, Gatta basically creates an opportunity for a student to take "ownership" of a text, allowing him or her to be that expert and come up with discussion questions, which I believe helped augment my understanding of the text while simultaneously giving me insight into my classmates' interpretations and thoughts. In other words, I feel like Gatta's approach to leading the class put a lot of direction and decision-making in the hands of the students; therefore, if someone acts more like a defective cog in the CC class machine, the whole shebang falls apart, and I think that's what ultimately happened last semester. To be successful in this class, one needs to take responsibility for one's own learning. Gatta does her best to make herself available to answer students' questions in class, after class, or during office hours, and I found her honest suggestions on how to improve my shitty 2nd progression very helpful. So to conclude, do the reading so you won't feel bored or lost in class discussion; otherwise, just don't complain.

Jan 2014

Nothing but good reviews for this man. If you happen to end up in his section, consider yourself lucky. Though the workload is more intense than other CC sections (he requires a 2-3 page response paper once a week) you actually get a lot from this class.He simplifies the ideas from the works to make it more understandable for you. The class is majority him lecturing, and if you take good notes, the exams will be a breeze to you. He provides a review list before the midterm/final and as long as you were awake during class you don't even have to do the readings/review the books before the exams (but, you DO need to read to get good grades on the response papers- it evens out) He's not the most flexible professor but he's good at what he does. Take his class if you actually want to learn about philosophy, and not just taking it as a dreaded requirement. I'd take any other class offered by him. What sets him apart from most professors is that you can tell he ENJOYS teaching and talking about the material, as he always has a smile on his face. That actually makes more of a difference than people think. He's also a really cool dude if you talk to him. Especially if you like Breaking Bad.

Jan 2014

This man has no business teaching. It is admirable that he decided to pursue a degree in philosophy after a long career, but the man has no skill in teaching. He has no idea how to lead a discussion, so he stands at the front of the room talking at you for most of the class. On occasion, he will ask questions, which come across as semi-rhetorical. He doesn't seem to care what your opinion actually is as he'll spend a long time arguing with you if your opinion differs from his. This serves as somewhat of a disincentive to participating. His knowledge of the course material is spotty at best. He knows quite a bit about Plato, but that's it. His knowledge of the religious texts is pathetic. Students would correct him. In classic Herbert fashion, he'd disagree. They'd then open their Bible and read from the text, proving him wrong. Even then, he wouldn't even admit that he'd messed up. The man is too arrogant and self-important to be a good teacher. With respect to the work, there are four papers, a midterm, and a final. He is an easy grader on the papers. However, he grades the midterm in an extremely petty fashion. And instead of doing a passage ID, he uses "terms" sometimes from the book but often inane terms used in lecture that don't always occur in the book. He doesn't much like to give partial credit, so even if you're mostly right expect to hemorrhage points. The final was the same format as the midterm. I don't like to be so negative, but Herbert is bad teacher. He isn't even mediocre. It seems that he teaches just to hear himself talk. He doesn't really care about the students; he'll never learn your name. He won't inspire you at all. He won't even inspire you to do the reading. It's optional as he talks the whole time. I wanted to enjoy this course. I've heard a lot of good things about CC, but you won't get that kind of experience in this class. If you enjoy forcing yourself to stay awake for this mind numbing course taught only at 9AM (what a treat!), stick around. If you value your time and want to learn something in CC, find a different teacher.

Jan 2014

Judith was an excellent CC professor. She makes herself readily available to help students. I will agree that she plays favorites but all it requires to become a favorite is to actually show interest in the class and the material. You don't have to have the knowledge of a philosopher or even talk for half the class. Go to her office hours, express that you are having difficulty if you need help. Here are the 3 simple ways to get the grade you want in her class: 1st - read a good portion of the material or sparknotes. It is important that you enter the class at least knowing major themes in the book. 2nd- Participate, Participate, Participate! Even if you are not sure of your answer. I am a shy student who didn't really like to speak up but she loves students who engage in the conversation. 3rd - Take good notes. They are really helpful for the midterm and final.

Jan 2014

Oh Billows, what a guy. So like, if you're down to not read anything for CC-- no books, no summaries, no sparknotes-- and still get an easy A, this is probably the class for you. If you go class, take notes on what Richard says (I usually just copied down what he said verbatim), and are able to regurgitate them in essays and exams, you'll do swimmingly. Some notes on Billows: He's extremely liberal, and that becomes very clear very soon. He knows his shit, and likes to make that known. 40% of our classes ended up as debates on whether or not ALL drugs should be legalized, how fun is that! Class discussions existed sometimes. A lot of the time he just lectured if we didn't have anything to say and he seemed perfectly fine with that. If you do say something that he doesn't agree with, get ready to be promptly bitch-slapped and shut down.. Like even if his counterargument doesn't make sense he'll make it clear that your logic is wrong. He has a soothing british accent that goes with his grandfatherly figure. He swears in class. A lot. And references his nightly drinking habits. Yeah I was like a big fan. I literally don't know the grade breakdown for this class cuz he didn't give us one lmfao. There were points in the year when i was just like "wait am I still in CC?" and my science-major self was perfectly fine with that. All in all fun class, 0 work, he doesn't teach second semester though so right now I'm scrambling to find another easy professor and it's not going too hot..

Jan 2014

I think the reviews for Professor Chandrani are being unfair. He may not come off as the most approachable professor, and he does tend to lecture, but he is an extremely intelligent man and I enjoyed the class as a whole. The workload is not especially heavy for a CC class. There are weekly one page write ups, but many other sections have to do this as well. As long as you participate in discussion, take notes, and keep up with (most) of the reading, your grade should be within the A range.

Jan 2014

The review below was pretty accurate, but I'd like to add that she's gotten slightly tougher in terms of grading - you can't just BS your way to an A- anymore, and the reflection papers actually factor into your grade. Also, you can't just hand them all in on the last day. Extra credit exists, but it has very little effect. She's a really sweet, really great professor. Listens to every viewpoint, even when students want to redirect the discussion to how Marx was a much better philosopher than (Plato, Augustine, Hobbes). Very anthropological flavor to the class, which I appreciated. The short lectures at the start of each class help guide the discussion, and the key terms from the reading that show up on the final are identified early in each class, so you know what to study. Overall, a solid choice.

Jan 2014

Professor Gatta makes for a disappointing semester. While I respect her off-putting positive energy in the class, she is completely out of touch from her students. She runs class in an artificial manner, favoring lengthy digressions over natural discussion. Over-reliant on weekly courseworks posts for class discussion that are often bullshitted, this friendly Italian lady chooses to lecture on and on without end. Questions are followed with painful silence, followed by an answer from one of four students who speak. The cherry on top is your 3 minute break in the middle of a 2 hour class, often shaved down to "a few seconds." She was also condescending towards certain students and didn't have the balls to quiet down an especially disruptive student. In general, it was excruciatingly frustrating to be in a class with a teacher who likes to talk about how open and fun CC is while at the same time sticking rigidly to a grading curve and not allowing for fruitful intellectual exploration. Considering that there are many shittier options for CC, she's not terrible but should be avoided - like Halal food.

Jan 2014

Richard John is an enthusiastic teacher. He will get very involved with the material and will provide a lot of energy for the classroom. He is a historian and so will spend a fair amount of time giving historical information to provide context to each of the readings, which does make the readings more interesting. This was his first time teaching the course so he would often ask for student input on how to carry out discussion. Most classes consisted of him talking about the text and asking for student input on each point that he brought up. A few times he split the class into two groups and made them debate a topic from the point of view of two different authors. There were also a few occasions on which he spent the class asking each person in the room to comment on the text (this was the least organized of the three methods). On the whole though this is a section very much led by the professor, which has the advantage of being structured. However, this did mean that John spent more time talking about the aspects of the texts that he found interesting than those brought up by students. John is also strongly opinionated, and tends to give less credence than he should in such a class to arguments he does not agree with. This can be particularly problematic as most students here hold leftist views, while John often leans to the right, so students' views are sometimes unfairly dismissed. Overall, the section is interesting and a decent one to be in.

Dec 2013

Pretty much agree word for word with what the previous reviewer wrote. The only thing that I would have to add is that as a history buff, Robert likes to connect the reading with relevant real-world events that are either current or in the past. He often (almost every class) brings an article from the New York Times or other news source and asks us to connect it to the readings. This is a double-edged sword, since the poli-sci/history majors and more humanities-oriented people of the class tend to dominate the discussion, but at the same time it is nice to relate the ancient CC texts to topics that are relevant to us today. I recommend reading up on the news regularly if you are going to attend his class because sometimes knowledge of the text in its own context isn't always enough. Overall though, Robert is a solid professor for CC.

Dec 2013

I hadn't been this disappointed since my father walked out on my family in 2003. To be honest, the course wasn't that bad. In fact, it was pretty standard reading (if not a little less than what my peers in other sections were assigned). However, the discussions ran dry. When faced with a question concerning context and concept of an author's point of view or argument (which is ... sorta, I don't know, vital to understand and for succeeding in the course), Rossi would often turn to the course's (obvious) best students to provide an answer (i.e.. "What do you guys think?" still doesn't answer my question on what the fuck Hobbes is trying to say.) But I think my main source of dissatisfaction comes from the inconsistency in the workload. Papers were assigned deadlines, but all three were pushed back. Granted, in an ideal world, this would provide additional time, but she was often recuperating for the time it took her to reply to emails about the papers (and, if you astutely followed her instructions for each paper, you were required to email your chosen texts for the paper prior to writing the paper; this system, obviously, was more inefficient than anything). On the other hand, her "American jokes" were funny (she's Canadian, from McGill, and never let's you forget). I actually can't get through a course at Columbia taught by a non-US native professor without some form of American mockery, I've noticed. In spite of it all, she was bearable. I wouldn't recommend her section unless you kinda have the urge to throw out all that you've learned in essay writing (including University Writing). Otherwise, try to find a section without pop quizzes, the same number of papers (c'mon, think about it, would you rather write three 5-page papers, or two 10-pagers?), and just as nationalist of a professor.

Dec 2013

I read her syllabus before the first day and immediately made the assumption that she was going to be a difficult and unreasonable professor. I couldn't have been any more wrong. Professor Dwyer is easily one of the best (if not the best) professor I have had, and I would even say one of the best instructors I've ever had.... Ever. She had a way of making the semester fly by, and she managed to get to the deeper meaning of every text that we read (which is remarkable, considering the CC syllabus is overwhelmingly large). Her midterms and final were actually very simple, provided that you just do the basic reading and pay attention in class. Professor Dwyer is also very understanding. She won't hold it against you if you miss class (like many Core professors) provided that you give her a heads up. She's very fluid with extensions and often will grant them to individual students without their asking. I found this to be very kind, and it showed that she was invested in her students and wanted the best from them. Her teaching style is very laid-back, and she tries to connect the readings to the applicability in the modern day and current events. She requires 6 reading responses on CourseWorks which she then discusses in class (so if there is a big connection you can make, she will definitely move to it during discussion). Towards the end of the class, she allowed students to submit a seventh response for extra credit, although I'm not sure why you would need extra credit in her class. Overall, I found her to be a caring, approachable professor who actually wants to be in the classroom and really invests in the achievements of her students.

Dec 2013

Just please try not to take CC with Chloe. I strongly agree with the review below. I am embarrassed to have had Chloe as a teacher. She may know a lot about Philosophy but honestly is not fit to be a teacher. She is extremely uncomfortable with public speaking and lectures as if addressing an invisible spot on the wall. A couple students turned around the first few weeks to see what she was looking at. Nothing. She doesn't look us in the eyes too often when she talks to us. She is not mean, but she is in no way nice. She's just weird, strange, and awkward. She occasionally snapped at students for doing harmless things like raising their hands while she was speaking, or walking in front of her to get to the only open seat when arriving a few minutes late. I am so disappointed in Columbia for hiring this woman to teach us as taking this class with her was a complete waste of time and energy. Way too much effort needs to be put into Chloe's class for a Core class. One thing she does that is really wonderful is that she makes outlines for every text, covering all the important points. But reading the texts and/or the outlines is never enough. Chloe's essays and assessments basically will never test you on your ability to remember a philosopher's point of view or an important point made in a text. She'll give you that and ask you how the philosopher arrived at the point, or how he proved it. Most often, she asks questions that she, a Descartes scholar, is curious about, saying "this is just something I always think about and I'm curious to see what you guys think." These questions are often impossible and unimportant to our basic understanding of the text. A couple of students have said they've brought these questions to older Philosophy majors they've known who could not answer them. ALSO, she gives these ridiculous bi-weekly 15 quizzes full of these questions that cover up to 3 philosophers at a time. Sorry Chloe, but a 15 minute reading quiz should basically only assess whether or not we've done the reading, especially if administered BEFORE our discussion of a text. Her grading is almost cruel, and probably based in her deep insecurities. Though, it is not impossible to do well in Chloe's class if you kill yourself working and know the one answer she approves of for her questions. She grades like it's a math class. Hardly ever gives partial credit. You either get the answer 100% or you're getting an F on you're quiz, again (she drops the lowest quiz though). When you finish your class with Chloe you will notice that though you've read the same texts as other CC classes, but you will have had a completely different dialogue about it. Chloe is not concerned with her class understanding the main points of the text, or having a general knowledge about a philosopher, but rather she only cares about things that are interesting to her. This is why her class is a waste of time. So disappointed with you, Columbia. How could you let this happen!? RUN!

Dec 2013

Horowitz is a talented professor. He manages to get people to work hard and put time into the class while still grading quite leniently. He keeps people on their toes to get us to put in quite a bit of time in the class. If you want a walk-in-the-park class, this probably isn't it, but the workload won't kill you either. We had 2 papers, 1500 and 2000 words each. I think he awarded higher grades to people who sent him drafts. On the exam, there were no passage IDs (YAY), just explaining concepts, which isn't hard if you paid attention and took notes in lecture. You have to send in a response to your reading every class. In the long run, this is helpful since it forces you to at least OPEN the book rather than show up 100% unprepared and gives you an opportunity to consolidate your thoughts. Responses are 1-2 paragraphs, so it's not really a big deal. If you can take Damon's class, take it.

Dec 2013

HORRIBLE CLASS!! GET OUT IF YOU CAN!! This class was by far the worst class that I have taken at Columbia. Chandrani is not a good professor AT ALL. The discussions were very forced 85% of the time. If you said something that he didn't agree with, then he just ignored your statement and looked to someone else to speak. There were times that everyone read the readings, but people were still confused because of his extremely difficult and confusing questions. This ended up in the class sitting in awkward silence for 5 minutes at a time. He also has this thing where he tells people to speak up because the room can't hear them, but then says that he is the only person who can speak at a low volume like he is some high ruler. His grading is ridiculous. For our response papers, he just put the grade at the bottom with no feedback, so you have zero knowledge as to what to fix or improve upon. Several of my friends in the class failed the midterm and it was open-note. After comparing answers, it turned out that they had the correct answers, but according to the professor, they didn't explain in enough detail. I can see that as getting a B- or maybe even a C+, but not an F. This professor is arrogant and hard. Do not take his class!

Dec 2013

The review below really says it all. Though this class has come to be somewhat of an "easy A" for me, I have learned absolutely nothing from sitting in class. I have fallen asleep in 99% of his lectures, and all the "learning" I have done for CC has taken place on my own, outside the classroom. It's quite sad, actually, because Professor Roseman is a really sweet guy. He knows some texts much better than others, which subsequently means that we learn some texts much better than others. (I think) that he cares about his students and he most definitely cares about the philosophy that he teaches -unfortunately, though, this doesn't translate into students actually learning anything. I am only staying in his section second semester so that I do not need to worry about my CC grade on top of all my other classes -this is quite sad, seeing as people talk about CC as being life-changing. With Professor Roseman, it's definitely not.

Dec 2013

Chloe is clearly a very smart person. She is also a hyperbolic example of why good researcher do not necessarily make good professors. She was without a doubt the least personable, most awkward professor I have ever encountered in my life. I have never met a teacher more incapable of interacting normally with students. It seems to me like it is as painful to teach for her, as it is for us to be taught. Class discussion were stale, boring, and too scarce. Chloe talks too much, and clearly only wants us to regurgitate answers from the outlines she writes. So its more like we listen to her talk for a long time, then she asks us a question, we search where on the outline to find it, spit it back, and we move on. I can't remember if our class ever got really into a topic. I don't think any of us ever really debated, or argued, or cared. No effort was ever made to impact all of this philosophy to our lives, which is just absurd, because this is really what Contemporary Civ should be. I have never sat in such a dead core class, and this was not because my peers and I are idiots. We just were never really rewarded for doing anything but complying with Chloe's oppressive, regimented plan. Assignments were convoluted and unclear, especially paper prompts, which were utterly absurd in their complexity and specificity. I am doing alright in the class but find the grading, especially on the quizzes and midterm to be absurdly difficult. Something is wrong when in a core class a bunch of the class gets a C on the midterm. That's not how it's supposed to work. Chloe gives great feedback on papers. Unfortunately you don't care enough about that feedback because the paper topics are so inaccessible and boring that no one is invested in finding out how to improve. Like the class discussions, I got really nothing out of the assignments except for an uncomfortably in-depth understanding of final causation. Honestly, I don't know if it is possible for this course to become any semblance of normal or even merely mediocre. Every aspect of it was off, from the quizzes, to the discussions, to the essays. Even the office hours were ridiculous, with some students having to wait hours, literally, before seeing Chloe. I just can't imagine that this class could ever be valuable. This is without a doubt the worst and most strange class I have taken at Columbia. I want to be clear that I say this not as someone who is bitter about his or her grade, because I am happy with my grade. I am just trying to be honest about what this class was like. I don't think it helps any party involved to lie and say I got anything positive out of this class. I feel cheated out of a potentially enriching experience. I think Chloe is a good person, with good intentions and is one of the hardest workers I have ever encountered. I don't mean to construct a tirade on her personality, I just think she is not suited to teach CC, or any class for that matter.

Dec 2013

Professor Gatta is boring, rude and not a great teacher. Class is never too terrible but she bases the entire class off of posts that she requires students to complete the night before class. Since most people kind of BS these posts, class discussion is really dry. She doesn't do much to push the class beyond these posts, and she is completely uninspiring. She also makes rude comments quite often. She calls certain students smart while acknowledging that some students are "less talented". Grades are based off of her perception of you in the first three weeks of classes, so if she considers you to be smart she will keep you in the A range, otherwise you'll be struggling to be pleased with your grade. Although she admits to not liking the idea of giving grades she follows the grading curve with unwavering conformity. She grades all sorts of tiny things that she considers to be part of your grade, for instance she gives individual grades to each online posting even though she makes it seem like a casual way to get ideas flowing. Unfortunately, she lets certain students monopolize class discussion therefore discouraging most other students to participate. She had no clue this was happening and blames it on the majority of students rather than recognizing the she would have more success in class if she gave everyone an equal opportunity to speak. Overall, not a great CC experience. Needless to say more than half of the class has already transferred out of the class next semester.

Dec 2013

Nicest professor ever. Even though I'm not a big fan of the CC material, I really like him as a prof. Take CC with him if you can. Our class had some pretty lively discussions (I wasn't exactly a big contributor to these discussions but that's probably because I'm not very on top of the readings. As far as I can tell, some people get VERY into the discussions.) This semester, he gave us a take home midterm AND a take home final. I don't know of too many columbia professors who would do that. He's also a very fair grader. Pending the final, I'm expecting an A- or B+.

Nov 2013

Professor Bell is one of the few GOOD CC professors. She actually understands the texts, actually has a philosophy background, actually can facilitate meaningful discussion, and actually teaches - qualities sadly lacking among many of the CC professors.... She will point out any flaws in your argument in a nice way, and encourages participation. Discussion will lag based on the quality of your peers (I was fortunate to have good/great peers in my section. Bell dubbed us her "second favorite CC section ever") + if a text is boring + during midterm season when peers are sleep deprived, as it does in all classes. She also took out a dumb reading and added a good one. A good indicator of the quality of a professor is the # of students that stay in the same section from Fall -> Spring. If I remember correctly, only 3-4 students switched sections in the Spring - either they didn't like Bell or they had scheduling conflicts. Also a fair grader. Not the toughest that I've had. For those complaining about their grades, work on your writing and go to her office hours - she's very nice and genuinely wants to help you learn. Professor Bell is probably better than 90% or more of the CC professors, is worth your time, and is a professor that you will appreciate.

Nov 2013

Chloe Layman is an interesting character. A little bit insecure, somewhat OCD, but she's harmless. She's had maybe 1-2 years of actual teaching experience, so she's relatively new to things. I wouldn't say her class demands a lot of work in terms of reading. Most of the texts she assigns are small snippets or paragraphs, and even then, you don't necessarily have to read to be able to participate in the class and do your papers. She provides thorough notes to supplement our readings and discussions, and regularly makes study guide materials for our tests. Although our paper assignments tend demand a little more effort than what's expected in class, they're relatively short (3-5 pages) and few in number. We also have a few in-class "reading check" quizzes, but Chloe always reminds us ahead of time. She tests material that we've usually gone over in class, so there isn't much extra work involved other than studying the notes she's made for us. The highest quiz grade is counted twice, and the lowest is dropped. No IDs on midterm/final.

Nov 2013

My favorite professor at Columbia to date. Open, smart, a great thinking, that constantly challenges your assumptions and really teaches you how to read texts - a great skill. She is also a fantastic person. Smiles often, is very nice, and all-around lovely. She was also very open about class discussions. Even if you didn't read, you could easily participate. The texts would often present a question, or problem and she'd just ask us our opinions. For example, do you think its fair that our current prison system throws people into jail? Or should we go back to cutting off a finger? Which is, in reality, more cruel? What would you rather receive for punishment? Etc. She is a historian, and before we read any new philosopher, she would have someone give a presentation on who they were, the period they were writing in, etc. It was extremely helpful. She's just the best. I had such a great time in CC because of her. If you're in her section, you're lucky.

Nov 2013

The class.... just... sucked. Ratzan complicated things, had his own interpretation of everything, led poor class discussions. I guess he was nice and meant well but it was just crippling how we were graded - both emotionally and GPA wise. EVERY LITTLE THING was graded on a scale of 1-100. And it was fairly harsh grading. If you show up to class, 80%. (Most other teachers give this a 90 or 100). If you said something, it bumps up; to get a 100, you have to say something brilliant, maybe you get a better score. Yikes. It was exhausting and oppressive. Feeling constantly judged is for celebrities, not people learning something new who barely have a handle on it yet. It's a huge indicator that, year after year, people switch sections ASAP between fall and spring. I got out and never looked back. I switched to another section in which I learned more and actually bonded with my teacher. I didn't feel like going to her office hours meant facing a 0-100 scale of how prepared I was, or leaving more confused. Man oh man. I'm a senior now, and looking back, he and that class were one of my worst experiences at Columbia. I just wish he wouldn't have made everything so complicated. The material is already hard enough - do you have to add all these layers on both the readings and the grading system? And office hours were practically useless. In sum: most of my complaints revolve around harsh (maybe even unfair) grading, but the constant evaluations that fed into that put up a wall between me and the teacher. You can't really interact with someone if you don't feel like when you speak they hear numbers/grades, not words.

Oct 2013

Chloe Layman is probably the worst teacher I have ever encountered. She tries really hard to be kind (sometimes) but she is utterly incapable overall. Her workload is not terrible, she has us read a small excerpt of the text but what she expects us to do with it is very strange. The essays will probably make you cry. They made me cry. Twice. More than that she is very strange and in a large group of students resorts to rudeness in order to deal with her insecurities as a teacher. She says things like "I'm not your therapist" when you are worried about grades, and she won't let you raise your hand if someone else is talking. She also never looks in anyone's eyes during class. The average on the midterm was a C+...If you go to her office hours she is nicer and tries to make things work but overall she is a failure of a teacher. It's unfortunate because I think she does want us to do well, and most of us will probably end up with an A or B but the journey there is like finally reaching the ninth circle of Dante's Inferno. How I wish I was in Lit Hum right now. If you can switch out, DO IT NOW.

Oct 2013

All the reviews below are true: EVD is quite possibly the kindest, most caring man you will ever meet, but he is not structured one bit. He is incredibly smart, to the point where he gets so excited about sharing his knowledge, that he gets too far ahead of himself and loses you in all of these intellectual thoughts. No matter- as long as you do the readings and go to his office for help, you will do fine. He is more than happy to meet with you around YOUR schedule (he once made time to meet me at 10 pm!), and to explain things as slowly as you need. No one is every stupid or too dumb for him; he will break down every view and thought into the smallest of chunks if necessary. To reiterate a few points below: if you like order and structure, get out now. If you like a little humor and chaos, and want a professor that cares about you, then take this class. You will not forget him.

Sep 2013

Professor Coleman is hands down one of the best professors I have ever had at Columbia (if you are the kind of student who takes core classes seriously and wants to learn a lot from them). I had him for both semesters of Contemporary Civilization last year, and I already knew after the first month of class that this was a professor whose section I wanted to stay in. While last year was his first year teaching here, I never felt that he lacked experience or could not command the class effectively. He is extremely intelligent, but is very humble and always willing to help his students. The class structure is as follows: opening (10-20 min) of historical background on the book/author/philosopher and some context, then discussion, 5 minutes break, finish discussion. Obviously, it is recommended that you do all the reading if you want to get the most out of this class. As the semester progresses and the students in the class get to know each other better, your class experience will improve as well. Sometimes (like other reviewers mentioned), Professor Coleman's dry jokes will come out--and they're a great relief during some drier moments of lecture. One thing I really appreciated is that Professor Coleman would clear out entire days of his schedule (mostly Fridays) to meet with students and discuss their papers or any unclear concepts from our readings--literally, one Friday, I joked that I must have inconvenienced him by arranging a short meeting on Friday, but he told me that he had the whole day booked with student appointments. Professor Coleman generally grades very fairly. Your essay grades will not only reflect the clarity and development of your ideas, but also your effort and participation (i.e. going to office hours, talking about the essay with the professor, emailing him drafts). Take advantage of the sending drafts option! Not many professors at Columbia will allow this. Professor Coleman's revisions and feedback on drafts can be very helpful in getting you the better grade. Lastly, the midterm and final are very straightforward: 1 passage ID section, 2-3 short essays, and 1 long essay. Overall, I would really recommend taking CC with Professor Coleman!

Sep 2013

I'm a little confused as to why people are so unanimously against Judith. To be honest, she's a pretty standard CC prof. The trick? Just do the reading. Seriously. I suspect the reviews below were written by people who tended not to do the reading or something. She plays favorites a little, but I wasn't one of her favorites and still got an A-. My advice is to at the very least be engaged and look interest. Remember that she's REALLY passionate about the course (don't worry, she'll remind you continuously throughout the course if you forget.)

Sep 2013

Stefanie Pleschinger Dwyer is by far one of the best instructors I have had here at Columbia. As a CC discussion leader, she really cares for and values the learning of all her students; she understands that everyone has a perspective and relevant thoughts to share. She is extremely approachable and willing to work with students, so feel free to email her or approach her after class to either chat or set up a meeting for office hours. This professor is genuinely passionate about the material and her instruction goes above and beyond; there wasn't a single text that I felt wasn't thoroughly covered [given the amount of time allotted for it.] Stefanie is also a very fair grader; be sure to format papers in an understandable way, as this is still a philosophy/social science course. So, the standard method of writing with a thesis, supporting points, and a conclusion will likely be best for most students. Each student selects one text/session to 'present' for; although this is a small portion of the grade, it is a big opportunity to select something that interests you and to show the class how you can contribute. Those students who struggle with public speaking—fear not; this isn't that type of presentation. You basically act as more of a guide for the introduction and the discussion, and Stefanie will definitely cover things too, while working with you to synergize. A certain number of daily posts are required before each session, and it amounts to something like half of the sessions. These are mainly just to get your thoughts and perspectives while interacting with your classmates; and, it is a good opportunity to show participation if you are a bit more shy in class. Stefanie won the preceptor award last year for a reason; she makes CC very interesting, she is a very fair and approachable instructor, and her students learn well because of it.

Sep 2013

Tarik Amar is one of the best professors I’ve ever had. CC is probably the signature course of your education at Columbia and if you are lucky enough to get a superb professor, then it can be your most memorable educational experience. Prof. Amar is absolutely unmatiched in his understanding and ideas about the CC thinkers. The guy is just brilliant, displaying such an incredible breadth of knowledge as well as insight about the texts and authors that at times, it’s actually scary that this man knows so much. He manages to find the perfect balance between lecturing and discussion, guiding the discussion so students can arrive at the points he wants them to get. And if that doesn’t work, he will explain. Prof. Amar is also just a genuinely really nice, humble guy, with a great, dry, at times self-deprecating sense of humor. He really treats students like his equals in discussion, despite his great brilliance. Unlike many professors, he’ll actually give you great advice on papers if you go to his office hours. However, he is a little different than other professors. He really narrow the class down to a focus on political philosophy, and alters the syllabus to meet this focus-especially in the second semester. Personally, I found this change beneficial, as it seemed to give the class a little more direction. Plus, some of the people he brought in (Friedrich Hayek, Raymond Aron, Hannah Arendt) were great thinkers who students may not get a chance to be exposed to, otherwise. However, if you were really looking forward to talking about Hume, this may not be the class for you. Additionally, while he is certainly not a harsh grader, Prof. Amar does have one and only one 15-page paper, which might scare people, but is actually quite doable. But overall, Prof. Amar is awesome. Take his class!

Aug 2013

Val is one of the smartest and nicest people I have ever met. While he can occasionally be confusing in his approach to explaining certain texts, his knowledge of all of them is very thorough, just pay close attention. He is an amazing professor and an even greater person. Some people may complain that he can get tangential, which is true, but each of his tangents has a clear purpose and does relate directly to a point that he is trying to make. Additionally, while the paper time limits (a weekend) can be tight, if you have done appropriate reading they will all make sense and are manageable. He is also flexible with accommodating everyones schedule so that you wont be swamped. If anything is unclear he will always make time to meet with you out of class to help...just make sure you make the appointments in person because he is not the best with e-mails. Above all else, he cares that all his students learn the material - he will make all accommodations necessary for each individual who wants to learn. He is one of the best people I have ever met. I will always remember him and his class.

Aug 2013

Prof Coleman is a wonderful professor -- I can't say enough good things about him. This was his first year at Columbia and teaching CC and I think he will only get better as he spends more time here. He begins each class with a historical background of the writer/text (he's a history prof so it makes sense) and then we spend the rest of the time discussing the text. He occasionally directs the conversation if he feels we stray from the topic. While we didn't debate the merits of each philosopher's arguments or what the "proper way to live life" is, we spent a lot of time dissecting what each writer was saying and comparing his/her ideas to other writers we've read. I found his historical background to be very helpful in situating the texts next to each other and understanding how philosophical thought evolved over time and was affected by the circumstances of the writer's time period and country. At the end of each text he would give a conclusion to recap and lead into the next text. While the class may seem dry or boring at first, I found his classes to get more and more interesting as we all got used to each other and got to know each other. The second semester I thought was really fun. Prof Coleman also has a dry humor that I thought was hilarious even though it doesn't come out that often. He is also super nice -- I could tell that the class was important to him and he always was willing to make time to meet outside of office hours and answer questions. I had trouble with some of the texts but he never made me feel stupid for not understanding them. He can be a tough grader but I think once you get used to what he expects from papers/tests/class that it becomes easier. Also, he was always willing to look at paper drafts and give feedback which I found very helpful in terms of getting a better grade and also understanding better how to write about philosophy. He also was very receptive to feedback after the first semester and did make some changes (i.e. gave us two longer papers instead of three papers) for the better. This is a class where you are really rewarded for doing the reading and participating. The only thing I would have liked to see is if he would also give an overview of each text's main idea at some point because sometimes I would come out of class/finishing a text understanding some of the writer's smaller arguments but fuzzier on the bigger picture. Overall -- Prof Coleman is the best Core professor I've had so far, and I'm really thankful to have been in his class.

Aug 2013

I've noticed that several reviews of Robert Neer praise him for caring about his students, and, as evidence, cite the fact that he brings coffee everyday and arranges several field trips and class dinners. I think it is great that Neer does these things for his students, but as a fellow Core instructor, I just want to point out that he cannot be using Core funding for these excursions. Core instructors are reimbursed up to a maximum of something like $250 a semester for outside events. As should be clear, that would cover coffee for 25 people for maybe three weeks, and there would be no money left over for trips to the Apollo, lunch catered by Thai Market, etc. Obviously Neer is funding these perks out of his own pocket. Again, I think that's swell, but I hope people don't presume that there is a strong connection between these outside events and an instructor caring about his students. Many caring Core instructors would love to be able to take their students to the Intrepid Museum but simply cannot afford it.

Aug 2013

Bob is one of the nicest and most approachable professors I have had so far- a genuinely nice guy, he takes the trouble to make CC a fun class. The class atmosphere is very relaxed, he starts with a ten-minute presentation where he breaks down the texts into a couple of slides, and throws in some interesting trivia and history about the philosophers. He's a History PhD, so that's his jam. Bob's CC class is almost 100 percent participation - and if you love to talk and argue, this is the class to be in. He isn't as tough a grader as I thought: if you're regular about posting, participate now and then, and talk to him about your essays before writing them, you'll manage a good grade. Seems tougher on his midterm and final grades but cumulatively, class participation counts for a lot so your overall grade evens out. Aside from academic stuff, Bob genuinely cares about his students- he took us to Faculty Lunch, brought us food from Thai Market, coffee every class, and organized field trips to Amateur Night at the Apollo and the Intrepid..Now there's good use of the Core Office's funding! Definitely a CC section worth being in.

Jun 2013

I have to disagree with the previous reviewer. Alheli is certainly easy, but she's not "enlightening." She would spend the first ten minutes of every class reading word-for-word a summary she had written of the reading. While this was very well-written, her points were always easy and obvious to anyone who had done the reading. And if you haven't read, don't sweat it. She allows laptops in class, so the most vocal member of our section was usually reading straight off Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. For class discussions, anyone can raise their hand and offer their thoughts on the reading. She usually guides the discussion and offers some conclusion of her own. If you say something she likes, her eyes will light up and she'll smile and nod. Usually, though, she speaks in a monotone and nods silently and absentmindedly to whatever point you raise and will call on the next person, who will try to steer the discussion in an unrelated direction in an effort to score those participation points. Some tips on getting Alheli's approval: she vehemently hates organized religion. Once she started a discussion topic on the Old Testament with "Let's talk about how the Israelites completely lacked logic or reasoning abilities here." If you don't mind sacrificing your intellectual integrity to pander to a biased teacher, Alheli is the way to go. As you can see from the workload below... well, there isn't much. Yes, this class is easy, but you won't learn much or be intellectually challenged. I deeply regret taking Alheli's class because I feel like I missed out on a crucial part of my Core experience. Alheli doesn't encourage class bonding, she doesn't try to get to know her students... heck, it took her a month to learn our names. The popcorn style of the discussion and her clear biases also mean you miss out on gaining a strong foundation in these key texts. If you care at all about your education and about growing as a thinker, do not take Alheli's class.

Jun 2013

I completely agree with the previous review. Bob is an amazing professor and I would highly suggest taking CC with him. His class was certainly the best that I have taken at Columbia so far and most likely shall remain so. He makes every class interesting and enjoyable, yes I was lucky that the other students in my section were great, but Bob very much promotes discussion, ideas and fun! If you are interested in the material this is the perfect class for you and will be extremely rewarding. Each class has around a ten minute presentation at the beginning and a five minute break for coffee. He also organizes lunches, running OH and will exchange classes for trips - we went to the Intrepid and Amateur Night at the Apollo among others. Lastly, I agree that he is not a tough grader. He is very fair throughout the semester but nice when it comes to the overall grade. If you show that you are engaged and have put in effort you will do well.

May 2013

For someone who has never taught CC, Oliver was so good. I can honestly say that this semester of CC was one of the most important classes of my education. Ever. Also what was really nice was that Oliver is super low-key so you don't have a lot of writing assignments, but you learn a lot. Just a heads up though, he is not the biggest fan of any of the British writers, so you barely discuss them, but he loves the Germans (he's German so go figure). But this isn't a bad thing at all, because He knows Kant like the back of his hand, has really interesting things to say Marx, and Nietzsche is a great class too. and he's also really knowledgeable about the French writers so Rousseau, and Foucault are great classes too. Overall, I'm super impressed how great this class was for Oliver never teaching CC before and I figure in the future he's only going to get better. As of now he's about a bronze nugget (if those existed), but he can definitely be silver in the future. Also he's probably going to teach more texts that he likes in the future so the class will get even better.

May 2013

I was not planning to write a review about Evan, but when I saw the below review I was spurred into action. Evan might be well-read, cocky, somewhat standoffish, and a little "unprofessional." But he knows it, and he owns it. Evan respected us as students, and we respected him as our teacher. But he wasn't about to assume the role of a buttoned-up professor who is willing to cater to the every need of the Columbia student who thinks he's the smartest kid on the block. He might be opinionated, openly politically active, and perhaps a self-proclaimed anarchist, but in this very same way he tried to break down the BS that surrounds higher level education and offer us a different kind of experience. In other words, he was the kind of professor who wouldn't be afraid to go out with you, grab a beer (or three), talk about the world, and call it a day. I think that's something to be appreciated--not criticized. To better understand Evan, and "how" he taught CC is to first understand "what" Evan taught in CC. This was by no means a typical CC class, and Evan had no intention of making it one. He didn't want us to sit in a CC class, talk about our feelings, and regurgitate arguments on an exam or in papers. He encouraged us to look beyond WHAT is said by the many authors we read, and rather focus on HOW it is said. Because in the end, how a philosopher structures what he/she says fundamentally informs what is being said in the first place. To truly understand the philosophers we study in CC is to dig beneath the surface, recognize patterns of discourse and primary assumptions, understand the crux of the matter, and ask the right questions. He challenged us to expand the depth of our thinking, and move beyond the kind of stagnant analysis that is required of us in other classes. Evan desperately wanted us to take these skills with us into the world and employ them everywhere we go. And while it takes years of studying philosophy to hammer them down, I can confidently say that Evan has at least impacted the way I consider the literature I read and the world around me--in true Columbia Core fashion. I didn't always support the way Evan taught class, and sometimes he was a bit much. But I appreciate the experience he offered me, and I hope others do as well. Most classes here are taught in a similar way, and so we arrive on the first day with a rigid set of expectations. Evan challenged those expectations, and for that I thank him.

May 2013

Luke strikes the perfect balance between being the homie (e.g. taking his classes to movies with the class budget as opposed to museums, giving generous study guides for all exams) and being a really insightful, obviously brilliant, and dedicated CC teacher who knows how to lead a good class discussion and teaches to both the people in the room who did the reading and those who did not. Couldn't imagine having a better CC professor.

May 2013

This was Evan's last semester at Columbia, and he made that patently obvious. His unprofessional attitude often undermined class time, mostly because Columbia students weren't actually impressed by his ability to throw down beers. Additionally, many students found that Evan's inability to secure employment next year adversely affected their grades and class room experience. Fortunately, I did well, but many students who had him for the full year were flustered by his condescension and aggravated demeanor during the latter half of the year. In short, Evan is well-read but cocky, which makes him seem standoffish. He often reiterated he did not like having a boss, but then again, he is also a self-proclaimed anarchist. I think Evan would make an excellent teacher down the road, but he needs to be more constructive and less sarcastic. Also, no one had the courage to tell him this, but his abuse of polysyllabic words and run-on sentences underscores his lack of knowledge (i.e., proclivity for BS).

May 2013

Absolutely AMAZING! This was Professor Simons's (or, as the rest of the students in our class affectionately called him in passing, Oliver) first time teaching Contemporary Civilization, and he made it the best experience possible. Having had an amazing Literature Humanities experience with an outstanding professor, I was certain that my time in CC couldn't possibly be any better. After this semester, I can confidently say that CC with Professor Simons was my favorite class all year. First of all, he is this extremely friendly and adorable (absolutely adorable!) man from Germany with the most endearing German accent. He puts everyone at ease with his demeanor and always says encouraging things about everyone's commentary, even if they may not actually be particularly coherent or, well, relevant. However, Oliver will always trying to find something useful or worth discussing from everyone's points. While he was oblivious to his own charm, it was very apparent that he was extremely intelligent. Before every session, he would contextualize the texts we read within the framework of writings by other philosophers and theorists, explaining how these theorists' approaches could be used to explain, understand, and historicize the text at hand. He brought in examples by different philosophers, including Saussure, Lacan, Adorno, Herder, Kant (of which he is an expert!), Foucault, and...too many to list! I got so much out of the experience- learning not only about the authors that we read but also many other contributors to the field of philosophy. Every class with Oliver was engaging and enlightening, and I left every session more enthusiastic about the next. Now, at the end of the semester, I am filled with overwhelming nostalgia for the semester that I just completed. Seriously, Oliver is smart, kind, and engaging, and, if you ever have the fortune to have this man teach your course (even if it may not be CC), you should definitely take it!

May 2013

Susan Pedersen is a knowledgeable, interesting and very nice professor, whom I had the privilege of studying under for both second-semester CC and for the British history class. Regarding CC, there isn't much to say: Prof. Pedersen is excellent at getting students to participate, and there was always an engaging discussion going. She also enjoyed adding a lot of historical background, especially for the British philosophers. She didn't have that much to add herself about the philosophers' worldviews, besides stressing some general points, so mostly you get your classmates' ideas (which is what CC is all about, right?). A couple of points you should know: 1) Her midterms have short answer questions, not IDs, and these can be a little tricky, because they might pertain to a particular part of the works or class discussion. So you need to study harder for tests than usual. 2) She has pop quizzes (seven per semester), so you can't just not do the reading or even sparknote it if you want a solid participation grade. For British History, this wasn't for me the best history class I've been to (that would be Prof. Janaki Bakhle's "Gandhi's India"), but it's a very solid class. A lot of emphasis on the party politics, rather little on foreign policy. But the lectures are engaging and interesting, and the workload typical for a history class. The one thing I really didn't like is that the textbook for the class, Pugh's "State and Society", is kind of rambling and all over the place; I hardly ever really used it. If you want to do well, GO TO LECTURE AND TAKE GOOD NOTES, and read the primary sources. The essays for the class are interesting and challenging, but they can be rather difficult. The idea is to give students first-hand experience in historical research. Basically you're prompted to sift through databases. This is really great for history majors and people who just like to see how it's done, but it can be hard to come up with a good argument if the material you looked through just didn't give you what you wanted. So I'd give a word of caution to those who might have trouble with that kind of work, but history majors should have a lot of fun. Do not take this as an easy A class, it isn't one, though if you do well in history classes you should do well here.

May 2013

Professor Coleman is by the far the smartest person I have encountered at Columbia. The introductions and conclusions to all of his sections are inspiring and comprehensive, and he makes a huge effort to create connections between a wide range of works and trains of thought we examined all year. He's super nice, really cares about how you do in the course if you care, and can hit you with a joke every once in a while. If you're looking to really understand the works we read and become a better writer and thinker he is the best teacher for the job. Don't be discouraged by the at first dry-seeming tone of the class, read the books and become interested and the class will definitely shape your educational experience here.

May 2013

I took Professor Ratzan's class during Spring semester, and I found his classes to be genuinely fascinating — unusual for a 9am. I switched out of my last CC class because I found the teacher insufferably boring. David, on the other hand, held consistently interesting discussions and was deeply enthusiastic about the material he was teaching. Take David's class if you want a professor with an actual opinion. He won't beat you over the head with it nor force you to agree with him, but David definitely had his own interpretation of the books and wasn't shy about contesting discussion points that he did not find convincing. After too many teachers who will agree to just about anything, I enjoyed David's style. David also has his moments as far as humor goes, and did a good job of lightening up Nietzsche with a few well timed expletives. He also is fond of short and confusing anecdotes that only sometimes seem contextually relevant but are almost always pretty funny. David works to clarify the important elements of each text without getting lost in summary-style lectures, and he often connected the material to contemporary concerns (the influence of the Internet, the Boston bombing, etc) in appropriate and engaging ways. I definitely left each class with food for thought and I deeper understand of the material. David assigns more reading than most CC profs. It pays to actually make an effort if you want to join the discussion. However, finishing each section is rarely necessary and David does not expect everyone to make it through 130-odd pages every time. Participation is graded — although I have no idea what I received, David's explanation at the beginning of the course made it sound like he has a pretty simple metic (a la say one thing, good participation; say two things, full participation). David has high standards for student work. Do not expect to BS your essay the day-of, as I was able to before I joined David's class. However, I do not think it was impossible to get an A. My online postings were certainly scrutinized, but the grading was only ever a point or two below what an average grader might give. From what I observed, David rarely gives below an 87 for postings, and most grades were between 89-92. David's dedication to the course is obvious. He gives thorough comments on all postings and papers, and often posted very detailed reading notes on courseworks (check the calendar to find them). Yes, this could be intimidating, but they were also usually valuable as David seems to spend a lot of time writing them. Take David's class if you're at least semi-serious about CC, and want to consider how the material applies to contemporary life and decision making (instead of just pure intellectual masturbation). Don't take the class if you'd rather sacrifice any value in taking the core for a few percent more on your grade.

