Senior Seminar

Mar 2021

Professor Phillips is a great professor and frankly unfairly demonized, mostly by students who didn't expect organic chemistry to be so hard. She's an excellent mentor and gives good feedback on assignments. I think what throws people off is that she is very blunt and honest when talking to you; for example, after my first presentation to the class I asked her for her opinion and she just said "your presentation was not as interesting as the other presenters today." Was I expecting it? No, but she then took the time to walk me through what made my work subpar and how I could improve it. She's a fine professor and doesn't have to be your worst enemy if you don't approach the class with a negative attitude. Go to her office hours every once in a while and talk to her, she's very pleasant and obviously knows a great deal about chemistry. Senior seminar is a good class, it's really valuable if you care at all about grad school/ academia and learning to present your work. Karen was great about making the class really interact with one another and learn from each other, and I definitely got a ton out of it even as a Zoom class. There are also several invited speakers throughout the semester, and it's great to be able to ask them career/mentorship questions or just hear how they're doing. It's also a good kick in the ass to prepare for life after college since you're required to make a presentation about your grad school/career interests. And if you've done research in undergrad, it's a great place to talk about your research with people who will actually care, especially since there's a good chance at least one other person is doing research in a related area. You really learn how to conduct yourself in academia, mostly. Two of our assignments were journal club presentations, which is also nice if your research group already does journal clubs. I will say that this class is not for you if you've never done research as an undergrad unless you intend on starting research really soon.

Dec 2020

Senior Seminar could easily be renamed as 'can you present 101.' Meets once a week for two hours on Fridays, and required for the chem major so not sure how much this review will help you. Basically have different prompts for presentations and give between 5 and 20 min presentations. If you like to present, this is a class you're gonna love. A few guest speakers sprinkled in. I think a class like this is great but could potentially be replaced by a senior thesis type thing, which could be more interesting since the best part was hearing about what specific students are interested in. Prof Phillips is very nice although not timely, so don't have anything scheduled right after class.

Dec 2019

Prof Compagnon isn't the friendliest professor or one who encourages much discussion in class, so if that's what you're expecting you will be disappointed. But he is very knowledgeable and renowned, and if you can get past the initial dryness of his lecture style, you will learn a lot from this course. He lets the class give input on the syllabus on the first day, and make sure you participate very enthusiastically because he really takes your opinion into account and tries to choose books that people haven't read. A single asshole this semester mentioned Les Mots by Sartre and we had to spend two weeks on it. Because of this process for choosing the syllabus, it's a good course to get into stuff you haven't read so far, which is nice if you are actually into French literature.

Dec 2016

I had the pleasure of taking a course with Professor Guibbory first as a junior, and then for my fall senior seminar. I was wary of her Milton class, as I am an Americanist, but her teaching of his prose and poetry was utterly compelling. It was not easy; this was the first English class in which I found myself truly needing to take notes. And I often met to read and discuss passages from "Paradise Lost" outside of class with a friend. Her senior seminar on Sin, Sex, and Spirituality is quite possibly the greatest course I took in college, and stretched and engaged my mind endlessly. In all, though, neither Milton nor her senior seminar were overly taxing in terms of readings and assignments. And I found that, rather than meandering, her lecturing was flexible enough to embrace the interests of her students while still getting us through the material.

May 2016

4 things to note: 1) His lecture is dreadfully boring - it is indeed painful. His reading assignment is interesting, though. 2) He is incredibly flexible with assignments 3) He is helpful as long as you are serious students 4) Fair grader

Mar 2015

I had professor Davis for an economics of New York City senior seminar. Based upon the readings he assigns, he wants his students to learn how economics operates as a general social science, rather then something about only about money, products, and services. The message of the class way something like: "there are alot of problems out there in the world, and you are equipped as an economist to solve those problems with all the things you have learned."

Jan 2012

Best professor I've had at Columbia. Wise, exceptionally interesting, willing to engage with students until their needs are met. The brilliance is intimidating, but the person is very warm. It makes for a rather odd combination of deference and comfort when speaking with her, the likes of which is always a positive and rewarding experience. I wouldn't recommend taking a senior seminar with Rovane unless one is decently invested in philosophy. She works on very deep material, and shares her nuanced thoughts at a rigorous pace. Without doing the assigned reading (of which there is quite a fair amount) and making solid effort to be engaged in class, it's not difficult to get lost; and given that the grade for the course is entirely determined by a single term paper on a topic of one's choice, grades won't be providing much motivation to do said reading or to maintain said engagement. This is one of those courses in which the amount you put in will be very much proportional to the amount you get out, and there's little besides personal interest in the course to keep you from slacking. That said, keeping up is incredibly rewarding. You'll certainly have a number of "mind-blown" moments. I have little basis to say what sort of grader Rovane is. From what I know, I would say that she's very fair. I would also say that she is fully cognizant of the significance of one's entire grade being based on one paper, and expects that paper to be quite substantial in turn. She is more than willing to help with the paper in office hours, but don't expect her to narrow your topic for you and direct you along a specific path; expect instead to receive a variety of very interesting thoughts in response to your ideas, and a plethora of potential avenues for you to pursue independently. This seminar experience was ideal for me personally, and will be for most any who are invested in philosophy. I imagine that the independence and the depth of the material studied may have made it less than ideal for others who were looking for a more thoroughly-structured look at the various discussions surrounding freedom and autonomy, or who were hoping to study metaphysics in the style of, e.g., Varzi and Collins (that style being more traditionally analytical, very grounded in logic, quasi-mathematical, etc.).

