Roy Licklider is a guy that certainly knows what he's talking about... just not in a way that you will ever hope to understand it. His style of lecturing has no care for the students. It seems as if his goal is to confuse everyone, inciting arguments, and making himself feel superior. Even the TAs complain about him as a person. Assignment descriptions are super vague and the grading is incredibly rigorous. This class is an absolute struggle.
This class wasn't TOO bad. Make no mistake, just like many other political science courses at Columbia, it is violently white. There are several nuances that are not explored and should be in order to properly understand complex issues. Professor Licklider sometimes says things that he, as an expert in foreign relations for 30 plus years, should know better but he is open to conversation and debate. He's very understanding when it comes to working if extensions or other accommodations are needed. The best parts of this class are the readings and how Profesor Licklider teaches the class in a way where even though you may not agree with a certain stance you'll have information to not only back up your side but refute others. A good class for any future lawyers.
I am a graduating senior, currently taking this course to satisfy my IR requirements. This course is not for anyone who wants to learn, it is simply an outlet for the professor to be able to read a regurgitation of his opinions in someone else's handwriting. He prides himself on not giving out good grades and will flat out tell you to drop the course when you go to speak with him. His TA's are a little better, but they don't grade you. If and when they do, this professor will go back and RE-grade you (and rest assured that your grade will certainly drop). Despite having had many professors, witnessed many different styles,this man is by far the most unhelpful. I have never been this upset about a course since I've been here. And sure, i'm frustrated so do take my review with a grain of salt as maybe working in this kind of classroom environment will work well for you, but do note that In signing up for this course, I read many poor reviews for this professor under another rating platform. I didn't heed the warnings because I thought they were just cranky about one bad grade (I was wrong). He is every bit the crappy professor students said he was. His lectures are dry, he's rude, condescending, and finds failing people to be his calling in life. Save your time, energy, and effort on courses where the professor is here to help, encourage, and help foster a healthy learning environment.
I have taken two classes with Professor Blanchard and I enjoyed both. Blanchard's classes are straight-forward both in terms of assignments and exams. Blanchard is approachable during office hours and will give you valuable advice on assignments. The amount of reading was average polisci level. Blanchard's teaching is mostly entertaining and energetic, because he genuinely cares about making class fun, interactive and he will try to learn your name. The interactive part is great for the most part and when people make meaningful comments, but it can also get annoying when the same people keep talking. There are also times, as with most professors, when lectures or topics are just boring. For some Blanchard might even be too entertaining and not serious or analytical enough, because he loves to make jokes and to tell anecdotes. For me personally going to lectures was very worthwhile and the readings were for the most part meaningful and interesting. Overall, Blanchard is clear when it comes to concepts and I'm sure he'll do a good job getting you excited about the topic.
For context - I'm a polisci major in my junior year doing my major subfield in international relations. I had heard very good things about Professor Blanchard before deciding to take American Foreign Policy, which is why I ended up beiong rather disappointed with this course. The lectures seemed disjointed, and were tied together with relatively nonsensical slides. I'm not one to argue that a great class requires great slides, but if a class has crappy slides, it must be compensated for by engaging teaching. On this count, I felt that Blanchard failed to provide. He's obviously a smart guy, but he came off as a little arrogant and aloof, and taught in a rhetorical manner that didn't sit well with me. He frequently used witticisms and quips which kept the class giggling, but it seemed to really just be a compensation effort for a lack of obvious material. It wasn't so much that the topics we went through weren't interesting, it was just that their presentation was rather poor, and it wasn't very clear to me what I was meant to get out of each lecture. For all of this negativity though, I don't want to say that I regret the course, because I actually learned rather a lot. The readings assigned for each week tended to be very interesting, and the exams forced you to really learn your stuff. The term paper (15 pages) also ended up being quite a bit of fun, as we were all able to delve into just about whatever topic we wanted and do serious independent research. All in all, AFP was a relatively easy class without many clear aims, that ended up being quite informative but mostly by virtue of the readings that were assigned. I think Blanchard is probably a nice guy, but he should brush up on his lecture presentation, and make the goals of each lecture a little clearer. On a final note, I know many people who liked him a lot, and enjoyed the class a lot more than I did. So don't take my word as authoritative.