May 2013

Definitely does not deserve the silver nugget, CULPA should start handing out charcoal. Honestly the worst experience I've had at Columbia. Avoid him like the plague unless you want to work twice as hard as every other CC student and get half the grade. If possible switch out as soon as possible. He holds interesting discussions but lets students ramble on and on.

May 2013

Moody-Adams is hands down one of the best professors I've had at Columbia and will probably ever have. Here's why: (1) She knows her stuff. Never have I encountered a professor who is so well versed in the subject matter that she teaches. In addition to historical context and the multitude of scholarly debates surrounding the texts, she would share little anecdotes about the authors and their backgrounds, which were both entertaining and informative. (2) She will make you want to be a philosophy major. Granted, I'm not going to change my major but the stimulating, intellectually driven conversations really got me interested in the works and helped me see how they are still relevant today. And she often "pushed back" in class discussions, challenging us to think more critically about our interpretations and viewpoints, which really helped me to grow as a scholar and thinker. Even with the authors that I didn't like or agree with, I came away with a thorough understanding of their works, what they were trying to say, and how they relate to the syllabus as a whole. (3) She's genuinely an extraordinary person. With all of her credentials and expertise, I was intimidated coming into this course. However, I found her to be a very approachable person. She had an openness about her, never hesitating to say what was on her mind or how things were going outside of class (e.g. her daughter graduating, going out of town, etc.) be it big or small, and she often shared personal anecdotes relating to the texts, sometimes referencing her Lit Hum-teaching partner in crime (her husband). (4) Um, it's Moody-Adams. Renegade ex-dean of Columbia College. Need I say more? She was a Marshall Scholar and studied philosophy at Oxford. She got her PhD in philosophy at Harvard. She studied under John Rawls. This woman is brilliant. Take her class! QUICK TIPS: (1) Use the handouts. They are a godsend. They're especially useful for going back over texts while studying or writing papers, or if you didn't have time to read it before class. (2) Make an appointment with her before your paper. For the first paper I met with her and realized that I totally didn't understand what was being asked. I came out with a good grade on the paper thanks to 5 short minutes of clarification. (3) TAKE THIS COURSE!!!

May 2013

Coleman is amazing. Absolutely the kind of professor you want to have for Contemporary Civilizations (unless you don't care/aren't interested, in which case he is not who you want). Coleman has an incredibly high standard for writing and class discussion, and he will demand that you really get into the text. You will get a lot out of these texts and the class generally with him. He is not the most exciting professor, but he is the smartest I have had here, and I got an immense amount out of his class. If you want to go deep into CC, take his class.

May 2013

This class is outstanding. Brooke is an engaging lecturer and she is one of the best professors I’ve had at Columbia. She cares tremendously about both the course material and her students, which is why I felt I learned something new and interesting every class. She provides feedback on papers, so be sure to go to office hours...or just swing by to say hi, since Brooke is a wonderful conversationalist. Great professor – take a class with her if you have a chance.

May 2013

For someone who has never taught a CC class ever, he is so good. As of now I would give him a bronze nugget if that even existed. He gives really interesting insight to text with his constant use of the linguistic structures that are in many of the CC texts. Also he is super nice and approachable and really wants his students to learn. I know that he's going to become a better CC professor as he keeps teaching the class (as I hope that he does).

Apr 2013

While it may take him a bit of time to open up to the rest of the class, do not be intimated - Professor Coleman is definitely one of the nicest professors at Columbia. Completely understanding and willing to offer as much help as he can. As for the structure of class: Opens with a bit of historical content (he's in the history department), followed by an outline of questions to be covered in class that day. Leads discussion fairly well, and will guide the class if necessary. Often tries to end the discussion by linking the text to previous works. If you write down what he says you should have a fair coverage of the texts and be prepared for the exams. Very simple midterm and final (noncumulative) based on passage analyses. There are two long papers, which he grades rather difficultly but beforehand offers to look at a draft. That being said, submit a draft! His comments are extremely detailed and helpful (will definitely boost your grade). Basic CC workload, but extremely kind and intelligent Professor with a commanding knowledge of the material.

Mar 2013

Disclaimer: I took Brooke's CC class in the spring only, so this may not apply to the fall semester. I found Brooke to be an excellent instructor for my CC class. The strength of a professor leading a seminar on introductory texts, it seems to me, is the extent to which she is willing to create an environment for learning and discussion; Brooke certainly did so. I spoke, and heard my classmates speak, far more in this class than in any other class I have taken at Columbia. Brooke laid the foundation by introducing each work and encouraged conversation by linking students' ideas together and occasionally challenging them, and spent a minimal amount of time lecturing. This allowed her students to explore and debate the issues brought up by the readings without getting too far off-track. CC is a tricky course, because it surveys a number of works and authors about whom entire courses could be (and are) taught. If done well, CC and LitHum both can be both educational, in terms of providing a basic background in the Western canon of literature and philosophy, and inspiring, because it allows students to be a part of philosophical debates spanning thousands of years. Brooke led her class through these issues admirably, telling us enough to give us a sense of what was going on while letting us explore on our own, as well.

Feb 2013

Michele Moody-Adams is an exceptional human being. If you have the chance to take her class (she doesn't teach CC very often), jump at it wholeheartedly. It is impossible for any professor to have mastered all of the texts we read in CC. MMA (as she refers to herself) doesn't try to pretend otherwise. She will let you know which texts she knows by heart (she wrote her thesis on Hume, but is also incredibly knowledgable about Kant, Rousseau, and other Enlightenment thinkers). She will also let you know when she only has a working knowledge of a text. Her lectures on the texts that she claimed to know the least about were still some of the most informative, entertaining, and thought-provoking classes I've ever had. She knows every anecdote about every author, she knows the conventional theories on the content as well as the more controversial historical and modern theories. She also often tells us about what modern philosophers think about these works. Overall, she manages to give you each interpretation of the text, so you really feel like you know the work well. Don't get it twisted, though. Her lectures are amazing, but this is no lecture class. I am NOT one to participate in class. I'm not lazy, but I'm pretty shy. However, she will never force you to participate. Rather, she will pique your curiosity, motivate you to read the texts, and inspire you to share your thoughts. I shit you not. I'm your typical overworked, cynical Columbia student, but she has actually made me love the core. The manner in which she guides discussions makes the class much more enjoyable too. My first term professor would routinely tell people they were wrong and that would be the end of the discussion. MMA challenges everyone who speaks and will help them, and the other students, come to a better conclusion on their own. Whenever anyone shares an opinion, she'll say, "I'm gonna push you to think a little bit further on that." It's cliche, but she really helps us become better thinkers. I appreciate that she doesn't let students share unfounded opinions (having clearly not read) without correcting them, but I also appreciate that she allows for a discussion, where people are never afraid to be wrong. As for the workload, it's minimal. It's CC, so you read a ton, but she includes fewer texts per term than the average professor. She also spends two classes, rather than one, talking about several texts. She'll generally give you an overview of the more difficult ones (Hume and Kant) and then give you a weekend to read it with what she said in mind. She's a very fair grader in my opinion. Even when you get an A on a paper, she'll give you tons of constructive comments. Basically, she's an angel. Again, if you have the chance to have her as a professor, jump at it.

Feb 2013

David Ratzan without a doubt does not deserve a silver nugget. The class started off energetic and was decently engaging throughout the semester until the last few weeks came when David decided to stop really preparing for class. One day he came into class and apologized for not preparing, but explained that his dog had gotten sick the night before, and he was up all night taking it out. The discussions never had an overarching focus; he would simply start the class (often while taking his coat off) by things that the students were interested in. This is nice to an extent, but unfortunately there were many works that we read where there was no take-away message. I found that I had scribbled lots of ideas on various points, but it was really hard to sum up what the work was really about after going to class. He also often seemed more interested in arguing/playing devil's advocate with a student's idea rather than trying to understand and accept it. Overall, this class was incredibly stressful because David is such a harsh grader. Participation was worth 30% for this class, and we found that he actually checked students off when they said something. 0 checks was bad, 1 check was okay, 2 checks was good. He grades everything on a 0-100 scale, even participation and posts (which were due every class). David considers around an 85 to be a pretty solid score; unfortunately most students do not. During the first round of papers, only 3 people got A-. The rest of the class got variations on Bs and Cs. He said that these A- papers were truly outstanding, above and beyond. For some reason David does not think even truly outstanding papers deserve As. While he is very approachable and willing to help students outside of class, he often seems to have a very limited tolerance for ideas that do not coincide with his own, of which students can see evidence in their paper grades. Would not take David if you can avoid him. He's not the worst, but he will make your CC experience a lot more stressful than it needs to be with very little gain on your part.

Feb 2013

Professor Isiksel is a brilliant instructor who really wants to impart her love of the CC curriculum upon her class. I took her class for two semesters during her first year on the Columbia faculty, and her teaching definitely got more organic and discussion-based as the year went along. I thought that this was ideal given the structure of the class, but it was at times tough for her to get people to participate in class. She was forgiving, however, and she would encourage participation by bringing coffee and cookies on occasion, which was definitely appreciated. Her knowledge of the texts was very strong, and her discussion questions, while obvious at times, definitely got the job done. Two words of caution, however: 1. The distance between an A- and an A is a lot longer than one might expect. This is felt the most in the essays, where perfectly structured essays with a good argument will only get you an A-. To get that A, one must have a nearly-flawless essay. 2. Her absence policy is very strict, even for a Core seminar. We were allowed one absence before our grade started dropping. I would definitely recommend her for students who are looking for a strong focus in political theory and political history in their Core classes and who don't miss class for any reason. At least at the beginning of the year, discussion were fairly dry and uninspiring, but strong classroom participation can easily lift that issue.

Jan 2013

Alheli is great. I'm puzzled by the comments suggesting that she is not enthusiastic; on the contrary, she seems deeply invested in providing insightful ideas about the texts, and guiding the discussion in enlightening ways. She does an exceptional job of moderating discussion and establishing a nice balance between her own valuable analyses and encouraging discussion. I always enjoyed her brief introduction to the texts at the beginning of each class, where she brings up some of the most significant features of the reading, and sets the tone for the ensuing discussion. I especially appreciated how she structured the class so that the emphasis was simply on the ideas present in the texts. Her comments on my first essay were quite helpful, and she allows a revision for a new grade. Overall one of my best experiences with the Core.

Jan 2013

Disregard the other reviews. The first day of class she said she was "turning over a new leaf." I don't know how she was before, but I have a hard time believing the claims that she was "the worst professor" someone ever had. Professor Schwartzberg, it is true, is tough. But she is a fair grader, and she really wants you to do well. I could have had a CC professor I could bullshit to, and consequently learn nothing. But she knows her shit, and it's worth making the effort - she was open to our own ideas, was receptive to our interests, encouraged us to come to her during office hours and was genuinely engaging in class. At the end of the semester, she invited the whole class to her apartment for breakfast. FYI the cats bite, but her kids are really cute. Very sad she couldn't take us on this semester.

Jan 2013

I had Neer in the fall and i have to say his class is one of the best classes I've taken at Columbia. I felt the need to write a review because the other reviews don't give him much credit. first: Bob is not that tough of a grader... people need to remember that he's a lawyer and thus does not like flowery exhaustive prose like some teachers. on exams and essays get to the point, point out the main ideas, be concise and you'll do well. second: He's suuuper nice, and his classes are exciting. People need to realize that the students make or break the class. that being said, he puts in a lot of effort to make them fun, but if you have lame kids in your class then the class WILL be lame. third: Participation is key. If you're quiet... dnt take the class. I got an A in the class and I didnt "work my butt off". I am not even an arts person! Participate, come to class interested, and go to his OH and you'll see that its pretty easy to get a good grade. In fact I was SHOCKED by my grade. I dont get A's. I think he grades ppl individually, as long as he sees youre trying YOUR best he'll give you a good grade he brings coffee everyday, he takes ppl out on runs, lunch, trips. you wont find a cc teacher like him ...

Jan 2013

I am so grateful I got to take CC with Professor Kittay in 2011. He values the seminar format. He actively creating an environment where every student contributes: He created an open and listening class environment. This was great, because my CC class was filled with really interesting, engaged, brilliant students. This is probably true of all classes, but since he knows how to draw people out, I actually got to benefit from their contributions. We really heard each other's ideas. Over the summer, those of us who were in New York had "potluck" reunions. I am convinced that the chemistry in the class can, in large part, be attributed to Professor Kittay's open-mindedness and genuine interest in our impressions of the texts and of the world. I think that everyone, though they didn't necessarily go unchallenged, felt validated by his open-minded listening. He is truly respectful of each person. Professor Kittay's class engages you beyond your intellect. He's interested in YOU, and your impressions. He is very intellectually smart, and knows what the texts are really saying, but, like a reviewer below said, he doesn't spend too much time on the nitty gritty of the texts. He brings them to a practical level. A super interesting, innovative thinker. You do get the intellectual history, but also, what I tried to explain above. I was allowed and encouraged to write papers about topics that really interested me, and through writing them I learned a tremendous amount. I needed to hand in one paper late, and he accepted it without reprimand, (in fact, he was more calm about it than I was) with only a half-grade reduction. It was an enjoyable and awesome CC experience.

Jan 2013

Professor Ratzan is okay. He is pretty enthusiastic about the class, but discussions very much follow his agenda. He has points that he wants to make, and asks the class questions to direct the discussion to a specific conclusion. This is a problematic way to study philosophy: while the authors we read often make very specific points, there is a lot of interpreting or further meaning, nuance etc. that are within all the works. I was constantly frustrated by his narrow focus and unwillingness to really consider other parts of the work that weren't part of what he wanted to discuss. The class and the subject matter were very much tailored to what he wanted to present. He was also difficult to follow at times, especially in one on one meetings. He used examples that were interesting, but didn't straightforwardly relate to the subject matter we studied, and often complicated things. We were also constantly evaluated: almost everything we did (discussion posts, attendance, etc) were graded on a scale of 0-100. That said, he is a smart person and nice. He reviewed each one of our papers extensively, writing each of us a 500 word email about our paper's strengths and weaknesses, but this came at the cost of waiting weeks for our papers. He certainly means well, and the focused way of studying the materials meant that we walked away at the end of every class with some concrete information on what the philosopher said. But it was the information he wanted us to walk away with. It was not the most dynamic class, and certainly not a very student-led or student-oriented CC. Overall, I would not recommend taking Ratzan's section.

Jan 2013

Note: I have only taken one semester of CC with Prof. Coleman so far, but I feel like I know enough about him at this point to write this review. Professor Coleman is fantastic. He is extremely intelligent, articulate, and organized. His lectures predictably follow in this fashion: for the first twenty minutes or so, he lists off points about the historical background in which the author was situated and the personal history of the author (skipped if this is not the first class on this author), then he spends a few minutes listing off key questions to be answered over the course of the class and taking general questions from the students, and the rest of the class is spent talking about the work assigned for reading, its themes, connections to other works we've read, etc. It ends up being just the right balance of background and discussion of the actual text. Prof. Coleman leads his class with a firm but gentle hand. He offers just enough guidance to allow us to arrive at the point he is trying to make mostly on our own. He normally has a good sense of when a digression is worthwhile and when it is time to return to the text (although he has been known to let a tangent or two go on a bit too long). He also occasionally makes brief jokes (which are actually quite funny) to lighten the mood without distracting the class too much. For the papers, he usually gives you a choice of 4 well designed, fecund paper topics for each. I suggest you meet with him for all of them, because he will definitely steer you in the right direction. From what I can tell, he is a fair grader on these. Midterm and final have pretty much the standard CC format--explicate a few passages, their significance, themes, connections to other works, etc. Grading is fair on this as well, but beware: he docks points if you leave out key information. (So even if everything you said was correct, if you left out something important, you won't get full credit.) Overall, a nugget worthy professor if I ever saw one.

Jan 2013

Professor Keenan (or "Katie" as she asks to be called) is a solid choice for a CC section if you want a relaxed CC experience. She is very flexible and tries to make the class as streamlined as possible for her students (she gave us a one week extension for our big paper). Class usually starts with a small introduction that she makes, which essentially consists of her reading about the context and background of the day's text provided by the Core Admins. After this, one of the students in the class makes a short presentation about the reading which is supposed to help guide and deepen discussion. This probably only succeeds half the time, but discussion proceeds nonetheless. Following the introductions, there is usually a mostly free-flow discussion that loosely follows an outline that Katie writes at the beginning. On the whole, the depth and rigor of the discussion depends on your classmates and how well everyone prepared for the reading. Not surprisingly, there were some days where there was a fair amount of awkward silence. Katie usually takes on fairly standard Core views on the texts, though sometimes with more of an anthropological spin, so how much you like her perspective generally depends on how much you agree with the overall Core. Workload and grading is much lighter than other CC courses. No regular postings/writings and no way to check if you read the material or not (other than discussion). There are two 1-page response papers and one 7-10 page paper. These papers are due anytime before the last class, which means most people do them the day before the last class. The midterm is take home (one 1-page response, one 3-5 page response). The final is a pretty standard CC final (5 term definitions, 3 quote expositions, 1 essay). You can get an A/A- with average to below-average effort put in.

Jan 2013

Heather is a nice person, but she definitely needs to work on properly facilitating discussion. She cuts people off mid-discussion and tries to make everyone talk at least once each class, which can be a bit frustrating because she has a tendency to put people on the spot regarding things they have nothing to say about. I know that's not a bad thing and many professors do this, but something about the way she asks specific questions out of nowhere to people who are not engaged in the discussion is not conducive to class. Also, sometimes when it seems as though discussion is actually flowing nicely, she may stop it if the class gets off the ideas she wants to follow. She kind of has exactly what she wants to discuss already in mind, which definitely takes away from the overall feel of the class. Overall, Heather does give some insightful information regarding the texts, and she is a very eager instructor who clearly enjoys teaching CC, but she has some things to work on. If you're looking for the ideal CC experience, this might not be it.

Jan 2013

I will preface this review by saying that I do plan on staying in Prof. Taneja's class for this upcoming semester. Overall he is a decent professor; he is probably not the most exciting lecturer, but it could most definitely be worse in terms of workload. The workload for the first semester of class wasn't so bad. Instead of a midterm and a final, we had two papers. The midterm was 5-8 pages and the final was 8-10 pages. In addition to this we had two other papers: the first paper of the semester had to be 5-8 pages and the other paper was actually a topic description/outline of the paper we were writing in the place of a final that had to be 1-2 pages. My only complaint about these papers is that the topics were very broad, and Prof. Taneja's essay prompts weren't always clear to some. For some people this might be nice because it allows for a little more creativity, which Taneja seems to encourage, but it might be difficult for others who prefer professors to clearly outline the components they would like to see in an essay. In addition to the essays, each person had to prepare a 20-25 minute presentation before class on the reading for that day. In the presentation, we had to summarize the reading and provide some commentary/discussion questions to guide the classroom discussion. After the presentation, Anand would provide some commentary on the discussion as well as some of his points for the lecture that day. Doing the presentation well was an easy way for everyone to get participation points, and everyone was allowed to select the reading they wanted to prepare a presentation for on a first-come, first-serve basis. I believe that a lot of the criticism of Prof. Taneja comes from the way that he handles discussion. Most people in class felt that he would allow certain people to express their opinions more than others in an attempt to avoid any discussion he might find too "offensive" or "contentious." As a result, the discussion wasn't always interesting, and several students resorted to simply not speaking much at all in the last few classes. Another complaint is that Taneja might have a tendency to favor those whose personalities he considers to be more pleasant than others. These complaints come mostly from the way he handled discussion and graded papers/presentations. For example, one day in class he mentioned something about "comparing papers" of students who had chosen the same prompt or similar texts. Although he did not clarify his meaning, it seemed as if the grading can be subjective. With that being said, the workload isn't that bad and you can definitely get a decent grade if your presentation goes well, you participate enough, and you write a good essay using the least popular prompts.

Jan 2013

Friendly grad student. A little awkward and sometimes didn't know how to proceed, but I also had him his first semester of teaching. Discussions were fine, pretty much based on the discussion posts that we had to do weekly. Nothing unexpected from a normal CC course. The discussion did seem boring at times, but I am a math major, so all of the politics stuff gets annoying. I did think, however, that he was a really tough grader. Usually teachers are sympathetic if you go ahead of time and hand in drafts and e-mail asking questions about essays, but he certainly was not. I ended up getting a bad grade in the course (B-) so that despite fine participation, my final/midterm/essay grades were all horrible. But if you're good at that stuff, then you'll be fine. I also want to note that for essays, he would only read drafts a week before the essay was due. So like if an essay was due the 16th, he would only accept drafts and give comments if it was received before the 9th. This was very annoying, gave very little time to write a decent draft. Also, he was VERY unhelpful in answering questions about the essays and exams. I e-mailed him back asking a question about something I didn't understand in his essay comments, and he told me it was after the deadline so he wouldn't help.

Jan 2013

I’m going to try to be as fair as possible here and will thus begin with the pros of the class before I move on to the cons. Notice I say “try”, because I’m sure the boiling vitriol that emerges in my soul whenever I think about Judith will soon overtake my consciousness. So to be fair, there’s no doubt that Judith cares immensely about the class. She stated during one meeting that she has essentially devoted her life to teaching the core here, and I believe that. She knows the ins and outs of essentially every work on the syllabus and you can tell that she spends a lot of time poring over the texts before she comes to class. She also gives historical context on the authors at the outset of every class, which really does help at times in understanding the motivation and the reason that the philosophy was written. Here ends my short list of pros. Everyone in the class seemed to have differing problems with Judith, but my own personal unforgivable problem with her is that she fundamentally does not trust any of her students. What I mean by this is that for Judith, there’s no such thing as having read a text and not understanding a part of it. If you are unable to provide the exact answer she wants either in an in-class question or on her homework assignments, she assumes automatically that you just did not read. Seriously. When she hands back essays or homework assignments, she always insists that we read her “helpful” comments, but the comments always boil down to “You did not provide the answer I was looking for. Therefore, you must not have read. This will hurt your performance in the class.” It’s not a huge issue at first, but when this comment appears on literally every assignment you turn in, it just becomes personally insulting, especially if you spent all night trying to finish a long reading assignment and just missed one of the minute details she always questions about. It’s fine for her to say that you have the wrong answer, but the insinuation that not finding the right answer is automatically equivalent to not having done the reading is unnecessary. This may not seem not like a huge problem: Just find the correct answer in the text and give it to her, right? Nope. Judith always insists on a precise sentence in a precise passage as the correct answer: any other interpretation of her questions is inherently wrong. Thus begins the second biggest issue I have with her class. There is no such thing as “discussion” in any of her classes. It’s more often like a hackneyed trivia game: scramble through the books as quickly as possible to find the one sentence that can answer Judith’s vague question. Every 2-hour session just ends up feeling like a waste because the class never does engage with the texts in any kind of substantial or meaningful way: your opinion never matters because it always becomes a lesson in answering Judith’s questions. Now if these questions were structured around exploring and really analyzing in depth the issues involved, that’d be fine, but Judith instead focuses on her own interpretation of the minutiae in each text, which makes every class an exercise in reading every sentence and guessing at what she means. In the extremely rare occasion where she asks for a personal opinion outside of the words of the author, no one responds at first because we’re all too surprised that Judith actually cares about what we think. Every single class is like this, which makes it impossible to really care about the class at the ending weeks of the semester. So if you’re very detail-oriented, are willing to spend sleepless nights committing to memory every detail of the texts, and don’t mind spending the next morning frantically flipping through pages to find the answer to Judith’s questions for fear of being accused of not having done the reading, then choose Judith. Otherwise, I’d suggest switching out at earliest convenience.

Dec 2012

Things you should know about Damon: He works at Google (as their "in house philosopher," whatever that means??). He's a Columbia grad. He may or may not be at least part robot. He's disgustingly smart. Oh, and he became a millionaire when he was like 24 or something for selling some startup he made. He doesn't talk about that stuff in class, but it definitely clarifies some of his weird professorial idiosyncrasies. Damon knows the material well and expects you to, too. Being able to participate in discussion is a big deal. Damon isn't the kind of professor who will fill awkward silences with rambling lecture; he sits, he waits, and if no one says anything, he'll give a little disappointed sigh and ask another question. He expects you to do the reading, but he's not evil. He went here, too, and he's pretty familiar with the Columbia workload. If you can read enough to participate in lecture and know at least one idea from each text backwards and forwards, you're in good shape. His midterms are easy, he grades papers fairly (especially if you go in to talk to him about your ideas), and he's a generally nice guy. Not very engaging as a lecturer, though (he puts weight on you as often as he can), so make sure you have people in the class that do the reading. 2 hours of crickets does not a CC class make.

Dec 2012

Professor Gatta is good. She is not amazing, but she is above average. She has read a lot of political theory, and usually approaches text more as a political scientist than as a philosopher, which may or may not be to your liking. She is a very fair grader, and gives good (though again, not amazing) advice on your writing. She's very approachable, and is willing to help you as much as she can on your writing, etc. She could lead discussion a little better, however. There were a few gems in the texts we were reading that passed unnoticed (we didn't discuss the allegory of the cave in plato...!), which was a shame. As I said, not amazing, but good.

Dec 2012

We took to calling him Magister. The title is fitting. Diagne is simply brilliant. I really am in awe of how smart he is. WOW. So freaking smart. He structured CC well I thought. I mean, this is a class where most people don't do the reading. It's hard to create a forum for discussion amongst those who haven't read Aristotle about Aristotle. Diagne somehow does it though. He starts off with a lecture and then asks very direct questions (the questions which will most indubitably be on the midterm and final) which those who have read (both of them) can debate. Magister also never shuts anyone down. He's really encouraging when people participate. I found myself almost incapable of participating just because he's so smart though. I would hate for him to think I were unintelligent. Regardless, participation is only 10% of your grade and even if you never say a word, you can get full credit + extra credit if you show up to every class. I think having only 10% participation actually worked quite well because those who never read but think they're such brilliant bs-ers were quiet. (Well...mostly quiet. There was definitely one exception there.) I sat through Lit Hum wishing it would end, staring at the clock. In CC, which arguably was much less interesting, I somehow was shocked when I looked at the clock. Every time forty minutes had managed to slip by. Class went by quickly. Diagne is a brilliant guy and a brilliant professor. If you're in his section, stay in it. STAY IN IT. LISTEN TO ME. Count yourself lucky you'll be in the presence of greatness twice a week for an hour and fifty minutes.

Dec 2012

I can genuinely say CC was one of the classes I was most excited about coming into Columbia, so I was already looking forward to all the books before coming to class in September. Although I had heard terrible stories of unfortunate CC professors, I came to class with an open mind, knowing that either way, I would at least get something out of simply reading the texts. Although I really enjoyed the progression of the readings, I felt I have been cheated a semester of a potentially enlightening class due to Marc’s lack experience in the subject matter and knowledge required to present these books. What I wish to critique most is his inefficient ways of managing class time, directing conversations towards valuable discussions, and bringing up meaningful and important passages in the text. Seriously the first few classes, and I mean at least the first four, we spent about 20-30 minutes total each class memorizing each other’s names. Although it was an effective strategy in creating a comfortable classroom environment, he often interrupted discussion at the end of class so that we could go around the room and say our names, multiple times. Although that does not seem like a significant issue, there were countless times when I felt he did not understand the books and concepts presented in the texts, so he would waste class time with such diversions. Because he provided no background of the texts and did not discuss the historical significance in context, it felt as though he was reading the books along with us through the semester. Because he had no background knowledge in any of the texts we read, I seriously do believe that any of us in the classroom could have served as a professor. What bothered me, and many other of my colleagues the most, was that for literally every book, we spent about half the class discussing why we think it should be on the core and whether we believed the Core education was valuable. While it is important to consider this as future leaders of our generation and to discuss the argument on both sides, I would have liked to spend this valuable class time ACTUALLY discussing the book and doing close readings. In addition to poor text discussion, he would also spend significant time for every single book discussing reading strategies we used. It would have been sufficient to discuss this just one time at the beginning of the year… not for every single book. In addition, when returning papers, he spent significant class time discussing basic writing skills, like how to use an apostrophe and a semicolon. He stressed such minor issues and distracted the class from the texts themselves. When we finally did have good debates, Marc would often interrupt it so that he could stay in line with his very structured lesson plan. Throughout each class, he would fit in these awkward five-minute “reflections” which interrupted class unnaturally. Many times, he would ask us to read them to share our thoughts, but he would only allow us to do so if we read our writing verbatim. I personally, saw no value to this, and did not benefit from it. We would often even have “re-writes” in which we would reflect on our first writing, and then discuss what we changed when we answered the question the second time. This was perhaps the most disappointing thing about Marc because his inflexibility did not provide enough room for natural conversation and debate. Honestly, each class I left very disappointed and dissatisfied because I felt that I wasted 2 hours in class without gaining much insight into the texts than I already gained just from reading the books. All in all, I would not recommend Marc Hertzman as a CC professor. To be fair, he seemed like an actually pretty nice guy with good intentions, but I am unsure as to how the Core Committee found him qualified to teach such a dense course. Perhaps he would be more suited to teach the global core classes in which he can focus specifically on his background knowledge of Brazil and Latin American studies.

Dec 2012

Though Marc is generally a friendly person and no doubt accomplished in his field, I seriously question his ability to teach CC. Other students may disagree with me and favor his "chillness." But I argue this sense of relaxation is due to the fact that he avoids serious engagement with the literature. One of the largest problems was that Marc frequently interrupted the natural flow of class discussions with what he believes were beneficial exercises (e.g. written reflections, movie clips, unnecessary 5 minute breaks, or just total changes in discussion topics). This was extremely frustrating, as I often felt that whenever we were getting to the deep questions and underlying issues of CC, Marc would say something like "Ok we can't spend any more time on this, we need to move on to..." Additionally, I felt Marc was often detrimentally bogged down by his own beliefs and unwilling to honor different student perspectives. If a student raised a controversial point, he would typically try to veer the discussion away from it and closer to whatever he wanted to talk about. Rather than probe students further regarding certain points that perhaps he did not fully grasp, Marc came off as dismissive and stubborn. It also seemed, at times, that Marc was wholly unprepared to teach this class. For example, we never even discussed Medieval philosophy but rather spent an ENTIRE class watching a documentary on Hurricane Katrina. Of course the ethical issues regarding Katrina are tremendous. However, I did not come to Columbia to spend my valuable Core classes watching movies that I can watch on my own time. The classes we had on St. Augustine, the Qur'an, and others were also very abstract and barely grounded in the text, which signaled to me that Marc was not prepared to actually engage the literature. I was extremely insulted by these occurrences, which I felt Marc made with frequency. Moreover, Marc often mistook student boredom for disrespect. I believe that most students come to class eager and willing to learn, and that this inattentiveness was in fact due to the poor quality of his lecturing. However, rather than take this as a sign of his personal short comings, Marc would take personal offense to these attitudes.

Dec 2012

I'm slightly confused as to why Johnston doesn't have better reviews. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z_FCFVJA0E8. For CC, he would definitely be one of the better professors to have considering that he knows his stuff. Especially for Machiavelli and Hobbes, he's written books on those guys. But for other areas like the Qur'an and Al-Gazhali, his knowledge could have been greater. But like what others have said perviously, Johnston is very particular about how he wants his students to write their papers. No fluff, no repeating yourself, and generally no bullshit. Though it is annoying at first, concise and precise writing is a good skill and something students who like to make themselves look smart rather than actually write something smart could pick up anyway.

Dec 2012

Professor Kimpell is a great professor for CC! The workload is quite intense as is any CC course workload. The discussions she leads are sometimes dry but most of the time they are engaging and she tries to get everyone involved. She is someone who will give you all of the help you need as long as you reach out to her. She cares a lot about the class and will lead great discussions as long as people are willing to participate.

Dec 2012

I think the one review below might have overstated Professor Rovane's excellence as a teacher. But I certainly disagree with those reviews saying she is an incompetent teacher. She is a senior professor of philosophy and BRILLIANT! Keep this in mind, because this will explain everything from a lot less reading to general silence in class. She has taught this class for many years, and she knows them so well that she deliberately takes away those parts of the text which are not as important or she found too absurd. That way, she can make sure that she covers all the material with equal attention. For those who think this class is meant for discussion, wrong. Well, the real issue is not that she disallows class discussion. It is quite perplexing. Professor Rovane actually makes an effort to stir up the class discussion while still keeping this class a very serious philosophical journey. The only problem is that we students are not exactly up to her standard. She runs this class very seriously. I believe her treatment to the texts are always delivered to us after she has thought about them extensively. She deserves at least a silver nugget if it is solely based on class content. (For some weird reason, being nice or not shy of glorifying students seems to be a more important criterion for getting a silver nugget.) She keeps every text to the simplest level she can accept. But still, all the stuff is within the domain of philosophy, so nothing is really easy. That's why her effort to urge students to speak up only turns into frustration. I admit that she is a little intimidating and distant from the students. She is a serious person so she will not give out praises like "This is excellent!" or even "That's good!" like they are free. But she does take every student's question seriously and tries to explain them, although often would lead to a lot deeper philosophical concepts. And she has a sense of humor, though could be not so easy to appreciate. She can never run class like Philip Kitcher or joke around like John Collins, but she is by no means an unqualified teacher. I advise only two types of students to take her class: 1. Those who are interested in philosophy and do not mind reserving your immature thoughts to yourself. 2. Those who want an easy CC class and do not mind taking notes like a machine. (Her midterm and finals are literally on what she "talked about" in class)

Sep 2012

Professor Rick is an absolutely amazing CC professor! He is engaging and really interesting and definitely knows what he's talking about. I was initially worried about taking CC but he made it really interesting and relatively painless. And he's definitely really accessible and willing to help you if you have any questions on the material - he has tons of office hours and is really good at clarifying the material. You should be glad if you get to take CC with him!

Aug 2012

I don't always write reviews on culpa, but when I do it's for super amazing professors. Annie Rudd fits the bill. Always prepared, humbly engaging, insightful, and personable. She truly cares about each one of her students, doesn't play favorites, and makes sure that the reading assignments aren't a living nightmare. I switched out of my first semester CC because of a bad experience and blindly took this class, and boy was it the best decision I ever made. If you get her, you are one lucky SOB. You will learn a lot, discuss a lot, and leave the class with an A.

Jul 2012

Val Daniel (EVD) is an acquired taste, and it takes time to get used to him. Expect your tests and essays to be misplaced at some point during the semester. Don't be surprised if your class syllabus is revised two, three, or maybe four times, causing Val to schedule "optional" Friday and/or Sunday CC classes that are frequently canceled. Despite my initial reservations, I stuck with Val CC section and as the year progressed, he grew on me. I have come to regard EVD's CC class as one of the best classes I have ever taken. As previous reviewers pointed out, he's hysterical, wacky, and one of the most entertaining professors I have ever had. I highly recommend his section. Despite his absentmindedness, Val has a remarkably profound understanding of the CC texts; a considerable amount of effort is required on your part to appreciate the philosophical arguments that Val tries to bring to light; many of them are very abstract and esoteric. While Val's CC section comes off as an unconventional and easygoing one (and it, more or less, is easygoing in the sense that he doesn't enforce the "mandatory" discussion board posts, makes all tests take-home, and is lenient with deadlines, which he himself mixes up), this does not mean that you can ace the class without a decent effort. This is NOT the class that you can get away with pseudo-philosophical bullshit during class discussions and on your essays. Val will challenge you, pose brain-twisting questions, and ultimately make you realize the fallacies in your arguments if you choose to bullshit; this class is not a joke. Val takes many liberties with the standard CC curriculum, but he does so to make it a legitimate philosophy class. Val's CC section isn't for everyone, and it seems that you either love him or you hate him. His class is not necessarily an easy A -- especially during the second semester (when he steps up his game). Contrary to common perception, Val's so-called "tangents" aren't entirely tangential, for most of them turn out to be quite relevant to the CC readings; their abstruseness seems to obstruct their relevance. Especially during the second semester, it was not uncommon to find the philosophical ideas underlying Val's "tangents" to appear in his essay prompts, and as unintelligible they may seem at first, you will eventually realize that you have no choice but to confront, dissect, understand, and critique them. This requires a lot of effort and creativity on your part, and the process of doing so forces you to engage the CC texts very closely and think abstractly about philosophy. Val is very approachable and helpful during his office hours, and he will do everything he can to help you. He reads everyone's papers carefully (he has supposedly pulled all-nighters to grade CC papers) and scrutinizes your arguments. Expect 1,000-2,000-word typed-up commentaries (on average) in response to your papers. (Sometimes, his commentaries are longer than the papers that he is grading. A friend of mine once got a 3,000-word commentary on her 2,500-word paper.) Val may come off as absent-minded and kind of "out there", but he takes CC seriously. He puts a ton of effort into the class and is willing to put a lot of effort into making each and every one of his students develop a deep understanding of the CC texts. If you make the effort and meet him halfway, his CC section has the potential to be a mind-blowing and intellectually satisfying class.

Jun 2012

Professor Montas made my year. Upon first meeting him, you will likely find yourself drawn to his warm character, extremely personable nature, and impeccably outfitted suits and ties. Above all else, however, it is his passion for the course material, and ability to effectively communicate this passion, that makes him stand out from so many other professors. Montas added a book on Gandhi for our last reading in class and it was evident how much of himself Professor Montas put into his teaching--for Montas, the ideas and critiques of the text that he raises in class are a product of his ruminations. Montas is a thinker, and if you can appreciate the art of questioning and challenging, you will grow from his seminar. He artfully directs the classroom discussion and dynamic in a way that balances students questions with his own input. Should the class want a more participatory atmosphere, Montas will make room for that. On a quieter day when students may be more tired, Montas has much to share. As the director of the Core, Professor Montas is a very busy man. But he makes himself available to students to meet before papers or just to chat casually. At the end of the year he took our entire class out to brunch and it was awesome, a great way to end the year. Cookies and snack breaks in the middle of every class are a huge plus! This encourages a lot of class bonding, relationship building that is beyond the syllabus. Some are critical of the weekly responses, but I found these reflections (max one page!) helped me hone my thoughts and my perspective on the readings. With so many books on the syllabus, it is easy to get lost in all of the pages, but these weekly responses recorded my initial and often very personal reactions to the readings. I'm really happy I have these short responses to take with me into the future. On another note, I strongly recommend staying on top of the reading. There is much to benefit from it. These are the thinkers that have shaped our society, and Montas structures his class in such a way that encourages you to do the readings and not lag behind. I should emphasize that Montas TRULY values class participation. Most of his grade is based on that. He wants to hear his students think and grow. If you are someone who benefits from a strong seminar environment, Montas' class is a good fit for you. Thank you, Professor Montas! You are a wonderful educator.

May 2012

Tyler is a really awesome professor and person and this was a really great CC class. I had a different professor first semester who I really disliked so I was really pleasantly surprised by Tyler's class and I felt that I got a lot out of second semester which was really nice. Tyler is really knowledgable, is really approachable and is really willing to help you and is just a nice guy who is easy to talk to. In terms of class time, it is sort of split evenly between "lecture" and discussion. Tyler tended to lecture more on the more difficult books (i.e. Kant) and that was really helpful since sometimes it's hard to follow the dense material. On the "easier" books when the author's argument is easier to understand, he let the class discuss more. Unlike my first CC semester, class wasn't dominated by a few people and people really stuck to the books as opposed to going off on personal tangents. I detailed the workload below and it might seem like a lot, and it did to me at first, but it really isn't that bad actually. The hardest part is that there is a lot of reading but you will get that with any CC class. Plus, because you learn so much from Tyler/class time, I felt like the work was really worth it because I was getting a lot out of it. Ultimately I highly recommend this class!!!

May 2012

The WORST professor I have had EVER had ANYWHERE. In all of Columbia... all of high school... all of LIFE. This man is the lowest of the low, the scum of the earth. He is patronizing, condescending, and smug. He is probably taking out his frustration of being a failure in his academic circles (look him up, he's like 50 years old and has only published one book which he CO-AUTHORED... the laughing stock of the Anthropology department). This is why he needs to make himself feel better and smarter than all his students. What a jerk. If this is the only spot left when taking CC... postpone it until next year! Fake an illness and take a medical leave of absence! Go cry to another professor to let you into his/her class (Stamenka Antonova is an easy A). He made us go to class during the 2010 blizzard when they shut down all of Columbia for the first time is YEARS (maybe decades) because of the snow... and there we were in Hartley watching the snow grow by the minute outside the window (which is already underground as it is). He constantly tells you to, "Think!" as if you were the stupidest person in the world. I can't believe I didn't throw a book right at his repugnant face.

May 2012

I completely agree with the post below. Not only did Eisenbach FAIL to show up to class on several occasions, but he also expected us to complete a midterm, 2 papers and a final ALL after spring break using material we never really went over or even read. He was an unnecessarily harsh grader, completely unavailable for meetings longer than 3 minutes, often failed to respond to emails (and if he did, they were always just a few, misspelled, jumbled words) and yet he expected everyone to participate in every class but didn't do anything to foster such participation. Most classes, he let just a few people dominate the class while he scribbled random, nonsensical words onto the board. The most frustrating part of Eisenbach's class, in my opinion, was the way he constantly questioned every comment made in class with a "so?" or "what are you trying to say?" or "what's your point?" There was no way for a student to simply make a comment or an observation, because Eisenbach was always looking for an "argument" or a "thesis" of sorts. This made participation very awkward at times, and I don't think this is what anyone wants in a class like CC, where we're supposed to feel free to express our thoughts on the readings and different philosophies of life. How can you do that if your teacher always wants you to have a formed opinion before opening your mouth? All in all, avoid Eisenbach. That's all I can say.

May 2012

Beau is hands-down, awesome. He's very understanding and has a clear sense of the whole progression of philosophy, as well as how it should fit into the CC curriculum, especially for people who may not have had any previous exposure to philosophy. Going to class is really chill, and you never feel stressed that you didn't understand a concept or didn't completely read the assignment (though most people probably did simply because the class inspires you to actually understand philosophy and its importance). Comparing this to my other Lit Hum and CC experiences, being in this section and listening to Beau speak about the texts is incredibly illuminating. He's distills all the ideas really well in a completely comprehensible way, and it's easy to tell why what we're discussing is so important. The way he speaks about things is lucid and logical, and most importantly, not overly abstract as some other Columbia professors. Class consists of him talking about the work and explaining the important concepts first, then a discussion that he leads where you can offer your opinions if you want, but he'll never force you to conjure up a stance. It might be easy to be put off by the weekly 3 page summary papers, but it's really not too bad. If you have some semblance of being coherent and offer some sort of insightful response to the readings, you'll be fine. The two major 8-12 page papers can be more of a struggle, but you can choose topics and meet with him in office hours, so in the end, it's completely doable. Midterm and final are...very easy compared to other horror stories I've heard. The texts that he's not so familiar with (the Quran, Darwin, etc) won't be tested. There were two class trips to...interesting films. We'll just leave it at that. Beau also has some great stories and a good sense of humor. Going to class is enjoyable, stress-free, and enlightening. What more could you want out of CC?

