A Social History of Columbia University

Dec 2004

I only have really good things to say about this class. Prof. McCaughey is an extremely engaging professor. He is well versed, well prepared, and quite funny. While the info can at times be a little dry - which in my opinion it was with Columbia's early history, by the end of the semester, you don't want to put down McCaughey's book, Stand Columbia. This is a class for people just a little curious about the place they're going to be spending 4 years, people wanting to fulfil a history requirement as painlessly as possible, as well as hardcore history majors (and there were quite a few in the class). Just a warning, there wasn't quite enough about Barnard to satisfy me - although that is my opinion as a Barnard student who wanted to hear more about the school she goes to. But at the same time, Barnard did get more attention than other affilite institutions, so i suppose I'll just have to take what I can get. :)

Nov 2004

He is an outstanding lecturer. True, you read his book, but he fills in all of the gaps. Even if you don't like Columbia, his stories and dynamic teaching style will be a draw for anyone.

Mar 2003

Professor McCaughey is an extremely prepared, engaging and charismatic lecturer. Obviously well versed in this topic (his book on CU's history will be coming out in Fall 2004), he inserts anecdotes and witty coments throughout his lectures. I've only taken one exam, but it was pretty killer and pretty unfair because of the specificity of the questions. How much does one really learn by memorizing lists upon lists of dates? His readings are pretty much recaps of his lectures and his near obsession with using the internet as an educational resource translates into a requirement of two website projects. You are free to do it on any topic that you like within a certain time period and they are actually pretty interesting and more fun to do than writing a paper. He also puts up lecture notes online, which I've heard are useful, but I've never looked them over myself. Overall a pretty good class, besides the exams but that's where P/D/F-ing comes in.

May 2002

This class begins with the founding of King's College in 1754 and ends with the Columbia we know and (usually) love today. (Don't worry, Barnard students, there's plenty of discussion about BC.) Some of the material is quite interesting, but it's still a history course, complete with tons of reading (much of it written in flowery, archaic English) and timelines. Fortunately, Professor McCaughey is an enthusiastic, eloquent, and entertaining lecturer who makes some of the dull material more engaging. He also gives you the freedom to explore the Columbia-related topics that interest you most, which was what made the course worthwhile for me. All in all, this is a good class -- just don't expect to hear about the most fascinating aspects of our school's history (the revolts of '68, etc.) all the time.