I was severely disappointed by this class. Blanchard initially seemed like a cool, funny professor and I was very interested by the topic of foreign policy but this class was unbearable. Blanchard is a patronizing dick. Specifically the lectures are very slow-paced with a lot of unnecessary side comments from Blanchard while the reading is difficult and unmanageable, but the articles he picks are good. There were days when I left with less than half a page of notes because I didn't think anything he said went beyond what any poli sci student didn't already know from an intro class or common sense. He definitely picks out his favorites and allows them to go off topic and not really say much at all. As the semester progressed going to lecture was a physically painful experience and I continued to lose more and more faith in his ability. The grading is also very difficult for the midterm and paper although he gives you the ids and essays its still fairly hard to get an A. It probably would have made more sense to make this a take This one of the only classes I have regretted taking at Columbia.
Now, those people who keep saying that Pr. Cronin's lectures are extremely boring, I would recommend to take Pr. Marten's class and see how you going to be overwhelmed by her overly enthusiastic/extremely dramatic lectures. It is true, there were no fireworks during his classes, but I did not fall asleep either. He is a really nice, funny, and easygoing person. The material was interesting, some of the readings were even extremely interesting, but, of course, if you are a conservative, you might not like them too much. The simulations were fun to do and the papers, including the final take home exam, not too hard to write. Now, I would not say this class is 'easy, easy, easy", but it's absolutely doable. The TA that I had was Seva and he was great - very knowledgeble and helpful. Overall, a good class, although I expected to get an A instead of A-, but, again, I didn't have any experience in poli sci before this semester so I am not complaining.
Perhaps the most succinct way to articulate this class is "meh." Cronin lectures by reading his power point presentations to the class, who feverishly types down every word. With a weak delivery, inability to watch the clock (we always left class five minutes late), and generally straightforward/obvious material, foreign policy simply did not come to life. I stopped doing the readings altogether after around the third week. Save yourself those first two weeks and use them as a reference for the take-home final or to study from for the midterm. Either way, you'd be better served just borrowing the books every now and then from a friend rather than drop the ~$80 required to buy them all. Section activity is largely contingent on your TA's ability, but mine were usually interesting and had spirited debate. The "decision-making simulation" that counts as 20% of your grade is a gimme assignment, but also ridiculously fun. Too bad we only did this twice. All in all, a relatively simple class. Cronin's not going to throw you many curveballs and he's certainly not going to ask for anything more than a surface analysis/comprehension of the material presented oh-so-conveniently on those power point slides.
Seva had probably the most useful discussion I've been to here columbia. Really knew his stuff, but was approachable and not arogant about it - broke down the readings, but also gave us a chance to talk about them. Usually you get a sense of what the TA knows/doesnt know and what he/she want you to say for the "right" answer, but Seva made discussion feel like I was actually learning a lot without being lectured at. Allso, funny anecdotes about life in Russia. The simulation exercise was surprisingly useful. Actually, this was probably the only section I went to consistently. One complaint - no TA should have a discussion just 1.5 hours after lecture, that's just wasted time!
Easy class with extremely bias liberal analysis of past policy, stopped going because of it and just showed up for tests and discussion. I stopped doing the readings after the second week because of the obvious liberal tone. Cronin lies about Reagan, and got caught in one during lecture. Books are very expensive for this class and worthless as well. TA Dianne was much better than Cronin and was very neutral oriented in explaining past policy, so I just took notes from her lectures, she is really good at not wasting anybody's time. Mid term was cake and only lost a few points, for answering with the American exceptionalist attitude. On the paper same thing, would have gotten an A if I pointed out flaws in conservative policy rather than point out liberal failures. Overall class was a waste of time, if you basic idea of policy history before this class, you can pull a B with very little commitment.
This course is easy, easy, easy. The lectures are pretty interesting and relatively basic, meaning that if you happen watch or check the news, you'll understand the course. Cronin is a nice guy and a funny lecturer - the kind of teacher that you want at 9 in the morning. Dianne is also the TA you want. She's a nice TA and she's a really easy grader. Skim as much of the reading that you can, but don't stress about it too much. Focus on the beginning material (the foundations of American foreign policy) and the section on "security policy:" security policy was the focus of the take-home final this semester but it could change to something like economic policy next term.
First off, he is intimidating. He seems to love nothing more than to scare the crap out of you with his ridiculously dense lectures and proclaiming the difficulty of his final. There is an ungodly amount of reading, which you will have to accept that you will never, ever complete. If you can get past these issues, then the class isn't half bad. For one thing, Parent is a very engaging lecturer, although he does have the tendency to use the word fuck quite unnecessarily and his sequences of ideas can be convoluted and hard to follow. You are also only graded on a midterm, final, and discussion section participation grade (which you get just by attending). While Parent claims that his standards increase exponentially between the midterm and the final, I somehow managed to go up an entire letter grade, so it can't be as cutthroat as he claims. Also, you don't have to do ALL the reading. I asked my TA to go over the core 20 or so, and just focused on those and did fine.