May 2012

Marwa is a philosophy buff. This is where her strength lies as an instructor: She knows her stuff, and by the end of a two-hour class you'll understand way more about Kant or Heidigger than you thought you could in so little time. However, in emphasizing the philosophy, she doesn't focus on the contemporary aspect. There is great potential in this class for discussions in relation to current events, e.g. what would Kant have to say about marriage equality, etc... She never seemed to want to take the discussion to this level. To her credit, though, Marwa did as much as she could it seemed with discussion. Maybe two people in our class did the reading, and maybe five even opened the books. You could tell how hard it was for her to try to engage us. She stopped lecturing and started student-led class structure to try to change this. It didn't really work, but I understand why she didn't want to talk at us for two hours. This would have been great if it had been effective, but at the same time it was a shame not to get to absorb her brilliance for two hours twice a week (and yes, she is absolutely brilliant, and totally unassuming about it). Unfortunately, CC was overall a mediocre experience. This had mostly to do with our class; their was little Marwa could do to make it enjoyable (i.e. it's not her job to make us care, just to light the spark of discussion, and she tried many ways to do this). Marwwa herself is delightful, reasonable, and for a CC instructor assigns very little work. If you want an easy A in CC (i.e. just do the reading, show up to class, do very little else), then she's great. Also, if you want to learna bout the philosophy, this is who you want as an instructor. If you want a class with a more contemporary spin, I'd pick a different section.

May 2012

If you feel like sitting in a class of roughly 15 people where the teacher doesn't know your name, unsuccessfully tries to stimulate conversation, and consistently tells you that there is only one way to consider every author, then sign up for Herbert Roseman's section of Contemporary Civilization. It becomes clear early on that he lacks a thorough understanding of many of the major texts that we read yet he defends his every opinion to the death. A terrible lecturer, "HBR" tries to 'spice up' his vapid discussions by sharply banging his fists on the table and constantly moving from the whiteboard to his chair, which he awkwardly straddles for the majority of the class. For a fraction of the amount of time, you could just read wikipedia summaries of each book and probably get the same if not more content than you would get by going to his lecture. Herb's greatest downfall is his ability to speak publicly, which makes the readings even harder to understand. I'm not sure if he succeeded all semester in connecting two sentences without stumbling over his words, or fully explaining an idea without digression. Though he is somewhat of an easy grader when it comes to essays, he assigns four 5-6 page papers and challenges himself to come up with worse essay topics in each of the subsequent essay assignments. Most of his essay questions are not only so far removed from the texts but also can be answered with a simple "yes" or "no." Probably the only upside to being in his class is that since he doesn't know anyone's name he never takes attendance. Though you can get away with more than a few skips, you are often left wondering how he distributes participation grades at the end of the semester, which he says count for 20% of your grade. Other than that, if you choose to sign up for HBR's section, you can look forward to hearing mediocre interpretations about some of the best known works of philosophy in between short anecdotes involving his dogs and self-proclaimed 'glory days' when he worked on Wall Street.

May 2012

James was an understanding instructor. He would admit that he wasn't clear on a certain section of the text, or that scholars didn't agree on the meaning of some part, or even that he could tell we mostly hadn't done the assigned reading. On the other hand, the classes weren't devoid of direction, and he would challenge incorrect remarks. He didn't dictate what we were supposed to think or know, and he'd allow the class discussion to flow, but he'd always be sure to summarise and emphasise the truly important points that were made. He made an effort to show how the authors are relevant to our lives, sometimes to more success, and sometimes to less (although it's not necessarily his fault). Tests were always reasonable.

May 2012

I actually had a different experience than the previous reviewer. I thought that she was a knowledgeable woman who did stimulate discussion in the class. There were definitely some classes that were more boring and awkwardly silent with the same people talking all of the time, but a lot of the classes had really interesting discussions. However, I will say that this grading is quite sporadic sometimes, with papers I wrote in an hour getting A's and papers I spent a long time on getting much lower grades. I actually thought she spent a lot of time grading our papers, which was nice since she did make a lot of comments in the margins. As a person, she is also really nice and very easy to talk to.

May 2012

Work load was very light. He was kind of awkward first semester (we spent way too much time doing group discussion, which idk if he noticed, was not about the text...we were talking but ... yeah), but got better second semester, he knew that material pretty well.Unfortunately class also got lazier second semester, a lot of the the students who actually participated switched to other classes.. I was constantly bored but it got better later on plus he invited his friend to come talk once or twice and he was pretty good. Overall, I enjoyed this class. It was mad chill plus Joe is a cool guy, he cares about the stuff he talks about.

May 2012

I cannot say enough good things about Jon. He is exactly what I wanted out of CC. I had a terrible first-semester CC prof, and I'm so thankful that I got into his spring section. Jon is really passionate and knowledgable about the CC material. For me, what's even more important than that is the fact that he is wonderful teacher. Jon leads class artfully by creating a perfect blend between his own fascinating lectures and class discussion. He is able to guide us without forcing us or babying us. He helps us understand complex concepts, and then leads us to think about them more broadly. If you want to put in a good amount of work and deep thought, then Jon's CC section is for you. I applied to Columbia to take CC, and Jon was the perfect instructor for it.

May 2012

I say with confidence that Annie (the name she goes by) is one of the best teachers I have had and will ever have at Columbia. As a teacher she is absolutely always well-prepared for class, she is consistent in teaching style and grading, and she clearly puts a lot of effort into each class and assignment. She is engaging, enthusiastic, knowledgable, and interested in getting students to learn the material in a low-stress way. I don't know how this fancy nugget nomination system works, but she deserves a gold nugget. Usually, the class is very discussion heavy unless no one has done the reading, in which case she sort of lectures for a while. She allows the class to get off topic just enough to keep discussion interesting but not so much that class becomes a waste of time. She always follows up to questions asked in and out of class in a timely manner, and she is often very generous with extensions if you ask ahead of time and have a good reason. She is a student at the J school (at least for now), so she gets how student life works; she doesn't assume CC is the only class her students are taking, and she knows that some parts of the semester are really hard for us. Incidentally, because she is a student, she often happened to be busy at the same times we were. And I don't know if it was just me, but she seemed to be sick at the most convenient times. Several times I got to class unprepared and having a bunch of other things I needed to do, only to check my e-mail and find that I got a total freebie. I would say she is sick more than the average person (perhaps her weak Canadian immune system can't handle NYC), but not so much that the class falls too far behind. She was basically only sick when everyone else was sick and in need of a break. As a person, she's pretty cool. She has good stories, takes Canada jokes well, and is the kind of person you'd want to have a drink with after class. Imagine your favorite TA, but competent and not an asshole. She threw us two parties, one of which almost consisted of using the CC budget to rent out Campo. I recommend taking CC with Annie if you rate your interest in political philosophy anywhere from a 2-9 on a scale of 10. If you hate the idea of CC, if you're really into doing all of the reading and knowing all of the answers, or if you're really just more interested in taking a class with an old wizened professor, don't take her CC class. Otherwise, do it, even if it's at an inconvenient time, because you will learn and enjoy yourself. Heads up: she gets frustrated if people have private conversations during class (which didn't happen that often since class was interesting), and you don't get that many excused absences. TL;DR: She is awesome. Take CC with her.

May 2012

I HIGHLY recommend taking CC with Ruairidh Macleod, or any other course that he may teach in the future. He is one of the most all-around exceptionally effective instructors that I've had at Columbia! Throughout two semesters of CC, Ruairidh continued to exceed our expectations. He clearly dedicated a lot of his time to preparing for every class, providing us with extra resources for every text and philosopher and incorporating many different methods to try to keep the class engaged and interested. He encouraged every student to attend his office hours or arrange times to meet with every one of us individually, and he is quite approachable. He cares tremendously about the personal well-being and success of every student. To get the most out of his class, you need to actually do the readings. He never called anybody out or chastised us when he knew we hadn't read (he seems to understand that the quantity of reading on the CC Syllabus is just unreasonable), but since he always facilitated rich discussions rather than just superficial details about the texts, it was pretty clear when many of us hadn't read anything. His demeanor and clearly extensive knowledge of philosophy can be pretty intimidating, but he made great efforts to encourage every students' participation - even those of us who are ordinarily too timid to speak up in seminars. Throughout the entire year, Ruairidh demonstrated respect for everyone's opinions and didn't even criticize the students who said totally ridiculous things in class. His thoughtful responses make you feel comfortable discussing in class, knowing that he won't reject you. He also has a charming British accent.

May 2012

Absolutely and completely the WORST professor I have has in all of college. I am not exaggerating when I say that I still have traumatic flashbacks to this course. Professor Chandrani is very smart, but he is alao aggressive, egomaniacal, and vindictive. He will smugly patronize you while humiliatingly making you redo paper after paper. He is totally inaccessible and terrifying, and has absolutely no interest in hearing what his students have to say. For our final class, he read aloud his 100-page disseration for two hours. I hope this man is not still employed at Columbia.

May 2012

I think that he rubbed a lot of people the wrong way in the way he phrased some of his challenges to the texts. However, I don't think that, most of the time, he was actually voicing his own opinion. To me, it seemed as if he was just offering a challenge that we maybe had not thought about or that was commonly rejected in our times. However this meant that some of the things he said were a little scandalous. I think starting this class with the disclaimed that, "I'm going to play Devil's Advocate, so don't be offended" would be beneficial. That said, I think he's a really nice guy. He's very grandfatherly in that he's kind of an old man who's set in his opinions and won't really budge. He does forget papers and midterms, but why should you complain? He grades them fairly (coughcough easily coughcough), so you shouldn't be so worried.

Apr 2012

This woman has helped me grow as a thinker, as a student, and as a person. She fosters discussion, she contributes her own thoughts on the subject, and she always tries to make sures that students are not only understanding the subject matter but are enjoying it. She is a quirky instructor and often amusing to watch, but she is just as amused by us. I especially respect and appreciate when she admits her own limitations in a subject; for example, not fully understanding a scientific concept and asking if any students are familiar and could explain better than she. She does this because we have our own limitations and it gives balance to the class. She does not penalize; she just asks for better behavior. This is not an easy class to teach because the material can be very dense and the students can often lose interest, but Carole maintains our focus and engages us and challenges us every step of the way. She manages it with such grace and I know that I am not alone in my great respect for her as a teacher and as a mentor. We were never assigned anything extra. She would add or remove items from the syllabus as needed, which could be frustrating for one's own personal schedule planning, but overall made the course much more manageable and effective. Essays were standard and exams were appropriately balanced.

Apr 2012

Ah, what can I say about David. What can I not say about David. David Eisenbach may have once been an amazing teacher who was really attentive to his students and cared about them. Well, I can assure that this is no longer the case. David has recently had the pleasure of getting a television show to be aired on the H2 network, entitled "10 Things You Didn't Know," that cover everything about American history from Wyatt Earp to Mormonism, with a completely random travel into Roman times (Caligula anyone?) I say all of this because on the whole, I've felt more interest in his show than in his CC class. Perhaps I'm just a little bitter from the fact that he missed class or cancelled EIGHT TIMES. That in itself wouldn't even be an issue but for the fact that he also expected us to be responsible for the material that we never read...um yeah right. Will he put material on his midterm/final about things that you didn't talk about? Hell yeah he will. If you do have the good luck that I've had to have him, make sure to pester him about when he will actually return your work, so that he can grade your paper while you take your midterm. Or so that you can even get your final from last semester back. I'm not sure if he is a difficult grader, but he does give slash grades, which are hard for me to fathom, particularly grades like B+/A- which don't actually correspond to real grades...89.5 perhaps? He is still quite a lively discussion-monger, and his discussions are still going no further than the basic interpretation of the book. Which is fine, because we all figured out that this was one class that we were never going to read for.

Apr 2012

I absolutely loved this class and would highly recommend him as a teacher. Being an Econ/Math major, I didn't expect to be particularly interested in CC, however Todd Gitlin made the class enjoyable with his keen insights and ability to explain the material. Oftentimes in my notes, I would simply quote him verbatim. He likes to hear himself talk, so if you like rigorous class discussion, he may not be the teacher for you. That being said, he does not discourage discussion at all and is respectful and courteous to comments/questions. He is understanding with exertions and not a difficult grader. He uses a point system and it was easy to get 24/25's on his papers (especially if you argued for a view he would probably agree with and could articulate it eloquently). All in all I enjoyed this class. I never once did the reading and yet arguably know more about CC than most of my friends. He is truly a brilliant man and relates the readings to current events or his own interesting stories. TAKE HIS CLASS

Apr 2012

Best class ever; best teacher ever. Best class ever; best teacher ever. Best class ever; best teacher ever. Best class ever; best teacher ever. Best class ever; best teacher ever. Best class ever; best teacher ever. Best class ever; best teacher ever. Best class ever; best teacher ever. Best class ever; best teacher ever. Best class ever; best teacher ever. Best class ever; best teacher ever. Best class ever; best teacher ever. Best class ever; best teacher ever. Best class ever; best teacher ever. Seriously.

Apr 2012

Professor Isiksel's CC class felt like she got out of it exactly what she wanted to get out of it. If you are looking for a safe CC experience with fairly even grading policies and nothing extra expected, then this is the class for you. Attendance - while she is understanding of religious holidays, Professor Isikel's official policy is that students are allowed one missed class per semester. Attendance is 20% of her grading policy, and she takes it seriously that everyone attend class every day. However, she also brings coffee and cookies at least once a month, and she doesn't seem to care too much about constant participation from everyone, so long as you speak up once or twice a class. Essays - the option is on the table to build your own essay topics, but she gives the students 4 or 5 essay topics to choose from. The topics are fairly limited (no more than 2 authors are discussed in a single essay), and textual analysis is absolutely necessary. The tough-but-fair label fits her grading style well - she doesn't hand out A's like candy, but she also isn't trying to fight grade inflation. Teaching style - the classes generally had 10-20 minutes of historical and biographical lecture and 90 minutes of discussion of the text following questions she sent out before class. The questions themselves were pretty bland, and any liveliness in the discussion was generally brought about by students' occasional value judgments when they slipped out. However, Professor Isiksel is prone to not make those judgments - while it's fairly clear that she has a preference for the political theory of the Enlightenment, she never said "this is just wrong" or "this is just true." This made the class a fairly safe experience - it's not what I was personally looking for in CC, because I think that it discouraged debate among the students about the ideas we were learning about, but I guess someone might enjoy that style. I can't say I would recommend this class, but it's definitely not worth immediately dropping - even if class time is, as a general rule, pretty dull, it covers each text very thoroughly and none of the assignments are particularly difficult.

Apr 2012

There hasn't been a new review of Montas in a while, and he deserves one. He jokingly referenced his unflattering CULPA reviews on the first day of class, so he's aware of what's written and evidently disagrees with it. Montas is a good but not great CC instructor. He's knowledgeable about the texts and passionate about them, too, and he does a good job of fostering discussion in the class. He's a tough but fair paper grader who's great at picking out holes in poorly argued writing. He loves his students and as far as I know is always happy to meet with them outside of class. He gives us a five-minute break in the middle of every class, which usually winds up being 10 minutes or more, to eat cookies and chat. He's a nice, friendly guy. And of course most of the books are great. Unfortunately, he has some dubious professorial quirks he refuses to get rid of. He insists on introducing every text with 15 minutes of biographical information we could have found on Wikipedia. He's wedded to standardized, in-class response of some kind. During the fall, he called on "odds" and "evens" and prompted them for reaction to the reading, and during the spring he asked us to form groups and present on each reading. He also responds to almost every comment made in class with a minute of his own remarks, which can slow us down--often we would race through books to note important passages after our discussions sidetracked us. Worst of all, he gives exams that rely almost exclusively on passage identifications. The fall midterm and final didn't delve too much into obscurity, but the spring midterm killed lots of us. The average was a 67, which is pretty ridiculous for a humanities course's reading comprehension test (which is a ridiculous thing to give in the first place). Everyone would benefit if he had fewer IDs or IDs designed to prompt essays, but he hasn't changed course yet. All that said, he has a grading procedure which means that a 55 on a midterm won't kill you. His grades are 80-90 percent class participation, which makes for a lot of A-'s. If you keep up with the reading and responses, and show up to class, you'll probably get an A-. Could be worse, no? But things could probably be better, too. I left the class a little frustrated because, with a few tweaks, CC could have been much better. It could have been gold-nugget-worthy. Alas, it was just pretty good. Maybe that's enough for you.

Apr 2012

David Ratzan is a good professor with much enthusiasm for CC. He is extremely knowledgable and very smart. However, I sometimes felt as though the class was not able to follow the discussion (myself included). Class discussions did not always touch on all the important concepts of each author. But this was my only criticism. Ratzan is one of the better CC professors I would say. He is very approachable and will explain concepts to you in his OH. He is a relatively tough grader when it comes to papers, but he is not unfair.

Feb 2012

Greatest CC Professor ever. If you are given Simon, consider yourself the luckiest sophomore in the College. If you were unlucky and didn't get Simon, find a way to switch into his class. The essays are graded fairly, class participation is a large part of the final grade and the tests are extremely straight forward. If you attend class, participate regularly, show up to the exams and turn in your papers on time, you will end up learning a lot and ending up with a satisfying grade. He's young, mellow, thoughtful and cares about what the students want.

Feb 2012

I'm only one month into Prof. Slade's CC class it has officially become the worst class I've ever taken at Columbia. Yes, she's worse than FoSci. I genuinely can't fathom how she gets by as a professor (!!) at Columbia if all she does is asking the most obvious and irrelevant questions, reiterating the authors' points as they appear in the book, confusing herself in the middle of her sentences and directing class discussion to a point of pure frustration and fatigue that people who actually read the books don't bother to speak (she talks way too slowly, with way too many pauses and "um... ah..."s to deliver her information before people know what she's gonna say). Her strict adherence to the definition of terms only reveals her inadequate understanding of the more general concepts. Seriously, I don't need someone to tell me that Hume is an empiricist. I learn so much more from just reading the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy than the class I'm paying thousands of dollars for. She's perhaps nice, but the one time I actually talked to her and pointed out a possible mistake in her email (she wrote equity instead of equality) she got all defensive and accusatory. So here goes niceness. She and her class are the polar opposites of my first-semester CC class which was engaging, illuminating and inspired me to read extensively outside of the syllabus. In short, AVOID Prof. Slade. She is not at all knowledgeable about the CC syllabus. I haven't read her own scholarly works. Perhaps they are insightful. Perhaps her Lit Hum class would be better. I simply don't understand why she's appointed to teach CC. I hope the rest of my Columbia experience doesn't get worse than this.

Jan 2012

I thought that Givanni was someone who didn't know the curriculum as well as many other CC preceptors, and was too proud to do the research to overcome these limitations. What she knew, she did know reasonably well, but unfortunately, that wasn't too long a list. She seemed unsure with the Qu'ran, superficial on the Bible, and blundered through most of the later works of first semester (Machiavelli, Locke, etc.). She didn't particularly focus our discussion, and class tended to meander around without a true understanding of the material.

Jan 2012

When I first stepped into Alheli's lack, the fact that we delve into the works without introducing ourselves made me think I was on the cusp of experiencing some really strict and [potentially] mean professor. This proved to be a false impression. Alehli is truly excellent in her own respect, and a lucky choice for any sophomore taking Contemporary Civilization. I highly recommend her for anyone taking CC. The class is a no-nonsense class. Before the class Alheli always posts handouts analyzing the themes and passages of the work on Courseworks. In the beginning Alehli starts by giving a dense 10-15 minute lecture/ discussion on the work, covering major points and themes that are relevant to the discussion. She also ties in historical information, as well as important quotes and sections from the book. We then begin usually by Alheli referring us to certain passages, and after reading them we have to participate and interpret them and tie them to other sections of the work. While I do agree sometimes everyone just seems to be giving their own opinions or interpretations of the work, Alehli does try to reconcile some of the comments of the students and give her own clarification or interpretation. Moreover, this is CC, so the fact she isn't boldly making assumptions of the works is just an indication of the profound nature of the works and the freedom for students to input their own interpretations and give their own analysis. Alheli also lets us select certain passages and quotes that we found important, and she let's us build on them and allow everyone to give their own two cents, which is the norm in a humanities class. I don't know why the person below me views this class as a jumbled hodgepodge of random opinions that are never settled, because in the end I find the fact students actively give their views and participate with Alheli provides some clarification and interpretation without boldly making such difficult passages into a one-sided and definite truth is totally fine. The texts are really hard to begin with, and no one is ever completely right or wrong! Also, she does string a lot of passages and tries to show some overarching point or theme of the author. While not actively hopping and screaming in class, you can definitely tell Alehli is passionate and excited about the texts we are reading, and actively tells us her favorite parts of the works we read and why she thinks they are important or mysterious. She also integrates a lot of current events into the discussion to make the works more understandable and relatable. The only one con I had was that she does call on people, but then again she is only trying to make everyone participate since it is 30% of the grade. The pluses: no midterm to further stress you during Midterm week, and no annoying childish preclass dicussion entries or in-class quizzes or constant printed responses. You have two 6-8 papers, where Alehli actually lets you submit a draft of the first essay and she then comments and returns the drafts. The only complaint I had with this class was that her comments were all enthusiastic and somewhat ambiguous, but in the end listening to her advice is typically enough to land you in the A range. Her second essay is also a breeze. For both essays, you can also discuss to do your own topic with her. Before the final exam, she posted up all these analyses and selected passages from the works in addition to her handouts, which helped prepare a lot.

Jan 2012

This class is not always thrilling and I could rarely pay attention for the full two hours. Professor Amar is clearly knowledgable but is not always enthusiastic and certainly does not have a commanding presence. He also gave pop quizzes during the first semester which forced us to always do the readings fully and on time which was rather inconvenient, especially during midterms week. That said I highly recommend this class. If there is a "Contemporary Civilization Experience" it is this. Professor Amar is incredibly intelligent and has a wonderful understanding of all the works. He is also incredibly coherent and is therefore able to convey his insight to the class. However, his brilliance never stifled class discussion. He always encouraged student's to bring their own ideas forward. Instead of controlling class discussion he facilitated it so that the most important topics are discussed and instead of shutting down misguided students he encourages them, usually successfully, to reconsider their perspectives. If you do the reading and are fairly good at righting essays, you should be able to enjoy and do fairly well in this course. Certainly don't switch out and you probably won't regret switching in.

Jan 2012

I thought Robert was a very good section leader for CC. As far as I could tell he seemed quite familiar with all the texts we read and was able to get pretty good discussions going, while also summarizing the important facts from the readings. I approve of the fact that he gave those overviews before really starting the class discussions, this way avoiding some of the more awkward silences. We had very informative review sessions for both midterms and both finals, and for the essays we always had a choice between three topics. Overall, I'd recommend you to take this class with Robert if you are in his section.

Jan 2012

I have mixed feelings about Bob. On one hand, he's hilarious and very nice and I never fall asleep during class (which is rare for me). He starts off every class with a powerpoint on the author we're reading, which is helpful. He also invites you to go running with him on Sunday, which although I've never done it, is awesome. However, I agree with the other reviewer in that he is a REALLY REALLY tough grader. I worked by butt off and ended up with a B+. The midterms and finals are rough, but the best way to prepare is to review keypoints from all the books. There is really nothing else you can do to prepare. The best way to improve your grade is to go to office hours and ask him to help you with your essays. He's always very willing and gave me a A on my last essay.

Jan 2012

Amazing amazing professor. Workload is light. Lectures are interesting. And he is very understanding with extensions and always available to help with essays. Even if you are not prepared for class, he makes the dense material understandable and is open to all comments or questions. Class participation is key but he responds well to any question, even if it isn't exactly correct, so its not that hard to participate. He loves making diagrams on the board to show different theories, so if you're a visual learner, then you're in luck. I would strongly recommend him.

Jan 2012

The previous reviewer says that Prof Alvarado-Diaz is a wonderful discussion-facilitator -- I could not disagree more. Yes, it's true that she starts off every class by reading a passage. But this does not encourage productive or constructive conversation; rather, it invites the students to just throw out one comment after the next, creating a disjointed free-for-all, and she does nothing to try to bring the comments together in a coherent sort of way. Prof. Alvarado-Diaz lets the students sort of direct the class, which may have its benefits, but you leave each class with basically the same opinions and ideas on the reading that you had at the beginning. As for the papers, the grading seems basically fair, but her comments are weirdly arbitrary and hardly constructive. The prof does not convey any sort of excitement about the texts. This lack of enthusiasm creates for a rather dull class atmosphere. As for the good sides of the class, the prof is way better outside of class and seems to correct for all of her mistakes in the classroom –– she's cheery, conveys her own personal fascination with the texts and is really helpful in putting together an argument for the papers. Too bad none of this comes across in class!

Jan 2012

Professor Alvarado-Diaz was a great teacher for CC. She truly knows a lot of about all the texts, providing tremendous insight and guiding a deep discussion. There is not much outside work, which further emphasizes the significance of reading and considering in depth all the works. I really enjoyed not having too much homework and just getting to class to discuss the text for what it was, and not BSing my way through assignments. If you want to get rid of annoying homeworks/tasks/postings that sometimes interrupt core classes, and just get the essence of what you are studying I highly recommend Professor Alvarado-Diaz. Overall she is strict and professional, yet also kind and approachable. A great teacher to learn a lot from. With Professor Alvarado-Diaz, the core is big a hit!

Jan 2012

This is what a CC class should be about. First off the discussion in this class was great, which is due to enough people in the class wanting to participate and the professor's ability to stir the pot and get a good debate going. But as important (or perhaps even more so) was the way concepts just seemed to stick in our minds. Sounds weird, but this is very important on the final exam and at the cocktail parties you go to with your hedge fund or neurosurgeon buddies. By just paying attention in class and taking notes you will understand so much. Overall, brilliant class and brilliant professor. It's exposed me to philosophy and once-arcane topics like epistemology and metaphysics. The sheer amount of knowledge you will have obtained from walking away from this class is incredible, and Professor Eden makes it quite easy and painless.

Jan 2012

Professor Isiksel is probably one of the most brilliant professors I have had at Columbia. She is extremely well versed in philosophy and political theory, is well traveled, and is quite intimidating. She is a very sweet, gentle person concerned with the well being of her students. In fact, on several occasions, she ordered tea and cookies for class in order to make students feel more at ease and relaxed. Her discussions are very well organized, and she absolutely loves students participating in class and presenting their own opinions on every philosopher known to man. Overall, she is genuinely concerned with making sure all of her students mature academically and intellectually in her class. Most of her readings are manageable; however, she does not give enough time for students to write term papers. She gives students only a week to write 6-8 page papers which tend to be very detail oriented. She also conveniently assigns a ton of reading during those few precious days which if you are a science major coincide with about 3 midterms! Grading wise, she is one tough cookie! Warning: unless you are a humanities major with a wonderful understanding of philosophy and political theory, your GPA will take somewhat of a nose dive. She is an extremely tough grader, but that being said, she expects a lot out of her students. She even writes full page commentaries on each essay in order to guide students in the right direction for the next essay. Her midterm and final consist of IDs and essays. Be warned, her IDs are killer! Her essay questions are pretty standard and she is much more forgiving on in class essays than on take home essays. If you are a humanities major, I would definitely recommend her. If you are a science major, I would not recommend her as CC professor unless you absolutely love philosophy and are slightly sadistic. My class unfortunately consisted of mainly humanities majors who loved discussing the nature of man and justice in the polis. For much of the class, I was somewhat lost. In fact, it was only after the final did I understand what Plato's definition of justice was thanks to my roommate who is a philosophy major!

Jan 2012

In short, Pazzaglini is an extremely interesting professor in class who will expand your knowledge, be reasonable in the amount of reading, and is a fair and relatively easy grader. The structure of the class consists of reading at home, discussion, and he will read key passages in the text. The reading is standard and manageable. The discussion is pretty good but he is not interested so much in the actual meaning of the reading material but rather the connections. Students who are interested more discussion on the actual content of the text may be disappointed. He will then proceed to read (or rather assign a student to read) passages from the text. The two problems here are that he does not discuss the passages and it is also fairly boring. It would have been better if he highlighted the passages ahead of time. The good things about Pazzaglini are the following: He genuinely cares about learning and his students. He takes a personal interest in his students. He is an amazing speaker. After watching him speak for a semester, I think I have definitely improved my own speaking abilities. He is very knowledgeable about the texts.

Jan 2012

Professor Alvarado-Diaz was simply wonderful. She has an incredible understanding of all the texts, and this comes through in every class. She was also an excellent discussion facilitator: she really encouraged the students to lead discussions by starting with a passage and letting the class run with it, and if a question came up, she always gave an insightful answer. At first I was worried that she was going to be harsh or strict because she expects everyone to get down to business right when class starts (no talking about your weekends, etc.), but I found she was a very fair grader, offered constructive feedback on papers, and made sure to acknowledge everyone who wanted to comment during discussion, even if it meant going back to a previous topic. I highly recommend taking CC with Prof. Alvarado-Diaz if you can!

Dec 2011

If you're considering choosing Jon's section for CC, do yourself a favor and read his negative reviews. They are spot-on, 100% accurate. Jonathan Rick is one of the most boring instructors I've had the displeasure of having at Columbia. He lectures ceaselessly in his pretentious, monotonic voice and doesn't give a shit whether you have something genuinely interesting to say. To that end, I have never been in a class where class discussion was so paltry. Jon does NOTHING to stimulate class discussion; he might occasionally ask a basic question about the course material, but he always manages to refine your answer and has trouble getting somebody to answer his question in the first place. He peppers in some jokes and curse words to make things entertaining, but that just didn't really do it for me. Granted, he does have a mastery of the material better than most professors. He explains everything well--if your attention span can manage to listen to him--and often uses helpful diagrams on the board to aid in his explanation. But I just can't get over how bored I was this past semester in CC. Maybe I was spoiled by my Lit Hum instructor, but I dreaded going to CC each Tuesday and Thursday, and each class seemed to last forever. His midterm and final were difficult and extremely specific, so you better know your shit coming into it. There's some element of choice, but you do have to know really well some of the material. The papers were both the best and worst part of the class. The topics are all given to you--and extremely, extremely specific (picture a ten-part question outlining the philosophies of Locke and Hobbes)--which makes it easy to write the paper, but you have literally NO license for intellectual creativity in this process. Because of their specificity, they were harshly graded. Jon does give you a two-day extension for one of your papers, which is really nice of him. I mean, take this review with a grain of salt. Jon is not the teacher for me, but you might love him...? Just keep in mind that class discussion sucked, he can be semi-funny, and there's not too much work compared to most sections. In a word: mediocre, but I've had great core experiences and refuse to settle for two semesters of this.

Dec 2011

This was her first semester teaching CC, and she was wrapping up the process of getting her PhD in philosophy. Most of class is discussion and there is very little lecture, and she doesn't provide much guidance to the discussion or feedback to people's opinions so sometimes it would run on tangents or dry up. She is a really sweet and funny person, but I think more structure to the discussions and other comments besides "anyone else?" would have helped a lot. I did well on my essay but some people did not at all, and I got a C on my midterm, even with reading all the books and having a firm grasp of them. The midterm and final both have vocabulary sections, so memorizing the words she writes on the board helps a lot.

Dec 2011

Could not agree with the review from 12/23/10 more. I read it before signing up for this class, and thought, "Eh, that can't be that bad, easy prof and somewhat mellow classes are fine." Unfortunately, "easy, but probably not worth it" sums up this class perfectly. SA, as she signs her emails, began class with some historical context, often writing the Greek or Latin term for words on the board. She would usually call on people to read passages aloud that would sometimes last two to three pages. This was always marked by the uncomfortable glance up from the reader, who assumed that they were done, but Stamenka would still be staring at the book, expecting more. We read all 95 Theses of Luther's 95 Theses. She was the master of asking the obvious question—for instance, after having read aloud what a philosopher's definition of something was, she would ask… what his definition of it was. But our class was so confused that nobody really raised their hands. This led to lots of awkward silences and overall very slow discussions. To her credit, I do feel like I learned the significant points of each reading, but only from the summaries that we got in class. We never, ever made it through an entire reading. When I did do the readings (not often, since we read so much in class), I never went beyond the first chapter or so, because I knew we wouldn't discuss it. The midterm and final both had IDs and one essay. Unlike Lit Hum, where my professor tried to pick very obscure passage IDs, all of the IDs on Stamenka's tests were the "obvious" passages from that text (e.g. the word "kallipolis" was mentioned in the excerpt from the Republic), so you basically just had to know the main ideas behind all of the readings and define them in an interesting way. The class started to pick up in the last month as we all bonded over how little we were learning, but I couldn't stay in it another semester.

Dec 2011

Bob was a good instructor. He tries to make CC as contemporary and student-based as possible, and he does a solid job. He gives a powerpoint at the beginning of each class. Throughout the semester, they've gotten longer (I've clocked the longest one at 50 minutes). He gives breaks in the middle of class which is nice, and also had a couple of fieldtrips (to the Morgan library and to the Cloisters). Those were especially great because they got us off campus. His exams, however, are insane. The midterm was two essays in 1 hours, each using 4 different texts (so 8 different ones in total). The final was non-stop ferocious writing for 3 hours. He's also a really, really tough grader and takes forever to grade assignments (it took over 5 weeks for me to get my first essay back). Overall, if you want to get something out of CC and have discussions that aren't mind-numbingly boring, I'd go with Bob. If you don't want to work in CC at all, don't take this class. You'll get a grade that reflects you did nothing.

Dec 2011

I read all the reviews on CULPA before deciding to stay in Judith's class, and it turned out to be the worst decision I made in my college career so far. I should have been smarter and took the hint to switch: when there are only 10 people left in the class, there's probably something wrong with the teacher. But I thought I could work hard and prove everyone wrong. I was so wrong. The first couple of classes were excruciating. Time could not pass fast enough. Judith picks favorites very early on, and then she sticks to them. If you don't speak in class, she will give you an F for participation, which is 40% of your grade. A lot of people in my class were threatened to get an F if they didn't start talking more. She has a distinct way of teaching. There is only one right answer, either you get it right and she praises you with a "Bravo!" or "Fantastic!" or "Beautiful!", or you get it wrong and she gives you the stink eye and ignores you for the rest of the class. This has happened to me. You opinion basically doesn't matter - if it is not the same as her opinion, it is not worth discussing. I am a student athlete, and she has given me so much trouble for this. First I approached her and asked her to sign my application for the athlete tutor program, and she wouldn't sign it because she said "this is a class where you read books and learn to express your thoughts, how could someone tutor you on thinking?" and she concluded that I would only use the tutor for cheating and plagiarizing on essays. Secondly, we had an essay due the week I had a race, and I asked her for an extension, and she said she would only give it to me if my coach wrote her an email stating the date of the race, and specifically the fact that I would NOT be able to work AT ALL during the entire day. She said that a lot of coaches are opposed to stating that specific fact, and then she wished me good luck getting my coach to write the email. After my coach did write the email however, she gave the whole class an extension of one day, and the she told me I couldn't have an extension because I was given an extra day by default. I had to write her a lengthly email saying how hard it was to balance school and sports and I would really appreciate an extra day. She reluctantly gave it to me in the end, but not without a fight about how I was letting the people in my class down by gaining a day while they did not. All of the above I think is fine, excessive maybe, but acceptable. What really proved to be the problem was when I needed to be excused for my grandfather's funeral. Judith DOES NOT ALLOW ABSENCES, doesn't matter if you're dying in bed, if you don't have proof, she will take down half your final grade for every unexcused absence. This was the day after Thanksgiving break that I missed her class to attend the funeral, and I emailed her before, and gave her the plane ticket and the unofficial obituary, but she said it did not prove my association with the funeral and I was not excused. I called back home and got one of my uncles to write me an excuse, but then she swiftly emailed me saying what was I doing getting someone other than my parents to write an excuse, and I explained that it was because they were both out of the country, and then she said "I asked for a simple statement, and the fact that I am not getting it raises a lot of questions. I feel it is out of my competency to deal with this matter, and if you have anything to say to me, tell me asap before I take this to the dean to launch a formal investigation." All this for one absence. A formal investigation. In the end I got my mother to email my grandfather's certificate of death, and I guess she accepted it? She did not tell me. Why would I waste my weekend trying to gather all this information, not to mention bothering all my other grieving relatives and have Judith send me extremely rude emails just so I could miss one class? There was an excruciatingly difficult and long take-home midterm, which I did well on, but Judith questioned me whether or not I worked on it alone. Apparently she asked several other students the same thing, but I felt disrespected. For the final, she blatantly told me to sit next to her in front of the whole class after I had picked my seat. I have never been humiliated more by a teacher. I would never cheat, and the fact that she is so sure I would that she has to tell me to sit next to her so she can keep an eye on me, just completely undermines my integrity. I do not recommend this teacher. 8 out of the 10 people in my class are switching out.

Dec 2011

I agree with most of the reviews below, Professor Jones made this class incredible. He presented the material and directed the discussion in such a way that we came to some deeper understanding of each of the works on our own. We all walked out of every single class with a much greater understanding than we walked in with. By far the best core class. My major has nothing to do with history, but I will definitely be taking his other classes.

Dec 2011

Alex is a great guy, and this class was pretty cool. 1) Pop quizzes - He gave some pretty tough pop quizzes. This assured that you had to read and helped out those kids that did all the work but were just too shy to participate in discussion. The questions could be pretty obscure, though, but he was fair about it. If everyone only got 4 questions right, he knew the quiz was too hard and took that into account. 2) Discussion - Here's where I had the problem. He's a great and funny lecturer, and had our class let him meander, he would have explained most of the texts to us really well. He didn't, however, have the capabilities to reign in the class when it got really off topic. Partially, I think, because he was interested in our opinions. However, we didn't utilize the texts as much as we could've (it got better towards the end) which made the midterm/papers a little harder. 3) Papers - I think he is a fair grader. He requires that you get feedback from him on your theses, which was kind of annoying, but helped me find my way in all my papers a little bit better. I reccommend coming up with your topic on your own, because he got really excited for my third paper because it was an idea he hadn't ever thought of. 4) Exams - Make sure you know the difference between different philosopher's thoughts. This really killed me on the exams, and I don't know if it is just the class or Alex's grading itself, but if you don't know who to attribute an idea to, it's almost better not to use it. 5) Reading - He trimmed a LOT of the reading, which was fabulous! Overall, Alex is a fair and understanding teacher. Maybe I didn't get as much out the reading as I could have, but he made sure to engage every student in the discussion, and on days when we did really focus on the text, I got a lot out of it.

Dec 2011

Guinia Gatta is a knowledgable and nice lady, but she is an outstanding bore. Until she said that it was not okay for students to fall asleep in class, there were always at least 3-4 students dozing off or sleeping, which is pretty incredible. She also is not good at conversations, and she does not make an effort to be inquisitive or to get to know the students better. She teaches CC as a lecture class, which might be because it is her first semester at Columbia and outside of a state school, I think, so that can't be helped. She tries to force-feed the students the material and does not have faith in our ability to grasp the subject independently, and seems to not take our ideas seriously and not engage with us in a more meaningful discussion. Instead, she just tells us what a book is saying for two hours, and asks questions which are not enlightening or interesting. She also spends a lot of time on background information, which makes it appear as though her ability to actually extrapolate the material and make it relevant or more interesting is quite shallow. She does read the books, and she does have a solid understanding of what the authors say, but her understanding is very narrow and closed-minded. I feel like I am reading an article on the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. The author is saying one thing and one thing alone, nothing else. She is quite lenient, which is nice, but if she does not agree with what you are saying in your essay, she will completely dismiss it and not make an attempt to help see what you are saying, but merely will make the same point over and over as if that is enough to counteract the entire argument and close herself off to what the argument is saying. No meaningful feedback on my essays or my essay stile. Not very happy with the way she critiques essays, also not happy with the grading she gives, although that might just be arbitrary. I do not recommend her as a CC proffessor, and I will not be going back to her class next semester.

Nov 2011

I'm somewhat confused at how taking CC with Valentine-Daniel is an "experience of a lifetime," unless your idea of an experience of a lifetime is getting harsh grades handed back a month after you submit what is being graded with extremely long rantings that practically double your original essay in length, waiting 15 minutes for your professor to show up to class and then scheduling extra classes on Sundays because you "don't have enough time to finish," or discussing dharma and the Indian caste system as opposed to Aristotle and Plato and then getting tackled in your essays when you don't write about a specific concept that was not mentioned in any sort of discussion or lecture. While I can understand that Valentine-Daniel has his quirks, if your concern is (as I imagine most people's would be) having an enjoyable experience and getting rewarded for the work you do, then this probably isn't for you. Unless you're a hyper-philosopher and a brown-noser, it's doubtful that you'll escape with a B+ or higher. There is no ambition to do the readings, as an hour is usually spent by him lecturing on indecipherable topics and another hour is spent as a dialogue between himself and one loud-mouthed student on some impossible to grapple (and usually irrelevant) topic such as "moral reason." Also, he didn't cancel class on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, despite the fact that it got out at 4:00 PM. So, there's that. I highly recommend taking another section that inspires you to do the readings and doesn't leave you falling asleep every class. While EVD can be a funny guy, I really don't think a joke or two per class is worth an overall negative experience.

Nov 2011

I know that the semester's not yet over, but I've been feeling the need to review Heather. Here we go. Summary of this review: Heather is very nice. She means well, but isn't really the best teacher yet (maybe in time...) Longer Version: I was excited for the first few CC classes to see that I had a young, seemingly "fresh faced" CC teacher who would be open and flexible. That said, Heather is too new. This is literally the first CC class she has ever taught as a Professor, and probably the first class that she has ever taught at all. While Heather is definitely young and fresh, she is somehow rigid. In trying to take control of the classroom and lead with grace, she ends up treating us like middle schoolers and eliminating any possibility of organic, classic CC-like discussion. Heather makes us do weekly "lightning rounds" in class, where we go around and each bring up a point from the reading that intrigued us. While this might seem like a good way to start class and get our brains working, it ends up dragging on for so long that it feels like a pointless stream of random thoughts... nothing really builds or comes from this exercise. Heather also asks that we write weekly courseworks postings about the reading for that day. This is pretty standard procedure for some professors, and I don't really mind it. For some reason, though, the whole thing feels like a middle school assignment. I've had to do courseworks postings for other professors and it's never felt this way. I truly don't think it's me... it's something about how Heather runs the classroom. That brings me to my strongest negative feeling about Heather's class. She has not at all mastered the art of leading a classroom. Half the time, it feels like she's scared of the students, and the other half, she's trying to assert her dominance over us to re-affirm her place at the top. It just doesn't work. Heather has a weird way of facilitating discussion...she likes everyone to talk at least once, so she will literally call someone out and ask "do you have something to say about this?" or "would you like to add one to so-and-so's point?" even if that person has nothing to say. This makes it so the discussion is disjointed and herky-jerky. It's awkward and forced. When any real, exciting discussion seems to be springing up, Heather feels the need to control it and make a "line" of people to talk. She also has a very rigid time limit for every part of class. She will literally say "we are going to discuss the Republic until 2:27 and then Aristotle until 3:30." She will literally someone off because we've reached a time limit. This is not the way a CC class should be run. I understand that professors need to curb discussions and facilitate different things at different times, but Heather just has not got the hang of it yet. I want to say that I hate writing this, because I can tell that she really is trying very hard. Heather truly is so so kind and understanding. She genuinely cares about her students. However, she is not what I wanted out of CC. When I applied to Columbia as a senior in high school, I was thinking about my future CC class and professor. I wanted the classic Columbia class, and I haven't gotten it.

Aug 2011

Pretty excellent. Took CC with her a few years back, but remember the course fondly. Ran into a fellow classmate and was inspired to post this after our rehash. She really engaged with the students, could be funny (sometimes inadvertently). She was good at facilitating debate in our class. Her CC class focused a bit more on politics then some other preceptors might, but all in all a very good course. And she's really smart. I explained Kant to another sophomore after our class on GMM.

