Social Theory

May 2016

All of the reviews of Becher are spot-on. She's funny, casually brilliant, and able to take really dense material and make it understandable. I was dreading taking social theory because it's tons of dense reading, but Becher made it manageable and was clearly enthusiastic about teaching the material. She's the kind of professor who wants you do to well, and with whom you will want to do well. She's also one of the few professors who was able to take a class of more than 30 students and have q-and-a sessions that were productive. Some of the small group work we had to do was tedious and annoying, but you get through it. Every assignment she gives, even if there are a lot of them, has a reason behind it. She has a very clear idea behind how to teach social theory and she conveys that really clearly.

Apr 2012

Probably one of the best professors I've encountered at Barnard/Columbia. Not because she's sweet and friendly (though she is- she baked us all cookies for our last day of class), but because she communicates effectively and teaches the material so well. I was dreading taking Social Theory- the material is dense and boring and the readings are impossible to understand unless you read them four or five times. However, Becher does such a great job communicating the ideas, I always left class understanding the concepts with clarity. She leads class discussion very well but doesn't let the class go on tangents or mislead the conversation into convoluting the ideas. Let's just say that anyone who can make reading Weber bearable and easy to grasp deserve props. I agree with the review below, you MUST put the work in. She is no-nonsense. Don't expect to do well if you halfass your assignments or hand them in late. Do the readings. Participate in class and most definitely go to office hours even if its just to talk about the questions on the assignments (she or the TA will carefully walk you through them). If you put in the work, the class is easy to do well in.

Feb 2012

Denise Milstein is definitely brilliant. She is a very intelligent, sweet and understanding person. I take her classes twice- social movement and social theory. She likes to lead the class in discussion, and she is very good at facilitating good discussions in class. But don't think of her as one of those professors who expect you to speak for the whole 75 mins when they only say one sentence or two. She's very good at lecturing, definitely the best on I have ever had on this campus since she is very good at catching the points of reading and explaining all those abstract terms in very clear ways. You feel the time pass so fast in her class - you are so immersed in the protectors' stories, the thinkers' theories, and you keep your brain running to catch up with the flow of the thought, even after the classes end. You really think a lot in her classes, definitely worth a try.

Nov 2011

Summary: Prof. Becher is a great teacher. If you put in hard work, you will get a lot out of her class. You will actually learn, and probably enjoy, the material. Becher doesn't take any bullshit and leads the class firmly. I was worried about taking Social Theory (it's one of 3 main required classes for the sociology major and seemed like it would be boring/really difficult), but Becher has made it interesting, applicable, and even enjoyable. She is not easy by any means, but if you work hard, you will do well. The class has about 30-40 students in it, and Becher somehow manages to skillfully lead lecture and class discussion every time - there is always a nice balance. Her lectures are clear and concise, and she always clarifies if we don't get what she's saying. She answers questions well, and is almost always open to hearing our opinions. If you're going to take Social Theory and will put a good amount of work into it, take the class with Becher. You will learn a lot and actually remember it. This class is not about memorizing and verbally vomiting the textbook on exams. Don't take Becher if you regularly skip class and/or don't do readings. The assignments really test our grasp of the material, as do the exams.

May 2011

This is the professor's first semester here at Barnard, and I cannot speak highly enough about her teaching abilities. I enrolled in this course purely to fulfill my major requirement and had been dreading taking it since declaring my major. The material is dense. And boring. But Becher did the best she could to make the information accessible and to give you the chance to do well in the class. I would HIGHLY recommend going to her office hours before the assignments are due, she will literally go through rough drafts with you and steer you in the right direction. By doing this, you're basically guaranteeing yourself a good grade. It's a lot of work, with little room for bull. But you can do well versus other classes of a similarly challenging nature where your grade is a lost cause even if you spend an extra hour on the paper or assignment. When going through the course itself, I often felt a little bit lost, but looking back, I can see she has clearly thought through the structure of the course and planned it meticulously. One annoying thing, which I hope she does away with, is that she has you watch 2-3 episodes of The Wire at the conclusion of each theorist. I know the intentions are good and supposed to help engage you more, but the episodes are an hour each and as much as I love any excuse to watch TV and call it homework, it was time consuming and often would be at the expense of catching up on other readings which, at the end of the day, are the real substance of the course.