Joe is a very good teacher. I say this not only because he is an entertaining lecturer but, moreover, he picked a thought provoking syllabus. Be forewarned: there is a lot of reading in the class. I am not a poli-sci major so, I tried to do it all. I didn't succeed. But I tried my damndest. The funny thing is, those couple of articles I only skimmed, the things I read without taking good notes. I kind of regret. In retrospect, the course was really thought provoking about how strongly international politics/ threats/ strategy were fundamental in the shape and make-up of the country today. Plus, there are fun readings like Wizards of Armageddon, which is just Doctor Strangelove but strangely and unfortunately real. Believe the hype. He's a good teacher. It's a great course no matter what your major.
Joe is a no-nonsense kind of guy. He gives it to you straight, admits that he's biased, and lets you know that his class is hard. But as a lecturer, he's awesome. And he clearly lays out the expectations: "My grading is exactly the university-wide mean, so you won't get punished [gpa wise] by taking this course but you won't get blessed either." And the exams are hard. But the reading was as fantastic as it was lengthy. I loved this class.
I just finished Joe's summer class and I give him and the class two thumbs up. This class should almost be a requirement. It's just good stuff. From the greeks, to American revolutionary history, the class goes inside and outside the forces that have shaped the country. Double bonus--Parent is a nice guy and entertaining lecturer. A lot of readings but doable. It sucked as a summer course because there wasn't quite enough time to think about it. But definitely a course worth taking and thinking about during the school year. It's one you'll be glad you put the work into and wish you spent more time on.
Prof. Parent's lectures are impressive to say the least. He comes to every lecture prepared and never loses a step through the 75 minutes. The class remains interesting thanks to Parent on a number of levels. I think this was his first semester as a professor, but he was so knowledgable on the subject and flawless in his lectures, it was diffucult to tell
The review below pretty much sums up Jesse. HE seems like a really nice & smart guy, but he just does not know how to run a discussion section. This particular class had an extreme amount of reading & we hardly ever touched on any of it, which was definitely detrimental for the midterm & final, especially since the other TAs in the class reviewed the readings meticulously. He does offer good comments on exams though. I would probably say try to switch sections if you don't think that you can keep up with all the work yourself.
At first glance, this class looks really easy for a pol sci class. Only a midterm & final & discussion section, which are worth 1/3 each. However, the reading list is the most intense one that I have ever seen with over 100 pages per class. I think the grand total of readings was well over 100. Professor Parent does expect you to know these readings well & cite them on the exams (The final is also cumulative). Prof Parent is the most down to earth lecturer I have ever had. He is not that much older than us & speaks in every day terms, which makes really hard topics much easier to handle. He does go off on tangents a lot & sometimes does not seem to have a point. The work is very intense & Prof Parent is a very hard grader. However, he definitely seems open to adjusting his teaching style as he gains more experience as a professor. Definitely take his class. In a few years, he is probably going to be one of the biggest names in Political Science at Columbia. Just don't expect to get an A.
Jo is a fun person, but hardly your typical academic. Thing about Professor Parent is that he doesn't really "tell the story" well (i.e. narrating the past). Thus when he discusses the history of American foreign policy is rather uninspiring and haphazard. That said, once we reached the latter half of the course (on theory), he was more than up to the task. Exams are fair but very challenging. You've got to keep up with your readings or be in a good section that does the work for you.
One of the best no-nonsense TAs in the department. I can dare say that people in the other sections had lost out considerably because Ryan does a great job in synthesizing the readings.
Parent knows his stuff and is really interesting to listen to. He has a great sense of humor and brings that to his lectures (lots of jokes, sarcasm, etc.). That defintely makes the lectures go a little less slowly when you're sitting there. He DOES move through the material like his a$$ is on fire, though. He'll clarify if you ask him to and is fully aware of how quickly he moves, but it makes for some difficult note-taking. He's totally up front about the course being about "breadth, not depth" though so be prepared for blank spots in your notes because sometimes you just can't write fast enough. The discussion sessions are really, really useful for helping with this though.
