Professor Noor was so despicably not understanding during a global pandemic. He really acted like no one was going through a hard time and needed adjustments. You must attend live. Exams must be live. He spends way too long going off on tangents and reviewing information that you never get deep enough into the subject matter to actually understand it. The psets are hell and the exams are unfair. He says exams should be "like life... fair and long." Well, they certainly were long, but not fair at all. Out of 3 questions on the midterm, 2 were related to each other, so if you didn't know how to do the question, you couldn't really move on to the second one, which sucked for time management. We have to do these group presentations that take up 15 minutes of class time every day but don't worry... Professor Noor makes up for that by going 15 minutes over every class. Maybe this class would be okay in normal times where you attended live, but his lack of consideration and general empathy was appalling to me this year. Every single other one of my professors tried to do what they could to alleviate stress, but not him.
Prof. Hallak is great. Funny, with a slight Argentinian accent and a friendly demeanor, he liked to know everyone's name and involve the students in the class. Models were generally well-taught and Prof. Hallak was very approachable. The course is very model-heavy: the first half dealt with the Ricardian and Heckscher-Ohlin models, which served as a reference point for all later lectures, and the rest involved the specific factors model, tariffs (similar to what you do in Principles but a bit more rigorous), monopolistic competition and the feared Melitz model (brrr). The nice thing is that Prof. Hallak also likes to involve some more "empirical" learning, which mostly involves reading and discussing papers. This is a nice idea and made for some very good lecture moments, but it stalled sometimes unfortunately, and feels like something of a missed opportunity. The class is relatively light for the economics department- roughly semiweekly problem sets (6 in total, graded on check-check plus-check minus basis), which are pretty standard fare, plus a midterm and final, both of which were very reasonable and even on the easy side. I am a little ambivalent about what you can expect to take away from this class. The models are taught well, but they're models, so they don't add all that much to your understanding of the world. And while the empirical aspect of the course was a welcome departure from that trend, it didn't consist of much more than just going through articles. So the idea is good, but in the end the material to me seems rather forgettable, though it was largely an enjoyable experience. The TA, Goran, was excellent. Sometimes he tried to hard to demonstrate mathematically rigorous proofs and theorems, but he was very approachable, was great at explaining concepts and clearly cared a lot about his students.
International Trade seems to be a traditionally hated course within the Economics department, but I can't speak to how it used to be taught, given Danilo Guaitoli took the reins this semester. Prof. Guaitoli follows the International Trade textbook VERY closely, to the point where you will be able to skip class and not miss a drop of the material (granted you read the book, and take your own notes). The main challenge of this course is being able to handle the workload responsibly. We work through about ten 20-30pg chapters over the course of the semester, and there are only 2 homework assignments. I repeat, only 2 homework assignments. There is a midterm, and a final, but this is ostensibly all the hard practice you will get, and it REALLY takes people by surprise once they take an exam. Since the material is not very hard, Prof. Guaitoli manipulates the models to the point where you actually have to THINK about what you are doing, and the people who have just been getting by, doing the bare minimum of reading necessary to understand the material, truly suffer. The average on the first midterm was 50%, and the professor let us know that people did either really well, or really poorly on the exam. This isn't to suggest that people are lazy or uninterested, but the material is deceptively simple, and the real difficulty of the material creeps up on people. Diligent study and attention should guarantee an A-range grade.
As I see it now, this class was vaguely interesting and definitely provided me with some tools to understand issues of trade in the world economy. However, during the semester, I actually dreaded going to this class, as it was extremely dry (read: you will only talk about models, graphs, theory) and there was no homework (looks like an upside, but without you don't actually learn anything). The book was really good, but Findlay didn't really follow it. Actually, it was amazing how during every single class in the semester he stood in front of us, without any notes or powerpoints or anything, and just presented and explained the different models. Obviously, he is extremely intelligent and contributed much to this field - however, maybe making the class more "real" (as opposed to theoretical) or providing students with more extra-class material (homework, readings) would be a positive development. The TAs were very clear and compensated Findlay's sometimes obscure equations.
Good class. If you do well on the midterm or ask many questions (which he loves), he memorizes your name. Given both his birth in 1935 and the attitude most econ professor have toward students, this was surprising to me. The subject is interesting. Classes may seem extremely technical and graphical (lots of graphs!), but the questions on the exams are not at all technical. BE WARNED. everything he writes on the board comes from his head, so the book doesn't really help. In fact, i can count the number of pages i read. So you might wanna go to class or recitations.
Colacelli and this class are a complete waste of time. She may be a Harvard-trained economist, but she teaches you nothing you can't find in a textbook for thirty bucks. I came to this school for knowledgeable professors who do ground-breaking work, and reading from her notes word for word out of the textbook does not, I am sorry to say, qualify as groundbreaking. If you want to waste your incredibly high tuition listening to this woman, be my guest, but if you came here to actually learn something, look elsewhere.