Aug 2011

Katherine Rickus is as solid a bet for anyone taking CC and who isn't interested in the course load. You'll love her Scottish/British accent. Not only that, she's very well spoken, eloquent, and obviously has great understanding of the course material (especially Freud's works). That said, her lectures are interspersed with humor now and then, but on the whole, it's a little bit dull and monotonous as she mostly lectures with limited student participation (about 20 minutes of student talking time a class, although my class we did have one of those annoying people who wouldn't shut up, so sometimes it was more). She does mostly end class 5-10 minutes late, but that's to cram in all the material, which she puts on the midterms and final. She usually gives a short paragraph answer quiz question at the beginning of the period, which is simply to test whether you read the material or not (and I'm sure you could answer it by reading sparknotes or w/e)...ie: What is the superego in Freud's text? The quiz counts HEAVILY for participation, which is 20% of your grade. My friend in the class who spoke only twice the whole semester got a 92 on participation, while I was one of the medium speakers and got a 93. We both always read the texts and as the quizzes aren't graded but just to see if you read the texts or not, participation is probably 99% based on quizzes. As for her midterms and final, they're both open book (not open notes) and very straightforward. As long as you've taken notes during class you will do well. Everything she tests on she's mentioned/talked about in class. For her, quantity trumps quality as she tells you you're expected to write furiously until the last minute. And generally that is how grades are distributed - those who write more get a very SLIGHTLY higher grade. Why do i say SLIGHTLY higher grade? Because the grade range distribution is EXTREMELY narrow in katherine rickus' class, which is also why I said you should take her class as a safe bet. After 1st semester, on my transcript, it showed that she gave 83% of the class A- or higher. A solid A was probably only given to 1 person in the class, while B+ was probably the lowest grade and the grade that the 17% that didn't get A-, got. To note: She is an intense Feminist and you will read Mary Wolstonecraft (is that how you spell her name) and Simone De Beauvoir which leads to very intense discussions (those are the heaviest discussion classes) where she basically tears you down if you don't say you're a feminist (male or female) as a feminist is someone who believes in equal rights for men and women, so she believes that at least all women should be feminists. She asks people to raise their hands if they're feminists and then proceeds to attack all the girls who didn't raise theirs hands, demanding to know why they don't identify as feminists. She'll also attack everyone who doesn't agree that the plight of women is awful - she makes snide comments like "Thank you for demonstrating the common and ubiquitous misconceptions and flawed arguments about feminism and women that is so widespread in society. You've demonstrated it exceedingly well."

Jul 2011

In January 2011, on the Monday just before classes began, I received what I thought was quite a pleasant surprise: instead of the professor I had expected for Contemporary Civilizations, I would be enjoying a semester of instruction with a prominent scholar and historian. I thought myself the luckiest thing in Morningside. After the first class I mentioned to a friend that, whatever the hype, I hadn't found myself so much a fan of Billows's teaching style. Perhaps it would take some getting used to. There was no "getting-used-to." By the end of April, after each Monday and Wednesday I would have complained to anyone who would listen that *this* was the worst class to date, that Billows had outdone himself yet again. With the semester over, I can honestly say that CC with Billows was the most intellectually impoverished experience I had during my time at Columbia. Billows is forgetful and brusque, the archetype of a professor mellowed with tenure and cynical towards his undergraduates. He forgot our midterms in his house, car, or office for five weeks straight; "My bag couldn't fit them all," he once complained. But this doddering quality softens him not an iota in day-to-day interaction: Billows possesses a robust set of lungs that he puts to great use in talking over students and cutting off people with whom he disagrees. I was shocked to see such a blatant disregard of basic classroom etiquette—in the instructor. As if his disrespect towards the basic functioning of the class—not to mention towards its participants—were not enough to poison the course, he persisted in making a caricature of himself as a professor of classical civilizations. Hardly a day went by without his throwing out the off-hand orientalist or sexist remark, and either pretending that he had meant it all in jest or that there was nothing offensive the comment whatsoever. He was dismissive of Wollstonecraft, Woolf, Fanon, and DuBois, treating the texts cynically, as if he believed they found inclusion on the syllabus solely for their authors' sex or race. If one were the sort of person to deride CC as necessarily canonizing, othering, and perpetuating of Western hegemony—and I resolutely am not that sort of person—this would have been that exact sort of Plato-to-NATO class at which one would direct one's rage. But most important was that his instruction was paltry at best, bankrupt at worst. We never cracked open the texts in class; not once did he call of us to turn to a particularly difficult or telling passage. Reading meant very little; close reading, nothing at all. Very often—as if we were not discussing the richest texts in the Western political and ethical tradition—he would run out of things to say by the two hour mark, and sit there in gloomy silence. Did he, I still wonder, off any insights that couldn't be gleaned from skimming "Sophie's World"? Billows's grading had such a light touch as to be insulting; perhaps he maintained such a condescending attitude about our intelligence that he was continually surprised that any of his students could string a sentence together. This is fine if you are looking just to get your degree and have a shining transcript to accompany it, but much less fine if you came to Columbia looking for a profound and challenging education marked by the Core. By the end of the semester, even principled students were pulling out their computers in class to read the New York Times and work on things that actually mattered. If this fellow shows up on your schedule, run.

Jul 2011

Patricia Kitcher quite probably is one of the worst professors I have had at Columbia. There is no doubt that this woman is extremely intelligent, as mentioned in previous posts about how quickly she answers questions and with the great ease that she does so. Her breadth of knowledge is extremely extensive, as she has even written a couple books on Kant, etc. Basically it is like she expects her students to just KNOW and easily understand philosophy in the same light she does. If you challenge a view she has, most likely you will be wrong. Before this class, I had no previous exposure to philosophy or any of the texts we studied so I was actually looking forward to learning it. This woman deterred any interest I may have had AT ALL. I have come to despise it because of her evilness. In essays and the midterm/final, if you steer away from any of her arguments she made and come up with your own ideas/challenge the philosophers, you will most likely get a terrible grade. She comes across as this sweet old lady and then will completely screw you come the midterm/final. I cannot tell you how many people I knew in that class that thought they ACED the tests and then would come back with C's and D's. This is a CORE CLASS aka WE HAVE TO TAKE IT, and Professor. Kitcher acted as if we all were some brilliant philosophy students that should have known everything she was talking about and been able to recite it back to her verbatim. DO NOT TAKE HER CLASS! That is, unless you are familiar with philosophy and LOVE it. Kitcher makes herself feel smarter and more brilliant by rejecting her students' ideas and giving them barely passing grades. Aren't you supposed to want your students to do well? She is a woman on a power trip and I went through 2 semesters of HELL in her class while all my other peers raved about how great their CC classes were. Seriously, this woman sucks.

Jul 2011

Marwa is a wonderful professor and person. DEFINITELY take CC with her if you can. She has a very interesting science and history of science background which brought an interesting spin to our conversations. This was her first year teaching the course and next year she may connect our philosophical questions even more to relevant scientific issues. In addition, one of the things that makes her a great teacher is her ability to take anyone's contribution and tie it into the broader discussion, or rework it into another question. This prevented forced and dead-end discussions and also had the effect of making every contribution seem valuable which encouraged participation. Participation was also facilitated by the required online discussion posts (1 a week but more encouraged) which were a good forum for your thoughts and could then be called upon in-class. The reading load was very manageable and with papers she often had both traditional prompts and some creative/artistic ones to choose from. In the spring she invited us over to her beautiful apartment for breakfast. All in all, she is really nice and really really smart. As someone who had absolutely dreaded the idea of CC, I was surprised to discover that in the end it was one of my most enjoyable classes.

Jun 2011

I decided to post this after reading the previous reviewer describing Professor McWhorter as "what every professor should be". Granted, the class was an engaging discussion on current events and questions that seem to have no one right answer, and many of these discussions got heated really quickly. However, other than in the first ten minutes of class and when I was writing my weekly response paper, there was no mention of the texts or how they related in anything less than the most obvious way to what we were talking about. Perhaps because the professor I had for CC the fall semester took a completely different approach, I could not appreciate this style. There wasn't much said in class that illuminated, explained, or made concrete what we read at home. In my opinion, most of the discussions we had could have been conducted without having read the books. All that said, Professor McWhorter remained an entirely interesting, charming and understanding person. This review should help if you know which style of Contemporary Civilization you prefer.

Jun 2011

This is the section that you want to be in, if you're ready to work very hard and learn a ton. Professor Collins is tough but cool. She asks a lot of students, but meets them more than half way. I knew nothing about Hegel, Nietzsche, or Kant when I came into the class. Some of the other students were already familiar with the texts, but for me, they were all new. It wasn't a problem because Collins was thorough, starting discussions by bringing out a few key points, usually controversial ones to get everyone talking, and then letting the students take it from there. The seminar room was never quiet, and it was pretty much non-stop debate/discussion. It's all pretty informal, but don't be misled the casual style, it's way serious and intense, just done in a quiet way. If you're looking to coast thru CC, you should skip this section, because Prof Collins expects everyone to make a contribution to each and every class. It's at whatever level you want to, and in my class, students' comments went from high-level/smart, to somewhat ill-formed, but you gotta say something. And that's what I loved about this class. Everyone's involved; it's super-focused; and even if you're only half paying attention, you'll learn much.

Jun 2011

If you want to walk into class every day scared and ready to be made to feel stupid, then Nancy Collins is your ideal CC professor. The workload is a joke (seriously how can a CC class only have 10-20 pages of reading per class), but she overcompensates by asking ridiculously hard questions that are usually beyond the scope of the reading. She gives a list of related readings which consists of 4 or 5 books that are pertinent to the assignment and somehow expects that everyone has read them. Often when a student asked a meaningful questions she would respond, "Did you read the additional readings?". Obviously no one is going to spend their time reading those extra books and inevitably Professor Collins would then simply not answer the question and instead suggest that the student read the extra books. She also can get very defensive in class and during office hours, often blatantly denying things she said in class and getting upset and aggressive when pushed on those issues. Overall, the class was really disappointing for me. If you're someone who wants to read the texts and get something out of the class Professor Collins is not for you. However, if the appeal of minimal reading and no papers is enough to make you sit through two hours of terror twice a week she is not a bad option. My takeaway from the class was that Professor Collins is a great teacher, but she simply did not care about CC. She likes talking about how much she knows about all of the authors but gives her students only a superficial understanding of the ideas in the texts. Her not having long readings and no papers is not because of some lofty interpretation of the role of CC (as she says it is), but probably just because she doesn't want to spend her time preparing or grading papers (and I can't really blame her). Ultimately, her combination of cold-calling, ridiculous questions, and absurd standards made the classroom at best uncomfortable and sometimes a little hostile.

Jun 2011

Beau was a brilliant CC teacher. CC is one of the harder core classes to teach as we cover an absurdly large quantity of incredibly dense material in very little time. As a result, many CC sections end up being boring, bland and pointless 2 hour discussions during which the profound and complex ideas of Plato, Hobbes, Kant etc. tend to become reduced, simplified and frequently distorted. This absolutely did not happen in Beau Shaw's class. Beau is smart, well-read and obviously passionate about philosophy. Not only did he present the difficult ideas of CC texts clearly and coherently to us, he also made these ideas feel urgent and relevant, consistently challenging us to question many of the social, political and cultural assumptions we live under everyday. If you want your CC class to be a meaningful, substantive and enlightening experience instead of a 2 hour hodgepodge of confused and incoherent opinions, take Beau's class. Though be warned, the workload will consume your whole year!

Jun 2011

I took her during spring semester for CC only because my darling CC professor from fall was leaving to Africa to write a book. Anyway to sum things up, you will love her or hate her. I hated her. First of all there are no papers or even a midterm. It is just participation and a take home final (that you don't know is a take home final until the last day of class). If you're really comfortable being very talkative in class and you have a good hold on the texts *just* from reading them then you are absolutely golden. However, if you're like me, and need some illumination about the reading then you're SOL. I did not understand half the things this lady said--and not because of her accent--but because she would use the most convoluted and garbled phrasing. She would go on explaining Hegel's dialectic forever, just to backtrack and say no actually never mind I meant this way. She explained Freud's id, ego, an superego completely WRONG. She never appeared to have much of a lesson plan, so while the class might have been engaged in some really interesting conversation, you had no idea what was relevant and should be jotted down in your notes especially since we could get stuck on completely irrelevant tangents for more than half the class. Naturally this left you with completely useless notes by the time you got to the final. The whole no papers or midterm things really bothered me because her expectations about what constitutes appropriate participation are so ambiguous, and she does not give you any personal feedback until the middle of the semester and even then efforts to improve go unnoticed. She does have an alternate assignment which I switched to where you can write so called 1-2 page response papers every week, but honestly I don't think she even read them since she never returned a single one of them or ever gave me any feedback whatsoever. Now for the take home final, it was open book, open notes, "open internet," and you could take "3 hours or use all 12 days," but it was the same thing as with the participation portion: her expectations were completely unclear. Something you would complete in 3 hours would look a lot different than something you took 2 weeks to complete, but either way I don't think she even read the finals just like I don't think she read the response papers tbh but just gave you a grade based on how much she liked you, aka "participation." Finally, while some conversations were interesting, she said a lot of things (some of which I found racist) that I took offense to and I never had a teacher, especially at such a prestigious university, ever make me feel so uncomfortable and marginalized in my whole life.

Jun 2011

This was the first time Judith taught CC and I had to write a review to counteract all the inaccurate and obnoxious reviews below. Simply, Judith is BRILLIANT and she cares immensely about each and every student. She might have a semi-unclear way of presenting a few topics (for me it was Kant - but then again Kant is confusing for everyone the first time). If you need help, she is more than happy to meet with you one on one, at a time that is most convenient for you. She will re-arrange her schedule for you! Yes, she is very opinionated, but she is not so harsh when you suggest something inaccurate, as long as you back yourself up with something semi-reasonable. It is not hard to get an A or A- in her class. The paper topics are more fun than most other CC classes as they are creative even though she assigns a specific topic. In fact, I didn't write one essay: one was a persuasive letter to a book critic, and the other was a dialogue. In terms of tests, the midterm and final were both manageable. They were about equal in difficulty and with some hard core studying of your notes, they should be no problem. I didn't even have to re-open the books to study and there were passage IDs. I highly recommend taking very detailed notes. Everything she tests on is pretty much covered in class. There may be one surprise question but is is totally doable. I want to re-iterate that Judith is one of the nicest and most caring teachers I have ever had a Columbia. She cares about what every student is doing outside of her class and then tailors the workload to fit everyone's schedule - no other teacher does this! She was great - try her class - you can always switch out second semester if you hate it.

May 2011

Outstanding. Panourgia is an incredible intellectual with a sharp wit and a truly caring approach to her class. Although she is definitely a little eccentric, her goal is that you learn how philosophical thought has developed and the connections between each author, rather than a staid knowledge of facts. The class has changed substantially from reviews below. Now, the grade is 50% participation and 50% final: no midterm, no essays. Do not be intimidated by this. In fact, revel in it, as you won't be slaving away on essays but rather learning a tremendous amount in the easiest way possible. The final is take home, but %50 of it is quote IDs (you are encouraged to use the internet as a resource) and you can attempt up to 370 essay points (so potentially end up with a mark of 370/100). The class is basically graded on a scale of A+ to A-.

May 2011

Brooke was an obvious neophyte on the CC curriculum. Brooke's presentation of each text was decidedly ahistorical. I discovered the extent to which she had overlooked the deep connections between these texts and their contexts only when sparknotes informed me, as I was reviewing for the final at semester's end, of LENGTHY WARS that she had failed to even mention. Does she even know why CC is part of the Core? One might imagine she would have, being an international affairs student, but at this point I have serious doubts! Rather than bringing an IA perspective to the classroom, she built thought experiments. One used the example of a "young black man in the Bronx," portrayed as inherently developing criminal habits due to his upbringing (all in order to illustrate the voluntary vs. the involuntary in Aristotle). She accompanied discussion with no handouts, and little structure. She often threw a question to the floor and awkwardly eyed her silent students as they denied her an answer. Her idea of an interesting class discussion was, for example, to pose the question of whether Plato was a feminist or a sexist. On this particular occasion, one student made the mistake of answering fully that [example of feminism] [example of sexism] Plato was advanced for his time, but not up to modern standards of equality. There was an awkward silence, and then she happily fielded responses that portrayed one side while neglecting the other, drawing the same conclusion that the student had succinctly presented some 5 minutes earlier only after more than half the class had taken sides. Brooke's teaching method, if it indeed exists, is inefficient to say the least. Yep, with grad students, it is really hit-or-miss. My LitHum professor was a grad student, too, but she was wonderful. Rather than calling Brooke a professor, I'd say "instructor." And even that is a little bit of a stretch; everything I learned from my fall semester in CC, I learned without Brooke.

May 2011

Not a bad professor in the classroom. But she's not very easy or pleasurable to communicate with. And you will not get a good grade. As she says herself, her grading policy is old-school. So if you feel like taking a class with the toughest grader you will ever have (and keep in mind that this class is mandatory so even science-y people adverse to philosophy must take it), then go ahead. Otherwise, RUN AWAY! (However, take this course with her if you want to hear her get personally offended at, and quote this Culpa review in class. As if every other professor didn't have some student criticism too. Geez.

May 2011

Many people in my class didn't seem to like this woman. But I adored her. As someone with no background or prior interest in this stuff, I can tell you that I learned more from this class than from any class I've ever taken. Why? (1) Nancy knows what's up. She seems to have spent half of her life pouring over the complete works of Kant (and Hume, Mill, Marx, Freud, et cetera—probably all of them), and the other half traveling around the world to hang out with nearly every political leader and diplomat you can name. So, when she ends a thought with "frankly," what she means is "as I've gathered from the last twenty-five years of my research and experience." On the rare occasions when she says she really isn't sure about the answer to a question you ask her, she probably means that she's read only a dozen or so books on the subject. (2) She has clearly spent a long time thinking about the best way to approach the material, the goals of CC as a course, and how to structure the class in order to reflect these goals. A typical class involves Nancy bursting in with a big smile, asking us all how we are (she brought chocolate once on a visibly awful day for everyone in midterms season), calling people at random to ask—fairly informally—their initial thoughts on the reading. She will then ask two students who have been assigned to prepare discussion questions to write their prompts on the board; while they do, she will give some useful contextual points about the author (not just "here are some things that were going on in the world that are worth knowing," but "here are some things you should know about Hannah Arendt that will make her arguments a lot easier to wrap your brain around"). The rest of the class ends up being, miraculously, an entirely student-led discussion in which Nancy will intervene only occasionally when the discussion isn't getting to the heart of the author's argument or that, as she would say, isn't going in a "pedagogically useful" direction. Whether you are usually shy or fairly talkative in class settings like this, you and your peers will learn a lot from each other, even when you forget that Nancy is sitting at the head of the table. That said… (3) Nancy is demanding. She insists that you call her Professor Collins. She bans the word "interesting" from class discussions. She gives you extremely short excerpts from each author, as long as twenty pages to as short as three, with the expectation that you will spend as much time on each assignment as you would if it were 100 pages. For the same reason, she expects that you will eventually read more of the author's work and look at some of the secondary sources she lists on the syllabus (not always necessary, but certainly useful for her exams). She will get somewhat passive-aggressive if you ask a question she's already answered ("I think we've already gone over that," for example) and avoid answering questions that she thinks would be more instructive for you to figure out on your own. She will make fairly obvious who her favorite and least favorite students are by making both feel awkward in front of the whole class. Basically, if you're caught texting or unprepared for class… get ready. In spite—or, I think, because—of all this, Nancy is still a brilliant teacher. Though she sometimes makes the class feel like a needlessly intimidating graduate seminar, she is very sensitive to every student's level of comfortability and familiarity with the material. She will never let you feel totally lost and is always willing to take a step back to break down the more difficult parts of the course. Her class really is, as a previous reviewer said, a uniquely intense, focused learning experience. You may feel totally frustrated with it at the time, but ultimately, you won't regret being in her section.

May 2011

This class was a disappointment. Scharffenberger's seminar model is broken. In a normal class (as I have experienced it), discussion passes from student A to student B and so on. In this class, it passes from student A to Scharffenberger to student B to Scharffenberger and so on. This has several effects. It slows the class down. Since Scharffenberger talks after every student, the class drags slowly. If a student talks for a minute, and Scharffenberber talks for a minute, then it takes twice as long as it should to call on student B after student A is called on. There would regularly be ques of 5 or more students waiting to speak. By the time you are called on your point is obsolete. This is a result of her second problem. She doesn't seem interested in what you have to say. Like most other CC professors, Scharffenberger comes to class with some points prepared. These are her points, and she makes sure to hit them in every one of her responses, regardless of what the student was talking about. Since she was constantly changing the subject back to her own topics, the class couldn't generate any sory of compicated discussion, since the discussion was abandoned by Scharffenberger before it could be expanded upon by the students. This happened every day, multiple times a day, and it leads to the final problem with her seminar system. It makes her seem dumb. Now Scharffenberger is smart in her own way. However, even the smartest person in the world couldn't think of something worthwhile to say every other minute for 2 hours. She takes too much burden of the class' discussion on herself. Is she afraid we will mess it up without her guidance? Does she just really like the sound of her own voice? Does she just not know? I think it is the latter. Scharffenberger is a nice lady, and I have no doubt that the people that wrote these other reviews stand firmly behind them. However, this was my finding and I stand firmly behind it.

May 2011

I was lucky to be in Stanislawski's class. If you have him, make the most of the opportunities he gives you to talk in class. My class was awkward and quiet, and it's shame because Professor Stanislawski is hugely knowledgeable but also very open to class debate and discussion. He's very familiar with all the works, but also very reasonable with expectations - as in, he helps you figure out which sections to skim, gives you feedback on paper drafts, and gives OPEN-BOOK exams. That's right, no identifications for those of you who hate them. He's a really nice guy, take the time to get to know him. And just because he doesn't give pop-quizzes, that doesn't mean you shouldn't do the reading - it can be really rewarding if you do.

May 2011

Tarik is a really bright and laid back guy who has a lot to say about the authors and works in CC. He is pretty good at facilitating class discussion and didn't work us too hard. Yes, you had to do the reading to participate in class or answer any of his questions, but if you listened to what he said and had a general grasp of the material, you could do well on the midterm and final. Be sure to meet with him about your papers and really know your stuff for those because he really puts a lot of weight on the papers, even saying that it could mitigate lackluster class participation. He's a good choice for CC and you will definitely learn something from him.

May 2011

Dear Alhelí, Your combination of youthful exuberance and scholarly skepticism is nothing short of artful. From the moment I stepped into class, I knew that I was witnessing a rare mind at work. You think deeply about the syllabus, which is reflected in your many additions and substitutions (Such as Vico, Camus, Martin Luther King, Jaspers, Ortega). You asked a lot of us in terms of reading, and challenged us to ask every question that arose in our sophomore brains. At office hours, you gave us personalized suggestions based on what we love---what you KNEW we loved. She's teaching a class this summer entitled: Revolution and Radical Politics from Marx to 1968. She knows so much.

May 2011

Honestly the most amazing cc experience I could ever ask for. Irene is so dedicated to the course and always comes prepared. Even a 9 AM in a Pupin dungeon didn't stifle how much I enjoyed this class. I highly recommend Irene for her dedication, availability, and fairness. I think the best indication of a cc professor's quality is the amount of students who choose to stay in the course the second semester: almost all of my class stuck with the 9 AM in order to stay in Irene's class. Irene is always available to meet on an individual basis to discuss papers, thoughts on the works, and pretty much anything else you could want to talk to her about. This woman is BRILLIANT, just listening to her in depth knowledge of each the works was a learning experience for me. She also made sure to facilitate group discussion and bring in bagels from time to time for class breakfasts! Ask anyone in her course this year and I am pretty positive they will agree with me. HIGHLY RECOMMEND!!!

May 2011

Michael is not nearly as bad as many of these reviews make him out to be. Yes, he is sometimes very aloof, and sometimes seems slightly unprepared, but overall, I did enjoy my CC experience. He is a nice guy who will listen to and consider everyone's thoughts; as mentioned below, he is very respectful in that regard. However, he is a slow grader, and sometimes he seems kind of unengaged. To be fair though, also as written about below, a lot of that was due to the fact that my class was a bit dead for the whole year, as it seemed often times that half the class hadn't read and the other half were either shy, bored, or completely indifferent to discussion. Also, he was definitely much more familiar and engaged with the texts from second semester. I know that he won't be teaching CC next year, but overall, as a teacher, he's not bad. I can't say that I'd necessarily recommend Michael, but if you're looking for a more relaxed section of CC, then this is it. You'll probably do just fine.

May 2011

Tyler is a chill professor to have for CC. I think in our class (at least in the first semester) reviews were mixed about him; some seemed to like him more than others, but I think the people who didn't love him had more of a problem with his teaching style than with him personally. I will say this: Tyler doesn't really do a lot of lecturing, so if you like class discussion then this section is for you. Tyler runs the class in a very structured way. He requires weekly response journals (an informal couple hundred words on the reading due that day) and has a rotating schedule of groups of a few students to formulate one discussion question each about the reading. At the beginning of the semester he requires everyone to submit their planned absences for that semester in writing, and provides a very thorough syllabus detailing the grading rubric for the class, how papers should be written, etc. However, despite this slightly intimidating structuredness presented at the beginning of the semester, the class is actually very relaxed. For instance, during the spring semester Tyler asked for our opinions on how we felt about having our first paper consist of two drafts instead of the planned one draft, and getting rid of the midterm; we took a vote and he changed the syllabus accordingly. The thing I liked most about CC with Tyler — that I understand some other people probably didn't like that much — was how unstructured class time was. Often he would lecture us for a while about a new text we were reading, but after that it would be totally up to us what we talked about for the rest of the class. This often lead to some very interesting and thought-provoking discussions (on everything from the role of natural selection on humans in the age of technology that enables us to "save" humans who would otherwise die, to discussions about the role of feminism in helping close the gender gap in developing countries) that I really enjoyed and learned a lot from, and often helped me actually appreciate the text because I understood how it could be applied to modern-day and real-world situations. That said, this open discourse could sometimes push discussion of the text itself to the wayside. While I have a solid understanding of many of the texts we read this year, some of them I have only a bare-bones knowledge of their main points because they weren't covered exhaustively in class. But lastly, and most importantly, Tyler actually CARES about his students. He reads and comments on our response journals, chats with us before and after class, and is very approachable and understanding when it comes to things like asking him for permission to miss a day or leave a few minutes early. He's also genuinely helpful when it comes to asking for help with things like planning papers: I once went to him with absolutely no idea about what I should write a paper about, and during our fifteen-minute meeting he helped me brainstorm and was actually useful. So, if you like class discussion and less lecture, Tyler is a great professor to have. He's understanding and approachable, and actually won some award this year for best-grad-student-teacher or some such. I'd recommend him.

May 2011

The Good: 1. Extremely nice! Extremely friendly! He is definitely interested in getting to know his students and he's all-around an awesome awesome person. He also shares a striking resemblance to Gandalf. 2. He understands that we have other work, so he's completely willing to lessen readings or lecture more during the class when he knows that we haven't read. 3. He likes class participation, which is great, because CC is a discussion class... The Bad: 1. Sometimes can lecture too much. Honestly, that's the only bad note I've got.

May 2011

I had Irene Sanpietro for Contemporary Civilizations during 2010-2011. I was really taken aback by Irene. At the very beginning, she seemed like a timid, naive, uncertain instructor, albeit one who knew her classics very well. Throughout the semester, however, she continued to surprise: despite being well-versed in the topic she was studying in grad school, her "philosophy" made no sense, and she showed herself to be one of those TAs who love to throw out phrases like "thought experiment" and "forced binary" without really clarifying up any of the material. Sometimes it seemed like she just liked to hear herself talk. When it came to grading, I saw the real anomaly. In papers of professed short length, she said that she wanted depth and breadth, factors extremely difficult to balance in the long run. I never got a sense that the prompts were clear, and grading suffered as a result. The comments were just like the style of the class: lots of fancy phrases, not much substance. In short, Irene is a beautiful, engaging young woman with a very interesting story and perspective, but not really a valuable CC professor.

May 2011

Professor Bronson may not be the most intellectually stimulating of all CC professors, but he does a fantastic job of making the otherwise dense material understandable. He lectured very little, instead allowing class discussion to determine almost entirely what got discussed. He was incredibly generous in allowing us to write rough drafts of all papers; the final also was very fair - he gave us a list of themes and pulled entirely from these in choosing essay questions and passage ids. If you want a CC class that is fairly relaxed, take Professor Bronson's - enjoyable and hardly painful, though definitely not the hardest of the bunch.

May 2011

I think this is Ajay's last year teaching CC, at least for now, but I still wanted to write about his class. Ajay was a great instructor. After giving a short background on the author of the day, he first asks the students what we thought about the text and then takes our queues to frame the class discussion. While this only happened a couple of times (because really who wants to be that guy that's always talking first in class...although we had a couple of those), he really let us lead the conversation and discuss what we found interesting or challenging in the text. Ajay's ability to frame the discussion while allowing the students to lead the conversation is a difficult skill but he pulled it off brilliantly. Although I wish we could've goofed off a bit more, Ajay brought a serious yet not stodgy tone to the class that allowed us to constructively discuss the texts and philosophies. Also he revealed to us during the winter final party that he's in a country-folk band and is obsessed with sci-fi. That's pretty cool.

May 2011

As a person, Ian is incredibly nice. He genuinely cares about the students, and won't hesitate to sit with you after class to go over the material/go over your essay topics. He also answers emails/questions with extremely detailed responses. Ian invites everyone to coffee after the Course-wide Lecture, and dinner at the end of semester (at Symposium). I think Ian is probably one of the better CC Professors out there. The workload isn't too heavy, and the class discussions are usually pretty interesting. I feel like as a non-humanities major, I was able to learn a lot from this class that will stick with me in the future.

May 2011

Wow, define baller: John McWhorter. This guy is what every Professor should be: brilliant, funny, down to earth, interesting, real, moderate, and not afraid to say what he is actually thinking. I transferred into John's class the second semester after having an awful professor, and I am so happy I did. It is amazing how much happier one is when one looks forward towards a 4 hour a week class, rather than dreading it. I chose Columbia because of the core, and John McWhorter verified my selection with his teaching prowess. I've never learned so much in such a little space of time and enjoyed doing so as much. I ramble, but that's how much I love this man. You should fight to get into this section.

May 2011

He was great...extremely well read and had a breadth of knowledge in fields like pop culture, which was great when applying ancient ideas to modern times...so well prepared for class too (handed out an outline of the day's discussion that included relevant passages in the texts and the topics that they discussed, and there was also quotes sprinkled in from other thinkers that we would use as a lens to read specific passages)...and he would remember (no joke) everyone's posting and make it known in class ("*** talked about this in his/her post which relates to ***'s idea in his/her post). now if you actually do the work, which most did, it can be quite a bit of reading because he assigns about 10 or so additional readings throughout the semester, but he makes class participation 40% so it's worth it. these additional texts are usually pretty cryptic and more geared towards philosophy scholars (like himself) but whenever someone shows an understanding (on any level) of them, he gets excited to the point of laughter. we had one term paper (12 pages) that we were given the topic to on the first day of class and expected to meet throughout the semester to discuss our progress with him...this is great, but he does expect publishable-quality work at the end...learned so much tho...he was awesome

May 2011

I would have to agree with the reviewer who has a tendency to put words in all caps when she wants to STRESS something. So I won't copy her; I just wanted to stress that Jon Rick is an amazing teacher and individual. You'll learn a lot in an incredibly relaxed and enjoyable manner and undoubtedly come out of his class with a much stronger (if not first awakened) love, nay- eros of loving wisdom.

May 2011

A few caveats, most of them already mentioned before: Professor Kitcher is a philosopher, and she does not try to hide the fact. She is incredibly well read: even if she does consistently try to summarise out-of-class material for her students, you're going to get a more than a few references to something you may not understand. She's breathtakingly quick on questions -- both asking them and answering them. Be prepared for a full 2 hours of paying attention and taking notes if you want to tackle her essay questions and exams with some confidence. On the other hand, Professor Kitcher is an incredibly approachable professor. She genuinely cares about her students, and tries her best to cater to your needs. More than that, she honestly cares about the Core -- about the texts you read, about why you're reading them, about the texts you *aren't* reading and why you should care about those too. The readings she added to the usual semester's work were some of the best I've read, even though I'd never have thought of picking them up myself. Professor Kitcher grades anonymously, a fact I respect her for. Papers are submitted electronically, so you won't have to even try with her south-paw scrawl (?!?!?!, is my reaction to anything she writes by hand). Exams are also graded anonymously.

Apr 2011

I mean, she's not the worst CC professor out there, but she's certainly not mind-blowing. It's clear that she's studied and closely read the material on the CC syllabus, but she's certainly not an inspirational professor. In discussion, she intersperses her own little comments and banter; her voice is not completely authoritative in that she never offers a final word, but at least she doesn't force her opinions on you. She doesn't really inspire intellectual curiosity. I would say that it's an easy enough class if you're comfortable with the readings. You have a response almost every week so you end up participating a lot anyway because you've actually had to do a response. I wouldn't recommend her because she's not at all easy going and writes down/remembers everything.

Apr 2011

While James is a funny and caring man, I don't feel like he was very good at teaching CC. I felt like another professor would have been more skilled at encouraging conversation and clearing our understanding of these dense, important books. Instead, it seemed most of the time that he was just as lost as we were. Every class felt a bit like sitting in a room for two hours while people read quotes. I couldn't help but wonder if other CC sections were more interesting.

Apr 2011

I took CC with Professor Neely this semester, after switching out of a horrible class. What. a. difference. Professor Neely seems scary at first, but if you are willing to discuss the work, and answer his questions, you'll see that he's generally a pretty cool guy. He does expect you to read, but the way he traces the arguments of each author makes the reading actually make sense. Grading was exceedingly fair, and other than that, it's a pretty typical CC workload. Take his section if you can....you'll do a lot of reading, but after this class, you will actually be able to explain the pattern of argument of any author on the syllabus.

Apr 2011

Beau Shaw was a great teacher. I had no idea what was going on in most of the books that we had to read, but he talked about connections and importance in the books in an easy to understand and clear way. He is also pretty funny and easy to listen to. He also made the 2 hour class go by pretty quickly (which was a miracle). Even though CC itself is one of the worst classes in the core and a pain to take for two semesters, Beau was one of the best teachers I could have. However, the workload we had to do for his class was way beyond any of the other CC classes. You had to come up with 2 or 3 criticisms or questions for EACH class (which was about 1-2 pages), also our 2 papers had to be 8-12 pages! Most classes have no response papers and only 5-7 page papers, so this way beyond irritating. The best thing about being in his class is that you get to submit rough drafts for papers and his comments are extremely helpful. He is also very accessable and before each midterm or final, he would hold a review session for 2 hours. He also gave you a list of broad concepts from which the exam questions would be based off of, which was a lifesaver. Therefore, the work was a pain but he really prepared you for the exams, and he also really helped with your papers. Overall, he was a really good teacher.

Apr 2011

Oh Ajay, how everyone loved you. Ajay's a great professor, partly because he's really knowledgeable in all of the texts and partly because he hasn't lost his college student wit to him. At first, he tries really hard to be as professional as possible, with not a lot of time spent on goofing around. Then you notice he wears cowboy boots all of the time, he plays trumpet and sings in a country band, and is obsessed with sci-fi and TV. We even watched "Stark Trek: Wrath of Khan" when covering utilitarianism. I enjoyed his class, but probably would've enjoyed it more if he loosened up a bit earlier in the year. One of the best, most dedicated teachers I've had at Columbia...that may also be because my Lit Hum professor SUCKED.

Mar 2011

I took CC with Evan Neely, I switched into his class at the semester change. I love his class. I'm an athlete and I have no time to read all the required reading. He understands that if you don't want to talk in class he isn't mean about about. He jokes around which is nice because he lightens up the class feel. Neely is really smart and makes sure everyone knows that. He talks a lot throughout class, which is nice if you want to just relax, sit back, and listen. If you're an athlete take this class because you wont have to read for every class.

Mar 2011

I was initially attracted to this course because of the reviews that Herb is an easy grader. This has turned out to be relatively true yet Herb has also proven to be very intellectually stimulating and his class has really been enjoyable. In my mind, this is the best of both worlds. While what the previous reviewer is correct in that only half of class participates or comes, I think s/he is wrong that this is Herb's fault. I am pretty confident in saying that this reflects more on the class: it is a 9am class and thus 60% of the kids are athletes, which seems to be correlated with them not really doing the reading (not all of them... but it is a pretty noticeable pattern). In fact, I think Herb is pretty generous: he doesn't take off for skipping class. However, last semester, he did comment that the grades were bi-modal (40% As, 20% Bs, and 40% Cs) and reflected pretty directly those who showed up and those who didn't. But, as someone who participates, I actually really enjoy the fact that we have a 10 person class--it really allows us to have good conversations and an intimate environment. I actually really like that Herb allows the class--because this is really what he does--to focus on just a few salient elements of each text. It isn't that he isn't doing justice to the books; in fact, I would argue, that he is actually doing more justice to the texts this way. Instead of getting bogged down in the tiny details, we really wind up isolating the most important themes and arguments for the texts. It it doing this--just what the reviewer below didn't like--that really allows one to walk away from CC and say "oh, that is a Millian concept," which is the whole point of the course. Finally, he is just a hilarious guy. He doesn't mind getting a little off subject--to tell you about his dog or his wife--and doesn't mind speaking his mind. For example, Herb is clearly a little bit of a libertarian (although he never comes out and says it) and doesn't mind questioning the assumptions of (what I assume) are fellow liberal students. I actually quite enjoy this. Really and truly Herb is the best core teacher I've had at Columbia. Affable, brilliant, self-effacing, and funny he is truly fun and enlightening to be around. He isn't out to crucify you--frequently remarks that he knows most students don't do the reading--but if you don't do ANY of the readings you of course will be screwed. That being said, this class does make you think and does help you understand these classic.

Jan 2011

I was in Stanislawski's CC section last semester, but don't recognize it all in the previous negative review. Simply put, I loved this section, thought Stanislawski was great, and miss having him this semester. I never saw Stanislawski be rude or mean or vindictive to any student, as is alleged. On the contrary, I found him trying as hard as he could to encourage students to talk, which a large part of the class simply did not. He clearly loves this course, knows the texts thoroughly, and (if you visit him in his office hours) is eager to help you with any problem. So don't take the negative review as indicative of what his teaching is REALLY like.

Jan 2011

Stevenson did not seem at all interested in teaching this course. His knowledge of the texts extends as far as a modest sliver of wikipedia. I know that during the semester I had to go outside and spritz water from the water fountain on my neck in an effort to stay awake. That, and the section was at 4:10, so I was already checked out. In his defense though, I think that Stevenson knows more about second semester CC than first. Also, you don't have to do much and you can get an okay grade. If you're looking for that, then go for it. If you're looking for a real experience and to learn deeply about the texts, steer clear. He's not horrendous, but I didn't feel like he was putting a whole lot of effort into the class.

Jan 2011

I read the previous review, and agree for the most part. Except for the part where the reviewer said that she was smart. I was not impressed by how "intelligent" she was by any stretch. It felt like much of the class just consisted of her regurgitating what she had been taught in CC. Any opinions different from her own, whether they were relevant or irrelevant to the class, were shut down completely and often shut down in a mean way. I would even go so far as to say that she is downright nasty when it comes to anything that doesn't go her way (i.e. missing a makeup class that was scheduled at the last minute because one had Friday plans). If you want a fictional representation of her, I would use Delores Umbridge from Harry Potter. Passive aggressive to the max. Also, if you have an ongoing problem, she won't speak to you about it until the day of the final, where she basically just tells you that you're screwed. That's how much Professor Philliou cares about her students. One last thing. She forgot to schedule a midterm. YES! SHE FORGOT TO SCHEDULE A MIDTERM! And then randomly added one that was obviously "If you take it, I'll like you and give you a good final grade. And if you don't, I'll say it won't matter, but it will somehow count toward participation."

Jan 2011

After having had Mr. Leonard for a semester of CC, I can agree with the previous reviews--he's a perfectly good CC professor. His classes weren't the kind of thing you rave about, but the kind of class you don't mind attending for four hours a week. He has a relaxed attitude that is friendly enough, and a subtle self-depreciating sense of humor that, on the very rare occasions it appeared, made me marvel at where it had been hiding. Yes, the hours can get long, especially towards the end of each class, but as long as more than two people have actually read the text, the class discussion should have no trouble carrying the day. Frankly, there are some CC teachers who ARE horrible. I have had Core teachers so soul-crushingly bad they have made me never want to pick up a book again. I was VERY happy to land in Mr. Leonard's class, and when shopping around for a good CC section, keep in mind that in a pool containing legitimately awful professors, Mr. Leonard is a welcome choice. On a side note, towards the end of the semester I finally realized who he had been reminding me of--he looks just a little like Robert Sean Leonard from House MD. Anyone else?

Jan 2011

I was only able to take the fall semester with Professor Chalmers. He is a retired professor from the Political Science department with a fascinating history of involvement with Columbia University. Back in 1968, he was here teaching during the riots, and he has some interesting stories. As a professor, he is very nice and very hands off. He is also understanding about conflicts and extensions as long as you have valid reasons. For a class where discussion means a lot, sometimes he could get carried away lecturing. He did try to supply us with a background on whatever we were reading, though sometimes, by the time he finished, the class felt very lethargic and sleepy. He tries to make connections between the readings and modern events. Prime example: Does President Barack Obama have virtù (Machiavelli, The Prince)? When he asked questions along those lines, he produced the best discussions. Also, when assigning paper topics, he tried to include those that would allow students the freedom to bring in subjects that interested them such as current political events or organizations with which the students were involved. Overall, a very easy section of CC. The section came perilously close to being dull at times, but there were occasional, brilliant moments of discussion. Be warned that these will only come later in the semester. Everyone with whom I have spoken from the section who changed into another section for the spring sounded rather apologetic and/or sheepish about the switch. Truth be told, if I could have stayed in the time slot, I would have. He learns who you are as a student, the work load is decent, and you do a decent job of getting to the basic ideas of the texts on the syllabus.

Jan 2011

I came into this class excited and interested. I left angry. Professor Philliou, at least as a CC teacher, is AWFUL. Avoid at all costs. Professor Philliou is a Columbia Alum, so from what I gather, she at least read the texts then, but seems to have put minimal effort in since. She occasionally came to class with a sheet of paper with dates scribbled on it to give us some historical perspective, but used student presentations to begin class rather than anything she prepared. She was then confused when discussions seemed to faulter as she encouraged them by shutting people down whose responses she found even minorly irrelevant. On top of that, she really has it in for any student she thinks is slacking off in class. She is also really into classroom decorum and respect for her authority as...an assistant professor that no one's ever heard of? I gathered from reading her bio that she has done some impressive research on the ottoman empire and I could tell she was an intelligent person in class with plenty of insights on the reading. However she only occasionally shared them and did not create a productive classroom dynamic. She is passive agressive, lazy, and unkind.

Jan 2011

Firstly, Dr. Ogden is brilliant. The "lecture" parts of her classes (which didn't usually run that long) were interesting and well planned out. She is extremely eloquent and has a tremendous amount of knowledge about the texts. Secondly, Ogden cares about her students. She encourages students to email her with questions and attend her office hours to discuss essays. She even invited us to come talk with her during the spring semester (which she unfortunately didn't teach). Dr. Ogden is helpful with the papers, although she doesn't give out topics. She gives a lot of feedback and although they are graded fairly, she expects high quality work from her students. A's are possible on essays, but are not given away freely. The midterm and final were relatively straightforward and probably help your overall grade. The only problem with the class is that class participation is not officially factored into the overall grade, although she may shift grades one way or another in borderline cases.

Jan 2011

His CC class was one of my worst experiences thus far at Columbia. Stanislawski clearly has some serious insecurities which he allows to influence his teachings and is very hung up on Judaism and his knowledge of it. Not exactly an impartial scholar, Stanislawski cut the Quran readings to expand Old Testament class time and didn't seem to make much of an attempt to explain or rationalize the Quran. The whole time I was in his class he made me feel as though he was doing us a favor in simply being there, and he seemed a little arrogant about his teaching position (as head of Contemp. Civ.) and his academic reputation stemming from this position. Very quick to pick an argument with students in the class, particularly if you disagree with him, and he seemed to hold some grudges stemming from these arguments, which he often wouldn't allow students to finish or fully articulate. I get the feeling that he can be a nice guy and, on an academic level, I don't even think he's all that bad of a professor. He certainly was fair with his tests and always tried to ease anxiety about them anyway he could. But his inclinations towards negativity and spiteful arguments make him a pretty bad choice if you have other options. I know this sounds like a bit of a rant, but I stuck with his class after I read the mixed reviews on CULPA, thinking the negative reviews were just a very vocal minority, and wish I hadn't. If you are at all speculative about being in his class from these reviews please trust them and switch sections.

