Race and Place in Urban America

Jan 2014

Professor Shedd is very experienced and accomplished in her field, and you could tell she knew her stuff. The class however, could at times seem to drag on. The subject matter was interesting stuff for discussion, but most of every class was lecture. This was frustrating since we were not tested on anything, nor were we expected to use much of what was said in class in either the midterm or final paper. Since attendance wasn't taken, it was very tempting to skip class. My favorite part was the discussion section where we got to grapple with some really stimulating topics and really delve into our readings. DON'T underestimate how long the memos will take you. The TAs are easy graders, but 2 single spaced pages on the readings we were assigned is harder than it might first seem. Get them out of the way early in the course, and the rest will be smooth sailing. Professor Shedd is really friendly and personable, and even granted me an extension I didn't deserve out of goodwill. She isn't a pushover, but she is reasonable and understands the stress of student life, and gives you a little wiggle room if she can see you're being sincere. She and the TAs also bend over backwards to help you with papers, so reach out to them if you need help. If you're really interested in the topic or you have a pretty good work ethic, take this class for a solid grade and some new knowledge in a fascinating topic, that will better equip you for being a student in New York City.

Jan 2010

This a difficult review to write, because I adored Professor Shedd personally and the subject matter - the inner-city black experience - is right up my alley, so to speak. But see, there's our first problem: the class is called Race and Place in Urban America, yet the focus is almost entirely on the black urban experience. With that said, we covered some under-appreciated topics within this scope, such as particular challenges to the black middle class. It's a lecture course, but with lectures that often consist of breezing through Power Point slides - look, here's Weber's definition of the Ghetto, and there's Merton's Adaptive Types - before devoting the majority of class time to "discussion" (read: debating every student's personal opinion). The course is light on theory, and more heavy on considerations of qualitative and quantitative research methods. A better balance of the two, in my opinion, could have helped some of the "discussions" grow into real, though-provoking conversations. Overall, the course was not *un*interesting, but the concept of "place" only seemed loosely tied to what was really the overall theme of the course (again, the black urban experience from Du Bois on Philadelphia at the turn of the twentieth century to current trends in gentrification in Harlem). Professor Shedd is charming in office hours (talk to her about her own research!), and the course will hopefully improve with age, becoming more theoretically robust, thematically integrated, and intellectually challenging. Until then, I recommend shopping this course and getting a feel for whether it's for you.

Jan 2010

This class was probably my most interesting class all semester. As a first-semester freshman, I had a love/hate relationship with it at first. I struggled to understand some of the more theoretical readings, but Professor Shedd's wonderful in-class discussions as well as the weekly memos really heps with forcing one to synthesize all the information presented. Race and Place was a course which challenged my previous conceptions, and due to the semi-ridiculous workload I came away with a great understanding of the important literature in the field. There is a lot of reading, but all of it is very interesting. I didn't always do the readings on time and it didn't matter, I ended up with an A in the course. Professor Shedd is very engaging, intelligent, and nice, although she can be a bit intimidating when meeting with her one-on-one. I enjoyed both the professor and the course and found Professor Shedd quite intelligent. The assignments she gave really helped me to understand the themes of the course, and I am considering taking her other course just because she was such a wonderful teacher.