I guess I have to disagree with what other reviewers comment about Harrigan below. Surely he is well prepared and knowledgeable in the field, I really found him not so interested and by all means too rigid in terms of handing in homeworks and taking notes and be late and so forth. In the first 2 weeks, I knew more than 10 people dropped out simply because they couldn't stand his dry humor and rigidity. I had to take this class with my schedule but I so regretted this afterwards. The problem sets were long and required much more numerical interpretations than his lecture notes (which were all theory). Each problem set took me and my teammate at least 5 hours to finish and double check. I think those who really stayed at the end of the class were his real fans and thus wrote such good reviews for him.
Take this class! You learn so many things in such a painless way. Professor Harrigan presents it all to you in such an organized manner. Take good notes because he doesn't post his powerpoint online. I found that annoying at the beginning, but I became really thankful that he doesn't simply let us print out his lecture slides, because i am never once behind in this class and it really forces me to always go to class. Writing his lectures down really forces you to always think as he teaches. Professor Harrigan is also a really nice approachable guy. As a junior, I haven't taken too many econ electives, but I really hope all other electives are as good as this one.
The good: Great class for anyone interested in trade; very structured lectures; rarely boring because he uses enough real world evidence and stimulates questions; he goes over models in detail; TAs were very good The bad: Harrigan can be very rigid sometimes; homeworks are due before class starts so if you're late you lose those points forever; hhomeworks are hard so be prepared to spend 4-5 hours on them every week; Bottomline: The best elective I've taken so far
If you are looking for a great class in International Trade I think James Harrigan is the man to take this course from. First of all one of the things you need to believe that what any professor tells you about economics is the real world relevance, especially in a subject like International Trade and Prof. Harrigan is from the New York Fed. It doesn't get more real life example of an International Trade policy maker than this. Prof. Harrigan comes in everyday with his slides and makes small jokes and remarks about how many people he knows closely in the international trade arena, and he knows almost everyone - smart guy eh, and delivers a solid class. He is concise in the number of slides he puts up there and I have never been bored in this class. Looking back at this term I think this is one of the few classes at Columbia that I never got bored in for even 2 minutes. You have to be on your toes as you take notes because Prof Harrigan doesn't post the lecture slides on courseworks. Thus TAKE NOTES/ GO TO CLASSES. He curves to a B, and the grading is very fair so far. There is one midterm, weekly homeworks, 10 in total and one final exam. Homeworks are 4-5 questions each and takes about 2 hours at most if you took notes in class. Go to the office hours of the TA's and they will solve similar questions or at least explain where you need help with. Midterm and Final same format. 10 multiple choice, 5 short essay questions, adding upto 100 points. Each multiple choice is 5 points and short essays are 10 points each. Fair grading.Great class. Great Lecturer. Hope he makes more visits to Columbia.
Professor Findlay is an excellent teacher. He is extremely knowledgeable, passionate, and eager to teach. He has contributed a lot to his field of research and yet clearly enjoys teaching the basics of international trade to undergraduates. He welcomes questions and discussion both in class and during his office hours. He makes an effort to know his students and his priority is making sure the class understands the material. Don't be put off by the first two classes which focus more on the history of trade--they are not reflective of the rest of the course.
This was an enjoyable course. Professor Findlay is an excellent lecturer and he makes concepts very understandable. We covered the first 9-10 chapters of the textbook. You'll cover the rest of the text in INT'L MONETARY THEORY & POLICY. I think this is the easier class of the two. You should be familiar with the topics he covers in class which can be found in the text, but he goes over them in more detail. To me, the exams were very fair and actually easier than I expected them to be. Pay attention to the questions and make sure you answer them in detail. Know your graphs and know the models well. And you should do fine. Good Luck.
This class was neither interesting nor useful. Professor Findlay's lectures are pretty dull and don't have many real-world examples to back them up. The terms and graphs he writes on the blackboard are virtually impossible to read, making studying for exams that much more difficult. It is true that there are no problem sets in this class, but there is a downside to that fact: you have absolutely no practice for the questions that he asks on the midterm and final. He neither posts old exams on Courseworks, nor gives you an idea of what the exam will cover ahead of time, nor gives you an idea of how he wants you to answer the exam questions. The bottom line: unless you enjoy vague lectures and don't care too much about grades, don't take this class. If you really like international trade, wait for a different professor.
If you've taken/are planning to take Political Economy and/or International Monetary Theory & Policy, DON'T TAKE THIS COURSE. It is a boring regurgitation of the most boring parts of the material of those courses. Better yet - if you are thinking of taking of any these courses (Poli-Econ, Int'l Monetary, or Int'l Trade), take the first two but not this course. Granted, Professor Findlay is nice and patient, but the material is presented in a very robotic, technical manner, without relating it much to real life applications. It could be a very interesting class but Findlay just doesn't make it so. Save Findlay for other, more interesting classes.
If you think this course will cover anything even remotely applicable to the real world you are absolutely wrong. Pande covers a great deal of theory, which she explains with long and painful mathematical proofs, but very little that pertains to real countries or actual situtations. She speaks extremely quickly, hopping around the room running from one end of the board to the other, scribling opaque mathematical equations which remain incomprehensible to the vast majority of the class. She repeats herself often, but in different language, so that you're left unsure of what the heck you're supposed to be writing or thinking. The surly TA does little to reduce students' confusion during optional recitations. On the upside, because it is a SIPA class, the curve is extremely generous.