Parent's AFP class is run in a casual lecture format. At the beginning of each class he puts up IDs and Dates on the board that need to be taken down and help with the lecture outline. After the midterm the IDs begin to disappear, and the course moves from the history of AFP to focusing on theory. Some of the readings from the course are great, in particular the Gaddis and Kissinger readings really synergized, providing fluency with the history and theory of AFP. At the start of the course I found Parent's lecture style refreshing, but as time progressed every class began to feel like the Daily Show. The cynicism grated on me a bit. Parent is a good professor, but you can't use the same shtick every single class for an entire semester and expect to hold attention. Also, the course does feel incoherent at times. My TA did a great job but was often unsure of what we would need to know for the midterm, of which one essay is 80% of the grade.
Worst. Class. Ever. Thank god Joe Parent, teaches the class now. I don't know if Matthews is still around but if he resurfaces in a classroom STAY AWAY. The other reviews have said it all. The man's dead-pan delivery can put anyone to sleep. For a relatively small lecture class Matthews made no attempt to integrate discussions into the weekly lecture. The readings were decent (standard foreign policy articles culled from JSTOR) but I have no idea how they figured into his lectures. Worse, the grading is totally arbitrary and YES, you will end up with a B unless you suck up to the TA who, incidentally, turns out to be the dude who got kicked out of the GSAS poli sci department and made a big fuss about it. Go figure.
A great class, very interesting. He is amusing and up front about what he believes. The real work is in discussion section. Don't let the books and reading scare you....you dont need them.
The class was a waste of time and I would recommend taking another professor. You do not learn much and it could hurt GPA. Other students enjoyed Gottlieb's AFP class but he no longer teaches at Columbia. Therefore, you are stuck with one choice.
I agree with the previous reviewer. Matthews is one of the worst Poli Sci lecturers I have ever had, right up there with Raymond Smith. Don't be tempted by the lure of the once-a-week class unless you're prepared to deal with 120 minutes of excruciating boredom.
Oh my god terrible terrible. This class was SUCH a waste of time. It is a disgrace how little I learned in a class about our own country's foreign policy from a man who is a leader within the corporate world. His 2hour once a week classes were boring, with a simple outline read out by him (essentially thats what it was) instead of a deep intellectual lecture. He would list the major issues about the topic discussed (such as Economic policy, American Empire), as if he were making a list of major topics highlighted by the newspapers in the past year. In between points within the outline he would pause for like 5 minutes to see if anyone had questions. It almost seemed like he was praying someone would speak up so he wouldnt have to talk. It seemed to me he is just doing to the class to say that he is a professor at Columbia. His class relied on a ridiculous amount of readings for the bulk of any intellectual stimulus. Many readings were not really relavent and others were impossible to find. I felt that he threw together a list and expected us to read all of it. His class only consists of a midterm and final both of whihc are basically solely based on readings. With heavy reliance on a huge list of readings and a terrible lecture class that did not reinforece the readings or even connect with all of them, its hard to get a good grade in this class. So you watse your time, get frustrated, learn nothing, and hurt your GPA. Skip Matthews. Take Am foregn policy with the other professor who teaches it.
Professor Gottlieb is hands down the best professor I have had at Columbia!! If you ever have a chance to take a class with this man you must not pass it up!! Although a little heavy on the reading, his classes are always stimulating and allow you to discuss current events as they unfold. He incorporates movies, guest lectures, debates and short-memos into the syllabus to keep the course interesting and is an incredibly engaging speaker. He is the reason why I chose to remain a political science major, as most of my other polisci courses were dry and monotonous. It is Columbia's extreme loss that he will be splitting his time with Yale in the future.
Great teacher, great lecturer, funny guy with a lot of experience in Washington. He will shoot you down in class so be prepared when you speak. His lateness policy is a so called 2 minute actually at least 5 minute grace period before shutting the door and then freaking out for 5 minutes when someone tries to come into the class. There is a lot of short articles and a few easy to read books. Much less dense then other poli sci classes.