Nov 2011

Wadda is an amazing professor, and a departmental gem. Even though she does not usually teach many courses (or lower-level courses since she is co-chair with Prof. Mac Adam), she is a world-famous scholar in literature of crime fiction and has written extensively on the topic. And she is a big fan of Foucault of Bourdieu, for those out there who love the French contemporary sociologists. The class is pretty intense, as we usually have to read a book/novel for each week (the class meets once a week), and we have to write a 20 page research article by the end of the class, but is very available and knowledgeable IF you seek out her assistance. Responsibilities are pretty standard for a senior research seminar -- presentation one day on a novel/reading that week, participation, the first draft of your article (7-9 pages long), and the final draft (20 page minimum, without bibliography). She clearly puts a lot of effort into developing her discussions, as she prepares key information about the works and critical questions to think about in relation to other texts read in the course, and by the end of seminar for the day is very explicit in her critique/understanding of the text. Recommended for current seniors/majors within the department. Keep up with your assignments, and learn a lot in return.

May 2007

Beth is the undergrad coordinator for women and gender studies, and she is phenomenal. Though somewhat inconsistent in her availability, she made sure everyone in our seminar came out with a well-focused, well-researched paper, and ran the seminar like a serious workshop. She really goes to bat for her students, and was both go-with- the-flow and on the ball. She miraculously made writing a thesis an enjoyable experience.

Jan 2007

I should probably be terrified because there are only 18 people in this class and I will be spending all of next semester with him and he will be grading my thesis but I think it is important to say a few things. If you are a senior Urban Studies major, like myself, you already are way too familiar with what he sees as his mission to teach you - that there is a racial dimension to everything; that you should not always judge people by stereotypes; that the hood is not as dangerous or exotic as media portrays it to be; that you are in desperate need of turning against your blindly capitalist, mainstream ways and understand the burden of the minority. Etc. F that. It's practically the only thing we talked about in our other urban studies classes. Not that it makes it less valid, but we should be reaching past this at times simplistic, reactionary thought and into more complex issues, acknowledging that white guilt is important but can sometimes be distracting in searching for pragmatic solutions. I am all about hearing the other side. We all are - we're urban studies majors for goodness sake - but the lack of objectivity is irritating. Also, Greg, if you are reading this, I think you are a great person and, in fact, a very responsible and competent seminar facilitator with passion and a humorous self-awareness. But we did not sign up to be sociology majors. I am under the impression that some-to-many of us don't really even like sociology. It is very frustrating that all of our theses - the culminating works that are supposed to build on our individual sets of knowledge we have acquired in college - are evaluated by the standards of a discipline we were not exposed to until senior year. It is also intimidating because I sometimes feel pressure to not pursue the argument I think is most accurate but one that most closely conforms to his beliefs. So, seniors of 2008 and beyond, understand what you're getting into because I sure didn't. (I also realize this is kind of a passive-aggressive way of communicating - if, Greg, you are reading this - so maybe I'll just talk to him in person.)

Jan 2007

Professor Onochie is from Baruch College, but the senior econ seminar I took with him was great. He was great in helping to guide our research, encouraged us with our work, and did a good job of letting us choose our own topics. Plus he was very knowledgeable about his field, I'd highly recommend a seminar with him.

Jan 2006

Like the last reviewer said, if you are reading this review, you are taking the class. Still, I don't know that the situation is that bleak. Prof. Compagnon is VERY French. He will not pamper you at all-- things that are wrong he will promptly reject, those which are correct will be accepted, but never praised. I had mixed feelings about this. True, I (and most of my classmates) were afraid to speak. On the other hand, it can be refreshing at times to have a professor who won't let people who would otherwise bulls--t their way through class (you know the people I mean) shut up. Compagnon is brilliant, and has plenty of worthwile things to say. I think if you keep in mind not to take anything he says personally, it's possible to get a lot from this class. It might not be something I would have chosen if I had had a choice, but in the end I think it was good for me.