Jan 2011

Jonathan Rick is a remarkable person who is sincerely committed to his students' progress. He understands that not everyone does the reading and he knows why; he's always aware of the stress level at different points in the semester, and he adjusts the workload based on this. I am always impressed at how well he breaks down complex ideas and makes them accessible. Even when I come away from the readings understanding almost nothing, I come away from class with the kind of understanding CC is designed to give you. Jonathan understands when the class isn't grasping the material well enough to talk about it, and when that's the case, the class is as much as 70% lecture. However, when the class has some facility with the material, he's really excited to get us talking. He also sends out discussion questions for many of the readings, which can be several pages long and are EXTREMELY helpful in understanding them. The class atmosphere is comfortable and fun, but seldom veers out of control (as discussion-based classes have a tendency to do). Jonathan rarely goes on irrelevant or useless tangents, but when he does they are brief and extremely entertaining. I enjoy this class. It is the perfect balance between work, serious analysis, open discussion, and comfortable group conversation. Jonathan Rick is an excellent professor who is probably easy to take for granted because he doesn't have an accent or a gimmick, but should really be appreciated.

Jan 2011

A really terrific CC prof. His questions focus on the argument and reasoning of the text, instead of reading it through a Marxist/feminist/deconstructive/whatever "lens". This approach lets you get inside the author's thought, rather than warping it to conform to critical theory. Discussions are very well-structured and pinpoint crucial concepts. Also, Prof. Prakash really listens to students' ideas and shows how they shed light on aspects of the works. He generally doesn't encourage personal anecdotes, which keeps classes focused on the readings instead of on somebody's experience at summer camp when they were twelve. He's a great prof and runs a fantastic CC class.

Jan 2011

Take this professor if you really enjoy engaging the reading on your own. Although this professor seems extremely smart, his classes are not enjoyable, better yet, they are unbearable. He talks and talks nonsensical information, information that is not useful and he picks details to discuss that are pretty much pointless. To articulate a point there is a speech of five-ten min that precedes it. And so by the time he finally says his point, he has already lost the entire class in boring material. Also, he tries to engage the class and get us talking however, his questions are like 5 parts...seriously. It is just not feasible to answer them because firstly, his questions are always what people skimmed, and secondly, he never gives us enough time to answer. IT IS JUST A BORING CLASS. I understand that CC is CC but this is not an engaging class...just terrible discussions. TERRIBLE. Most of the time Ian is just talking to one student. As for the workload, it is a take home midterm that is basically a Uwriting assignment of putting texts into conversation and beware of the straw argument, he will kill you for it. He seems to enjoy plausible arguments but his midterm took hours to complete despite the fact he said it would only take 4 hours tops. That's not true. Expect to take longer. I rather take a in class exam any day than do that midterm ever again. But most people did rather well. The rest of work is duable. So its up to you, you can have an easy grade if you follow his structure but you decide if it is worth the boring discussions.

Jan 2011

This woman is insufferable. It's not that her heart is in a bad place. She really wants to teach well. I just don't know that she knows what that is. She asked really inane questions, and it didn't seem like she read the material herself. Lots of times, more than two kids in the class would fall asleep. By the end, people stopped taking notes and started bringing their laptops and just checked email and Facebook during class. You don't have to read the books to pass with a high grade. I'm sure that's the case with a lot of CC classes, but this one really takes the cake. She makes you decide your own paper topics, but she's not a hard grader at all. Don't worry. She's bull shitting as much as you are. The midterm was formal; you can bullet point. Basically, it was everything that she said in class, which you can basically come up with yourself. Seriously, she had no in-depth analysis at all. I'm pretty sure her back up plan was Wikipedia. The final was fun, I'll say that. It was a bunch of informal questions--how would you survive a terrible weekend using one of the texts? Why can't we all just get along? Use two or three texts. Invade a dorm floor. Use two or three texts. Everyone was giggling. Oh, and she brought snacks the last day. That was nice.

Jan 2011

I enjoyed Professor Senocak's class a lot! We focused a lot on the historical contexts of the readings and also about how they are applicable to our time. I think this is way more interesting than just analyzing the text for 2 hours. With this said, she is very opinionated and I think that if you have a more conservative stance, this class could be less enjoyable for you. I loved it because we agreed on most things - but other students that disagreed probably would not say the same.

Jan 2011

I have to respectfully disagree with the previous reviewer. I did not find the class discussions so enlightening - if anything, I felt like we talked about what he wanted to discuss, and only a few people in the class talked. Furthermore, I found the reading quizzes annoying - clearly no one is reading everything for their core classes (unless they are taking no other reading classes which is not the majority of people) and sometimes his quizzes picked at details. Honestly, I would have preferred a midterm - there was no review of anything until the final which only made studying for it more annoying. Professor Chappel is definitely approachable and friendly, which is a huge plus, and I am curious to see how he does in his second semester of teaching this course. Hopefully it will be better.

Jan 2011

I'm sure I don't need to add my pennies to the stack of praise for Professor Jones. I have hardly ever seen such a fine teacher. I will, however, highlight just one of his many admirable qualities, and allow it to stand as advice to any lucky enough to have this brilliant man for CC: Matthew Jones, far more than the dunce who taught you University Writing, will teach you to write well if that is the only thing he does for you all semester long. He took a month to grade twenty papers just so that he could comment on each and every syntactic and semantic point with which any could take issue. And his point is not pedantry: scholarly writing can furnish one with habits most pernicious to good style, so Professor Jones takes it as a personal burden to help each student rid her writing of dull imagery and obese phrases—verbiage of every kind and colour. And—needless to say, perhaps—he leaves no grammatical flaw untouched. A word of advice, then: edit your essays with an unsparing pen. Cut out every impersonal phrase, every instance of the passive voice, every awkward phrase, every bit of language you don't absolutely need. You'll do yourself a favour. Even if you don't, however, Professor Jones will help. He's kind that way.

Jan 2011

Yeah....I wish I could disagree with the previous reviews...I think I would tone down the harshness somewhat, like 20 percent, because while he sucks, I've had worse. I'll list of few positives. He is pretty respectful of people's points. (To a fault though, as he sometimes needs to tell people to stop talking, and doesn't really engage their questions). The things he says are occasionally interesting...he did a good job on Descartes!....errr, I ran out of stuff to say. Yeah. I think a BIG and unmentioned part of why this class sucked though is that 75 percent of the class did not even try to engage the texts, and the few that did engage were generally pretty obnoxious. I KNOW it's the teacher's job to get the class excited and a lot of the class' malaise falls on him, but still....you can try and make the best of a bad situation and keep the conversation going. I'm sure I sounded like a douche half the time with my yammering, but whatever, still better than going comatose.

Jan 2011

Professor Lee is definitely an extremely knowledgeable professor. He was constantly explaining Greek and Latin terms and illustrating connections to current law to help us understand the books more comprehensively. His method of queueing class discussion (having everyone interested in responding to a comment raise their hand and then calling on each in turn) I found to be a bit annoying, because by the time the conversation got to you, it had totally changed subject and you'd forgotten what you were going to say. However, he would respond passionately and intelligently to every point directed at him, and would always do his best to keep conversation on topic, which could be rather difficult in a class full of jackasses constantly tooting their own horns. Although he was rather inflexible with deadlines (I asked for an extension on my first paper, he gave me 24 hours and an explanation of why he wasn't going to grant one again), he did his best to be fair and reasonable, which he was. His grading is also very fair. I received the grade I expected on all my papers within a +/-, and his comments were very direct, albeit all in a paragraph assessment (as opposed to in the margins). For a very subjective class, he certainly made an effort to objectify everything as much as possible. For the final, he provided a comprehensive study guide that had everything we needed to know on it, as well as providing multiple options for all the sections (there wasn't a single part of it where we were required to answer everything). Bottom line: If you want to get a lot out of CC, especially on the historical and legal side of things, take his class.

Jan 2011

When it comes to the core curriculum and CC in particular, there is no doubt that your professor can and likely will make or break the experience. In this case, Tyler Bickford is the most inspiring professor/graduate student teacher/man/whatever I have ever been assigned to at this school and cannot imagine having gone through a more memorable full year of CC with anyone else. What I appreciate most about Tyler is the genuine nature of his personality which is reflected through each and every class discussion. He truly seems to respect and consider the opinions of his students, to the point where it is now almost a full year since I was in his class, yet we have run into each other on countless occasions and have engaged in continued metaphysical discussions as well discussions of absolute stupidity. He also has a great sense of humor and at times it feels like he is sitting in the room as an undergrad taking the course with us. Tyler seems to recognize, unlike other teachers of the core, that there are simply days where the class is not respondent and lacks energy, and he is able to adapt to the circumstances, pacing the class appropriately while taking advantage of the stronger days. I recommend that anyone with the opportunity to take a Tyler Bickford class should do so, as it will shape and epitomize what Columbia ideally would like for you to take away from the core experience. Obviously this review has been considerably generous, but I am confident that the overwhelming majority of students who have enrolled in his class feel the same way.

Jan 2011

Seth is the real deal. I have never had a professor expend so much effort on reading and evaluating student work. He is so available to meet to discuss papers and such. The classes are a pleasure, really, no kidding- he runs the gambit of organizing and facilitating discussion in a way that I have never seen before. You actually want to do the work for this class. He is really funny, but oddly serious. I never thought someone could be both- but he is. The workload was 3 papers and precis statements- the precis project changed my life (again, not kidding) and made writing so much more easy and pleasant. I think I got better grades in other classes because of Halvorson. He also has a very clear set of standards of evaluating student work. He handed out a rubric for how he grades- he sticks to it and it makes a lot of sense. Take a class from him, you will not regret it. He loves CC, it is obvious and he works to make the class accessible and excellent for everyone- even some of the students who don't pull their weight. He is probably too kind with the dolts, but Seth is one of the best professors I have ever had.

Jan 2011

Dr. Ogden was really a fantastic CC professor. This was her first semester at Columbia, but you would never be able to tell she hasn't taught CC before. Perhaps the first, most important thing to mention is that she is incredibly, incredibly intelligent and really knows what she is talking about. While some people may complain when their professor lectures during class, the general consensus in our class seemed to be that it was a pleasure listening to Dr. Ogden's lectures. She always came prepared with many notes on the subject and time period being discussed. She knew the answer to almost every one of our questions, and if she didn't, she came to class the next time with the answer. This does not mean that her classes are all lecture. In fact, most of the time is spent on discussions, which flow well since Dr. Ogden really knows how to foster discussions by asking the right questions. However, Dr. Ogden does not include participation as part of the grade. This is great for those days when you don't read, because sitting in the corner and not saying anything will not affect your grade in the class. Dr. Ogden is also very helpful with papers (which you get to choose your own topic for), and she is a very fair grader since she gives very specific comments and explanations for why you got a certain grade on your paper. While it is not exactly easy to get an A on the papers, the midterm and final (especially the passage ID sections, not so much the essays) are easy, since she takes passages that were discussed a lot in class.

Jan 2011

Michael Stevenson is by far the worst teacher I’ve had at Columbia. I’ll illustrate a typical class: Stevenson walks in, smelling of cigarette smoke. He lays down his briefcase, takes out his class notes (print-outs of Wikipedia) and starts writing names/dates/philosophical terms on the board (a great deal in Ancient Greek, and pretty much all irrelevant). More than half the class shows up late. Stevenson begins lecturing from his class notes *cough*. His monotonous voice and the incredible vapidity of his discussion topics put most of the class in zoned-out mode, ceasing all student interest in the topic at hand. After a half hour of torture, he opens up the discussion, branching off one of his trivial points about the reading. No one answers. Stevenson rewords the question. Someone, who, like much of the class obviously hasn’t read, tangentially responds to Stevenson with some BS. Others respond to the BS, arguing over some triviality that is rarely related to the reading. Stevenson steps in, putting an end to the discussion (just as it was getting interesting!) and moves on to another one of his inconsequential points. Repeat. Stevenson generally has nothing to offer to the topics—he probably hasn’t re-read any books since college—and is useless in facilitating discussion. Often, several minutes would pass without student contributions. After 2 hours of this torture, we are finally let out (usually late, and oh yeah, Stevenson “forgot” to give us a break, as usual). About work and grades: Stevenson’s grading policy is weighted towards participation 30%, and I’m not really sure how my final grade was calculated, though I certainly did my share of talking during class. He’s a slow grader, so keep that in mind. Like the previous reviewer, I thought he was an easy grader given the A on my first paper, but when grades came out three days ago, I was quite disappointed. I don’t really know how he can expect to maintain a decently-sized class if he grades like this. Stevenson’s natural ability to shut everyone up and bore everyone to death is remarkable. Like earlier reviewers said, he is also arrogant and uncaring. I do not believe this man should be teaching—he’s doing it to satisfy his philosophy doctorate requirements, and it shows. I would avoid at all costs.

Dec 2010

Nice, smart teacher. Although he is seriously intelligent, he isn't pretentious or on a constant ego trip. Friendly guy who clearly loves philosophy. The class usually begins with Anubav bringing up a question he finds interesting and relevant to the reading, and then the omnipresent philosophy majors have at it. Then slowly the less well-versed students trickle into the discussion as Anubav defines determinism, free will, etc. on the board. While this structure might seem kind of... flabby and formless, Anubav has a pretty good rein on the discussion and he can deconstruct your and the authors' arguments quickly and accurately - i.e., we're constantly asked to explain and justify our views, and if we do go off-topic, then we at least cover into interesting topics relevant to philosophy, if not the text (e.g. we learned Zeno's Paradox). Break it down: - Fair grader, you could even say lenient. - Paper topics are thought provoking. He really wants you to synthesize your own arguments in response to the authors - this can be frustrating, especially as other classes are making more literary and historical papers, but useful and more interesting in the long run. - He doesn't flip out if the class hasn't done the reading. Pretty refreshing and it makes the teacher-student relationship much less adversarial that it could be. - Tangents. Oh, the tangents. We spent an hour and fifteen minutes discussing whether or not it was reasonable that medical schools expelled students with DUI's. Fun discussion. Relevant to Hobbes? Not really.

Dec 2010

Herb Roseman is a nice man, but not the ideal section leader. He starts off each class with a short lecture which is nothing remarkable. Then he tries to start a discussion about something related to the reading. There are a few issues with his attempts though: (1) They are often unsuccessful (2) When they are successful, it's always the same four or five students giving their opinion -- Seriously, half the class NEVER participates and people regularly just don't show up. (3) He tries to start general philosophic discussions, but they're often not really related to the books. For example, we've had a discussion about whether or not we have free will at least four times this semester, when it's often just tangentially related to the readings at best. There also seem to be no repercussions to not doing the reading. He would never call anyone out on it and it's very very easy to BS your way through a discussion since they're not very focused on the readings themselves. Basically, in each text he has a few ideas which he is interested in and will harp on them over and over again. Those usually end up being the main topics tested on the midterm and final, so again, doing the reading is not essential. For many of the texts I feel like I came away having learned almost nothing besides for a few random ideas. Another big problem with Herb is that he is really not interested or knowledgeable about the religious texts (as he often admits), and those make up a significant portion of the first semester syllabus. His inability to create discussion is heightened when he doesn't know the material himself. On the plus side, he will make time to meet with you outside of class and will often tell you what to write about for your essay. In addition, he is a fun guy and will generate an amusing discussion every once in a while. Finally, I only had him for the fall semester and I could see him being better with the spring semester texts (more philosophy, less religion). Based on my experiences alone though, I think he is a professor to avoid.

Dec 2010

He's pretty awesome. I definitely worked hard to earn my grade, but his class was interesting enough to make me work hard. The prompts he gave us for papers were really interesting. I truly enjoyed writing the papers, the discussion posts and participating in class discussions of the texts. He definitely knows his stuff. Lit hum was helll for me, I had the worst teachers. Thanks to Ryan CC has been a pleasant change of scene thus far. He's not easy, but he is fair.

Dec 2010

I think that the verdict is still out on Jun. He definitely means well and is sweet about encouraging participation, but for some reason, my class (which was awesome) just did not click with him. Part of it could be the extra workload (one week's reading counts for a SINGLE response paper, and we have to do 10 throughout the semester) and perhaps the other issue is the grading? I did OK on the midterm, but there were definitely a lot of Bs and even some Cs. Further, Jun's field is history, not philosophy, so keep that in mind if you choose him as a teacher. He was great at providing background about the texts but not as great at conveying their significance (i.e., what this text means to philosophy on the whole). I'm sure anyone who has him next term will be freaking out because of this review, but really, it could be much worse. If you do well on the papers and participation, you're almost guaranteed an A. I'm just bitter because I had such an amazing Lit Hum experience and was hoping for more of the same this time around...

Dec 2010

Frankly I found Professor Senocak's classes quite brilliant. Her background in medieval history took many of the philosophers commonly considered drudgery - including Al Ghazali and the Protestant Reformation - and really brought them to life. Her accent can be rather difficult to understand in the beginning, and she speaks very quietly, but Professor Senocak's points are really quite insightful. I worry that her less-than-glowing opinion of the Enlightenment will make the spring term more difficult than it should be. Professor can be very strict on skipping classes. She sometimes makes people write three page papers on content they missed, even if they provide a sick note.

Dec 2010

Jean Laponce is a great instructor for CC. He's a likable person, he's broadly knowledgable, he's well organized, and he's good at leading class discussions. He's also a fair grader (i.e. he's on your side). He's always pointing us towards books and online resources that are relevant to what we're studying. On top of that, this is a section of CC just for GS students; everyone is here voluntarily, everyone has had interesting life experiences, and everyone is interested in the material. The class discussions are of a pretty high quality. Everyone has something interesting to say. I would definitely disagree with whoever said this class is a "joke". That's just not true. CC has a heavy reading list, and Laponce expects everyone to contribute to class discussions. Your grade will reflect your contributions. On the other hand, the midterm and final were pretty easy. The tests are a formality, and Laponce says as much. His priority (as it should be in a class like CC) is for you to jump into the text and figure it out for yourself, so tests and all that rigmarole are de-emphasized. Other classwork includes some short essays, and everyone is supposed to co-lead a class discussion once per semester (you get to volunteer for the book/author you would like to discuss). So should you take this class? My best advice is to get a copy of the reading list, take some time looking over it, and make your decision based on how much you want to read the books. The whole point of taking a class like CC is to give yourself a chance to read these classic texts that (let's face it) you would probably never read otherwise. Keep in mind that most of the readings are long, and some of them are difficult. CC might not fit very comfortably into a busy schedule. If you decide to take CC, you can't go wrong with this section. All in all, CC with Jean Laponce turned out to be the most enjoyable and rewarding class I took this semester. He deserves one of those silver nuggets.

Dec 2010

While Professor Antonova often shared many interesting historical facts and wisdoms about the texts we read, especially religious works, she was unable to lead an engaging discussion throughout the entire semester. The beginning hour or so of every class period was always more of a lecture, and SA is one of those professors who ask very specific questions, giving students little room to begin an engaging debate. We rarely made it through an entire work, and often skipped over some of the most important issues of the text for lack of time. All in all, it wasn't the worst CC section, but class discussions were rarely engaging or interesting. Easy, but probably not worth it.

Dec 2010

Wow... Probably the best professor I've had at Columbia. He makes me want to do the readings and he is so laid back that I feel as if he's both my professor and a really cool friend. The stories he tells in class are hilarious but aren't too distracting from the texts. Generally, we talk about interesting aspects of the text that are heavily debated during class. Also he is sooo sexy so it's a little distracting.

Dec 2010

This is CC the way it's supposed to be done: a thirty- or forty-five-minute mini-lecture with background on the reading, followed by an hour and a half of quality discussion among intelligent people (with the occasional pedagogically-useful shouting match). A great class with a good instructor. Prof. Chappel (I always felt vaguely uncomfortable calling him that, since he's not really a member of the faculty) taught CC for the first time this year. He did a lot of homework. He's a historian of 20th-century Catholic thought, so the first semester of CC was not exactly his area of expertise; nevertheless, he usually brought with him critical thoughts on the text from "his friend, the scholar of Plato" or "his colleague, the scholar of Descartes." He also assigns phenomenal essay topics. I enjoyed LitHum, but the papers were excruciating to write; these were an absolute joy. It's also refreshing to get good grades combined with comments like "I disagree fundamentally with the premise of this paper"---he shares his opinions with the class, but doesn't expect you to hold the same ones. And if I have a few unresolved questions about the mind-body problem and the state of nature, I have to cut him some slack---you don't acquire an encyclopedic knowledge of everything on the CC syllabus in one semester. This class was just about everything I wanted it to be, and I'm looking forward to starting it again in the spring.

Dec 2010

Define uncaring grad student: Michael Stevenson. Seriously, I've never had a teacher at any level of schooling that cared less than this guy. I doubt that he's re-read 75% of the books since the first time he read them himself as an undergraduate. He is boring and does not know much outside of the little outlines of an author wikipedia has. He is a philosophy PhD candidate, so a lot of the discussions are about lofty and miniscule details that an author will present. We spent a bunch of classes on plato and aristotle, but only spoke about a couple of the works for a maximum of 15 minutes since he would try to squeeze a bunch of books into one day. I realized studying for his midterm that I actually had learned nothing up to that point since the inclass discussion was lacking and he never really pointed out many significant passages- it didn't help that he would have a version of the work different than the rest of the version the students themselves had. After all of this, I've decided to stay in his class though. His papers are short (5-6 pages) whereas the rest of the department usually requires 8-10 and the topics are straight foward. He grades the essays in the same manner he grades the midterm and final essays- mostly based on structure. Because of this, you can say a whole bunch of things he disagrees with but still pull of a decent grade. If you're willing to sell your soul for a good grade, take this class. If you are trying to get something out of CC, dump it for a more demanding teacher.

Dec 2010

Let me start off by saying that Katherine Rickus is the most boring professor I've ever had. Classes drag on forever. She lectures way too much and it's really hard to get a comment in to start a discussion. The review below is utter bull... Katherine Rickus IS a hardass. She gave us a fat syllabus and a fat guide on how to format our essays. She'll take off points if you don't remember to single space block quotations and if you aren't consistent with her formatting style. There are two essays and each has to be 7.5 pages long - no more, no less. Katherine Rickus will not read beyond 7.5 pages of text, so you have to be careful. The DAILY quizzes that she gives ask really difficult questions that are hard to answer correctly even if you have done the reading. She says they are only for "impression purposes," but they are heavily weighted in the participation part of your grade. The midterm is very difficult. Katherine Rickus expects her students to be writing right up until she calls time. There are 6 short answer questions and an essay. Katherine Rickus does not believe in choices so you will have to answer everything that is on her test. The short answers are anything but short... they each require so much time that I was barely able to crap out the essay... I'm usually an A student, but Katherine Rickus' class is so boring and she's such an unfair grader that I'm getting a B at best. Do whatever you can to get the hell out of this class. You will thank your lucky stars you did.

Dec 2010

Jon Rick is exactly what I wanted out of CC. His lectures are interesting, and even though he certainly tries to encourage participation, you'll fear interrupting him because you want him to keep talking. His class notes are very clear, and he goes through the effort of sending out notes in emails for a lot of the readings which was really nice. In addition the other reviewers aren't lying when they say he says funny things, he can be laugh out loud hilarious at least once, if not multiple times per lecture. Sure if you take him the wrong way you might feel like he's picking on you sometimes, but he doesn't mean it that way, and he does it to pretty much everyone equally. Moreover, he's very reasonable when it comes to assigning papers and work.

Dec 2010

I initally wasn't sure how I felt about Professor Lee, but I ended up really liking him. He's very good at engaging the class in discussions and encouraging participation. He's extremely intelligent, very knowledgeable about the texts, and was able to really clarify difficult concepts for us. He was interested in student opinions and wanted us all to understand the texts. That said, I would same sometimes his weakness was encouraging almost TOO much participation. Sometimes you just want to hear the professor impart his wisdom instead of hearing what a bunch of college sophomores think. That aside, he was a great teacher and I was really pleased. Professor Lee graded more harshly than I expected, but while I was initially resentful, I took it as a challenge and I'm glad that I did. He really pushed us to go beyond surface-level analysis and REALLY engage the texts and understand the authors' intents. I appreciate this about him. On the first paper he handed back to me, there were comments all over the place. While most of them were telling me what I had done wrong, I was glad that he was actually paying very close attention to each of my arguments. This was both intimdiating and exciting at the same time, and definitely refreshing after too many classes of getting an 'A' on the top without any explanation. In this respsect, he realy encouraged us to learn deeply, and learn from our own mistakes. This was a tough course but I recommend it. Prof Lee is a good teacher who expects a lot from you. If you're up for it, you'll be rewarded.

Dec 2010

Ian seemed like a smart guy and a capable professor. Unfortunately the way the class was structured he gave a droning non-informative lecture the first half of the class and then tried to foster discussion the second half of class. This was never successful. I'm not sure if it was the composition of the class or Ian's inabilities to put forth "controversial" statements as he called them. But I never felt the class went anywhere or taught me anything innovative or different about the texts. Ian only assigned the basic CC readings - no more, no less. I tended not to favor his essay topics - but was very easily able to write about what I wanted with his approval. Grading (though I've only seen my midterm and one essay, the other was due this week) has been a pleasant surprise. He didn't necessarily agree with my arguments: but because I supported them well it was a great essay. Biggest criticism was that I needed to better proofread my essay - which I agreed with having never done it for having finished/handed in the essays right as class started. Still I got A-/As. Again I felt that most of the benefit was from reading the text. The class didn't do it for me.

Dec 2010

Jon Rick is incredible. As a philosophy major, I've taken a few philosophy courses here at Columbia, and Professor Rick is able to clarify complex arguments more intelligibly than any of the tenured philosophy professors I've encountered here. But what is more impressive, from these clarifications, he raises challenging questions that truly engage meaningful class discussion. Habitually, I would walk into class not truly understanding the significance of an assigned text, then I would walk out of class thinking that same text was the best thing I've ever read. Professor Rick is absolutely brilliant. Classes are the perfect combination of lecture on discussion, and Professor Rick tries to focus on what the class is interested in and stay away from things the class is not interested in. Lastly, he is hilarious. He not over-the-top funny, but every once in a while he will just say the funniest things. He's also really available outside of class, and enjoys meeting with students. And talking to him about a paper before you turn it in will really help your grade. Though overall, Professor Rick is a really fair grader. Basically, this teacher is fantastic. I don't know why he's not teaching more classes at Columbia at the moment, but as soon as he teaches another class, I'm signing up for it.

Dec 2010

I'm not entirely sure what the previous reviewer was thinking. I admit, the first few days I thought Anna was a little strange, but that opinion changed itself almost instantly. In reality, Anna is both extremely engaging and very funny. I've never had a discussion class in which so many people actively participated. Anna did an excellent job keeping the discussions on track and relevant, while still letting the conversations diverge into whatever the students happened to want to talk about. Perhaps the previous reviewer was intimidated by the fact that she often challenges students' arguments, asking them to back them up or perhaps giving counterexamples or rebuttals. But that was one of my favorite parts; in a lot of my others discussion classes professors just accept or move on from student opinions, which often causes the rest of the class to lose out on understanding the point. In sum, Anna kept a perfect balance between getting us understand the material and letting us enjoy the process. Truly excellent teacher.

Nov 2010

I'm not going to say that Christine Varnado is incompetent, but she is new to teaching an integral part of the Core, and it completely shows. Basically, as a teacher, she neither adequately knows the course material nor does she focus on the text. She depends on the students' response papers (that they do the night before on Courseworks). Sometimes it seems as if she does not do the reading herself, despite the fact that she overloaded her syllabus with optional readings. In terms of conducting class, she has a tendency to ramble on and often use words that it seems like she does not know the meaning of. This misuse of language is also apparent in her badly written syllabus. She does not speak like an educated person, sometimes swearing for (bad) emphasis. For an English major, her rhetoric is not very effective. Some days, she does not talk at all and relies too heavily on one or two students to propel the class. Other days, she speaks over students and ignores their questions. There is constant reference to the text, but she does not have a particular focus on close reading. Her lesson plans for discussion range from good to very bad. Her opinions and observations on the text do no better than mediocre. Her enthusiasm is young (she's a graduate student in the English department), but her ways of thinking are extremely simple or outdated, often sounding like, "What struck you as odd about the text? How did that make you feel?" It's hard to believe that she is teaching at Columbia, where the students come from extremely diverse backgrounds. I am not saying that every student holds him- or herself to a higher standard of learning, but this professor provides no challenge. On the bright side, it is easy enough to get an A if you consider yourself at least marginally active in reading the texts because she grades papers like a middle school teacher. Comments on the papers were a little lacking even though she is happy to offer you feedback on your paper topic (you choose your own). All her comments consist of questions, and all in all, after reading them, you don't feel that differently about your grade. She also needs to improve her class plan because she changed the class syllabus a lot. That's probably something that she's going to learn as she teaches over time, though.

Nov 2010

I disagree with the review below. Katherine is actually both an awesome person and a great instructor. She's extremely nice and has a great sense of humor. The first day, she comes off as a hardass when it comes to rules and her syllabus (which is absurdly thorough btw), and we were all quite nervous after the first day. But we had no reason to fear.She is actually very understanding if you are late/have to miss class etc., and she doesn't ask you to do anything more than you can handle. We also have quite a few interesting and relevant tangents in class that just makes everything more fun. She usually begins the class by giving us a small quiz of one question (not exactly graded, but she collects them to make sure you do the reading. Not a big deal, but she does it to, in her words, get a general impression of you and its almost certainly a factor in your class participation grade). She then gives a mini lecture on what we've read and the main points of the reading, which is really helpful because she clearly knows what shes talking about. And then she opens it up for class discussion. The way she runs the class is a little different, but after half a semester in it, I think it works well in helping us know exactly what to talk about and what to take away from each reading. She is also not afraid to give us her opinions on God, social issues, etc., which makes the class far more interesting. Beware, she is very strict about deadlines for papers (she gave us a long lecture on it at the beginning of the year) but she does not grade all that hard and is very fair about these sort of things. A small aside: She is an extremely interesting person who was with Doctors Without Borders and has been everywhere from Afghanistan to Congo. And she is more than willing to talk about those experiences in the context of the book we are reading.

Nov 2010

Prior to this review, Professor Stevenson had remained off the CULPA grid. Not knowing what to expect, I arrived at my first CC session fresh-faced and hopeful. During our first class, he seemed relaxed, laid back, interesting, and even funny! He let us out early! I felt truly blessed. Oh boy, was I wrong. I have not learned anything from attending his class. In fact, I have learned as much as I would have if I simply read all the texts in my room and then wikipedia'd them-which makes sense, because wikipedia seems like Professor Stevenson's only source of information about the texts he is supposed to be teaching about. In addition to not really teaching anything, Stevenson is deadly, deadly dull. He has a unique gift for basically ceasing all conversation. His discussion questions are difficult to understand and tend to attack the text from bizarre angles, all in service of his own personal points. Long silences are not uncommon. Instead of class discussion, people take turns saying their comments to him, and he responds. He is a philosophy grad student, and uses so much jargon that most of the time no one knows what he is talking about. He is sanctimonious and pedantic and can cop a serious attitude if he feels like you are not being intelligent enough to engage with him (which is basically everyone, always). He also has this habit of sucking all of the joy and life out of the room, leaving you in a vacuum of pain and despair that renders the two hours of cc seemingly endless. Get out while you can.

Nov 2010

I know it's mid-semester and not really an appropriate time to review a professor, but I just got the urge now because I think Professor Kittay is great. He takes the time to help every student and really has an interest in getting people to understand the material. He holds extended office hours before papers are due so people can come talk to him- definitely go to these. During the meetings he'll give you really good feedback and help you develop your ideas, and they only take 15 minutes anyway. There's no excessive time taken out of your day of Facebooking if you go. And if you email him after the meeting with more questions or a revised version of your topic, he'll get back to you really quickly with more insight. He also has close-readings periodically outside of class, which are somewhat helpful, especially if you're having trouble with a particular text. Participation is a huge part of the grade (50% I think), so definitely talk in class, or if you're shy, go to office hours and close-readings, because those give you participation points, too. Kittay really wants to give everybody a good grade. He thinks that all the ideas students come up with are groundbreaking, and encourages people to talk without letting them ramble on (most of the time). He errs on the side of leniency in grading papers and the midterm (can't comment on the final but I assume it will be the same way). All his students appreciate this- I personally think his grading policies allow us to learn without stressing out about our GPA. Bottom line: take his class if you can, and participate. You'll have a good experience. Oh and don't get freaked out by his intense eye-contact. He does it to everyone; you'll get used to it.

Nov 2010

Honestly the best cc teacher you could ask for. No discussions posts, first of all, which are unnecessary anyway because he leads amazing class discussions that touch on everything. His papers are not 10-12 pages anymore, like the last review, but 5-7. He grades tough but very fair. Also, he is very reasonable if you have any issue. I really have no complaints. He is amazing. Also forgot to mention, mid term and final are only worth 10% each. Participation is worth 40%. If you want to take this class you have to be able to be on point during class, not just outside of class.

Nov 2010

Tyler Bickford is one of the best instructors at Columbia!!! While not a professor (he is a final year graduate student, though feel free to call him Professor Tyler!!), the discussions that he leads are the most informative and reflective of any that I have had in class at Columbia. He allows for the free expression of opinions during the discussions, and he never makes anyone feel stupid or wrong if they happen to hold an opinion different than his. He really wants everyone to participate so that each student can learn from others with different viewpoints. Tyler Bickford is also not too concerned with grades. He grades relatively easily and is willing to give high scores to any student that puts in the effort. He is more concerned that students actually read the books and that they participate in class discussions, hence the reason participation and reading is worth 60% of your final grade. Besides the awesome discussion that we have in class, Tyler is a very cool guy. He really enjoys getting to know the students in class and enjoys talking with the class about pop culture and current events (though this can lead to very humorous rants by Tyler that take the class discussion off topic for about 15 minutes). I really recommend taking this class!!!! You won't regret it!!!

Oct 2010

E. Valentine Daniel (he may reveal his first name to you at the end of the semester, if you're lucky) is more than just a professor, he is an experience. He is not only incredibly brilliant and insightful, but frequently had our class in hysterical laughter over his hilarious anecdotes from his field work. Professor Daniel is the consummate absent-minded professor in the most entertaining of ways. He once e-mailed our class to tell us that we should come an hour late because he had all our papers on a flash drive in his pocket, but when walking around campus he "reached into his pocked and found only a hole" and so would be scouring the grounds trying to find the flash drive. What he didn't realize in sending this e-mail was that it was a holiday and we didn't have class anyway. Professor Daniel was lenient about deadlines and clearly cares much more about his students' well-being than he does about having everything in on time--after e-mailing him asking for a slight extension, he advised me to just make sure I got enough sleep and not worry too much about when I turned the paper in. He took a long time getting papers back to us, but this was largely because he returned our papers with huge amounts of thoughtful comments. It's true that he occasionally would lose our grades and ask us to remind him what he gave us on particular assignments, but I never found this particularly problematic. He also is extremely welcoming in office hours and is happy to have students stop by to talk. Definitely one of my favorite professors and most enjoyable classes at Columbia.

Sep 2010

Evan is a boss in general. He has a very wry sense of humor and has no issue picking on the kids that can take it. He is really smart and he definitely knows it so if that is a put-off for you, don't join his class. He takes a very different approach to CC than many other teachers do. He is trying to teach you how the authors make their arguments from scratch, and through the way they see the world and explain it, are subsequently airtight. There are two long papers but he is super helpful and you can turn in as many drafts as you want up until a week before it is due. He will write you an essay back and is very nice and good at explaining things. He appreciates it if you've read the whole book before you talk to him about it, but even if you haven't he is still pretty chill and helpful. I liked him and i'm a math major aka suck at humanities.

Jul 2010

Professor Collins made CC what I never thought it could be: interesting, engaging, and most significantly, not boring. The depth and breath of Professor Collins' knowledge really enriched class discussions. She did an excellent job of answering student questions and outlining the material. Pedagogically very very good- did a great job of translating that to the students. She effectively provoked class discussion. She was very approachable and I admire her a lot for her dedication to our class. Thanks to her, our class is anything but a stereotypical CC class: it is a unique, focused learning experience.

Jun 2010

Professor Daniel is a misleading teacher. I had him for both semesters of CC. For the first semester, he graded everyone wrong. He thought that a 3.0 correlated to a C. Luckily enough students complained that he had to change every grade. For the second semester, he was even worse. The way class was 'supposed' to happen, Mondays would be lecturing, the class would post questions Tuesday, and discussion would happen on Wednesday. What actually would happen was that he would talk about India all the time, and occasionally make an offensive comment. Whenever you hand in an paper or a test, anywhere from a week to a month later, he will ask if you actually handed it in, even if you asked him if he got it the day after you send it in. Then possibly a month later he will ask you again. Occasionally he would give me 'no grade' and ask me to correct. When he finally gave me a grade, it was a B+. Daniel is very good one on one, but otherwise is a pretty bad teacher. You can do at least an upper B without reading and just using wikipedia.

May 2010

She's a tough grader but she has fairly consistent standards. If you engage the material with an honest effort you'll be fine. I take exception to previous reviewers' assertion that she forces her interpretation on everything. Students can challenge that interpretation if they have a decent understanding of the material and have read it, which let's be honest, most people do not. Apparently people expect her to take seriously the half-assed sparknotes garbage people routinely throw around in Lit Hum or their unoriginal, poorly developed theories about race, gender and class. She may not agree with you but she'll engage in good faith if you have actual evidence from the text to support your arguments. She does view everything in terms of political theory, which may bother some students. But for 80% of what you read in CC I think it's appropriate and legitimate. This is not a class for you if you want an easy A, but if you're legitimately interested in the material and have an interest in theories of politics, go ahead.

May 2010

I could not have asked for a better CC instructor! Professor Hannah puts an incredible amount of time and effort into the best possible arrangement of the syllabus texts, allowing us to weave them into a fluid and fascinating narrative. Her choices for optional texts provided a framework for each semester and somehow we managed both to delve into the intricacies of each text and to cement each text within the dialogue of Western philosophy. Reading can be significant but is important to complete because she weights class participation heavily rather than exams: first semester our final exam was worth 10% of our final grade, second semester it was worth only 5%, and no midterms. The focus is instead on how well you are reading and personally engaging with the texts. Papers are taken seriously, and doing the work to prepare for class is rewarded; she encourages her students to develop their own take on the text or to give the text an importance in terms of their own interests - for our final paper second semester, the 10 pages went by much more quickly because we had picked our own topics and related some of the year's texts to something we were interested in. She encourages a great classroom dynamic and as a scholar of philosophy herself, she is able to provide an insight into the texts of which I think many other CC professors are not capable. Hannah will challenge you, but you will come away with a great philosophical foundation. Highly recommended!

May 2010

Let this be a requiem to Paul’s CC career, seeing as he’s no longer teaching this course after this year. In short, Paul makes CC the enjoyable experience that it is supposed to be while also imparting the information within the texts in a brilliantly efficient fashion. He's laid back, catnip to the ladies, and still committed to delivering a quality education. Your notes in this class are as good as gold; Paul covers EVERYTHING you need to know about the texts in class. Additionally, his essays stray from the classical CC model of strict adherence to text and verge into creative writing. Your grade on essays is based not only upon your philosophical arguments but also upon how creative and “fun” your essay is. The essays are also shockingly manageable because of Paul’s aversion to quote overload. Paul is quite simply everything a CC professor should be. If there was justice in the world, Paul should be put on tenure track now. Of course, this is still Columbia we’re talking about.

May 2010

Josh, as we called him, was my favorite teacher of the year. Unfortunately, he's leaving Columbia forever, so this is the last review anyone will write of him. His class consisted of great, enlightening mini-lectures followed by discussion. He guided us towards interesting questions and helped us get the most out of the readings, including when we clearly hadn't read - he would take us very gently through the main ideas. The only exception to this was after his wife had a child, at which point he clearly started putting less time into his notes. Made an effort to challenge our views, but never to be an ass about it.

May 2010

This section was a pleasure! This guy made me fall in love with CC and Philosophy. He is extremely knowledgeable about the texts that we read and likes to have students engage in the discussion. He wrote his dissertation about Plato so expect to get a bit of lecturing during the texts that are closer to the Plato readings. Also, the end of second semester had quite a bit of lecturing as well. BE WARNED THOUGH, he is extremely serious about his work and makes that very clear. The first few classes he may seem a little bit rough and tough but as the semester goes on and you get to know him, you find out that he's a really cool guy. There are 6 pop quizzes throughout the semester (it usually happens after a class when people don't participate a lot). If you get a harsh sounding email from him, don't take it personally he is just really intense when it comes to his work and wants to make that show. Overall, a really great class. Oh and btw girls (and gay guys) you are in for a TREAT (wink wink).

May 2010

I just finidhed CC with Stanislawski and loved it! He was great in the classroom-- not only obviously knowing the texts inside-and-out but enthusiastic about trying to get us to be as excited by the course as he is. This was difficult, since about half of the students didn't want to talk, but he was clearly trying as hard as he could. Outside the class, he was one of the most helpful and caring I have had at Columbia so far-- I had a difficult semester and he was always willing to hear me out and help me as much as possible, and his general attitude was one of kindness to students and concern about them So if you can get into his section, DO SO!!!

May 2010

I only got to take him in the Spring, but he was phenomenal. He was chair of the Polisci department in the 70s, and his experience certainly comes across in discussion. He's also one of the most genuinely concerned professor's I've come across at Columbia - and one of the most interesting. Really knew everything about every book, but let us guide the discussion. Was very approachable and offered extensions for papers if we needed them. He's the type of professor who when you visit at their office hours to ask about a paper, before you leave he'll make sure to ask you how everything else is going and if you're enjoying yourself and not stressed about anything. There is no comparative politics review like other people have claimed. If you get him, you're lucky.

May 2010

Professor Chandrani is a very smart man. There is nothing this man does not know. Is very well-read, as well as very current on news stories. Also has lots of knowledge of the history of foreign conflicts, which adds a lot of insight to second semester CC. That being said, he is probably one of the hardest teachers in CC. His questions often cause a dead silence in the room, and sometimes class turns from discussion to a struggle to survive, i.e. someone says something before he calls randomly on people who didn't read the book (he only did this twice throughout the whole year). He can become very abstract, and doesn't do a good job of explaining the authors' vocabulary well. He expects you to understand it from the reading. The discussions can get pretty terrifying on occasion, but it's important to still put yourself out there in order to make a good impression on him. He does allow you to take notes on your computer. He'll often go into lengthy explanations in the middle of class to explain a concept. These tend to be good, but you can't tune out at all or you'll miss very important information and will not understand the rest of the explanation. If you want to do well in the class, you must do all the reading. Beyond the lengthy readings and the terrifying discussions, the workload becomes very manageable. Two 7-8 page papers, usually from a choice of three topics (though the last paper second semester he allowed only one topic). The paper topics consist of some abstract subject, and the two authors you must compare. Make sure to meet with him about your paper, and try to get a meeting earlier in the day, when he's fresh and chipper. His essay prompts require lots of reading between the lines: if you meet with him, however, you'll come out with a very clear idea of what you need to write about. Take-home exams, often 3-5 days to complete them. Also, the grades you get on the exams do not represent the grade you will get at the end of the class: he came from the British school system, so the grades you get tend to be lower than what another teacher would give you. Take my review with a grain of salt: I never did any of the readings completely.

Mar 2010

Delia Hannah navigates through the intimidating CC curriculum with ease. It often seems as if she has been teaching the class for years. She has done a particularly good job in engaging my class's unique interests in order to custom tailor essay topics. She provides observant and articulate responses even for the smallest of response papers. Professor Hannah genuinely cares and wants to get to know all of her students. She even rewards us with screenings of excellent films during the class that our papers are due. Although she takes a full class to screen these films, they always compliment our readings in original, provocative, and unexpected ways. Quite simply, Professor Hannah is an excellent professor. She is going to make an excellent PhD and professor when she graduates in the spring.

Feb 2010

Super awesome dude. The best part about Jason is that he is rational and understands that you have other classes and possibly work, and maybe even extra curricular activities such as internships that extend demand upon you outside of the world of his classroom. Totally realistic in what he expects of you and makes it absolutely clear what those expectations are. If you attend class and do the assignment as he instructs, you will have no problem doing well. I'm not saying he is the easiest professor; in fact, he commands a lot in the way of quality from his students, but he is also incredibly accessible and willing to help you meet your goals in the class and end up where you want to be grade wise.

