Global Urbanism

Dec 2019

Easiest global core ever! Take this class if you want an A. Do not take this class if you are looking for a challenging sociology course. Professor Sassen does not care one bit about this course. But, she is a legend and has seriously contributed to her field. Sassen does not follow her syllabus and the only substantive material is presented in the first few lectures. Once you understand a few buzz words that she uses to describe trends (which are also commonsense), you can easily answer any exam question. TBH the class is pretty interesting, it just isn't difficult. The TA's grade extremely easily and reminded us to "not worry about grades" and that "Professor Sassen is generous in rounding up when submitting grades". This class is what I really needed in my life, but is not right for everyone.

Apr 2018

LOL. THIS COURSE SHOULD BE CALLED GLOBAL BOURBONISM BECAUSE SASKIA MADE ME FEEL OUT OF MY MIND HAMMERED DURING LECURE. I do not know what else to say other than "brown waters" or "there is a bacteria that coats the paint of buildings," and let us not forget "oh, did we already go over this?" tbh I am glad that I got the easy A but this class is a weird ride of you never needing to be there. The readings were light and sometimes got up to like 50 pages a week. The grading was super weird, I just trashed Bollinger for my midterm and final (the only grades for the whole class lolol, do not even go to lecture) essays (in class) and got A's, but the TA who graded my final gave me like an A- arbitrarily because she did not like how I called Trump a racist cheeto....that was still an A-; also since it is in the SIPA building or some nonsense my 91% was a solid A (SO DON'T GET AN 89 LEST YOU WANT A B). Meh, take her for an easy A, just read for like an hour or less a week and then read for like three hours maybe before exams. weird class.

Jan 2018

The class is really a shitshow. Saskia doesn't make much sense in lectures and they are really boring. Grades are very subjective and seem arbitrary. You can easily get a B by not going to any lectures at all and studying for 30 minutes before the midterm and final. Getting an A seems to be luck of the draw. Easy class. Minimal effort required. Satisfies Global Core requirement. Don't really have much control of your grade. Would recommend for 3 free credits and an almost guarenteed B.

Mar 2015

My recommendation is to decide what kind of course you want to take and how interested you are in the topic. Professor Sassen is, no doubt, a brilliant sociologist with some influential ideas and interesting perspectives on globalization, urbanization, and the social repercussions of those processes. She is a passionate lecturer who is also quite funny and who very clearly knows a remarkable amount about the course material. However, this class starts off somewhat structured and devolves into chaos over the course of the semester. Eventually it seems like the lectures don't follow the syllabus or any pattern at all- making it hard to follow what exactly you are supposed to be learning about "global urbanism." The readings are interesting but again, seem pretty random especially as the course goes on. Professor Sassen also doesn't even end up giving that many lectures, because she hands class over to the TA's who are supposed to lead some kind of clarification session (that you don't actually have to show up to). While it is a day off from class, it also makes you feel a bit cheated since you signed up to learn from a professor but got some random, unhelpful review sessions instead. All that being said, I did leave the class with an understanding of some of the major issues in globalization and urbanization as well as new perspectives to look at this issues from, and I gained this understanding through interesting readings and Professor Sassen's engaging lecture style. If you're looking for a more structured course that really helps you grasp the ideas, engage with them, and feel like you attended a cohesive set of lectures/classes---- do not take this class. It is scattered and disorganized. If you don't mind the chaotic nature of the class and are up for having a bunch of ideas and theories thrown at you for a semester, you'll probably enjoy it. These ideas and theories are, after all, interesting, important, and vaguely related to the topic of "global urbanism."

Jan 2015

There are lots of great reasons to take this course. First, Professor Saskia Sassen is brilliant, and basically created her own field of study of which she is the expert. It's a terrific experience to sit in class and listen to her speak, even if she gets off track sometimes. Her tangents are better than most professors' planned lectures. She's also incredible nice, very available for office hours, and interested in anyone who takes an interest in her work. Second, it counts towards the Global Core, and third the workload is very manageable. There are few required readings beyond selections from Professor Sassen's own book, instead students are suggested to pick one or two other readings each week and focus on understanding those instead of reading a lot and not comprehending it. As a result, each student has some control as to what areas of Global Urbanism they focus on. Grades are 50% on the take home midterm, 50% on the take home final. Attendance is not taken, nor factored into your grade. Both exams are two questions, each question requiring a 4-page response. Like in the readings, students have a lot of leeway as to what they want to write about in response to each question. You'll get as much out of this course as you chose to put into it.