Jan 2006

The unfortunate thing is that if you are reading this review, you have to take this class. This is one of the worst classes I've taken in the French department, and I don't say that lightly. Compagnon is brilliant and a well-known scholar, but in class he is condescending and arrogant. By the end of the semester, no one spoke during class due to a semester of being beaten down after every and any comment. He makes up the reading list of 5 or 6 works on the spot, and only one was worth reading, which only compounded the painful two hours spent in class. Sorry French majors!

Apr 2005

Yes, Schamus is very, very bright, perhaps the most intelligent professor that the film studies program has. He's also very smug and less interested in fostering debate or discussion than letting students talk amongst themselves before explaining his own definitive interpretation of the material. I appreciated his incorporation of challenging texts into the class (Benjamin, Lyotard, Kristeva, etc...), but I think that he is aware that few film studies students have had exposure to this sort of material before (a fault of the department), so he only offers a very rudimentary take on some very complex theories. His method is to allow students to make comments or ask questions about the reading and then call on each other, while he sits and watches. This leads to an engaged class, but there's no effort on his part to guide the class towards asking the right questions. Much of the time feels inevitably feels wasted when someone blathers on with their total misreading of Marx and he doesn't step in and say something. The best part about the class might be his position as co-president of Focus Films and his insight into how the movie industry really works. We'd meet on Mondays and he'd spend the first minutes of class talking about the weekend box office, what we'd seen, what we liked, etc... That said, it's hard to not be a little cynical when he has us read Adorno's "Culture Industry" essay and then to see him gleefully talk about how great his company's remake of Assault on Precinct 13 is.

Jan 2005

Eric Simring is eccentric, loves to rock climb, and very clearly loves math. It comes through in everything he said. The class was us lecturing once the semester and Eric and everyone else listening. And you'd think that this would make it hard to evaluate him as a teacher, but not so. He helped us prepare every week, and was always ready to talk. And yes, he seems quite eccentric, but always encouraging, and patient. He would draw connection after connection so that people would understand, and do so until they were happy. I encourage people to take his classes, and to feel free to "bother" him when they do. He'd love it, and it'll be the best way to learn from him.

Dec 2004

Amazing senior seminar professor, very helpful with structuring a schedule for your thesis and making sure that you are on the right track at the right time. If you don't want to be able to save your thesis for the last minute, Professor Marten provides the perfect combination of guidance and structure for this international politics thesis writing seminar.

Aug 2004

I can't imagine a better senior seminar. There were only four people in the section, and we worked incredibly well together. We met every week despite not having to, and Minnite was more than willing to take the time to work with all of us at all times, even while she is technically on sabbatical. She was incredibly supportive and gave wonderful feedback. Writing a thesis can be daunting but with Minnite it's still a process, but one that you feel more comfortable in. She breaks the process down into managable pieces. And her incredible accessibility and honest interest in your topic cannot be matched. She is simply the best when it comes to this, and I cannot recommend her enough. Get into her seminar if you possibly can. I guarantee you'll have a great thesis experience.

Apr 2004

This woman has the absolute best pedagogical method of any professor IÂ’ve had in my years at Columbia. She is measured and focused and will always come to class with a meticulously planned discussion which make the 2 hours of class fly by orÂ…at least, pass by tolarably (Incidentally, when spending 2 hours discussing Goethe death poems, it takes a pedagogical wizard a la Kelly Barry to make this happen). She expects students to do the work fully but itÂ’s completely understandable! This is one teacher who is actually conscious of the fact that students take more than one class. One reviewer said that initially she can come off as being a bit cold. I can see that. But watching her try to suppress the tiny fires of passion in her eyes when she is discussing a Goethe text make the class completely worth while. Also, if youÂ’re studying German as a major or concentration, she will show a vested interest in your success both professionally and academically. Kelly Barry ist prima! (Side note: I am currently working on a 3 page German essay on Goethe death poems for this woman and I wrote STILL this review. A testament to her virtues.)

Mar 2004

Come on people -- the man is an coldhearted unapproacheable s.o.b. I felt like I was going to my execution everytime I went to his office hours (he was my senior advisor). He offers no support to seniors that are not writing hard science theses, making people who are trying to write innovative works about the integration of environmental science into the real world (not dissecting frogs for the sake of research) feel sorry they ever took the high road. The sad part is that if you are a env. sci senior, you cant avoid him.

Dec 2003

Berofsky's lectures are dull. Berofsky's lectures are dry. Berofsky's lectures are mind-numbing. Berosfky is a methodical, intelligent philosopher. He has a complete and extensive knowledge of what he is talking about. He answers student questions throroughly, although he has trouble understanding those who speak sloppily. In all honesty, although I like Professor Berofsky very much on a personal level, I would never in good faith recommend his class to anyone. Granted, have tastes other than mine and somehow fall in "interest" with him. But, with this learned philosopher, very few people who have that sort of chemistry.