Jan 2010

Agree completely with the previous comment. Schwartzberg is one of, if not the, worst professors I've ever had at Columbia thus far. Detached from class and intensely focused on her own interpretations of the text, she makes classes a lock-in of tension and intellectual asphyxiation. She clearly takes a liking to those whose opinions chime with hers, usually calling on them and only them, and responds indifferently, if not coldly, to other opinions. Overly and unnecessarily intense workload, which always seemed to lead to some discussion about political theory (even with the BIble?). She seemed fair and approachable one-on=one sometimes, however her presence in the class was usually one of frenzied insistence and the need to race through the text, having to take her word as definition. Strange and rather hard grading on papers and midterms, with minimal explanation as to why. Altogether a puzzling and discouraging experience to what should be a seminal Columbia cornerstone.

Jan 2010

Professor Schwartzberg was easily the worst professor I have had at Columbia thus far. My overall experience was that she is unengaged, unenthusiastic, and unhelpful. This attitude made it next to impossible for students to motivate themselves in class. Already a heavy course load, her attitude discouraged students to keep up with the readings to the point where class discussions towards the end of the semester became a dialogue between one lone student and Professor Schwartzberg. She simply did not seem to care if students were understanding the material. On the few occasions when Professor Shwartzberg requested feedback on her teaching methods, upon hearing the input, she would reply in a sarcastic and condescending manner.

Jan 2010

If you get Michael Eskin as a professor, you should consider yourself very lucky. Though he admittedly has little structure to his lectures, he genuinely wants his students to learn and to get the most out of the material. He also tolerates occasional joking and banter during class--a huge plus, if you ask me. He also makes himself available to help his students with CC material as well as to give advice about more general academic pursuits. I came into CC knowing nothing about philosophy and came out of it not only with the sense of superiority that comes with knowing the difference between Hegel and Kant but also with a real interest in philosophy. Eskin's CC class was one of my favorite classes I took while at Columbia.

Jan 2010

Professor Weafer is pretty easy by CC standards, but her class became increasingly difficult as I had often 0 motivation to go to BORING class. She essentially lectures about the reading in a CC class and doesn't trust the analytical and intellectual skills of her students to actually engage and discuss the material. I had no motivation to read because she would just spit the information back at us without allowing us a chance to actually engage the ideas the texts espoused. She is a very lenient grader so if you don't actually care about learning anything or being engaged in class I would recommend her. She's a very nice person, but her teaching style made me want to rip my eyes out.

Jan 2010

Felix is awesome. hes a philosophy PhD student who has been in grad school for like 10 years and it shows - he knows the material cold and doesn't bullshit around. his lecturing is a tad monotonous and he says everything in a rather slow, round about way, but he gets the job done well. At first he is a tad intimidating because he isnt super enthusiastic about your comments and stares at you when you're done talking, but dont worry, i learned he doesn't do it to be condescending, thats just the way he is. when you actually talk to him, hes very encouraging and positive about your ideas. He is utterly unconcerned with making you feel smart and comfortable, but in a sort of refreshing way... hes not mean, he just knows when you're BSing and doesn't indulge you. if you get him for CC, you're lucky.

Jan 2010

A Senegalese philosopher, an expert on Descartes, and a man well versed in a number of languages and cultures, Professor Diagne provides one of the nicest CC experiences imaginable. On the first day of class, he walked in with a huge smile on his face, and as the semester progressed, it really became clear how very much he cared about his students. What's great about Professor Diagne is that he is exceedingly challenging but rewards your efforts magnificently. If you think you're performing at a B or B+ level, it's likely you'll come out with a final grade of A- or A. His style: short lectures, followed by class discussion. At the beginning of each class, he writes 4-8 important questions (or bullet-points) to guide students in their discourse. Professor Diagne also found a great way not to penalize shy students, while also rewarding students who participated: "Attendance/Participation" counted for 10% of our final grade. If you go to every class, even if you never say a word, you get 10/10. If you participate a lot, you'll get something like a 12 or 13. So, it's to your benefit to speak up, but you won't be hurt if you don't. Our class was one of the few CC sections that didn't have a real final exam. Instead, we had an in-class open-book test over only the last four works. It was really nice not to have to go back and cram for a 3-hour hell session. Take Professor Diagne's CC class if you can--he's awesome.

Jan 2010

This class seriously forced me to reconsider Columbia’s “commitment to the undergrads”. While I’m sure Professor Jens has a vast store of information/knowledge from his experience, CC is not the type of class to focus on frivolous details and historical context at the expense of studying important concepts that are actually in the texts. I absolutely recommend this class if you…: …want to be quizzed on really specific details about historical context (some of which might not even be covered in class). …enjoy getting really limited feedback (if any at all) on written assignments and really circular answers as to why the grading was unnecessarily harsh. … get really excited about writing 5-paragraph essays (which are actually expected to be 11 paragraphs? Nobody knows for sure, because we could rarely get a straight answer about his expectations.) …want to read everything only for the plot. The majority of class time is taken up by “presentations”, which are really only summaries of what everyone has presumably read already. If you don’t fit these criteria, then I suggest switching sections ASAP. I was completely disappointed by my experience in this section, especially because I have friends who absolutely loved their sections and even described them as “life-changing”. That just wasn’t my experience at all. The nail in the coffin was Jens’ inability to direct discussion (He would maintain that CC is NOT a lecture course, and this is entirely true; however, it was painfully obvious that he was incapable of leading the class toward meaningful discussions.). While I usually try to give professors the benefit of the doubt, this was just too much. I had higher expectations. Do yourself a favor and switch to a different section.

Jan 2010

I was surprised when I read the two previous reviews: although she was not my favorite professor and I do think this course could have been taught a lot better, I didn't think she was as awful as these reviewers claim. She clearly knew what she was talking about, and she didn't dominate the conversation too much--instead, she did a good job guiding our thoughts. One complaint, though, is that, towards the end of the semester, she largely gave up trying to explain what each text was actually saying, and we focused largely on how it was structuring its argument (a valid component, to be sure, but difficult to discuss when you're ignoring what that argument is). So by the end of the class, I felt that the material of some texts had been largely ignored. Also, I really objected to the way she graded. Too often, I felt that she was looking for a very specific answer in the essays she assigned, which I don't see as the best approach in a philosophy course with inherently subjective questions. This led to somewhat unpredictable grades, because she wasn't grading your answer according to how compelling your argument was, but whether it was "correct" or "incorrect" (which seem like difficult values to assign in a philosophy course). Overall, not an awful experience, but there were definitely some things I would like to see changed.

Jan 2010

By far, the greatest professor I've had in a liberal arts class at Columbia, period. He's like the Indiana Jones from Italy. He's both an archaeologist and an economic historian of the Roman Era. He rolls his own cigarettes and dresses a la Robert Langdon. He's friendly, extremely approachable and extremely smart and brilliant about all matters historical, logical, philosophical, archaeological, etc. One is truly surprised by the breadth of his knowledge and by the precision of detail he picks up or adds to the class. Marco makes the class exciting and entertaining because he values a diversity of opinions, despite retaining his own views. He never shoots anyone down, even if someone says something stupid, idiotic or shows that he clearly has not read the text. If you're shy, take this class. If you're talkative, take this class. If you're na engineer, take this class. If you're an economist, take this class. Its absolutely terrific the diversity of views he manages throughout the discussion. I had this class at 9 AM and I always made it. Even if you happen to miss a text (or two or three), the discussions are so comprehensive, you learn a lot. Additionally, each class begins with two rituals: I) An open forum on what our opinion of the text was, II) Each student has the opportunity to do a background in-class presentation that focuses on the author, the historical background/timeline and text and basically leads the discussion with questions. Its a great opportunity to seriously analyze a text and usually helps ones essays in conducting research. Marco is always willing to meet for office hours whenever, and he'll usually ask you to join him for an espresso or in rolling a cigarette at a local cafe or in Uris, (and he usually treats you as well). He's TOO much of an extremely fair grader and as long as you've established a line of communication, he's always willing to understand any absences, extensions in deadlines and more. (YES he offers the nicest one-week extensions ever). Marco always offers a side selection of texts, essays and books to read to enhance our reading experience as an option. Honestly, he isn't too caught up on grading and scores, as much as he is concerned with leading a strong discussion and learning new viewpoints. Just try not to come more than five minutes late/habitually, chit-chatting in the back of the classroom or chew gum obnoxiously. He sees that as disrespectful. I got an A, and found this class delightful. I'm only disappointed that he's not teaching the course next semester because of a scheduling conflict.

Dec 2009

This class seriously made me reconsider whether academia was the correct path for me or not. It's a tragedy when teachers cannot motivate students to do the interesting and engaging work that one thinks the typical Columbia student does. We were not motivated in this class. That being said, it was clear that Professor Jens was unable to separate his personal opinions from the ones he presented in class as fact. I found his comments very offensive and insensitive. Finally, while his intentions might be good, he just has to realize that Columbia is a top-of-the-notch school that cannot allow for such ignorance and chaos in the classroom. Don't take this class.

Dec 2009

I took his CC class with proven trepidation. I am afraid that the negative reviews must prevail. My experience was that he is not that nice to students, changes assignments on a whim, and talks on whatever is on his mind, not the relevant contents. Sorry, Mike, but you did not win the hearts and minds of my section members. try to engage us with waht history WAS, not what you want it to be! Examples abound. He does not like philosophy. He does not like geography. But, he DOES like dates, plenty of them...name dropping occurs repeatedly (of both historical figures and current scholars). He Talks a LOT. Not wishing to be challenged, he cutrs you off if you present an idea not part of teh liberal canon he dogmatically lectures about. Subttle issues of Judaism are not his forte.

Dec 2009

Such a great guy. Laid back, but challenges your critical thinking ability. He's not that tough of a grader and he genuinely cares about student welfare, which is saying a lot at Columbia. He postponed the due date of our essays a week when we requested it over midterms. He's very approachable and is willing to meet with students outside of class. Professor Chalmers gives a nice debriefing of the texts prior to the beginning of our discussion and more or less let's us take it from there, guiding discussion when necessary. Truly a caring guy; he's retired so he teaches just because he loves to and that's well-reflected.

Dec 2009

Kosto seemed pretty cool the first day. He started class with an "Anything Goes" tune which was pretty original so I thought he'd be alright...boy was I WRONG! First off he makes you read three additional long readings aside from the already heavy CC syllabus. Some discussions are interesting, some are pretty boring. He really digs into these texts and makes these connections that aren't really there and in a way that is just irksome. Aside from that, he is a very hard grader on papers. To begin with, the topics are hard and twisted and then he gives you a list of all the grammatical problems that are wrong with your essay (reminder, this guy is a HISTORY teacher). You can spend days on your essay and you still won't get above a B+. I'd say the only positive thing about this class is that participation is like 35% of the grade...but if you wanna get an A for that you better read every text and talk his ear off. The second worst class I've taken at Columbia.

Dec 2009

She taught Contemporary Civilization this fall semester, and she was an excellent teacher (it was her first time teaching in Columbia!). She struck the right balance between being challenging enough that you felt you were growing and at the same time veryapproachable, friendly and laidback (she'd sometimes bring cookies in or poke fun at people). I went to her office hours a few times to talk about the class (she solicited my feedback on the class) but also about life in general. I felt comfortable talking about nearly everything with her, even if I knew she'd disagree, because she respected whatever I had to say. Her style of leading discussions, and she really emphasized discussion, is thus: She'd often go around asking everyone to come up with a question they had from the reading. After synthesizing the questions into a few broad questions that targeted the core of the text, she'd pose them to the class, making sure we addressed it and bracketing any tangents for later on. She rarely gave her input (I'd actually appreciate more input on her pat), and often would highlight someone's comment and ask the class how they felt about it, whether they agreed or disagreed. If she noticed someone disagreeing with another person, she would call them both out on it and got them to work out their disagreements. Critical peer engagement, and not just a random therapy session where people throw out their comments and feelings, was key for her. Furthermore, the content of the discussion was generally centered on major themes in the text or throughout the course. Historical context or literary analysis was definitely not the focus of the class (which, for me, is relieving). She gives detailed feedback on my papers and challenging but fair grading. Organization/clarity as well as expansion of all ideas (including factoring in counter arguments) is key for her. If you misspell something, don't sweat it too much - she understands the time-pressure. She won't be teaching CC, I believe anymore. Her focus is on Gender Studies and Black Feminism and all that jazz. It's not my field, but I'm certainly tempted to take one of her classes given her thoughtful, respectful approach to different ideas and critical engagement of them.

Dec 2009

I was not impressed by Professor Ulff-Miller's knowledge of the material nor his teaching style. Instead of directing discussions or having us do close readings of texts, he simply assigns "presentations" at the end of every class for the next chunk of reading. These "presentations" turn out to be one student talking at the rest of the class, giving lengthy summaries of the text which everyone presumably read. There is rarely any discussion of the texts because Jens fails to facilitate a forum for discussion. He also sometimes says downright offensive comments during class. I don't know whether it is because English is not his first language or because he really is that ignorant, but some of the low points of the class include accusatory and very awkward questions about the history of slavery that he directed towards some students in the class, who happened to be black. He also wastes a lot of time during class "lecturing" about the history of the Protestant reformation or the New World expeditions (this is just him reading paragraphs from a print-out of information). This will often go on for up to an hour, and at the end, he will not bother to relate the information to the texts. His attempts at "class discussion" waver between this and things that make me question his soundness of mind: One time, he distributed a photocopy of a text, in German, and asked the class what it meant. He also has some very bizarre grading "standards". He insists on this eleven-paragraph essay format, which is essentially the five-paragraph essay format you learn in ninth grade literacy class, except apparently you just hit the "enter" bar a few more times. He insists on professionalism and academic quality, yet his comments on your papers will be totally useless (on my first paper, his main qualm was that I used too many pronouns. He could not figure out what the antecedents were if they were not in the same sentence.) He also likes to harp on titles. All of his feedback makes me seriously wonder whether he's even reading for content. Prepare to discard everything you've ever learned about essay-writing, and conform to his bizarre, hodge-podge standards if you want to get higher than a B- on his papers. And his quizzes! This is the best part. He gives several multiple choice quizzes throughout the semester. They will not pertain to important themes, characters, text-to-text comparisons, or anything of substance. Instead, the questions feature random trivia that have no bearing on anything. For example, my favorite question was "In what city was Saint Augustine baptized?" Even if you go to every class, take notes, and do the readings, you can expect to get about 60% of the questions correct. Good thing his inexplicable grading methods equate 60% accuracy to a "B". I seriously question Columbia's hiring standards after having had Professor Ulff-Miller. Avoid taking CC with Jens at all costs unless you want to feel cheated out of your tuition money and time investment. I haven't been at Columbia for that long, but I'm pretty sure that by the time I graduate, Professor Ulff-Miller will still have been the worst professor I've ever had.

Dec 2009

Not for the faint of heart, Professor Stanislawski's class demands a lot. Heavy reading, heavy discussion, and a tough grader. If you choose this class, you'd better be prepared to go all in for CC. The only way to do well is to actually care about the concepts in the philosophical history this course presents, do the reading, and engage with the texts. You're at Columbia, you're here because you can do this, and he's going to make you prove it. He's not going to let you bullshit your papers (I learned this the hard way) though you can get away with being general on the open-book, open-note exams. Lots of negative reviews: he's tough. But you'll get what CC is trying to give you if you stick with him. He knows what he's talking about and will make sure to cover the most important parts of each text, as well as give an arc of thought. We had some really interesting discussions, and Stanislawski seems to be making more of an effort to incorporate students' thoughts/questions/interprerations (unless they're wrong.) I think it's worth it if you really want to understand the CC material, and he's really pretty great, especially compared the lot of clueless grad students you could be getting. Tough, but what did you really expect? He's Chair of CC for a reason.

Dec 2009

Class is a waste of time. The review from a few days ago summed it up nicely, I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks there is something seriously wrong with the way that she teaches. She approaches the works as something to be dissected, but goes about it all wrong. It's like taking apart a car, but at every stage when we cover the various pieces she does not tell us what they are, but rather what they are not. This is not the same sort of conception of a wheel found in western culture, this is a different interpretation of a bumper than the this-car/other-car dichotomy - just a constant droning of how things are not what we think, but never giving a proper explanation of what things actually are. This would be merely annoying if she didn't ask us to somehow create something out of this on papers. All we have is a pile of parts on the floor, and are we're asked to put it back together and go somewhere with it, but always making sure that we don't have any assumptions like that wheels should go on the ground or that the engine should provide the propulsion. Obviously, this doesn't work out very well. The second complaint is the level of diction in the class: a CC class should not be using precise and technical philosophical terms because most students have not had years of philosophy classes. She actively encourages us to use this very precise jargon, which doesn't work because she of course refuses to define anything except in terms of what it is not - the best I could get out of her on mysticism was that it wasn't the orientalist eastern mystic/rational western dichotomy. This is not a definition. While it may be true, it's completely useless. Discussion in the class is the college equivalent of a five year old with a hammer banging on the walls, yelling "I'm fixing it!". The discussion is a mad-lib of buzzwords. You can see the process every time someone speaks: there is the first wave of excitement as a student thinks of a new and fresh idea, the pause a second or two later as they realize that their words are too concrete and straightforward to fulfill the style which she demands and their ideas too well-defined to avoid invoking her ire on some obscure point that drags the conversation back to what things are not. I was much nicer in my class evaluation because you can tell she does have an idea what she is talking about, but her refusal to define anything in terms of what it is rather than what it is not and her use of the English language as an impediment to understanding means that as a student, you should avoid having her as your professor if at all possible.

Dec 2009

Rosemary Hicks is one of the worse teachers at Columbia. Her course was nightmare-ish in both her inability to teach and her hidden and yet palpable hostility to select students. I do not remember a learning a single thing from her class, probably because I was too scared to say anything the entire semester for fear of being shot down by her condescending remarks. Only 4 students from the 20-student class stayed on for the second semester (yes... it was that bad). Rosemary's attitudes towards students were little short of inappropriate, for example in the way she would guilt trip students by bringing up her personal life or disagree with any comment without a feminist bent to it. Oh and also... her assigned workload was much heavier than the other teachers and not to mention whimsical, as she would assign extra papers out of nowhere with a week's notice during exam period. Take this class if you enjoy sleepless nights.

Sep 2009

One of my better teachers. Phenomenal, sleep-deprived, intelligent, modest, understanding. He generally helped us understand the important points of the authors/philosophers we were studying. Interesting tangents, but a lot were relevant and informed the material. The only thing that annoyed me was that I’d go into class thinking I knew something, but it never came up, or we discussed something completely different. As a testament to his reception from our class: at the end of the year, we all made him a scrapbook with photos, thank-you’s, and what-I-learned’s.

Sep 2009

Love love love Hamid. best teacher i've had at columbia. his simple language is deceptive, as he presents very complex problems and questions that have very few solutions or answers, but the exercise of listening to him and writing papers is well worth it. he's very intelligent and inspiring. He will make you understand the texts, unfold their obscurities and show you them in their clarity; you cannot ask for more in a CC class. Make sure that you participate in class discussions.

Aug 2009

Hands down best professor ever! If you get to take CC with him, do it at all costs. My best core experience yet! Coming to class every time was a joy. Since our class was on MW during the Fall semester which means we have an extra class day than the other TW classes, he gave us a day off! I don't think you can find a better CC, a better core professor.

Aug 2009

Excellent experience with Oran. Class was intense intellectually but the atmosphere was relaxed if that makes sense. Good discussions, a lot of useful input and comments from the prof, but allowing everyone to speak up if they wanted to. Highlight was the reading/study guides he gave in the second semester before each class to help us focus on the key issues (makes a difference when you're trying to get through 50 pages of Rousseau and don't know where to even start). Another highlight: incredibly detailed comments on papers. If he thinks you're wrong or unclear about something he really tries to explain to you how and why, and most important what you could do to improve next time. My favorite class this year, no doubt about it.

Jun 2009

She is a great person and really does try and knows her stuff but at times there is a bit of a communication issue. Her class discussion sessions were more like "guess what i am thinking now" rather than lets talk about this issue from different perspectives. When you guess wrong, trust me you will know. lol. Maybe she was just nervous because around the end she became much more relaxed. She is a hard grader I must admit but she is fair. I just never felt that we got to really talk about the books because there was always an "answer" she was looking for.

Jun 2009

I am another member of Prof. Stanislawski's spring 2009 section of CC, and I enjoyed it so much I am enrolling for his History seminar next fall. I never contribute to CULPA, but given some of the negative reviews below I feel I have to correct the record. First of all, Stanislawski did NOT, repeat NOT, add something like 7 extra readings to the syllabus,. as one of the gripers (who I suspect returns to complain here time and time again and to press the agree or disagree buttons all the time) claimed: in fact, he added just ONE author-- Spinoza, and changed the reading of one other, Montesquieu, from one text to another. The rest of the syllabus followed the standard CC syllabus entirely. In addition, Stanislawski NEVER refererred to these classes as "lectures" and I think he tried as hard as he could to encourage class discussion-- except that the group (as another reviewer wrote) was really passive and quiet. Yes, as a result he did talk a lot, but I would put the ratio closer to 70-30, and his comments were really smart and pointed out the most important points the authors were making. Yes, the "response papers" were a bit annoying, but they forced us to read the texts and think about them before class-- something I'm sure a lot of the kids would not have done otherwise. As to the open-book exams, I found that they did reduce the pressure I felt in my other classes to memorize stuff; as far as I could tell from discussions with other students in the class, the grades were mostly pretty high-- from B+ to A-, with some straight A's. (I got an A-, which I deserved....). Most importantly, Stanislawski is a kind and caring professor, he clearly loves CC, knows the materials deeply, and TRIES to convey this excitement to his students. He certainly succeeded with me. So CULPA readers: please do not be misled by the negative reviews below. This is a wonderful section of CC, and I am delighted that I was assigned to it. You should be, too.

Jun 2009

I just have one comment. Would there really be THAT many more "agree with"s than "disagrees with"s for the negative reviews of Professor Stanislawski if there WASN'T a problem? I agree that in office hours he's a harmless, relatively nice guy. But I also agree with the critiques of his teaching.

Jun 2009

Another huge vote in favor of Stanislawski and against the negatives here-- thesee must have been kids who got bad grades or simply didn't understand what was going on. Stanislawski knows the material cold, but is totally undogmatic about how to interpret it, so long as you have actually read the text and can make your point. He encourages class discussion. but since our class was rather a dud in this regard (and I must admit, since I am shy, I did not talk much myself), he had to talk more than he said he wanted to. In any event, his explanations were hugely helpful. Yes, he does sometimes go off on tangents, but these are meant to try to make the text more relevant to our lives. I know a lot of kids had problems with the "response papers" since you really had to read the text and then think about itl if you merely summarized it (or what your read about it or Wikipedia or Spark Notes) you would get a B. Plus, he is a stickler for good writing, and once or twice he called me out on a paper that I had dashed off. One paper I totally screwed up-- and he let me redo it, without counting it against my grade. Plus, in office hours, he was really caring, wanted to know where we came from, what our interests were, how he could help in any way. I wish there were more professors at Columbia who cared as much about their students. So, if you are put in his section, you will have to work hard, but it is totally worth it. If you aren't put in his section and can find a way to get in, try! And ignore the carpers who post angry reviews on CULPA because they get bad grades.

May 2009

Also a member of Stanislawski's CC section this spring, I TOTALLY reject the previous reviewer's rejection. My guess is that it was probably written by one of the polysci or philosophy majors in the class the first review wrote about. An absolutely terrible and boring class that seemed directionless. Bi-weekly responses were done before any discussion at all on the books; not that discussions were very helpful anyway. I did fine on the responses but wished the class required 2-3 long papers instead, like most other CC classes. One of my favorite parts of Lit Hum and first semester CC (different professor first semester) was the camaraderie I felt with my classmates resulting from the stimulating class discussions. By the end of this class, I barely even knew anyone in the class's names as the Professor literally spoke about 95% of the class; the other 5% of talking was usually the very beginning of a student's comment before he or she was interrupted. I do agree with one point from the previous review; Professor Stanislawski does care about his students' work, which was nice. He encouraged students to attend his office hours. However, everything else about the class was not good at all. Tough to switch out of this class as he is the head of the CC department.... If you end up with this class, either immediately attempt to take every class your philosphy/polysci major friends have taken up to this point or, like most people must do, suck it up. Best of luck..... Oh, and if you are in his class....ask him his opinion on the prevalence of little girls and horseback riding. He will get real Freudian on you.

May 2009

If there is any chance of taking CC under Daniel, do it. It is an opportunity of a lifetime. Daniel is a kind and caring professor. Always available, incredibly generous with his time and extremely helpful. He may not be the kind of dynamic public speaker one meets ever so rarely (how many of them are there anyway), but he is the best teacher I have had so far in Columbia. He doesn't lecture at you, he teaches you. At first I thought that his tangential anectodes were taking us away from the text. But once I started giving these apparent diversions some serious attention and thought, it was enlightenment itself, they always made a profound point. The comparisons he occasionally draws from Indian philosophy or even from his own research in an Indian village and in Sri Lanka throw into clear relief the distinctiveness of the western intellectual tradition we read. I love his sense of humor. He is truly funny and he is always happy, never in a bad mood and never takes himself too seriously even though his knowledge is vast and he is genuinely brilliant, but he always treats the students' questions and contribution to discussion with respect. He will even admit that he might be wrong about something and the student right. He is a very good listener and can fire up an interesting discussion and move to the side and let it run its course. But he is often too indulgent with students. He is too nice to stop someone full of B.S. who hijacks the discussion. This is one reason why he runs out of time and needs extra class hours to catch up with the syllabus. In general, he is a poor organizer of his time. The students present him questions based on each week's reading. He almost never gets through them, but then he covers them in his lectures. He assigns three papers and two take-home exams. He takes a long time to return them. But the wait is worth it. I haven't had any professor who reads my writing so closely nor anyone who has given me such copious comments. On one of my 6-page papers I got 3 pages of single-spaced comments. For his comments alone it is worth taking the class. He receives, marks and sends our papers electronically. I think he does this because he is afraid of losing them otherwise. If you can listen to him through his casual style, you'll learn more from this professor than anyone else.

May 2009

Professor Neely's approach to CC is perhaps different from that of other professors, but is, in it's own way, quite interesting. Neely clearly demonstrates his background in philosophy through his focus on argumentative structures, and admittedly much of the class is spent discussing how people say what they say rather than discussing what they are saying in the first place. This can be confusing and frustrating for those who aren't used to this approach, but it is punctuated with "eureka" moments when you figure out exactly what he is pushing you towards and understand, for example, not just how, but also *why* Locke and Rousseau disagree. Neely also alternates between being quite serious and being rather silly - he's willing to poke fun at students (and to take some needling in return) but if he asks for 8 pages on a paper, 7 1/2 simply won't do. That being said, grading is fair so long as one follows the constraints of the assignment.

May 2009

If you are taking CC with Todd be aware that he runs an almost purely lecture-based class. Most days he solicited one or two questions which he answered thoughtfully and extensively but there was rarely any sort of dialogue. If you are expecting to discuss the course material you will be disappointed. That said, Todd is a good speaker and usually contributed significant insight into my understanding of the texts. Just know what you are getting into.

May 2009

As a member of Stanislawski's CC section this spring, I TOTALLY reject the previous reviewer's account of that class and the professor. On the contrary, I found Stanislawski to be a wonderful CC teacher, truly committed to the class and to his students, not dogmatic in the least. True, he demanded a lot of the class, and did indeed sometimes go off on tangents (though I actually enjoyed these tangents...) But overall, he did an excellent job of leading us through the texts of CC, and would recommend him highly to anyone for CC.

May 2009

Amit Prakash is definitely one of the better CC instructors at Columbia. The format he uses is fairly simple: he compiles a list of discussion questions that are both student-submitted and ones that he considers to be important for the texts and asks those questions to the whole class, providing his own answers and explanations if no one has an answer. This creates a structured discussion that tends to hit every important point in each text and reduces the pseudo-intellectual ramblings that tend to characterize other CC sections to practically zero. If you're not a huge fan of learning how your classmates' "exciting" personal anecdotes make them an authority on Nietzsche, Marx, and Freud, then Amit is the man for you. The 10-12 page papers are significantly longer than most CC sections and Amit has a low tolerance for filler, but he does assign them well in advance so use that to your advantage.

May 2009

Oh, Val Daniel, what to say. Personally, he is incredibly intelligent, charming, and absolutely hilarious. There were many times where our class was literally almost crying with laughter at his little stories. How much of that brilliance you will absorb is another thing. The format usually had one day of him lecturing and one day of discussion. This first is boring and although the things he says about the works are often interesting, his presentation is hard to follow. Expect notes with lots of arrows, useless cryptic diagrams, and cross-outs. If you like historical/philosophical background info, he's your man, even though I usually found the information overwhelming, disorganized, and irrelevant. The next class, he reads people's discussion questions (sometimes... he often forgets), answers questions, gets distracted by irrelevant stories about his days in India or travels or amusing colleagues or the caste system or Hindu gods. It makes the class go by faster, sure, but you will sometimes leave with not much added clarity about the readings. In fact, we got so behind that we had "optional" three hour classes about six times. Believe the following reviews about disorganization. He will lose your papers. He will forget your grades. For me it was more amusing than problematic, but make sure to save you papers. He doesn't really take attendance; he will only notice you're gone if you're a big talker or class character. His grading ranges from easy to fair, not a hard-ass with papers at all. The take home exams must be done in 24 hours but we can usually persuade him to let us do them in whatever 24-hour period we choose. Don't underestimate how useful take home exams are. Especially during finals week when everyone is studying like crazy. Always lots of choices for paper topics (which range from direct and straightforward to strange and ridiculous), but no "pick your own." Do you want an intense, passionate discussion and enlightment that makes you leave class still pondering and awestruck? Do you want to be able to discuss John Stuart Mill and Kant off the top of your head? Do you want to sit enraptured while the professor's wisdom makes you question your very existence? If so, Val might not be for you. But if you want flexible guidelines, minimal work, basically optional attendance (at least second semester.. try to go first semester) a relaxed atmosphere, and a few laughs with a charming and personable academic, then you won't be sorry.

May 2009

The previous review is a bit unfair. Laponce's class is only "a joke" if YOU decide not to take it seriously. If you can't take a class seriously unless the professor is always grilling you, then it's true, you might not learn much, because he doesn't give heavy amounts of reading or impossible exams. On the other hand, if you decide to do the readings and think about them, then this is a good section, because it gives you the freedom to explore what you find interesting on the syllabus (for example, the essays were almost open-topic, which I thought was good). Laponce is laid-back but well-prepared for the classes--he goes over biography, important ideas from the books, and connects them to contemporary issues. In general I found most of the questions insightful and the discussions enjoyable.

May 2009

Professor Stanislawki made CC a living hell. I was never going to like the class, but he made it torture. He is the embodiment of that tenured professor you always hear about who does not care about teaching and is so wrapped up in himself that he forgets what he is supposed to be doing. He calls this supposedly discussion-based class his "lecture," and NEVER ONCE let a single student finish a comment. If he doesn't agree with you he says things like "In my not so humble opinion, you are wrong." And on response papers he writes things like "This is your interpretation of Darwin, not mine. B." He was a one-note professor. We had daily response papers. Not weekly, not bi-weekly, but daily. And that was it. And he never explained what he wanted. He refused to give an example of a good one, and only said that he wanted us to "grapple with the text." "Grapple, grapple, grapple." He even printed out the dictionary definition of "grapple" but refused to define what he meant by it in terms of these papers. The only one I did well on was one where I regurgitated the most obscure, random information that I had learned in a different class. It is a core class. Everyone has to take it, from philosophy to bio to econ majors, and it is not fair to expect people to be able to tie these works to outside knowledge without guidance and help, of which he provided absolutely NONE. The midterm and final were open book, open computer. Sounds nice, right? It wasn't. His questions are very similar to I guess what he wants you to answer in your response papers, and again, he just expects you to grapple. And then grades it arbitrarily according to how close you are to what he wanted. Seriously, you might think I am joking, but if you get assigned to this class, and if you are not a philosophy or poli sci major, SWITCH NOW.

May 2009

Ryan is fantastic. His class was all that CC should be and all that LitHum sadly wasn't. He's a young, engaging, brilliant, and hilarious guy. I have learned way more than I expected (after two mediocre LitHum profs) this year from him. He always has interesting perspectives on the text, he can play devil's advocate to anybody... If you're in his section, you're very lucky. He cut crappy and/or token readings (Darwin and the Haitian Constitution, for instance), too. Also, he doesn't slack off with comments on papers. He tells you what you did well and what could have been different, unlike a lot of lazier teachers. And he grades very fairly (generously, but not to the point of giving all As).

May 2009

Hamid know the books well, he's EXTREMELY friendly and funny, and he's very smart. His command of the books is good and should only improve (it was his first time teaching CC). If there's one drawback to the class, it's that Hamid's English isn't great, and it sometimes takes him awhile to answer questions or explain difficult concepts. Class is very relaxed--very little lecture, mostly discussion usually guided by a student presentation. Hamid is a self-professed hater of tests. His experience in the German university system has clearly left him with a good deal of empathy for students, and he tries to limit stress by giving fairly easy tests/quizzes (if he gives them at all). He is also a very generous grader on papers. Pretty much anyone could enjoy this class--if you do your work, you'll learn a ton, and if you don't, you'll probably do just fine. If I were a culpa administrator, I'd give him a gold nugget.

May 2009

Andrew is awesome. To tell the truth I really hated Lit Hum and I didn't expect CC to be much better. Much to my surprise, however, it was a LOT more enjoyable. Andrew is really into his subject and prepares really well ahead of time to ensure that good ideas are talked about. He is clear, consise, and always gives funny and relevant examples from the modern day. He really enjoys picking out relevant quotes and summarizing key points. If you listen in class and take good notes you will learn a lot and have a good time doing it. He is really personable and will remember all of your names really quickly. Im not much of a humanities buff but Andrew definitely made CC one of my favorite classes. He is a fair grader and during class discussion he doesn't force people to participate but most of the time someone has someone to say. The only thing that you may not like him is that he requires a post about 350 words before every class. However this isn't really even a problem because you don't need to do all of them and if you do you can even score extra credit. He is really keen on having every class so if he cancels you can expect a make up but he is really nice about it and if you miss one or two it should be fin you will lose a few participation points. He is also pretty lenient about deadlines. I remember last semester he extended our final essay basically saying let me know when you want to hand it in. So to sum it all up. He is a) interesting, b) brilliant, c) funny, d) lenient, e) essentially awesome. He is not a professor that just gives everyone As but if you want to learn something and have fun doing it he is awesome. Oh and another thing. Before the midterm and finals he gives you the questions that will be on the test and you can prepare ahead of time.

May 2009

This class was a joke. Prof. Laponce is nice but often times the discussion was lacking. Main ideas were not easily extracted nor tied together between authors, because he lectures for awhile and asks irrelevant questions. The midterm and the final were easy and most of the questions were provided in advance, but sitting through the class was torturous. If you want an easy class, take him, otherwise, switch sections and find a class that is more tolerable and that you'll actually get something out of.

May 2009

Shamus is a great lecturer, it's a pleasure just to listen to him. He doesn't require participation in class, which is a relief from the usual forced (and dumb) comments that people make in other classes. He is also a well-known sociologist, and brings in fascinating references to sociology and other disciplines to enliven the (sometimes dry) readings. He also took us on two field trips, one to St. John the Divine and one to Riverside, Morningside, and Central Parks. One of the best professors I've had at Columbia.

Apr 2009

Michael Eskin is no doubt nice and well intentioned, he is just not very smart. I don't think he really wants to be a teacher as his classes are extremely disorganized and have almost no point. I'm literally not sure whether or not he led one intelligent discussion. Also, it is true that he takes about a month to grade papers and even then they don't contain a single comment, just a grade. That felt pretty lazy and arbitrary. That being said though, he is nice and approachable, though he always held the class for about fifteen minutes after we were supposed to be dismissed. I probably wouldn't take another one of his classes.

Apr 2009

He makes a bad first impression...do not be turned away!! Although the first day of class is painfully quiet and awkward, Professor Maiuro is a GREAT for some key reasons. CC has been one of my favorite classes and Maiuro is one of the best professor's I've had. 1. He sincerely enjoys and is interested in every book you read in CC, and he has an immense breadth of knowledge about each of the topics. His has a huge amount of enthusiasm every class, even when all the students are still asleep at 9am. 2. He wants you to learn in your own way. He's the type of prof who really promotes the things you do well and doesn't dwell on things you do wrong. If you show him that you are thinking and you have read he's super supportive. He doesn't want people to worry about grades in CC, it's more about the experience. He mainly wants you to learn about philosophy and yourself through the course, in whatever way is appropriate for you. He's open to every opinion and view point. 3. He's totally interested in your opinions about how to run the course. Every semester he asks if the course format should be changed and there is an open forum to propose ideas and then it is decided as a class. Basically, if you are someone who reads the material and participates in class then his style is awesome. If you are really quiet and don't feel comfortable speaking in front of the class then it will not be such a great experience because he is really into getting everyone to at least give some opinion. He is known to call on people who never speak randomly, and is obviously disappointed when they have nothing to say. He's a generous grader if he can tell you've put thought into your work.

Mar 2009

I personally found Professor Billows to be an excellent CC professor. He is very engaging, and class was absolutely comical. I enjoyed going to class almost every time as we often discussed hot button topics in relation to the readings, and the class would frequently get into debates. Moreover, we tended to focus on the main points of readings rather than the details/quotations. This was, in my opinion, very enjoyable because it allowed me to come away with an overall understanding of the works. However, it also meant that we did a bit of a "surface study of the works. That being said, one issue I had with Billows is that he was very inaccessible. He made it clear that he did not want us coming to his office hours. Also, I feel that at times we could have kept closer to the work and not gotten into as many contemporary debates. Finally, he ONLY teaches first semester (and has done so for something like 20 years -- he's an ancients professor), which to me was a bit of an issue. Overall, though, a very enjoyable CC experience.

Feb 2009

Professor Mazower is wonderful. If you have him, you are really lucky. Even those with major schedule conflicts with the class in the second semester decided to stay. I would try to keep this class no matter what. Instructor is really important in making your core experience great, and Professor Mazower is one of your best bet. Mark is able to synthesize and analyse material in its historical context and significance, and he charmingly brings them together with other texts we've read. Moreover, we often relate what we read to the real world, and you can expect a lively discussion that engages everyone. Also, he is really understanding that we have a lot of work to do, and he often gives us quick time in class to do close-reading. This helps a lot especially if you read the text half asleep the night before. The paper topics were mixed. Some were fun, and others were pretty standard. I enjoyed writing the papers a lot first semester. But this semester, he changed the syllabus a lot and we only have one paper for a take-home midterm... the structure seems a bit bizarre for this semester, but I am not worried too much because this class is amazing!

Feb 2009

Arne puts in 200%, and expects the same from his students. He's passionate about the materials, and encourages rigorous study. He's intelligent, articulate, accessible, and fair. if you want to breeze your way through an unchallenging class, this is not the class for you. But if you want to learn, to question, and to put a genuine effort into your work, this class is great.

Feb 2009

Kevin Erwin is a fairly terrible teacher. the quality of our discussions rested solely on how engaged or how much reading the students in the class had chosen to do that day. kevin does not really have a good grasp on the material, and so he does not really supplement the discussion with any additional info or useful comments. he does not facilitate discussion well, and he does not provide any sort of helpful conceptual information or useful guiding questions. he is a fair grader, but that doesn't really matter because you will learn only what you read in the books and on wikipedia and nothing more. if you don't understand it, then too bad for you because kevin can't help you. i talked a lot during class discussion, read most of the books, and wrote average papers, and ended up getting an A, but i still would have switched out of his class if i could, even if it was into a harder one, because he really failed to stimulate, engage, or enlighten me in any way. i heard that most people got B+'s though, so it's not really an easy A. switch classes if you can.

Feb 2009

I'm not going to lie, I was very disappointed with Rosemary Hicks' CC class. CC is supposed to be the pillar of a Columbia education, what really makes Columbia so great, and yet this class was tedious and unfulfilling. Rosemary preferred to take a backseat and listen to students' first impressions of the texts rather than teaching herself, so the class became more of a discussion among ourselves in which Rosemary would butt in to correct students on details here and there. This was Hicks' first year teaching and she did not seem comfortable with the subject matter, which she hid by encouraging an historical reading of the texts. Rather than discussing philosophy, we were encouraged to understand the history and background of each philosopher in what seemed to be an elementary history course. In one-on-one meetings, Rosemary was not terribly approachable and preferred to quiz students on the readings rather than to offer constructive feedback. The midterm and final also had esoteric questions on them that were graded harshly. One example of this was that 33% of the final exam was based on a small text that we talked about maybe for 10 minutes in class. Rosemary was also not shy to let us know how far to the left she was in her political beliefs and was surprisingly close-minded towards new viewpoints, which in my mind existentially defeats the purpose of this course.

Jan 2009

Yeah, Paul's laid back, brilliant, good looking, etc., but don't expect an easy A. He's not extremely difficult, but I found his grading surprisingly harsh for the sort of Culpa reviews he's getting. It's definitely not true that he doesn't care about deadlines. He's flexible about setting them, but he would also lower grades if papers are late. And just for kicks, YouTube him. (or see him live, which some have done)

Jan 2009

I love this man. Super nice, funny, and understanding. The workload is light compared to other CC classes, and people actually complained that the midterm and final were TOO easy. He understands that people have more important classes than CC, so he gives two due dates and he's always up for an extension, even after the second due date. If you get a chance to have him as a prof, take him!

Jan 2009

I completely agree with the below review. I planned to buy my CC books as the semester went along, but I ended up buying only the first one and finding the three texts assigned for papers on line. This is because when I did attempt to prepare comments and questions from the reading in the first few weeks, Professor Rovane forced the class into a very tangential direction, and almost never used the text in class as a reference herself. On the day we discussed the Qur'an for example, she spent two hours arguing her perspective on evangelicalism and conversion, which was both irrelevant to the reading assignment and much too influenced by her personal beliefs for what should have been a discussion-based class. When students did attempt to participate, she often took an aggressive philosophical stance against them, which while perhaps appropriate in an upper-level philosophy course, alienated and discouraged most students in CC. Although I believe she is a good philosopher, she lacks much as a teacher, and ultimately made the class (and subject matter) painful.

Jan 2009

The last review for Urbinati's rendition of CC is pretty much spot on. First to note, and of extreme importance for such a small class, is that she really shows almost no concern for students. She loves to take attendance religiously, either passing around a list or glancing around the room, during which she frequently marks a student here who is absent, or vice versa, and when someone points out her mistake, more than once I've heard her mutter some excuse and pretend that she actually knows which face goes with which name. Under these circumstances one would expect class participation to be meager enough, but there's more: you get about 6 seconds to make your point before she cuts you off, and a huge amount of the time she completely misses the boat and the student is faced with the uncomfortable and absurd choice of either shutting up, or continuing to press her patience. Even in the latter case, it's usually a lost cause. One time I remember going to her office hours after she gave them in class. She seemed shocked to see me, and asked me, incredulously, if I hadn't seen the e-mail she set adjusting her hours. Two problems with that: first, the e-mail had been sent about twenty minutes before I got there, which is obviously far too little notice. But secondly, as I later discovered, in the e-mail she had curtailed her hours to end at some time that was still some fifteen minutes after I arrived! I don't know whether to call that a lie or a mistake, but it's disgraceful behavior from a professor. She did apologize later, but I'm not sure for which offense. Some reviews here might make you stop and think, OK, so she doesn't care that much for students (or at least for undergrads), but she's still brilliant and just listening to her is a treat. For one thing, if she's so brilliant, may as well just read something she wrote; we're students and customers here because of the idea that there's something great to be gained from a live student-teacher relationship. But putting this aside, I also disagree with her approach to the texts in the CC setting. After seeing someone like Katja Vogt of the philosophy department in action - incredibly thorough, always interested in a student's problems or questions, pointing out when a student gives an accepted interpretation of something in addition to giving her own viewpoint - Urbinati seems to barely touch the texts. Indeed, many classes we only barely open the cover; the rest of the time, she gives us half an hour of "historical background" or goes straight to broad conceptual stuff. In the end, her view of philosophy and political science is incredibly reductionist, at least the way it comes out in class: everything is cliffnote-quality and a summation. Perhaps she just doesn't trust us with ambiguity or dealing with the real ideas. But I'll put in an unsarcastic good word: Urbinati does seem to do alright with helping to delineate some of the broad themes and principles, so that ten years from now if I hear Locke mentioned, maybe several key words will pop into my head. In fact, my favorite class almost was the final review; she can be good at that kind of broad-perspective, just-scratching-the-surface stuff. But from someone who has a real interest in philosophy and has had some great teachers, whether of pure philosophy background or not, steer clear of Urbinati. She's not terrible if you just want to cruise through the course, although I don't think many would call her an easy grader... you really, and I mean really, have to give her what she wants to hear. As she herself said, more or less, "An A is like the sweetest candy." Yeah, right. They may be sweet for students, but that's an awfully self-serving statement coming from the one who gets to dole them out.

