Professor Barkey (or Karen as she liked to be called) is absolutely outstandingâ€”in fact, sheâ€™s the best professor I had at Columbia. I took her Historical Sociology course a while ago, in 2010. Karen has several unique and remarkable qualities. First, she is brilliant. She is able to explain and analyze ideas and readings in a wonderfully clear way. She talked about her own research in the class, which was highly impressive. And she is able dissect and improve students' writing by providing invaluable feedback. Second, she takes a high personal interest in all of her students, something that is unusual among most Columbia faculty but especially for someone of her status. She sought for all students to be active participants in our course. She even had our class over to her apartment for dinner one night. She is an incredibly supportive and committed professor. Third, her classes appeal to students from a large array of disciplines and are invariably fascinating. This is partly because she assigns excellent readings on interesting topics like religion and fundamentalism, classic works by Foucault, Weber and other great thinkers, and combines theory and history with current events. But it's also because she really works with students so that they select research paper topics most interesting to them. She is really flexible and clearly wants students to learn and enjoy what they're working on. I learned so much in her course, which benefited me in other courses and beyond. And knowing how much she cared truly had a major impact on my college experience. Karen truly is an incredible professor and I cannot recommend her highly enough.
I am not a sociology major, but took the class as a filler because KB got such good CULPA reviews. The class itself was kind of a snore, the readings so-so, and the discussions full of the requisite pretentious yakking. That said, I would reccommend taking the class just for the experience of being taught by someone who knows how to teach. So many times you get a brilliant, well-respected person in the front of the room who can impart precious little because they don't know/care how to reach their audience. Prof. Barkey certainly does, and has plenty to teach. She is friendly, down-to-earth, and flexible. I didn't love the class but I am fully ready to join her well-deserved fan club.
The Good: Professor Barkey is perhaps one of the most endearing professors I have ever met. She has the most adorable accent and a great sense of humor. When I would go to her office hours to meet with her she was so matronly and sweet. She is truly a very warm woman and I would love to have coffee with her. In addition, she knows everyone's name by the end of the semester. She is SO GOOD with names and creates such a warm environment in a class with 60 people. She really goes out of her way to know your name and know more about you besides the fact that you're her student. Furthermore, she is a great lecturer who really gets her point across in each lecture about the assigned readings. She knows her stuff and has a lot to say about it. The Bad: Despite how warm Professor Barkey is, she is surprisingly very closed to anyone else's opinion. If anyone says anything that contradicts what she was saying, she will harp on them to an unnecessary degree that left one girl crying at the end of her class. Nevertheless, she hides it behind a smile and a sweet accent that I think a lot of people do not catch how antagonistic she can truly be. I took this class solely because Professor Barkey was a gold nugget and it turned out to be a bust. However, if you like sociology, I'm sure you'll find her course interesting. I just found her lectures too one-sided and I really feel like I just left having learned nothing. She's a great person, I just don't think her class is anything special.