Apr 2003

A very nice guy. He knows his stuff and will definetly challenge you to rethink your convictions. For the thesis if you are the type of student who comes to the first day of class just for the syllabus you'll do fine. He does not bog you down with tons of internal deadlines, but leaves it up to you to be an adult about going after input and disciplining yourself as far as time and quality. However, if you actually go to classes for structure and guidance this is not the thesis advisor for you- and I'm really really serious about that. You have no idea what senior year holds for you until you get ther... and you'll probably need more help than you'd like to admit.

Nov 2002

AVOID!!! Do not go in, he is not helpful, never gives constructive feedback and is just arrogant. Has no problems telling you that he does not think you are going to graduate.

May 2002

Peña is an interesting character. What he lacks for in his creativity he makes up for with his insight. Boring. Ennui. But knowledgeable, and gifted. Likes his snacks. Beware his punctuality. Overall, quite a plucky professor.

Mar 2002

Berofsky is a fabulous lecturer with a style that flows well. He uses clever examples to illustrate some of the more difficult theories (although some of the examples are from the literature), and moves at a nice pace to cover a lot of material. He always stops every fifteen or so minutes in his lectures to invite questions, so his classes are very open and have the atmosphere of a discussion-based seminar sometimes. However, Berofsky does take attendance and even uses a seating chart to make sure people attend classes. He will count attendance in the final grade. That having been said, I should point out that he is very set in his ways when it comes to term papers. Don't believe what he says in the syllabus that papers should be an original argument! What he really wants you to do is just the opposite. He wants you to reconstruct some argument that some philosopher has made on some interesting topic, usually from the reading list. Believe me on this one--I tried twice, and learned the hard way! Don't make the same mistake I did. It's a good idea to go see him in office hours before you go off to do some research for a paper. he will usually suggest one or two readings--Make sure to include those readings explicitly within your paper, if you want to do well. Be careful, too, about pressing a point too insistently in class--he has the potential of making you look dumb.

Feb 2002

Prof. Rovane assigned one and only one book for her seminar: her own book on Personal Identity. Although I liked her very much from the beginning, I quickly became very frustrated in the class. Working with just one book was stifling, especially as Rovane brooked absolutely no dissent. If you disagreed, you were wrong, and if she had to yell and refuse to listen in order to show that you were wrong, well...that's what she would do. More than a few of my fellow students had problems with her book, but we learned not to voice our objections in class. That was a bit of a problem, as there was not much to say in class other than to summarize the book. I was amazed that Rovane managed to structure the entire course so that she had to do no more work than to show up for class and read papers at the end. We spent most of the time listening to her go on for hours about child psychology. Any substantive issues that students raised in class were most surely not treated with any degree of seriousness, and most often they were just ignored or passed over. If she teaches this class again, and you're in it, my advice is to detach yourself from the class discussion, do a lot of outside reading on personal identity, write a paper that interestes YOU, and try not to get too frustrated with the direction of the class.

Apr 2001

He is always willing to help with the data analysis and for someone who is involved with so many research projects you wish he would speak more otfen. Unfortunately he splits time between here and lamont so sometimes he is unavailable but he tries to make room for everyone. E-mail is the best way to reach him.

Jan 2000

Bilgrami is brilliant and his style is engaging. The class closely follows his interests and recent, acclaimed work in Philosophy of Mind and Language. "Closely" is an understatement--the class is nothing short of an enterprise in sustained, didactic dissent-throttling-with-extreme-prejudice. He'll start out by saying things that sound mad, mad, mad because they are so radical. When you protest he'll murderously cut you down. And in the end, you will emerge far wiser, having learned that he is quite right. Intelligent participation is rather important to him, and stubborn, inane protestations are poorly taken. Instead, prod him to explain his cryptic remarks and repeat, oh so knowingly, everything he says.

Jan 2000

Bilgrami lectures without notes, yet he is still able to pick up approximately where he left off from the last class. This is a pretty good trick and creates two impressions: that he is paying to attention to what he is saying and that the class is going somewhere. Both are true. His favored class format is a mutation of the Socratic method made popular by televangelists everywhere. Bilgrami will present and defend an seemingly crazy argument until a majority of the class agrees with him, at which point he will change his mind and begin arguing the other side until the majority agrees with him again. Slightly unnerving, this is also a good trick which clearly demonstrates the techniques of philosophical argumentation and, of course, the fact that he is much smarter than any of you. On a good day, he may wax eloquent while standing on one leg for a full hour. The Methods and Problems class is a good introduction to philosophy and a great chance to sit back, listen and learn. Other classes demand quite a bit more, but will probably follow his own work very closely. Regurgitation is always appreciated and well rewarded. Lectures make detailed use of the readings and expect snappy, indignant answers to stupid questions. This man needs and deserves a talkshow.