Jan 2009

I truly enjoyed Professor Antonova's class. Her ability to encourage class discussion while also teaching made for a very interesting Contemporary Civilization course. The workload is fair: 2 papers, weekly postings, a midterm and a final. She is very understanding and genuinely cares about her students. I highly recommend taking her as a CC professor. You will struggle to find another CC professor that possesses her warmth and her ability.

Jan 2009

Professor Rickus... Well. She's a lovely person - very kind, very sweet, with an amusing, dry sense of humour. But as a CC instructor, she is sadly lacking. She had not read or studied many of the texts before this semester (for many of the later works, she read them as we did!), which meant that the study of the material was not in-depth in any way. We failed to discuss many of the "big-picture" themes of the works. The discussions were insipid and uninspired. I was very disappointed.

Jan 2009

Nice, mediocre. Classes have minimal structure; papers take a long time to grade and have few comments. Exams are straightforward, but Milstein never really makes it clear what she is looking for. All things considered, it appeared to me that teaching this course was not a huge priority for Milstein. Bottom line: you are better of elsewhere.

Jan 2009

Oran Moked is an awesome professor. He's very knowledgeable and well versed in the material, energetic, and so organized. He presented this difficult subject matter in a clear way that wasn't too simple or patronizing. He put a lot of effort into grading and for each paper he gave back very detailed comments with a summary of my arguments' strengths and weaknesses and how the arguments could be improved. It was really nice of him to take the papers so seriously and I feel it'll help me write stronger papers in the future. Go Oran you rock.

Jan 2009

Oran is great. I have been at Columbia for a year and a half but never before had a teacher that helped his students to the same extent. He really goes out of his way to help make the material comprehensible, even though some of it is damn hard. His demeanor is pleasant and unassuming, and he also made every effort to be available and accommodating. I really liked the way he connected between different philosophers and drew out the relationships between them and their responses to each other. Great experience overall.

Jan 2009

The previous statements about Paul maybe playing favorites (though maybe not females as some suggested) might be warranted, and his grading is completley ambiguous, but these reviews miss a crucial point about his class. Not only are they fun and entertaining, but I walked away actually thinking I knew the material. Paul let you get away from reading often, rarely citing the text, and often simply focusing on the arguments and the formation. If there was a question he asked and nobody responded, he wouldn't chastised the class but instead simply said the answer himself. He also used modern day examples a lot (and strangely a lot of drug references, which seeing how he's in a band might make sense...) in order to see how we could apply it to today and not 3000 years ago. Sure he might not give you an easy A for just reciting the text (both papers and exams required your own thinking), but he's definitely worth learning from.

Jan 2009

I think that you should come away confused from a discussion about a philosophy text, and feel equipped to explore your confusion using the text, and your mind. This does not happen in Paul Weinfield's class. He gives you "take away" points from each author- it feels like a spark notes version of the texts. Everything is very clear after his classes- not because we have thoroughly dissected the texts, but exactly the opposite; we stay away from the texts (he hardly ever references a passage), and simply move down the bullet points that he has in front of him. He tries to explain many concepts using cocaine or sex analogies- as though the only way we could grasp these ideas is if he relates them to rock 'n roll. He's a very minimalist commenter. I've never tried to talk to him about my writing, so maybe that woudl be helpful; I can't complain about his comments utnil I've done that. In general, it sounds as if very few people have caught good cc professors. I would not switch out of his class because the chances that you are going to be even less satisfied are very high. He is a nice guy. he's not boring. and it's kind of fun to have a professor who's a singer/songwriter . it's always fascinating to listen to his songs on his myspace.

Jan 2009

I don't really think she can speak English. Frequently heard phrase in her class: "Thank you for cleaning my language." She teaches right from the CC guide that they give to profs who volunteer for CC but who have no idea what they're talking about. On the midterm, she purposely picks quotes that sound like other things to trick you (and thinks it's funny - she actually admitted that in class). Her paper grading was less irritating - if you go to her and make a case, she tends to change your grade. Most of the class did end up with an A, but you have to suffer through her super-boring lectures and put a fair amount of effort into studying and paper-writing.

Jan 2009

I cannot believe that this woman is recommended as a CC teacher. I had her Spring 2006 (she only teaches one semester). We had to buy a TON of extra stuff that wasn't on the syllabus (including a Foucault reader - ugh) because she had no idea what the CC syllabus was since she hadn't taught it for two years. True, her lectures were more interesting than average, but the sheer ridiculousness of her grading is enough for me to wholeheartedly tell anyone and everyone never to take her. She actually told me, following a conference with her about my paper, that "Well, I had already given six people A's, so I had to give you a lower grade so that there would be enough of those." Her final exam was essay questions that she gave you (sounds great, doesn't it? Just wait), but there are 10 of them, each requiring you to discuss at least 6 books (most required 8). The topics were incredibly obscure and did not at all encompass points of merit from the works, merely addressed her own interests/agenda (she loves feminism/women's rights). I wish I still had the topics to include and fully forewarn you NOT TO TAKE HER. My wholehearted warning will just have to suffice. Stay far away.

Dec 2008

I took CC with William Slauter. He was an insightful professor. I wouldn't say he was the best, but I enjoyed his class. He was a pretty easy grader (at least from my experiences), but he still gives great comments on the essays. Expect him to lead the discussion and to examine the works in a couple of different ways.

Dec 2008

Roosevelt was great. I switched into his section in the middle of the year, so I can only speak for the second half. He was very well prepared, was able to guide a discussion when people had things to say, and could spark discussion when people were less eager to talk. He doesn't just hand out A's like candy, especially on the papers, which tend to be graded pretty harshly, but guess what, doesn't matter! "Class Participation" was like 90% of the grade, so I think everyone get's good grades in the end if they showed up and made at least some effort to talk intelligently. A good catch, worth sticking with if you end up in his section.

Dec 2008

Oh, Professor Mann. How I disliked your class. Let me count the ways. You are ever so knowledgeable about Plato, but when you speak you are so boring I cannot follow what you say. You know ever so little about everything else, and yet you still lecture instead of having even one discussion. You say "you might think" so often, but you never ask us what we do, indeed, think. You are hands down one of the least interesting teachers I have ever taken at Columbia, and although your reviews were bad I thought you might be controversially interesting. I was wrong, Professor Mann, and I had to sit through the driest lectures known to Man(n) <--haha. I almost cried of joy when you said you weren't teaching next semester, not because I dislike you as a person, but because hopefully I won't feel my brain bleed every time the new professor speaks. I didn't know CC could be so uninteresting, but you rose above my hopes and made it literally the worst class it could possibly be. Thank you for my pain and suffering, and I hope you stick to not-CC in the future. I did quite like your rainbow plaid shorts with the high white socks, however. I might attend a Wolfgang Mann fashion show, if indeed such a thing existed.

Dec 2008

Regrettably, as many of the below reviews state, Professor Montas is a truly horrible instructor. If you find yourself reading this review upon notice that you're in his section for CC or are considering to switch in his class, do not switch into his class and do whatever you can to switch out. Professor Montas does not foster an environment of learning and deep exploration of the themes and ideas of the texts in the CC syllabus, rather, he is extremely disorganized, does not have any set grading scheme, is a harsh and ambigious grader (and so too are his assignments), and lectures for a great part of the class. When he does, it is irrelevant and boring. We could never delve deep--or even skim the surface--of any of the texts in CC. It's winter break and I wish I could say I've forgotten everything I've read about Plato and Aristotle, but truth be told, in his classes, we barely learned anything about them. CC is a staple of the Core and the Columbia experience as an undergraduate student. So do yourself a favor - you won't learn anything in this class, it's sure as hell not an easy A or even A-, and it's a complete waste of your time.

Dec 2008

All of the previous reviews are pretty much true...Professor Eskin is a fantastic professor. I found him to be articulate and kind in class. He has a deep wealth of knowledge, especially on philosophy, Judaism, Germanic culture and Latin. My only quasi-complaint is that he (politely) shuts people down fairly frequently, although I can't really blame him for correcting myself and others if we say something inaccurate. He has a tendency to unabashedly speak his mind on controversial issues like politics (it was an election year) and religion, which I personally found refreshing in a professor. All in all, CC with Eskin was a wonderful experience this semester.

Dec 2008

Professor Rovane is a smart woman who cogently covers the salient philosophical arguments of a wide range of philosophers. However, she is less skilled in provoking discussion among students. Most classes were two hour lectures, far from the appropriate lecture/discussion balance that characterizes the better core classes (let's face it, we don't want to hear our peers opine on Aristotle for two hours without some professor intervention either). She encouraged questions more in the second half of the term, but the first few classes set low expectations for student participation, a sentiment hard to turn around in ensuing weeks. When she did stop to ask questions of the class, they bore down on students with their heavy philosophical weight, leaving most wary of responding for fear--with good reason--of erring. As a result, at the end of the semester I knew few of my classmates' names. I did learn the major philosophical arguments of the semester.

Dec 2008

Urbinati doesn't seem to give a shit about the students. She knows upwards of two or three names in the entire seminar. She regularly comes to class late (she even showed up to the final ten minutes late after claiming that she didn't know where it was) and ends class early. There is no break, which creates long, tedious classes. She's also a partial grader who loves to hear the sound of her own voice. After receiving a poor grade on a paper I went to her office hours and she told me that I received my grade not because of a bad thesis, or lack of support, or a poorly written paper, but because she "didn't agree with me." That kind of attitude is exactly why you should not take Urbinati's CC session.

Dec 2008

Prof Scharffenberger is INCREDIBLE. She's first of all the warmest and friendliest person I've met on this campus. She creates a great discussion atmosphere, welcoming all opinions without letting it become too much of a free-for-all. She'll never shoot down your opinion, but she might "challenge" it, especially if it's not well supported. Part of why she's a great facilitator is that she's good at synthesizing everything and articulating the main ideas in a clear, thoughtful manner. She's incredibly humble about her own knowledge and readily acknowledges areas in which she is unfamiliar, but she knows what she's talking about. Class time goes by pretty quickly in this class. Also, even though she teaches other classes, I feel like she just teaches CC because she's always willing to meet with you outside of class and holds extra office hours to work out paper ideas. Overall, the grade is pretty evenly distributed among papers, midterm, final, and participation. She assigns a few written assignments throughout the semester, but they're short (two paragraph responses to specific questions) and ungraded. First semester of CC, we had to write one 5-page paper at the beginning of the course and one 8-page paper at the end. The second one was something of a chore, but again, she does her best to make the process less painless by offering insight into your paper topic and providing you with many different paper topics (that are both interesting and specific). With that said, it's a good idea to go talk to her about your paper topic before you actually write it. Her grading is also VERY fair, though she does make you work. She will add a few authors (outside of the optional choices for CC) to the syllabus, but they're pretty good additions.

Dec 2008

I can't say enough nice things about this guy. Josh does an incredible job making the class discussions interesting. Its inevitable that sometimes the class gets off-topic, but those occasions are rare and once its obvious we've reached a point of no return he swiftly reins the conversation in. Honestly, the conversations in this class (little or no lecture given, though he does frequently participate in discussion) remind me why I chose to go to Columbia for a tech/engineering degree vs another school with fewer non-tech requirements. I strongly recommend this professor, despite the fact that he sometimes assigns an couple extra chapters to read (though he became more reasonable by the end of the first semester). Also a very fair grader, he gives very valuable comments and takes student input on how to structure the tests.

Dec 2008

Ryan's the man. You'll be lucky if you get him. The first review pretty much got it right and I don't really have much to add, I just wanted to say Ryan is awesome. Basically, in class it'll be a good conversation, he'll bring up the reading responses that everyone does and ask people to comment (a 1 page max response each week is due on Courseworks, though it's not that bad - they're graded on a 1-10 scale and you pretty much always get a 9). By the way, he's great at providing feedback, so not only will you get extensive comments on your papers, but you'll also get good ones on the short responses you send in every week. Ryan isn't the kind of guy you can BS on though, if that's what you want. I think the syllabus says that people who try to talk a lot but obviously didn't do the reading are worse than people who say nothing...I'm paraphrasing. Anyway, it's not as bad as it sounds but you should do the reading. I remember one class hardly anyone was saying anything (I guess we were swamped with other work) and so he goes, "OK, I don't care what you say, I won't hold it against you, but raise your hand if you did the reading." Pretty sure one hand went up.

Dec 2008

I'm not sure what the previous reviewers were doing in class, but this guy is absolutely worthless. I guess he is really good if you haven't read any of the work and need it explained to you, but even at that, i am not sure. I had him for CC and the entire semester he never came to class with a lesson plan. The class was incredibly disorganized and we spent hours talking about off topic stuff. As a result, we were five texts behind at the end of the semester. He still expected us to read these texts even though we never reached them in class and included them on the final. Additionally, his grading is completely random and he doesn't really care. He waits for weeks to grade papers and when he does it is completely disrespectful. Twice, during the midterm and final, he graded every single persons paper from many weeks before. He never writes a single comment on them and has no criticism whatsoever. Additionally, his knowledge of english is incredibly limited. This is apparent not only when he corrects papers, but also in class. In reference to the 10 commandments, he once wrote STEELE on the board (instead of steal). Maybe it was just CC he was bad at teaching, but let me reemphasize, I think he was worthless.

Dec 2008

Consider yourself lucky if you've got Milstein. Despite the strict tone of her syllabus, she is extremely nice to her students. She does not put IDs on exams but instead makes you write two essays based on news articles. Her paper topics are similar, being grounded in a modern context. Discussions range from really good to pretty boring - i think this depends on the topic and how well-prepared everyone is. Milstein is a sociologist and thus places the class in an interesting perspective - again, she tends to discuss everything in a modern context and apply principles to real-world situations. In any event, Denise is a sweet woman and very accessible when you need help. I'll be sticking with her next semester.

Dec 2008

Professor Chaney is one of the best professors I've encountered during my time at Columbia. He's a brilliant man and knows so much. His teachings are very thorough and really tries to make sure we understand each text as best as we can. He also embellishes class discussions by bringing up very funny stories about his babysitting experiences and whatnot, which liven up the class while simultaneously tying it back to the readings somehow. He also really takes the time to help out a student when he doesn't understand something in class by meeting frequently outside of class. He has passion in what he teaches and so has us read a lot of texts, but at the same time he really understands us as students as well as people, and thus, is lenient when it comes to writing responses late. Thus, I truly recommend taking professor Chaney as a CC teacher. You will learn so much valuable things from him and have a deep appreciation for the class.

Dec 2008

If you do not want to be loaded with hundreds of pages, writing responses, etc. for every single class, avoid at all cost. Tough grader.

Dec 2008

The previous review was totally unfounded. Paul's favorite students are not female. Simply, Paul is their favorite professor (for various reasons--both physical and intellectual). These two are obviously not the same. Paul doesn't play favorites, but is equally kind to every student and gives everyone a chance to speak freely--even those who have nothing of substance to say and after which you are left scratching your head wondering what/why/how??... Yet, Paul even manages to turn even these comments into a productive, thought provoking class discussion, which was thoroughly enriching and enjoyable. As mentioned, he is very chilled. If you come in late or have to miss class, he understands that life doesn't always bow to his class. A concept many professors find unintelligible. I cannot imagine that there is a better CC professor out there. Having had my share of depressing professors in Columbia, Paul was the one that gave me my faith back on Columbia faculty. If you have him--for anything--CC a religion class--whatever he is teaching--keep him!!! He is a rare gem.

Oct 2008

Professor Saada was engaging and had an excellent grasp of the readings. Her explanations were thorough, although sometimes she focused a bit too much on the historical aspects of the authors. Assigns lighter readings than most other classes and is very understanding of students' other obligations. Great personality and fun class.

Sep 2008

While I can't speak for Professor Saada's grading during her first year of CC, I can definitely say that I was pleased with my grades in her class the second year. Sometimes the grading was unpredictable (I got my better grades on papers I thought less of) but I never got a grade that I thought was much too low. Her tests are pretty standard fare for a core class too: if you had a hard teacher for Lit- Hum, you'll be pleasantly surprised. As for her teaching, she can sometimes get too caught up in details, causing class to end before a concept is fully examined, but overall she's very clear and happy to explain the weirder parts of the readings. The fact that I understand Kant at all after reading it should convince you to pick her class. The discussion questions for every class got tiresome after a while, but looking back I admit that I have a better grasp of the work I did because of them. This may sound idealistic, but believe me when I tell you that nothing sucks more than struggling through a class, only to find that you learned nothing by the end of it. Saada's only trouble I can think of is actually a benefit for students: she's sometimes way too lenient in terms of deadlines. Late papers, missed discussion questions and tardiness don't have as much of a penalty as you'd think. I'll let the individual decide whether that's a plus or not. Overall, I firmly believe that half of how good your CC class is lies in the other students in the class. So far as teachers go though, I'd definitely put Saada on the recommended list. All of the troubles from last year seem to have been resolved, and I can say, tentatively, with a deep confusion within me, that I actually enjoyed my year of CC.

Sep 2008

Emmanuelle couldn't have put more effort into teaching this class. She went out of her way to make sure that all the students understood the writer's intended message. Sometimes this included playing the devil's advocate position but she always respected the opinions of the students. Some of the students would argue with Emmanuelle without realizing they were actually arguing with the writer who's position she had taken to make a point. This class was fun and I learned a whole lot. Not a lot of work compared to other CC sections. In fact my friend were angry at me all the time because I had less Writing than they did. Take this class and don't listen to the other reviews because they are probably from people who got bad grades (Which is usually the case on Culpa). She definitely lightened up on the grading.

Aug 2008

This woman is the archetypal academic: absolutely brilliant, but completely inept at administrating a class. Taking CC with her, overall, was an absolute joy- I considered myself so lucky to have such an engaging, insightful instructor! The class was maybe a little less discussion-based than most, which is to say, she spent substantial portion of each class period talking about the historical context of the book, the author's biography, themes, important passages, etc. But that was okay because every word she uttered was pretty brilliant. She can be a little intimidating at first- she expects a lot of you, but at the same time you'll see that she really wants you to do well. She always accepts rough drafts of papers (even late), although her paper topics can be arcane, vague, or irrelevant. She also hands out the midterm ahead of time (both passages and essay topics) and lets you bring a cheat sheet... and encourages the class to collaborate on the midterm ahead of time (both semesters, my class made facebook groups and exchanged answers to the essays and passage IDs, so even preparing the midterm wasn't really work). She gives out substantially more reading than other CC professors for the most part (Example- most people I knew did Groundwork in Metaphysics by Kant in 2 or 3 classes, reading maybe 18 pages at a time- we had to read the whole thing for one class). However, because of the way she runs discussion, you can usually get away with doing a small fraction of the reading. I don't even need to mention how this woman's personal biography is AMAZING: she is a countess... and distantly a Kennedy. Overall, because she wants you to succeed, she's incredibly approachable, she's interested in you as a student, she's interested in applying the CC material to the rest of your studies, and makes what has the potential to be a very daunting reading list into an interesting, relevant, even fun class. CC with Ostenfeld has been one of the highlights of my academic career at Columbia.

Jul 2008

To be honest, in the beginning, I didn't like Kevin all that much. But by the end, I had realized that he was not only a good teacher but also an amazing and incredibly intelligent scholar. It also helps that he's a pretty nice guy once you get to know him. He can be tough because he knows SO much about the material that we cover in CC (unlike some other instructors) but that made the class challenging and worthwhile. He was able to answer pretty much any question you threw at him and he was so familiar with the material that I felt like I had learned a lot after each class. I won't sugarcoat things too much though - he does expect you to do the reading and participate in class. He also expects you to spend A LOT of time on the material. He also requires that you post before each class (but by second semester, he was a lot more lax on this issue.) For those who love animated and passionate debate - stay away. Maybe it was the students' fault but we rarely had interesting conversation in the class. Kevin has both advantages and disadvantages but by the end, I felt like I learned a lot from him. Also - if you want to improve your writing, Kevin is definitely good for that. He's a harsh grader for papers but my writing definitely improved!

Jun 2008

At first Kira, a jovial alumna of Georgetown's SFS and former FBI agent who found herself as a sixth-year grad student specializing in Renaissance Spain and who blusters into CC the first day (as she does every day) with a preternatural energy rendered in a voice not unlike a harpy's, seems terrifying, what with her talk of 'achievement,' 'potential,' and other buzzwords that portend the worst sort of aggressively nurturing tendencies in young, brilliant teachers today. I myself was scared shitless that I was in for another awful ordeal where one was graded on effort rather than intelligence and PC pabulum ruled the round-table. But after the third session of class, I loved Kira, and so did everyone else. In retrospect I had with Kira an ideal CC experience: she gave summaries of each book during each class to give us shared underpinnings (a happy consequence of this was that the readings were always optional but often worth doing anyway), indulgence in the class discussion was rarely censored but always when it needed to be, the papers were generally worthwhile and came back with detailed and fascinating comments (albeit a week or two late, which was kind of nice), the tests were given out beforehand to maximize learning and minimize stress, the grading was consummately fair, and we went out to dinner on the Core office's dime twice. Only minor quibbles are a profound administrative ineptitude/flakiness that led to our papers being due several weeks after they originally were. Of course, picking a CC teacher is often difficult, but pick something in the 4-6 timeslot and give yourself a chance to get Kira.

May 2008

Professor Brown, a visiting professor from Rutgers, was a welcome switch from a previous big shot historian. He has a great ability to stimulate interested discussion amongst the students (which the former professor was never able to do) by asking the class a question. The question was often something that had puzzled Professor Brown himself and was often a key to unlocking and understanding the entire work. What I admired even more was the importance he placed on impartiality, his evident kindness, and willingness to help the student outside of class. He's a very nice guy and it's a shame he's only here for a bit.

May 2008

I just had Daniel Valentine for one entire year and I recommend that you not sign up for CC with this man. On a personal level, Daniel Valentine is both charming and comical. However, do not be fooled by his playful exterior. The reviewers listed below are right: Daniel ends up lecturing the entire class. Unfortunately, the majority of his lectures are un-interesting and do not relate to the topic or book at hand. Instead, he will commonly refer to his anthropological discoveries and stores, since he is a successful anthropologist. Much of them center around his time and work in Sri Lanka, where, he has told my class on many an occassion, he grew up. The problem is that since he does not discuss the text at all, you are at a COMPLETELY LOSS when confronted with his paper topics. The topics are all very specific and lengthy, so it is incredibly difficult to BS writing the papers. Furthermore, his grading is arbitrary, and even if you speak to him about the grades, they will never be changed. Instead, you will come out of his office having had a fun conversation, but not in which your GPA was enhanced or your lousy grade undone. You will find yourself frustrated, too, with his inability to keep track of papers. The reviewers, again, were not lying when saying that he emails students asking them for their grades. He did that this past year - THREE times. But do not lie, though, I feel as if Daniel does so to see if you are one he can trust. But even then, you know your arbitrary and probably bad paper grade and he does, too. There is far too much stress involved with him. I do not recommend taking this class. Lastly, when he assigns writing assignments, he does so on Wednesday nights, or more frequently, Thursday evenings, and it is due Monday. This means that he consistently shoots down many a weekend for his students.

May 2008

There's something about Macalester. We (yes, five students) have convened after a CC dinner and four hours of post-CC dinner contemplation to write our first ever CULPA review. With her Midwestern charm and Southern grace, Macalester (call her Professor Bell! she doesn't take well to newfangled informality) rules the class with her lace-gloved fist. Granted, she is a tough grader. This is especially apparent first semester, before her sunny side shows through. But her grading is fair; she gives balanced and detailed reviews on each paper (2 per semester) and short assignment (5 per semester) you turn in. You don't need to read everything, but you ought to read what you write about, because she has a decently atuned bullshit sensor. Nevertheless, she does allow the ramblers to ramble, often to excess. But no one feels alienated or silenced in the class, and even the incoherent, excessively passionate talkers are endearing because in Macalester's class, each student is somehow beloved to the other. Truly, she encourages class cohesion. Students voluntarily type up and distribute review sheets that are super helpful for the midterm and final. She really drives the points in; she is all about clarity. And hilarity—she is eminently quotable, but don't quote her! She googles herself and doesn't like to see her name appear on the BWOG. Also, her Minnesotan accent is adorable. We apologize for the peculiar tenor of this review—but a mysterious lady like Macalester demands such treatment.

May 2008

Isil had a hard time keeping the class on track and it was evident that she herself was uncomfortable with the texts. She was a relatively easy grader, although her essay topics often require some imagination. It's imperative to split up the midterm and final reviews, which require you to be responsible for about 30 possible essays. The final wasn't cumulative, which was nice. She was a sweet woman, but we barely scratched the surface of the texts and we could have probably gotten a lot more out of the texts in another section. She's picky about attendance, so be sure to come to class.

May 2008

Professor Senocak is a reasonable professor. She isn't very inspiring with her analysis of the texts, but she is in the history department and understands both the historical context and significance of the text. I have come out of this course appreciating how each work was heavily influenced/biased by the works before it, understanding what was unique about each and then seeing how the ideas have shaped the ones we believe or reject today. She is Turkish, has not previously lived in the US and has views on the texts that are markedly non-traditional, which can be seen as a positive. That being said, her views of texts are expressed but she is very open to alternative interpretations and defenses/criticisms. This class is different in a few ways: 1) The professor is COMPLETELY open to comments no matter how ridiculous, (she will often play devil's advocate to get students to argue between themselves) 2) There is a 'class notes assignment' which students have mixed views about. It basically entails going through a text and pointing out major arguments, assumptions that the author makes, logical sequiturs (these are very hard), what the author left out etc. It suits a perceptive and logical reader. If you aren't rigorous with your logic these assignments could make the class a nightmare. She is a pretty objective grader, so be weary before you bs, at any rate make it sound well thought out and seemingly accurate. a few tips: 1)If you don't read the books well, take extensive notes in class. On exams she only asks what has been discussed in class. 2) Class participation is weighted heavily so just talk a lot, even if you have nothing substantive to say, agree and disagree with others, talking about your feelings. She prefers this to saying nothing at all, and it will reflect in your grades. 3) Don't be late, she dislikes this and attend all classes if possible, this will almost guarantee a good grade. Overall her style isn't for everyone, it suits a logical person who likes to talk. She is un-intimidating, a little aloof, cheerful and very open-minded. Grading is fair and on the lenient side, she gives a decent proportion As and A-s, maybe around 30-60%.

Apr 2008

David Wolfe has been my favorite instructor to date. What's great is that he is unfailing in his commitment to fully examining the claims and justifications of the works we read. He also did something which is rare in a discussion-based class, and that is he discerned between which opinions of the students made sense, and which did not. He also refused to accept ad hominem arguments. Most people don't even know why those are always wrong. He made it feel like it was worth something to bother learning philosophy. I'm sure one day this guy is going to write a book that will change the face of whatever area of philosophy he was in. He was also very funny in a sardonic kind of way- and he didn't mind turning it on us, the students. So beware of that.

Apr 2008

Professor Collins starts off class either by asking everyone to write a word or phrase on the board taken from the reading that really seems important to them OR going around the table, cold-calling on whomever she pleases, until the discussion starts to carry itself. Be aware that she will ask everyone to bring in a precis every Monday (except for Mondays that papers are due) which is basically a one page single-spaced argument about one extremely focused topic taken from the reading for that day. She will also make everyone sign up for a Wednesday on which they will prepare questions for the class to help focus the readings and then to lead the class discussion for 15 minutes or so. Leading the discussion is not too bad if you do the readings (and a big plus with Collins is that she'll shorten the readings into EXTREMELY manageable chunks - she's more interested in you doing some pretty close reading of the small bits than trying to cram the whole thing into an evening), and she'll usually jump in and take it away from you if you start to run out of steam. She is pretty darn up on her history, so prepare for a lot of historical context behind each and every work. That is my one complaint with her, really - a little heavy on the history, a little light on the content. Other than that, she's a pretty laid back lady - she let us sign up to bring in snacks every class (I'm talking about bagels from Nussbaum, muffins, apples and bananas - good spreads!) and she twice supplied us herself with cupcakes from Magnolia! She is cool with you volunteering information and loves to see you tie things from class into current events or interesting historical events. Important things to know: Tended toward a history lecture more than I would have liked, good bite-sized chunks of the text that are manageable, pretty chill (though she does have a sort of passive agressive manner about things if you tick her off).

Apr 2008

I haven't finished my semester with Kevin yet but I feel like I should write a review for people who may be considering his English electives offered next year. Kevin is a really nice guy who is very approachable. This is his first (and probably will be his only) time teaching CC and I think he is doing a pretty darn good job. He really knows his stuff and is very helpful in office hours if you need some clarification on any of the texts. I didn't have him for both semesters but I hear that he really chilled out a lot from first semester. I enjoy going to class. He maintains a low stress environment that is good for discussion. I'm not an English major, but I would recommend him if you want a class that will thoroughly examine texts and all of their intricacies.

Mar 2008

Ryan Chaney rocks my socks. Not only is he a great teacher but he's a great person. He is always very well prepared for class and provides us with relevant exposition when we start a new reading. Although he is so smart, he is very deferential during class. He readily admits when he does not know something, thinks he might be wrong, or hopes that students who may now more about the subject will contribute. He is also intent on giving credit where credit is due, as his grading is very generous (but he always gives back papers with a plethora of helpful comments) and he never fails to mention the name of the student whose ideas he is reiterating in class. And if you are ever struggling in class to form an intelligent comment or if everyone disagrees with you, he is always quick to subtly rush to that student's defense. Most importantly, he is very lenient and understanding about extensions, attendance, etc. He also cares about us as people, and has offered me moral support on several occasions. Coming from someone who hates CC, I was lucky to get a great instructor.

Feb 2008

I HATE HIM. Not good for discussion. Blew me off for two meetings I scheduled with him. Gave me a horrible grade on a paper JUST because of three minor grammar errors. Also, he's an arrogant bastard. He talks forever in class, and if your questions don't apply to his prepared notes, he WILL ignore u.

Feb 2008

Prof. White has a pretty different approach to CC than you'd expect from other professors. First of all, there wasn't really a syllabus.. just a few pages on general thoughts/themes found throughout the reading. And he makes it pretty clear that you're supposed to get as much as you want out of it. You basically just read what you want and as much as you want. I read maybe 50 pages of text throughout the whole semester. Most of the time he'll lecture on about stuff you won't really understand with the occasional comment from a student, but for the most part there isn't much discussion going on. His class was perfect for me, I'm not much for philosophy so I read the occasional passage and didn't look too much into it. But if you really want/need structure or looking for a deep/thorough discussion of the texts.. this isn't the class for you.

Jan 2008

Kevin is a nice professor. After doing absolutely no participation or required online postings and getting average grades on papers and tests, I still managed to come out with a B. That being said, there was a reason why I did not participate in class or try very hard on his papers. Firstly, this class was pretty boring. I know Descartes doesn't conjure up the most interesting images for most people, but Kevin's classes were rarely structured at all. Secondly, we rarely took any substantial notes, unless you count the useless author bio information he loves to give. Mostly the class consisted of a few people discussing while everyone else who had laptops played games. Even if you did take notes on the student discussion, the topics were all over the place and did not give me a good overall idea of the texts. In a word, the experience was uninspiring. That being said, Kevin is always available during office hours and is generally eager to help. Although I wouldn't want to have him as a professor again, I would advise anyone in his classes to be sure to visit office hours to preview your papers with him - he is a tough grader on papers, but not so much on exams. On the first paper the highest grade was a B+ for the whole class.

Jan 2008

I definitely see why his reviews are pretty polarized. To be honest, they're all correct. He is a really cute little guy and generally pretty friendly and funny, but on weird things he can be a huge stickler-- for example, he will make you stand up and tell the class why you're late if you walk in 1 minute after he does. However, he himself is usually at least 2-3 minutes late to class. He is also a very very hard grader-- he told our class for our first essay that he wasn't going to give us grades because he didn't want to discourage us because he knew they'd be low. However, as others have noted, he doesn't really have a formula for grading. As he says, if you show up to every class, participate, do every response, and give your full effort on every essay and exam, you should get an A-. Don't be fooled though-- he doesn't just dole out the A-'s by any means. As for his teaching style, he really does lecture a ton, which some people find boring but what he says is always very good and interesting. He focuses a ton on historical background and context but usually it's helpful. I just felt that we never really got all that into the books, however. Instead of really analyzing, he would sort of just break down or summarize the main point of the author (he might do this 2 or 3 times-- he can be very repetitive. We were explained in great detail what Plato's Theory of Forms is no less than 3 times). I guess this is an advantage over a lot of other classes because a lot of my friends didn't even get this much, but if you read the text, you should really have gotten that yourself. When he's not lecturing, he also loves to go around the room and collect responses. I understand why he does this-- to hear from other people, since he lectures so much-- but I don't think it's all that effective. Half the time, we'll get to response number 2 or 3 and get so caught up in a discussion that the class will end before we even got to something important, and the other half of the time, he'll go through everybody but so quickly that we never actually went in depth but rather simply touched on a bunch of ideas spit out during response time. I think he needs to work on how to elicit responses from a class without a round of responses, which some people clearly haven't actually thought about and are just saying something because they have to. If you get Montas, I wouldn't drop his class but I wouldn't exactly be ecstatic either. Some people love him to death in my class and others feel the opposite way, so see how you like him the first few classes or so.

Jan 2008

After a rough first semester CC swiftly became not only my favourite but also probably the most rewarding class of my Columbia experience. While for the first half of the semester we followed the texts in a chronological order, by the second semester this was no longer the case. Chris was a genius with his ordering of the texts, somehow all those dead white men really came to life. Plus Chris stimulated some great conversation and class debate, this is the man if you want a really stimulating CC experience, no one else I know could get his class that riled up and excited at 9am.

Jan 2008

If you get stuck in this class GET OUT IMMEDIATELY! Seriously, do anything and everything you can to switch. She barely speaks english and what she does is a monotone whisper so even when you strain your ears to try and hear you will get absolutely no where. Her insights to readings were dull and uninvigorating and the lack of class participation reflected this. I gained absolutely nothing from this class and my grade reflected what I didn't learn. You would expect such an awful instructor to be more lenient on grading but her expectations were much higher than they should have been. By the end of the semester practically everyone was watching tv, checking facebook, or chatting on IM on their laptops because she didnt invoke any meaningful conversation topics or steer discussions at all. It was basically a conversation between her and two other philosophy students the entire semester. Even when I would make an effort and read the assignments we got so far behind that by the time we caught up I had forgotten what I read. The only classes you really needed to go to were the review sessions for the midterm and final. If you want to completely sleep through CC then take her, but be prepared to let your grade suffer as a result.

Dec 2007

Proceed with caution! On the surface Professor Bell seems like an extraordinary professor. And in all honesty, she kind of is. Yet at the same time she is probably one of the worst professors I've ever encountered. I started the semester completely in love with CC and Professor Bell's class. However, once I realized how deadly she would be to my GPA I realized that despite liking her as an instructor and as a person, she was actually doing more harm than good to her students. Professor Bell is a bit old school in her grading philosophy. She seems to believe in grade deflation to compensate for her abysmally incorrect perception of grade inflation at Columbia. By holding low grades to higher values (entirely her philosophy) she really does damage to a GPA. She warned us on the first day that we would love her but hate her grading; I didn't realize we should take her so seriously at the time. I hate that I have such a distaste for Professor Bell. As a person she is wonderful, but she doesn't realize the harm she is doing by grading so harshly.

Dec 2007

very nice guy, you get as much (or as little) as you want from the class. He knows everything about everything (really: Wikipedia him) and often lectures about the works for the majority of class time. Some people in the class hated this, but I didn't mind; he knows more than you do anyway, and its nice to actually learn something from discussion than listening to your classmates ramble about how the work makes them feel.

Dec 2007

While discussion at times was slow, Professor Antonova tended to bring in contemporary applications to the texts that brought out really heated discussions. She has a very quiet approach to things but that really allowed people to speak when they wanted and she always tries to be constructive when responding to comments. in response to the other reviews, the people in our class make it interesting, and she's not bad at facilitating...maybe others just had boring classmates? she's also open for office hours and open to discusssion so if you ever mess up, she's pretty understanding if you go talk to her personally. i enjoyed her class so far, and its a light workload.

Dec 2007

I didn't hate Professor Kobrin's class, but she was by no means anywhere near decent. I enjoyed the types of readings that we did in class, but the conclusions that we did arrive to were so superficial and sometimes, I felt even wrong. I felt that the first semester of CC included all of the texts that you've ever MEANT to read and this is why I learned the material in the class, but it wasn't due to her. It honestly felt like Professor Kobrin did not want to be there, and her teaching really reflected that. She would cancel class sometimes and continually come to class late and end class early. Now while in a way this is not a bad thing, it is terrible when our class was continually behind on the work, prompting a mad dash at the end to rush through Hobbes and Locke, two of the most interesting writers in this class. I would have thought that Professor Kobrin would have learned to teach CC better since this was her 2nd or third time, but she has all of the marks of a teacher who doesn't. Incredibly long and boring readings (which became shorter when we complained), combined with minimal class discussion where you can virtually say whatever you want because she does not really check you at all, I began to question whether or not she even knew the texts on a deeper level than sparknotes, since during the midterm/exam reviews, when going over the material, if someone didn't know a question that she posed, she would tell us to go look it up (but it's a exam review! you're SUPPOSED to answer what we don't know). It is my honest opinion that Professor Kobrin is an incredibly unorganized professor and approaches CC very impersonally yet tries to keep up a good attitude with the class (The best thing about the class was the supplied breakfast at the end). For example, in the syllabus, she states that she wants to give us 2 weeks to do the essays, and nicely hands out the paper topics a month before they're due, which is nice. But you can hand out the paper topics at the beginning of the semester but if you finish the material in the essay topics a week before the essay is due, you're screwed. She extended the paper due date very unwillingly by 2 days. But the most telling sign of Prof. Kobrin: She didn't provoke any discussion or argument. In some of the most thought-provoking books and writers, we all would sit there in silence. Professor Kobrin's mentality to the class definitely plummeted after the course evaluations were submitted, which was even more frustrating. She's by no means anywhere close to being a silver nugget.

Dec 2007

Not as bad as the previous post. She grades pretty fairly and gives lighter reading than other classes. Her midterm and final are easy. The only problem would be that she often talks about one certain topic for 2 hours, and never finishes the actual discussion.

Dec 2007

Nima, as she likes being called, is probably the most stylish person you will ever meet. She wore the same outfit maybe twice the whole semester. But don't let her amazing looks fool you. She's actually pretty sharp. If you like talking about ideas and being abstract this is a great class. She never really focused on moving the class forward though. She would lay out basic points and then let the class just take its course with discussion. She hands out a study guide to keep some structure to her credit. If you were a participant you had a blast, especially when you were in opposition to an author or a classmate's view because Nima allowed conversation and seemed to value everyone's input. But because the class was dominated by the talkers I'm not sure how the rest of class stayed awake.

Dec 2007

The main problem with Professor Bakhle is that she has not yet figured out how to structure her class so that the material comes across clearly. She struggled from the very beginning to find an effective way to teach the class. First she tried to have students run each class discussion, then slowly did away with that and by the end of the semester, was simply lecturing from her notes for the majority of the class time. She did somehow get across the main points of each text, I believe, but it was done so in a very convaluted, roundabout, and incomplete manner. If she had a personal intrest in one aspect of a particular piece, she would focus solely on it and neglect to discuss other major aspects of the work. Overall, her teaching style is not conducive to a class such as CC. With such a broad and in-depth study of philosophy, clarity is key and Professor Bakhle rarely accepted this. To top it off, she refused to give the class any idea about the format or content of the final exam and then proceeded to include challenging quote identifications, key terms that were barely mentioned in class, and broad, complex essay prompts to which the response could not exceed one page. To sum it up: I would keep searching.....

Nov 2007

Professor Schwartzberg is a tough, no-nonsense type who is truly passionate about the material she teaches. Many people find her unnecessarily intense probably because they don't expect it from a tiny, quirky, redhead. That said, those who cruised through Lit Hum and used Thucydides and Woolf as coffee coasters or door stops, wisen up fast, because Schwartzberg is young enough to remember what the face of a slacker looks like, but old enough to know better than to go easy on you. I don't doubt that CC was one of my most challenging and enjoyable classes at Columbia because I was in Schwartzberg's class.

Nov 2007

I would recommend students to AVOID Anne Kornhauser. She is not an especially demanding teacher, but I really dislike her CC class. She is boring and cold and does a very bad job of creating a welcoming atmosphere for discussion. Only a few students in our section actually talked, and I usually found myself counting down the minutes until class was over. It is easy to get by not doing the reading, however, and if you consciously put forth a lot of effort you might be able to get something out of this class.

Nov 2007

I think I remember Professor Bell once said that her CC students never wrote reviews of her on Culpa...so I'll be the first! Macalester Bell is a Godsend for CC students. Not only is she one of the nicest people you'll ever meet at Columbia, she's super-smart and makes the class pretty fun and definitely interesting.

Sep 2007

I don't know why everyone complains about Allan Silver. He's a saint. The only time he was late was when he was making extra copies for our always-unprepared classmates. If you want a CC lecture that doesn't just worship a group of supposed philosophical giants, but actually questions the relevance of the material, as well as its relationship to our very American perception of things, you might want to take Silver. He's not for the people who want the books explained to them because they lack those very important components of the brain that enable memory and comprehension. LIkewise, if you have a tendency to repeat the same question several times after 10 other members of your class have already asked it, this class is not for you; because, strangely, he shows some irritation to that type of behavior. The grading is pretty fair - he expects deep, thoughtful analysis and no ornamentation or overinflated language in the papers. Just say something of value. The mid-term and final are easy if you do the reading, because he also gives you an exact list of things to focus on and actually sticks to them. In addition, your overall grade is largely progress-based, so if you cut back to asking the same question only 2 or 3 times, that is probably sufficient progress. Overall, I didn't particularly have a problem with Allan Silver. He's witty and incredibly intelligent, but is always willing to phrase and rephrase to make his explanations understandable to those who need the help. On the downside, he does tend to run out of time a lot and the syllabus gets pretty backed up, but that may just depend on the overall level of intelligence of your classmates.

Sep 2007

I completely agree with the other reviewer who gushed. CC was life-changingly wonderful, partly because of my smart classmates, but mostly because of Garrett. Every discussion was impeccably moderated, interesting, and challenging. Garrett's selections of extra readings were fabulous and diverse. CC is by far the best class I've taken, ever, and I think about our discussions and the texts we read all the time. I'll just reiterate some of the things the other reviewer said; Garrett actually cares deeply about what you say and think and write, and therefore makes you care even more. He's completely brilliant about basically everything you could want to know or talk about. CC has truly been one of the best experiences of my life.

Sep 2007

Montas is a boring lecturer who spent two hours of class basically reiterating terms and concepts introduced in the reading. Though at first I thought this was a good way of actually learning convoluted material that needed clarification, by the end of term, his lectures became tedious and unnecessary. Further, it did not stimulate any discussion at all, which I thought was the point of the class. He is admittedly a hard grader on essays, but all essays, reading responses, midterm and final literally count for less than 10% of your final grade. He says 90% is participation, which makes it impossible for you to figure out your grade at all. I made sure to participate in class, though as I said he spends most of class time talking himself, write all the responses, and yet came out with a B.

Sep 2007

Can I say BORING? And dont take this teacher if you think you're getting the easy way out. Aka the "A". The class is boring, you dont learn anything and you end up doing horribly.

