I love you Jenna! I love you Jenna! I love you Jenna! SEE-U Jordan is the best experience in my life! Yes, I am not reserving these big words to describe how much I learned and how much fun I had. I am not even providing any evidence to convince you. I am just here to say she is THE BEST. Not to spoil it. you should experience it yourself. This is the first review I wrote and I am just here to say "I love you Jenna!"
Jenna is the most amazing teacher. Everyone in my class absolutely LOVED her. I just finished the CERC Punta Cana summer session with her and had a fabulous time. She is so passionate about the material she is teaching that she makes science engaging for all students- even kids who were not even remotely interested in science at all. Not only do you learn A TON in her classes but she makes everything so enjoyable! I have never written a review before but I loved her so much that I want everyone to recognize how great she is. I literally cannot say enough good things about her. -organized classes -cute sense of humor -great for extra help -AMAZING person with the coolest life experiences/great attitude towards life in general TAKE HER CLASS IF YOU CAN!!! <3
The Summer 2010 Dominican Republic SEE-U program differed drastically from previous years as it was truly an amazing experience. Although I heard several horror stories about past iterations, a new instructor, Jenna Lawrence, took over the reigns. She truly made the program special. Jenna was very well-prepared and came into the program with an interesting -- yet fun -- lesson plan. Monday through Friday, we had lectures from 10-1, and then participated in field work from 2-4/5 (ex. snorkeling to retrieve algae samples, observing wildlife, analyzing data, etc.). I find Columbia's professors to be brilliant, wonderful researchers... but too often I find them to be horrible lectures. Jenna breaks this mold: not only is she clearly brilliant, but she is vivacious and manages to introduce a great deal of information in a very approachable manner (I left each class with 8+ pages of typed notes). Do realize that this information is not simply throw-away knowledge as we were quizzed almost daily. These quizzes were short as they were only 5 questions, give or take; however, anything covered the previous day was fair game, so I easily spent 2 hours a night reviewing. We also were required to complete an individual project which consisted of writing a research proposal, conduct field work, and then present our findings to the class (PowerPoint presentation). Don't get me wrong -- this program was not all-work-and-no-play. The ecological foundation is on the grounds of the Punta Cana Resort and Club, and we were able to enjoy the offerings of the resort such as hanging at the pool, sea kayaking, wind surfing, snorkeling/diving, nearby horseback riding, tennis, golf, etc. There are, however, a couple non-academic downsides to this program. You spend 5 weeks living on top of each other, so it's absolutely a test of one's patience (try being with ANYONE 24/7 for 5 weeks and see if you don't get ornery). The food is incredibly repetitive and you WILL develop cravings. And, remember, Dominican summers are hot and humid. Prepare to sweat. A lot. In summation, this is NOT your typical science course. If you are an upperclass science major, this may not be your cup of tea. If you are looking to fulfill your Core science requirements, I cannot think of a better way of doing it... at least as long as Jenna Lawrence is involved. You will have fun. You will learn a lot. And you'll probably come back with quite the tan.
I "experienced" the SEE-U program with James a few years ago. We lived for 5 weeks at the Punta Cana Resort where James lectured 30 minutes each morning by the massage hut, then spent most of the rest of each day windsurfing and sailing while we students were doing our "projects" with the TAs. Mostly we were pretending to work since he didn't know the difference, but the TAs were serious about it, and were it notr fore them, we all would have been on vacation and no one would have been the wiser. We hardly ever left the resort grounds all month, the most artificial habitat in the DR except maybe for the golf course. Oh once Jame took us all to a night club in the back of a pick-up truck (not safe). The TAs were horrified with the entire program because they were real field biologists, unlike James who was clearly just there for vacation. Not a single fact about the DR was conveyed during this course except from the TAs. I heard James asking the TAs each night during dinner what they should do the next day, as in he had nothing planned for the course. The TAs carried the course, but there was no substance at all. I learned nothing, my entire project was made up including the results, but I got an A and fulfilled by Columbia science requirement!
Prof Danoff-Burg is a very nice man that teaches the world's easiest course. That is actually the problem. Unlike a course in the school year where an easy class is a nice break, living and breathing the course everyday is almost intolerable. For the first couple weeks, you will enjoy yourself. Eventually though, the fact that you are being asked everyday to argue as kindergartner over "what the world should do if all just wanted it bad enough" is kind of hard to take. Especially when you bumb against his grumpy side. A very sweet man that likes to teach but only offers you one point of view. If you have any, truly, any relevant knowledge about sustainable development, environmental science or the like, be prepared to keep it to yourself or you will find out that he does not like contradictory views. The tests are so easy you would think it would be a relief. Memorize 5 definitions at night, get tested on them in the morning. Unfortunately, he will then spend an hour or two explaining the five definitions or ten pages of reading. At the end of it, you will be filled with confidence you can do science, but with a huge doubt that the scientits know what they're talking about. And you may start to wonder how you got tricked out of you 7000 dollars to sit bored in a dormitory somewhere and come back probably less capable of arguing effectively for protecting the environment with only a very limited to cursory understanding of ecology. It was really a shame too because the experience of living in a natural setting was truly extraordinary. In short, if you are interested in pursuing the natural sciences, definitely don't take this class. If you care deeply about sustainable development or policy, definitely don't take this class. If you're curious how science works, don't take this class. If you really need a break from studying and want to go enjoy yourself for five weeks, this program is great. Fair warning though: if you ever feel tempted to get interested in the material, ask questions, enjoy working, keep it to yourself. There are a whole bunch of hours to kill during the day and the course really wasn't set up for you to try to be productive or learn. Your grade may suffer to because sometimes you will get so bored that its hard to stay awake through the daily tests of invented jargon.