Jan 2015

Saskia Sassen's class was perhaps one of the best I have taken in my three years on this campus. While her lectures mirror her cornerstone "Cities" book (i.e. scattered at best) she does do a good job with reinforcing main concepts. These concepts are stressed ad nauseum and are nearly impossible to misunderstand. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the guest speakers she brought in, which added nice real-world examples to the topics we were focusing on. The TA's are all really nice and will help you out if you need direction or are having trouble understanding a concept. Overall, this is a simple class that nearly guarantees an A in with minimal effort. If you're looking for a global core or are simply interested in the subject, I'd highly recommend this course.

Dec 2014

Oh man! Do not take!! The entirety of this semester included enough material for about three lectures. The reading list is huge, uneven, and hardly ever referenced in class. You don't need to go to class much or do the reading, except for her textbook, since the two examinations ask you to regurgitate her ideas precisely. It would be hard to dig further into the questions since they take the form of completely unexplained prompts, ie "Write an essay/analysis on inequality using the Cities book" (real question from the final). The expectations are unclear, the TAs unenthusiastic, the curriculum lacking in any structure. Which is all a pity, because Sassen is clearly brilliant and the course material extremely interesting. You will be f*ing angry when you leave every lecture feeling like you were posed a really interesting question, and given no tools to answer it except for another summary of Sassen's thesis from the textbook and whatever was in today's Huffington Post. If you really care, buy her textbook and spend two hours skimming it. Then go take any other urban studies course.

Dec 2012

I went back and forth all semester on the question of whether or not I would recommend this class. It is an interesting subject, but I think Sassen's lectures make it seem more complicated than it really is. She basically has a thesis about how "global" cities function in the modern economy, and most of the class is either explaining that basic idea or illustrating countless anecdotal examples. She tends to ramble and repeat herself in her lectures, which got really, really frustrating by the end of the semester. Some of the readings were helpful and interesting, but others seemed to serve no purpose at all, since they were never discussed in class or section and useless on the two written assignments. Overall I think I learned a little bit from the class, but mostly from some of the readings and from the process of writing about it, rather than from the lectures themselves or the discussions. As for the TA's, I have mixed feelings as well. On the one hand, they made it much easier to understand Sassen's basic points than Sassen did herself. I found myself thinking I would have rather taken a class with Natan on the work of Saskia Sassen than taken this class. On the other hand, Jared, who was my section leader, was not very helpful. He made some questionable statements in section, and dedicated an entire review session to explaining how to write an essay à la middle school. Overall, I would say take this class if you're willing to put up with a LOT of disappointment for a fairly stimulating topic (sorry if that's a totally un-helpful piece of advice).

Jan 2010

Saskia Sassen is a pretty big deal, and she's taught a few classes by now, so I was a little surprised not to find any reviews of her. I took Global Urbanism with Professor Sassen, after a few years of wanting to take a class - any class! - with her. Professor Sassen is clearly a very, very intelligent woman. She writes like she speaks, and her writing is detailed and nuanced. She mixes theory with quantitative empirical analyses in a rather beautiful fashion. But would I take this class again? I don't know, and probably not for the professor. (I have a feeling she'd be much better in a smaller seminar.) The two-hour "seminar" (of 80+people....about 40 by the end of the term were attending lectures) was divided into 1 hour of lecture, and about 50 minutes of discussion in sections. The TAs (Rachel, Elif, and Rajiv) were great - I'd take a class with any of them - but the discussions, which were supposed to be closer examinations of the readings, only sometimes yielded greater insight into the texts. Reviewing for the midterm and final really drove home how rich some of the readings were, but I wish we'd done more with them in class (except for maybe once or twice the lectures seemed pretty far from the readings). I have some friends who thought the class was a waste of time, but I disagree -- I think there was plenty to get out of it, and I just wish that the professor/TAs had been able to make the class fit together more coherently. I generally feel pretty unsatisfied.