Aug 2007

I ABSOLULTELY LOVED CC BECAUSE I TOOK IT WITH LEE!!! I thought that he did a great job of encouraging discussion, and he asked great questions that provoked thought. He explained the books excellently, and I really took a lot away from the class. I'm surprised that people were bored in CC with Lee; I thought he made the texts as interesting as possible. He never really lectured, but he would lead the discussion in such a way that students could come to conclusions themselves (but he would make it clear what the right answers were so you are set for midterm/final purposes). I never thought that I would be interested in CC, but I really think that Lee made the books relevant and fascinating, making CC my favorite class that I have taken at Columbia so far. Lee is also really approachable if you have any questions or concerns. He's definitely an easy grader, and the midterms and finals are easy to do well on, too. You don't have to do the reading to do well in the class either (I tried to read as many of the books as I could but at Columbia time is always limited as we all know...so I ended up skipping a couple completely and reading select sections from others), but reading the books definitely makes your experince in the class better. If you take good notes in class, you will be set to write papers for Lee and do well on his midterms and finals. Also, he will meet with you about your paper topic ahead of time, and he accepts outlines of papers ahead of time too, which allows you to basically have your paper approved before you start. I would say most people in the class ended up with B+ or A-'s for not too much work, and you could get an A by putting more time into your papers/speaking in the discussion in class. I had a much better experience with CC than any of my friends, too. DEFINITELY take CC with Lee!!!

Jul 2007

DEL was the BEST cc professor I think anyone could ever have. I've been meaning to write this for a while, being as I took the class 05-06. However, I am very pleased to see she is a silver nugget. DEL can help you understand even the most dense of material, and enjoy it. NOT an easy task. She is a little bit of a harder grader on papers, however she really takes into account the comments and effort you put into her class. If you're trying I think that's all she really cares about. But do trust me, she can tell if you've read a few pages of sparknotes or the actual book. That being said I loved her, hands down. I remember absolutely 0 from Lit Hum but can tell you all about Locke, Kant, Plato, or Aristotle. If you're lucky enough to get DEL as a teacher you will be the envy of your sophomore friends.

Jun 2007

My remarks shall be terse and candid. Esra Akcan is kind, as others have noted. At the same time, she is also completely unqualified to teach such a course. She brings no fresh insight to the texts under discussion or to any philosophical topic whatsoever, and her lectures are peppered with vapid assertions of ideological supremacy. A semester with Akcan is an odyssey through an intellectual Sahara. Those of you who wish to learn should look elsewhere for a CC intructor.

May 2007

Andrew's amazing. CC is supposed to change the way you think about the world, but frankly I think Andrew's more responsible for my new outlook than any of the specific texts we read. He's extremely well versed in the texts and knows each one cover-to-cover, but he doesn't pretend to know the definitive interpretation of any of them. He facilitates class discussion, lectures when appropriate, and pours his heart and soul into the class. I generally hate philosophy, but this class was surprisingly pleasant. I'd highly recommend him.

May 2007

Prof. Sylvain is one of the better teachers for CC that I've had. He's very straightforward, and not very strict, two things that really appealed to me. He's not going to bs his students by commenting on the "flowery" language or some other literary nonsense- but rather he goes straight to the point of the text, which I found to be quite refreshing from my lit hum teacher. Great experience in CC with the guy.

May 2007

The man, the legend...seriously, do not miss the chance to take CC with this man. He's a great lecturer, and he was really open to student comments. Discussions kind of waned in the second semester, but Gitlin discusses details that were interesting. I think over time we just wanted him to speak for the whole two hours. Visit him during his office hours, and he'll be totally willing to sit down and discuss whatever, even if it's unrelated to the class. He's also quite understanding if you need an extension on something. You don't need to do your reading. Just participate. There's just too much to attempt to try it all.

May 2007

The Man, the Myth, the Legend. Only those words can describe TG and his infinite wisdom. Gitlin is wonderful, knowledgeable, and extremely helpful if you don't understand the material or need help with a paper. What made this class great for me was that he actually spends twenty minutes at the beginning of class giving us some context and explanation of the argument in the work at hand--a blessing for anybody who has never studied philosophy before. He honestly wants to make sure that everybody understands the material and cares about students. Be aware: he is a little bit of a tough grader (I'm guessing in large part due to being a high-up professor at the Journalism School). He'll catch every mistake and flaw in reasoning. Also, be prepared for quick turnarounds with papers which are usually assigned only a week before they're due. In short, he is certainly one of my favorite professors I have had. He's the type of prof that you can go to his office hours and just talk about life for an hour or so. Be thankful if your CC Professor is Gitlin!

May 2007

If you have Todd Gitlin for CC, consider yourself very lucky. He's possibly the smartest person I've ever met, he truly enjoys teaching undergrads, and he will help you get a lot out of the reading even if you're not always prepared for class. He spends a lot of time lecturing, which turns out to be amazing because he is exceptionally lucid and articulate in his analysis. He is adept at talking about any text, and his commentary was so well-structured and thought-provoking that I found myself wanting to quote him verbatim in my papers. Besides the fact that he is an amazing lecturer, he's also a very understanding instructor; he didn't mind giving the occasional extension, and he was always willing to meet during office hours (and he usually responded to e-mails promptly). I learned so much from this class, found myself engaged by texts that I wasn't even expecting to get through, and am very much looking forward to taking another class with Professor Gitlin in the future. His class is simply one of the best CC experiences you could ask for.

May 2007

Ms. Stilz is a very mediocre teacher. Her lectures are not engaging and class participation is sparce. Because she is affiliated with the Poli Sci Dept. she was able to share interesting historical information regarding the authors we read. However, that was all that I took away from the class. Her paper topics are difficult and her grading is even worse. If you don't write what she wants to hear good luck. She won't give you a C, but good luck getting an A- or above. She's one of the teachers that should be red flagged for "DONT HAVE AS A PROF". Take a CC teacher who is more lenient in grading and more engaging in lectures.

May 2007

Bleaugh. I don't know what it is. He knows his way around the material backwards and forwards, and he's a pretty nice guy, really, but: * He alienates students with random jerky behavior * His vocabulary is overly loquacious to the point of tedium. Har har, right, but there is NOTHING he can say without dropping a five-dollar word in the middle. Nothing! He can't even talk about pizza without saying "a certain, uhm..." * For some reason, he's unable to get a discussion going on anything but the most controversial topics I can't explain it, but something rubs me the wrong way in here. But he's not a bad PERSON. And he's certainly not the worst CC professor, so give it a shot, maybe you'll like it more than I did... moreso if you're a philosophy major, I think.

May 2007

He is fabulous. There are a lot of incompetent people teaching CC and if you're randomly assigned to Montas, be happy! He is extremely knowledgeable about the texts. His synopses and analyses of all the books really helps give you context about the material. It is true that he does lecture more than most section leaders. However, he does leave an adequate amount of time for discussion. This is better than many section leaders who let students talk too much because they have nothing very serious or important to say themselves. That often just results in conversations lacking serious context or insight. It is true that he is a stickler but it just is his style and it is rather endearing. Also, don't worry if you get low marks on your essays/midterm/final. His final semester grades are always higher than the grades he gives on assignments so don't stress out too much.

May 2007

Professor Sylvain is a truly amazing CC professor!! His lectures are an absolute necessity to make some of the material make sense. He can be demanding but understanding about the difficulty of some of the texts and sympathetic to the amount of work that students get from other classes. He also encourages participation and is always willing to help; he wants you to think outside the box on papers and in discussion but also provides guidelines as necessary :) Class: Professor Sylvain always writes the key points on the board as students arrive. The classes (almost) always begin with a bit of history about the author and the background of the text itself. After that, Professor Sylvain usually does a thorough review of the main points, highlights, and explicates as needed. He always asks for questions and tries to encourage discussion as he is explicating. Usually we begin to discuss before he gets through the explication but sometimes we spend the latter half of class discussing (after we start to understand what the author of the day is actually talking about). Participation: CW and in class count for about 25% of the grade or so. Self-explanatory. The tests: One midterm and final, as is standard for CC. There are three sections: IDs, passage directed questions, and one long essay. They are very fair tests: Professor Sylvain will only test ID's that have been covered in class or are astoundingly similar; the essay topics are usually also overarching themes that you have discussed...a lot...He will also hold review sessions that are very helpful a few days before the exam. (Oh, and he curves when he feels it necessary, which has been every time in my experience...) The papers: There are three papers, between 1000 and 1500 words usually, counting for a total of 35% of the grade. Professor Sylvain always gives recommended topics but always is open to you creating your own, so long as you run the topic by him. Very fairly graded with much helpful commentary :) All in all, this class is absolutely amazing! I may be biased because I loved CC but I think that it definitely had a lot to do with the fact that I had Professor Sylvain. He put in a lot of unique readings that really helped tie the entire course together. Prepare to do the work; if you put in a lot, you will also get out a lot! :) I hope you love the class as much as I do.

Apr 2007

dont listen to what the comparative politics people say, everyone in my cc class this semester loved him, he's sweet, sarcastic, and doesnt expect a lot from his students, he is not overbearing and i really did learn a lot. enjoy him and it was an honor sharing ideas with a professor who knows so much in this subject @

Apr 2007

This is the best class I've ever taken in my life, and 90% of it has to do with Garrett. I know that most of my class feels the same way. He is such an incredible teacher and a really wonderful person. He always takes you seriously (and I've really said some ridiculous things), he makes you feel comfortable talking in class or in person, he is patient and caring, and though he knows so much and is so brilliant, he is humble and wants to learn from his students. I have never had such an experience before. He is not out to prove anything like most teachers are, and he listens to everything his students say and reflects on them. I learned to take myself and my words as seriously as I do now because he did. He will write pages of comments on your papers and is always available to talk about them; he sends his class information about upcoming talks that he think would be useful or interesting; he sents out NYtimes articles almost twice a week that pertain to our readings. He is SO lax about deadlines, and he can be, because his students respect him so much; he doesn't have to demand control over his class because they way he teaches it is so compelling that you can't help but do all the work. I really can't say how lucky I am to have had this experience. Yours will be wonderful! Take ANY core class you can with Garrett. You will really be getting 110% out of the course.

Apr 2007

very reasonable, funny, lively. need to hand in arguments/ comments for each class--tedious.

Apr 2007

Stamenka Antonova is the worst professor I've had at Columbia. I disagree with the other reviewer, who said she is knowledgeable about the texts. She offered no insight or opinion into the texts we read, and her role in class was translating what authors said into a more colloquial form. She failed to tell us some basic things about texts (like the Quran dealing with Civil law as well as religious law), despite being a professor in the religion department. But the worst part about her was her complete lack of enthusiasm, her monotone, her inability or refusal to inspire any kind of excitement in the class. I wonder if she herself was interested in her books. I stuck with this class because its an EASY EASY A, and the workload is a weekly 2-3 paragraph post which you will do fine on even if you narrate parts of the text. So in short, this class is the quintessential trade-off between learning and and an easy A. She revealed herself to be pretty mean as well; whenever attendance was low on a given day she'd promise to put emphasis on that day's texts on the exam, and she wasn't kidding.

Apr 2007

Getting Professor Montas for CC is both a blessing and curse. He is obviously brilliant, although he tends to treat CC as a lecture. When he does take responses, it is often him going through half the roster and randomly calling on people. This can be pretty nerve racking, although it's not that bad. The class also tends to be pretty uptight and often the same three people tend to talk all the time. His grading is also absurd, with very few guidelines, although the syllabus says class participation is 80-90% of your grade. When he gives grades, they tend to be quite low, which is really depressing, even though your final grade doesn't reflect your grades in the class at all. Know what you are getting into before taking CC with Montas.

Apr 2007

Val is an absolute classic. Take his CC class at all costs.

Apr 2007

he was an okay/easy grader, but his classes are far from stimulating. it is painful for me to sit through. i would take his class if you can because, as many goal oriented cu students are, the grade is more important than the class. if you want to have a passion for philosophy, take another class, but beware because culpa can be wrong as it was in the case for a friend of mine, and your class can be stimulating but way harder than others

Mar 2007

I thought she was really great. I believe there was only one person who switched out between first and second semester. Our class environment was extremely comfortable and she had a way of breaking everything down and putting it all together in a way that I often found simply remarkable with many of the texts. She is a great professor with an extensive knowledge of history but she is also very approachable and seems very happy to be teaching - a combination often difficult to find here. Grading was extremely fair - not overly generous, not too soft.

Feb 2007

Perhaps Professor Montas is a good English or Literature teacher. Not so for philosophy. He spends most of the section talking to us about the text. He does not engage the students in the material directly but rather lectures in what is supposed to be a discussion section. Therefore the questions and issues which would normally arise through thoughtful discussion, are either rendered uninteresting because they are being fed to us and we are numbed by the monotony, or because they simply do not arise. Sometimes it seems he likes to here himself talk. But he does do a good job of summarizing the text. You can tell he read it himself. Furthermore, he is highly uptight. He enforces page limitations on essays to the letter, and announces when people are late, sometimes with a cute but unwelcome quip. He also wears a full suit to class. Every day. I am writing this review while in class. Unfortunately, that's how unengaged I am in the discussion or class, because I feel as though I am watching TV. Bottom line: not good at facilitating discussion, not engaging as an instructor of philosophy, good at summarizing, eloquent speaker.

Feb 2007

Morgan's attempt at writing her own CULPA review and hoping to escape unscathed is both pathetic and disgusting. What kind of professor writes their own culpa reviews in desparate attempts to defend themselves. This completely undermines the sincerity and honesty that CULPA provides. On to her class. The workload is ridiculous. She doesn't know what she's doing. The discussions and assignments are pointless. The midterm and final are ridiculously difficult and fail to provide me an opportunity to truly visualize and dissect these texts in the sacred realm that is contemporary civilizations. I am duefully appalled at Morgan and hope that she doesn't repeat this disgusting action.

Feb 2007

Isil is a great CC professor. Sure we don't dissect texts to the tenth degree but come on we're all sophomores here and we're trying to figure out what we want to major on not some dumass bullshit discussion on our existence. Anyway, I like Isil. She's open to all forms of discussion, she's a great listener and she does a pretty good job at getting at the root of the texts. In short, she's a GREAT CC professor, the workload is definitely manageable and very light compared to other CC classes, I mean what more could you want?? She's also readily accessible to meet anytime so don't worry about that. And she's nice, kind, smart and young too.

Jan 2007

Jon Rick was more than a good teacher, he changed my life. It wasn't until I heard his description of Homer that I at last understood that Homer had relevance to today, that in many ways, Homer was speaking to me personally. As he explained the wrath of Achilles, Jon Rick seemed to channel the primitive emotions of the ancients, whose hirsuteness he has somehow inherited. The grimaces he made, his bombastic waves of the hand, the veins that bulged in his neck all screamed the uncanny Greekness of his passions: he is a man who does not simply teach, he inspires, just as, one can only imagine, Socrates inspired his students (and it is a well known fact that Socrates too was a hairy man). Each class with Jon Rick was a pulsing merry-go-round of emotion, I cannot recommend this budding star enough, the mellifluous tones of his voice set his students' heart aflutter, as they strapped themselves in for the wild ride of his explanations of Augustine's "City of God". Listening to this man speak, at times, I felt as if I were Anchises, carried from burning Troy on the shoulders of a hero, my thighs squeezing his throbbing ribcage beneath me.

Jan 2007

God. Tony sounds like a pompous jerk when he speaks. He's not, though. He's actually quite nice and very approachable both before and after class. His class, however, is a lecture. He "encourages" discussion after his 1 1/2 hours of talking about the background of the text. He usually allows for five minutes of break to use the bathroom or blow your brains out to get over the boredom. When class resumes, he begins speaking about the actual text. He asks random questions and uses examples in the text. When students ask a question and he systematically shuts them down, you begin to see that he already has an answer to his question and he's just waiting for somebody to say it. Most students add an interrogative intonation on everything that they say to make it seem as if they dont' know what they're talking about. My guess is that they're waiting for Tony to say "well, you're wrong, but I now don't think you're stupid because you so clearly showed that you were just guessing." Everyone seems to become afraid of declarative sentences because Tony will make them feel stupid...OR, even better, he'll nod as if he's listening and then seem to have completely ignored the opinion of the student when they're done talking. Either way, I've been discouraged from speaking in class because it generally feels good to keep my dignity. Bravery is not awarded with anything except 2 points of class participation. Yes, he makes me bitter.

Jan 2007

Mr. Ziegler is a wonderful teacher. He knows everything about everything, he's sensitive, he emails you back within a few hours, he's generous with his time, he spends a lot of time grading papers and comments on every sentence so you really learn a lot, he forces you to work hard, asks all the right questions in class, and best of all, he takes his students very seriously. He never let discussions spiral into those annoying abstract conversations. He is friendly in class, and if you're shy about participating, he doesn't put you on the spot at all. He is definitely a no BS kind of guy, so you really need to think about what you say and write, but I have learned so much from him and particularly because of this. He works hard preparing the syllabus and class discussions, and he makes himself available to talk about paper ideas, or anything really. You should absolutely try to get him for a core class. I think the experience I had in his class is the kind that Columbia intends students to have, if it's not too corny to say.

Jan 2007

I'm pretty sure the reviewer before me must have been one of the quieter ones in class, because I clearly did not witness Prof. Vogt shooting down any points directly - in fact, her moving on from those points was essentially a polite manner of not embarrassing you by telling you how far off from the mark you were. Alot of my points were certainly glossed over in discussion which just prompted me to think about saying something that might catch her attention. She was a refreshing breath of air in the Core classes I've taken so far in her expert ability to TEACH. She knows the texts at the back of her hand and TELLS you where the key points to understanding the work are. This already makes the course easy, as opposed to other instructors (believe me, there are many) who would conduct a free flow discussion with ideas that may not end up with any substantial conclusion. Yes - CC is about teaching us how to interpret and apply the concepts that have shaped the Western world, but it should not be about a debate of, "oh what do you think Augustine said?" Rather, it should be "do you think what Augustine said was important?" And Prof. Vogt clearly teaches you about the second question. About attendance, when I read the general review that said Prof. Vogt missed class alot, I was astonished. It gave me the impression that she wasn't in class half the time. Truthfully, she rescheduled 2 lessons in the entire semester, that unfortunately due to the collective schedule of the class had to be made up on Fridays. Even for those who could not make it for the make-ups, she held SECOND make-up sessions so that those who missed it wouldn't fall behind. Plus, she was at so much pains to make sure that the make up could be attended by as many students as possible. Approachability: I'm not a big fan of office hours, but I did visit once after the midterms to review my performance and Prof. Vogt really didn't have much time to give me the aid I needed. Still, she's always reachable by email, especially in the earlier part of the semester. If you're in this section - LUCKY.

Jan 2007

I'm not sure if 'run for the hills' would be adequate advice for students in Emmanuelle's class, because they are usually overcome with debilitating paralysis borne of boredom and fear before they have the chance to escape. Don't get me wrong. I think that she knows the books well, and that she is basically a nice person. Because she knows the books so well, it is difficult to write a paper without her citing obscure passages which, if interpreted in certain ways, disproves your thesis. Also, she makes very absolute interpretations of books, so if you disagree with her, your point will not be taken very seriously in class. One other really obnoxious thing that happens in class is that she will ask a question, and if you don't word the response exactly as she wants it, the class will hover at that question until she finally has to tell everyone. This is good except five people will have made that point over the last 40 minutes. Also, because she insists on this Socratic seminar style, which I don't think she is good at leading, you will usually discuss one major point in class until there are ten minutes left. At this time, she will hastily go over the 3 or 4 other points which we were supposed to have gathered from the reading. Although I believe that she has the best interests of her students at heart, she is not a good lecturer. Considering everything I've just said, I still don't think that you should switch out of this class. It is my truest conviction that traumatic core classes build character; moreover, they teach you the importance of internalizing your anger and anxiety against The Man.

Jan 2007

Richard Billows is an amazing professor and his class was without doubt one of the most enjoyable classes that I have ever taken. His class is always exciting, unexpected, and hysterical. It is sort of like attending the filming of a Monte Python movie about religion and justice. Billows centers his discussions around broad topics and not around specific quotes. This alows for really interesting debate and also means that the books do not have to be carefully read. That being said, if you are extremely religious or require everything to be politically correct, do not take this class. Billows is extremely opinionated, which for me was his greatest strength.

Jan 2007

Keeps discussions lively. Not hard grader. Does not have superiority complex, and is easy going and sweet. a good bet for cc. very knowledgeable. however, her final has id's with no author, no prior list of quotes... very unreasonable for philosophy class where much is in translation, more appropriate for lithum where there is distinctive writing style.

Jan 2007

Ok, I just have to defend Laura from the Jan. 9 review. It was her first time teaching so naturally it wasn't all that great in the beginning and she didn't talk all that much, which means that students get to decide what gets discussed. But she seems to have a outline of all the points she wants to address, lets students talk, and if discussion isn't so great she would point out stuff. She means well and is willing to help her students and is pretty flexible about the papers. Not fantastic, just decently good.

Jan 2007

Simply put, Morgan is not a good CC Professor. Sure, she is friendly and approachable, but you will not learn anything in her course. This is her first time teaching CC and her first time reading many of the texts, and she knows absolutely nothing about the historical background (something I find very important for these texts). She only sent out the most random emails that didn't do anything except fill our mailbox with junk. Her discussions are random, pointless, and boring. Class dragged on forever. If this isn't bad enough, she gave massive amounts of work: required responses for EVERY class, daily reading quizzes for most of the semester, 4 essays (yes there were four essays, as written in the syllabus), lots of reading. Contrary to the review below, she never told us to forget about grades and truly learn. Instead, she wrote, again in the syllabus, the mean would be a B no matter what! Most of us in the class put in a lot of work, but got no results. If you want to learn something in CC, don't make Morgan.

Jan 2007

Roosevelt Montas is a great teacher for CC. He does a really good job of balancing discussion with lecturing so that the class feels informed about the texts and discussions basically never go so off topic as to become pointless. As previous reviewers mentioned, he does establish a great deal of camaraderie in the class and it truly becomes a class not to be dreaded (even though I'm sure most people don't look forward to a lot of the material read in this class). My one qualm with Montas is his grading style. He grades on a general sense of how much you contribute to the class and in a way this is good because your final grade often ends up being higher than what you'd expect based on the harshly graded papers and exams. However, this grading style essentially boils down to Montas giving good grades to the students he likes and it's not clear what standards if any he uses. Despite the uncertain grading, Montas is still a great teacher who is probably one of the best instructors you can get for CC.

Jan 2007

I thought lit hum was very good but thanks to prof moyn CC gets even better. I had no background in political philosophy, had never read anything by plato or aristotle so I got so much out of this class, and professor moyn made it such an enjoyable and easy experience. Prof moyn is very clever but very humble. He always engages students in discussions, throwing in jokes with his dry sense of humor which you will appreciate. He allows students to talk a lot in class but never fails to get his point across and makes sure we all know what we are supposed to know even when discussions start getting out of hand. He sometimes even e-mails us after class if he thinks we haven't fully understood what the author's main argument is. He gives a good number of choice for paper topics and they are all interesting and thought-provoking. He gives long insightful comments to your papers which really helps you improve. He also gives summary sheets which helps you see the whole picture of the authors through time clearly. If you get him for CC you're so lucky. I'm really sad he's not teaching it this spring semester.

Jan 2007

You could tell he was really trying to be a good teacher, and I'm sure he's a nice guy, but I honestly didn't enjoy this class. The texts we read were, for the most part, fascinating and the class had an interesting mix of views which occasionally led to really great discussions. Too often, though, Waligore would lead us all on some tedious tangent (honestly, after the fourth or fifth explanation of the prisoner's dilemma, it started to get a little repetitive). Or else divulge the latest issues plaguing his personal life, which inevitably took up half the class and left everyone slightly uncomfortable. In short, Waligore seemed a little unprofessional. He treated us more like high school students than adults, while he himself acted more like the former than the latter. Maybe after he's taught a few more classes he'll be a great teacher. Until then, though, I'd advise directing your tuition payments toward someone more qualified.

Jan 2007

Oh dear God. This is an example of why the Core works in theory and not in practice. To have a good CC class, you have to begin with a qualified teacher. Graduate students in architecture should be teaching Art Hum, NOT Contemporary Civilization. This error on the Core Office's part was compounded by Sjoukje's insecurity as an architecture student, which led to her self-conscious grading and her despotic approach to the texts. Everything out of her mouth was like Cliffs Notes, and on bad days, it was like Cliffs Notes gone hellishly wrong. While she means well, she lacks tact, and as students become more frustrated with her inability to provide anything exciting or insightful or thoughtful, she becomes intensely defensive. The whole thing is just a nightmare. For the sake of utility and the good of all, run to the Core Office and pretend you have a conflict.

Jan 2007

After talking to my friends from other CC sections, Andrew is pretty much the best CC instructor you could have. Not only is he good relative to the other sections, he's a great instructor on his own. He doesn't talk too much, but always leads the discussion, putting in comments to direct it in the direction it needs to go so taht we understand the important points of any text. At the same time, if a certain topic interests the class greatly, he'd allow for some tangential discussion to get everyone participating, which were sometimes heated debates that everyone learned a lot from. In terms of papers, he always took time to meet with students to review rough drafts and help them flush out ideas and really make the paper the best it could be. I personally learned the most from writing these papers which were answers to specific questions, or open ended ones (they were open to your interpretation - assuming Andrew approved.) And the format for the exams vaired with creativity, almost fun to take. Ultimately, Andrew made the CC experience a very positive one and it is his CC class that inspired me to minor in Philosophy.

Jan 2007

Ms. De Luca (she wouldn't let students refer to her as Kelly) led me to hate my first semester of CC. While some of friends were glowing about their professors and how much they looked forward to going to class, I sat in Butler reading about Queenships. QUEENSHIPS!! In class, her response was limited to a nod and a weird grin. I could go on for longer, but my advice is just to avoid her. It won't be a rewarding experience, let alone a pleasant one.

Jan 2007

Urbanati is brilliant. While her lectures may be delivered in less-than-perfect english, the content is clear and engaging. Our class had a great time with Nadia and left with a great background in these texts. That said, she didn't teach the second semester, so this only evaluates her presentation of the first semester CC curriculum.

Jan 2007

Although Emma is a friendly woman who truly attempts to connect with her students, I was often frustrated by her classes. The brilliance of my classmates and her reluctance to lecture on extensively made for good discussion, but I felt that her limited knowledge of the material often hampered understanding beyond the obvious. I didn't learn very much in class unless I hadn't done the reading. That said, I was never miserable except when writing the first paper (the topics were awful), she had handouts that made quote searching and test reviewing much easier, and she is a fair grader. Overall better than average, but CC is not quite her subject.

Jan 2007

I feel like some of the reviews are unnecessarily harsh. While I certainly did not like Felicity, I felt that she was a good person and genuinely tried to help students. In terms of how she controlled the class, however, she was pretty bad. The class routinely got off topic, and we did not discuss important topics that other classes covered in detail. There were very few classes that I actually learned things that I could not have gotten from a cursory read of the texts. One or two people dominated class discussion, and she did not do anything to alleviate this problem. Outside of class, though, she was very helpful, especially when it came to paper writing. This is an easy class, but you don't really get much out of it.

Jan 2007

The previous reviewers were incredibly harsh on someone who makes an effort to make a class like CC as painless as possible. I understood how good of a teacher she was after the final when I realized how I, a rather apathetic "non-humanities person," had quite a coherent understanding of the material (and only having read about half of the books!). Yes, she makes it clear when your comments are in violation of the accepted interpretations of the texts, and that can come off as condescending or offensive sometimes. She won't hold your hand and tell you how brilliant you are. However, she encourages discussion and reads the weekly posts very carefully. She meets every student in the beginning of the semester in Avery cafe and also serves cookies during the final. Esra won't change your life, but she definitely won't make it any more painful. I enjoyed her class. If you don't have incredibly high expectations for CC, I definitely suggest taking Esra.

Jan 2007

I write this review first because other reviews of her may be overly rough. I had expected the worst from CC but what I got was a competent instructor, a fair work load, decent grading, and student driven morning discussions; what else are you to expect from a CC section? Students might complain that she lectures too much, but at nine in the morning, she did a great job of filling in the gaps when students were tired and not motivated (many classes), so they really shouldn't complain. She was always perky as long as she had her coffee, and the one time she didn't, she went out and brought back coffee and doughnuts for the whole class. She was prepared 99% of the time and was very fair. I liked how she kept a very objective view on the matertial. She is a bit annoying with keeping strictly to the attendence policy and with being on time, but it was her first semester. So honestly, I was disappointed that I had to switch out of her section because it's really a gamble when choosing another intructor for CC. If you are willing to do the work, there's nothing wrong with her section. She became very flexible towards the end of the semester and will work with the students to make the class easier, in terms of administration.

Jan 2007

There were goods and bads about this instructor, but, for me at least, the bads outweighed the goods. On the bright side, she's very good in class--she directs class well, so you don't feel like you're wasting your time. Unfortunately, outside of class, I have fewer positive things to say. I thought the workload was much heavier than most other CC sections. The paper topics are very broad, and that makes them extremely difficult to write. The same goes for essay questions and short answers on exams: she wants you to include all the things pertaining to the question asked rather than taking one aspect and going in depth into it. It's a tall order in an essay written in 40 minutes (on the exams) to include all the things she wants and to synthesize them with a thesis. The course is designed to have a heavy workload, but I think some of the choices she made within the boundaries made the course unneccessarily difficult; for example, the final paper was 8-10 pages, and we had to use at least five sources significantly. The grades on assignments always came back a little lower than expected too. If you feel you worked hard enough for an A-, you'll probably get a B; if you thought it was going to be an A, it'll probably be a B+; at least that was my impression. It could have been a lot worse, but then again, it could have been a lot better too.

Jan 2007

He's a nice guy and good instructor. He knows his stuff and he purposely assigns less reading than a lot of the other CC professors. Sometimes class can be numbing, but that usually only happens when most of the class has clearly not done the reading and is trying to cover that up. He gives thoughtful feedback on the weekly writing assignments and on the papers, and is willing to meet with you if you need paper advice. I hear he's also pretty generous with extensions. He's a bit strict on attendence though, so make sure you're in class when you need to be.

Jan 2007

Avoid like the plague. Class is BORING, the few times it gets lively she either a) lets it get completely out of control or b) stops EVERYTHING, bringing the class to a screeching halt. Many dead spots in class, 2 hr class seems to take 4 hrs most of the time. Grading: Very erratic, first half of the semester I got a decent participation grade, second half, i got a 2/10, sad part is, there was no change in my participation, she's just that bad. Papers are long but managable, midterm and final were easy (questions beforehand, etc.) but were graded TOUGH, you need to have a photographic memory and list everything she wants. If you're talkative and have a good memory, then by all means take this, it'll be easy and boring, if not, avoid. Oh, and you probably won't get much from this class that can't be gained from a close reading.

Jan 2007

Ms. De Luca is definitely not for everyone. As a history graduate student, she tends to give a lot of historical context .. way more than is necessary. Philosophy is not her strongest point and as a previous reviewer mentioned, the discussions aren't always highly intelligent. However, she does manage to make the main points of each of the works clear and she is very specific about what we need to know about each text. The thing to really consider with Kelly is that it is very very difficult to do well - as in there were probably only a couple students above a B+. She is very picky when she grades the papers .. she expects "formal language" and perfect punctuation to an incredible degree. That means its not impossible to do well, but she makes it incredibly difficult. Additionally, she requires 3 discussion questions are submitted before each class which go towards your participation grade .. and she gives you a participation grade for each class (though she doesn't share them with you). Essentially to get a good grade you have to do most of the reading, submit the disc q's, participate in class, and write near perfect papers. Not impossible, but not easy either. She definetely makes you work for an A.

Jan 2007

Emmanuelle was the worst professor I've ever had at Columbia. It's not that she was a terrible person- she was actually quite tolerable; she seemed completely ignorant of the fact that hers was not the only class we were taking. Emmanuelle either knew too much about the books and thus spent a two-hour class on one point, or she didn't know anything, and asked students of the class to fill her in on the missing points. I didn't feel like I actually learned anything from her class that I couldn't have taught myself, and most of our class switched to a new section for next semester. Emmanuelle is certainly knowledgeable but unless you're willing to spend 4 hours in Hell every week, get out of this section FAST.

Jan 2007

Hmmm, it's hard to sum up my experience with Professor Kobrin. She wasn't excellent, but she was by no means terrible; I think her class is best described as supremely frustrating. She is obviously smart, but she doesn't really know how to make discussions consistently strong. I think she wanted to make the syllabus seem relevant, but she went too far and didn't force us to closely read the texts. We generally arrived at basic, superficial conclusions, many of which can already be found on Wikipedia or Sparknotes. Still, the semester wasn't all bad. Professor Kobrin was very nice and wanted to maintain a good rapport with the class, and she was good about organizing a few outside events to facilitate this. I think she would be much better in a class she was actually passionate about teaching, and CC is definitely not that. For what it's worth, I don't hate her, even though I didn't like the class.

Dec 2006

Okay, obviously the man is brilliant. Although he may appear modest when he neglects to tell your class he is a genius, he is quite cocky. People in the class tried to be nice to him and get to know him, and every single time he just pretty much ignored them and acted like he had something better to do than reciprocate. He let discussion get out of control to the point where some people were talking more than Moyn during his class. Even though I never really talked to him or had a personally bad experience with him, I thought his attitude and unwillingness to help students improve was a real turnoff. I wouldn't have taken his class in hindsight. Not that it was a miserable time, but you could stand to improve as a student if you shopped elsewhere.

Dec 2006

The previous review is inaccurate and unfair. Morgan is both extremely accessible outside of class, and readily willing to provide help. While she is admittedly not an expert in the texts (she is an anthropologist), her help is always constructive - she provides all sorts of supplementary materials, such as audio and video clips, to guide our understanding of the texts. What’s more, she prepares lengthy section notes for each text, emailed in advance, with thoughtful questions to guide reading and studying. As far as papers are concerned, Morgan creates careful constraints that allow for creativity while at the same time really force you to become a better writer. She is also readily available to help in the writing process - I sent her a one page outline of a paper, and within a few hours, Morgan sent me back several pages of point by point commentary on my ideas. To focus on Morgan’s grading system is to entirely miss the point of higher education at an institution like Columbia. I spoke with Morgan about her system, and she said that she devised it in a way that was intentionally disorienting, so that students would stop focusing on their grades and start caring about what they are actually learning. (And, as an aside, the papers are not graded out of whole numbers. If you get an 8.5 on a paper, multiply this by ten - and viola: you receive an 85 on the conventional 100 point scale.) To say that Morgan’s running of class is “problematic” is downright hurtful. This woman clearly spends great amount of time preparing for class. She knows what every student wrote in his or her reading response, even those submitted just an hour before class. Yes, there are lulls in discussion. But to blame these entirely on Morgan is simply ridiculous. Don’t the people in a class have as much impact on the flow of discussion as the material and the professor? I certainly think so, as I like to feel as though education is participatory and performative, flowing as much from professor to student as from student to professor. And the CC head sat in on every class. And sure, he gave Morgan some suggestions which changed some aspects of class: this is her first semester teaching CC, clearly someone who is the head of the department is going to be able to give her constructive feedback. She, like all of us, is fallible, after all. While I would agree that the midterm was an unpleasant experience, I think that this is an example of Morgan’s ability to be flexible. Several students, myself included, spoke with her about the midterm, and the final was different. I don’t even know how to address the way in which the previous review discusses class time. “Pedantic”? Morgan isn’t a lecturer. She is not trying to force certain information upon us. CC is a discussion-based course. As I mentioned above, education is participatory. To change the direction of one of Morgan’s discussions, one needs only to raise his or her hand. The point about the discussion of religious texts illustrates my point. It was blatantly clear during the discussion of religious texts that students in the class were annoyed that they had to read such texts. It seemed students thought that because they don’t believe in the particular religions the texts espouse that they are not affected by these texts. What? This is Western Thought we’re talking about. Nobody exists in a cultural bubble. I don’t care if you have never seen a bible in your life. If you have grown up in the West, you’re very conceptions of morality and self (to name just a few) are inseparably tied to these texts. This is no “Sunday- school teacher’s nightmare, completely unguided,” this is the refusal of students to actively engage in texts that they deem irrelevant and irrational. On to the work load. We did not have four papers. We had 2 five-page papers, one art project (which gave complete creative freedom), and one 2-3 page “policy brief.” Morgan has even suggested that this workload will be diminished next semester. Not to mention the fact that our readings are substantially sized down compared to other CC classes. We have between 50 and 70 pages to read per class, which, both because of the denseness of the material and because Morgan understands that we have higher priorities than CC, is extremely helpful. Also, Morgan is constructing the syllabus for next semester almost entirely based on student requests (we’re adding such authors as Said and Baudrillard). In short, I highly recommend Morgan, and would not want to take CC with anyone else.

Dec 2006

Yes, Harrison likes to lecture. Yes, he will not clarify his assignment/ course objectives (we were able to choose how much or how little of which books we read). Yes, often the class goes completely off topic. In fairness, he compensates for these vague objectives with very,very,very kind grading. In essence, a big part of this course is figuring out why you are taking it in the first place, then the second part of the course is figuring how much or how little you want to get from it.

Dec 2006

Stamenka is very nice and actually very knowledgeable about the subject matter. Her problem is generally that she just isn't very good at stimulating discussion and poses questions in such a way that you're often afraid to answer them. She does give you a good grounding in all the ideas that you should draw from CC, but she won't engage you the way some people's CC teachers seem to. If you talk in class a little bit to break up the long awkward silences, she'll start to smile a bit and probably like you. Say anything remotely insightful in your posts and papers and you'll probably do well. If you want to feel something liberating and mind-bending from your CC class, this ain't it, but it's a solid section to learn the basics and get a decent grade with an average workload.

Dec 2006

DeLuca herself is very smart and funny once you get to know her. Our class got along really well and it made for enjoyable 9 am classes. Here's the bottom line: this section is not for people expecting an easy A in CC--she is a very tough grader. The average grade on the first paper was a B-. But don't freak out too much, because after she assigns the papers, she offers to read outlines. Consider this a requirement, not an offer. Talk with her in office hours, e-mail her with your outline and thesis, and she will be very helpful. Writing papers that she likes takes some getting used to, so use all of the help she's willing to give you. She wants very well-written papers, and she gave the class two extensions on the second paper so that we'd have the time for that. This class was much more fun once I stopped caring about the fact that I wasn't getting an A.

Dec 2006

Christopher Anderson is, succinctly, a gem of the core. He's a grad student, but his teaching style surpasses many of the professors here. He is excellent at leading discussions - he never feeds his opinions and makes everyone think, but still guides us to the topics (if not necessarily the answers) he had in mind. He's passionate about the books we read (especially Hobbes), which transfers to the class. I remember there was one day that we get so caught up in a topic that we spent the entire two-hour period discussing seven pages of Aristotle, and it was fantastic. The class atmosphere is relaxed, comfortable, and safe for expression of opinions and disagreements. What he lacks in experience and decades of expertise in the texts he more than makes up for in teaching style and classroom discussion. HIGHLY recommended.

Dec 2006

Taking CC with Esra made me dread those four hours each week. While many CC readings are dry on their own, Esra's teaching style and personality did nothing to make the readings or "discussion" any more bearable. Class "discussions" were really Esra giving outlines and then skewing the conversation to her own personal ideas about the text. While she complains when you don't contribute enough to the text, if she doesn't agree with an idea you offer, or if that discussion simply doesn't fit with her agenda for the day, she will make you feel stupid and basically pretend you never spoke. If you disagree with her ideas but do not back down with your own, the demeaning conversation and skewing of your words will continue until you simply give up. For her, these works have one interpretation, and that interpretation is hers. On another note, Esra has a very thick accent, and often times it is difficult to make out what she is saying. Although she is fluent in English, she often simply didn't understand questions brought up in class, and becuase of that they were just never answered. Also, personality wise, I never saw Esra crack a smile - she has no sense of humor and just generally seems to hate everyone. As for papers, try to make sure you stick to ideas that she would share. Also, while her papers are short, She expects you to cram as much information into those pages as possible. Sometimes I felt as though she expected me to regurgitate entire philosophies, but only gave 3-4 pages to do so. In general, I would never recommend taking a class with Esra. This class was my least favorite this semester, and I'm thankful it's finally over

Dec 2006

Okay, this is only a negative review in the sense that I don't think of Prof. Vogt nearly as highly as the rest of the reviewers. The trick to this class is to stop reading CULPA right now, because the reviews below will give you incredibly high expectations -- and really, the teaching is maybe a little better than adequate. No doubt, she knows the material (and read it in the Ancient Greek), but the class actually ends up being pretty dumbed-down, and your answers in discussion are pretty much ignored if she doesn't agree with them, which is very frustrating. I didn't even have good answers, but people coming up with slick, original thoughts would get shot down without much justification, which was lame. That said, she's a very nice person, clearly knowledgable, and pretty tolerable as a lecturer. You should still take the class, because she's definitely in the top couple of fifths of CC professors. I just wouldn't be handing out nuggets yet.

Dec 2006

I haven't written a review before, but this is one that I just had to write. It's the least I could do to try and give credit to the effort she's put into this class. Amira Mittermaier really cares about her students. She will go out of her way to provide students with coffee during class; she baked cookies for the class; she reads the student reading responses beforehand and responds to them in discussion and emails a grade and comment for each one; she also tries to get to know her students during breaks and in meetings to go over essays; she made an additional course survey because she cares that much about improving her teaching (which hardly needs improving). She encourages a lot of class discussion, and the daily reading responses help to get conversation going before class even starts. She's demanding, but she's really caring and thoughtful. What made me feel that I had to write this review was that at the final exam, I was so impressed by her efforts to get a discouraged student to stay and finish the test. She really wants everyone to succeed. So, you only have one semester to go before she leaves to take a job in Toronto, but if you're switching CC sections, this one is a great choice.

Dec 2006

Yea so, I thought she was borderline evil for the most part of the semester- but she's actually a really great teacher. Maybe she was playing devil's advocate with us the whole semester- rarely were our opinions in line with hers- but in the end of the day shes a great CC instructor who gets the point of what CC is supposed to be about. Maybe a little more factual information about the books... but then again she didnt give it, and then she didnt test it, so who really cares? Yea, if you're neurotic and you want to get the most for your money, maybe this isn't for you. But if you're not one of those Columbia philosophers, don't think you're gonna wanna put 150% into the class, actually have other classes to worry about and are willing to do some but not all the work, go for it. At times she may frustrate you but she's a really great teacher and worth the A- you'll get. (Plus, she gives out good cookies)

Dec 2006

The previous review is grossly inaccurate, unfair, and simply untrue. I’ll try to take it apart sentence by sentence. Morgan is both extremely accessible outside of class, and readily willing to provide help. While she is admittedly not an expert in the texts (she is an anthropologist), her help is always constructive - she provides all sorts of supplementary materials, such as audio and video clips, to guide our understanding of the texts. What’s more, she prepares lengthy section notes for each text, emailed in advance, with thoughtful questions to guide reading and studying. As far as papers are concerned, Morgan creates careful constraints that allow for creativity while at the same time really force you to become a better writer. She is also readily available to help in the writing process - I sent her a one page outline of a paper, and within a few hours, Morgan sent me back several pages of point by point commentary on my ideas. To focus on Morgan’s grading system is to entirely miss the point of higher education at an institution like Columbia. I spoke with Morgan about her system, and she said that she devised it in a way that was intentionally disorienting, so that students would stop focusing on their grades and start caring about what they are actually learning. (And, as an aside, the papers are not graded out of whole numbers. If you get an 8.5 on a paper, multiply this by ten - and viola: you receive an 85 on the conventional 100 point scale.) To say that Morgan’s running of class is “problematic” is downright hurtful. This woman clearly spends great amount of time preparing for class. She knows what every student wrote in his or her reading response, even those submitted just an hour before class. Yes, there are lulls in discussion. But to blame these entirely on Morgan is simply ridiculous. Don’t the people in a class have as much impact on the flow of discussion as the material and the professor? I certainly think so, as I like to feel as though education is participatory and performative, flowing as much from professor to student as from student to professor. And the CC head sat in on every class. And sure, he gave Morgan some suggestions which changed some aspects of class: this is her first semester teaching CC, clearly someone who is the head of the department is going to be able to give her constructive feedback. She, like all of us, is fallible, after all. While I would agree that the midterm was an unpleasant experience, I think that this is an e