This is a class that every student at Columbia MUST ABSOLUTELY TAKE before graduating! It was by far the best class IÂ’ve taken at Columbia! I've never come across a professor who is more charismatic, inspirational and knowledgeable in his field! I didnÂ’t miss a single class (and that has never happened to me before), because I absolutely loved it! He is dynamic and engaging, and he adds humor and interesting anecdotes to his lectures. He is also very approachable both outside and inside the classroom. His lectures encompass readings from the Founding Fathers up to articles written during the summer of 2005, and although there are a lot of materials to cover, he takes the time to discuss complex arguments surrounding controversial issues (they are also in the readings). I knew bits of US foreign policy history, but this class really helped me see the whole picture and understand the forces that shape US foreign policymaking. As a former Washington insider, he also offers students insights on how Washington really works (as November 2004 reviewer had mentioned). After taking this class, I feel like I finally have the mastery of American foreign policy that IÂ’ve been seeking!! Education is difficult to appreciate sometimes, but professors like him really make me realize how lucky I am to be studying under such extraordinary professors at Columbia! I urge all students to take this class!
Prof. Gottlieb is one of the best professors I have had at Columbia. Though his lectures begin with a lot of American history, the class gets much more interesting as the semester progresses. Although he may seem tough at first--he kicks out all freshman, sophomores, and auditors--he's really a nice, friendly guy. He always responds promptly to emails, and he leaves time at the end of the lecture for people to ask questions. The readings may be heavy, but you don't have to do all of them to do well. His lectures are always engaging and exciting, and the material becomes current after the first third of the semester. Take any class he offers.
Like a runner up in America's Next Top Model, this class just didn't pop for me. Yes, Gottlieb is very organized and lectures were both entertaining and interesting, but I found I just didn't care. I think this stems primarily from the fact that I expected a much more nuanced approach to American Foreign Policy from this class. Instead, I basically got a rehash of the Intro course with some annoying historical information about Puritans in it. Most of the information you get from the class is pretty obvious if you read the New York Times. In addition, Gottlieb's analness drove me insane. If I get one more email about the lateness policy I'm going to throw myself off a bridge. Although I thought the assignments were somewhat interesting, it was sort of a crap shoot as to whether you would do a good job on them. However, this could have been attributed to my personal lack of interest in the course. Also, the reading list is absurd and the final does test your knowledge of it. Also, I've never met a professor who is so bad at addressing students' comments. I'd say Gottlieb misinterpreted what a student said about 75% of the time. It was remarkable really. I could see why people thought this was a good class due to its organization and entertainment value, it just didn't really enhance my knowledge of anything by the end of it.
Regardless of whether you are a poli sci major/grad student or not, you are CRAZY if you do not take a class with Gottlieb while you are at Columbia. He is the kind of professor that really draws you in from the very first day and gives you an unbelievable experience as a student, but he is also the kind of guy that you would have a blast just hanging out with outside of class. Gottlieb is young, full of energy, brilliant without putting on airs, has really applicable knowledge and experience in the subjects he teaches, and always keeps you hooked. His classes are just the right combination of really interesting factual info, discussion of current events, balance of varying viewpoints (the man can adeptly argue any side of an issue and never lets one opinion on politics, policies, people, or events dominate without keeping everyone on their toes by throwing a solid counter argument out) and, when you are lucky, his famously hilarious and subtly sarcastic side commentary (think John Stewart). He is quite simply unforgettable, and everyone I know who took a class with him in the Fall semester couldn't wait to be in his class again in the Spring semester. I have never learned as much or had my perspectives as opened up in a class, and it was all so painless and exciting. It is a shame that he only teaches 2 classes here, because now after taking them both and really being changed and inspired by them, all my other classes pale in comparison. Don't miss out on this one...
His name says it all: Gott (German for GOD) and lieb (German for lovely)...He is the funniest; wittiest and most entertaining lecturer I have ever had in PoliSci. And he is extremely eloquent and smart--in short: I wanted to have his babies...trust me you want to go to class every week and you get upset if you have to miss one..!!!! (and I will definitely try to take his Terrorism class next year)
Gottlieb is a very entertaining professor. As a former speechwriter for Senator Dodd (D-Conn.), Gottlieb brings a knowledge of how Washington really works into the classroom. He spends at least 10 minutes every class fielding a wide range of questions about current political events, and his time as an insider gives a fresh perspective. The one pitfall of this is the questions asked by the students in the class. The questions are often uninformed and not well thought out. However, this means that Gottlieb, who has a quick wit and a propensity to use it, often responds quickly and in a way that embarrasses the unintelligent questioner. In terms of the class itself, it is not particularly difficult. There is a decent amount of reading, but most of it is extremely fascinating. If you are interested in the history of U.S. foreign policy and how that history informs current viewpoints, then take this class. Lecture is interesting, but if you are well-informed about international political theory, you will probably find it elementary and, at times, frustrating. I wonder why it is considered a graduate level class. My one gripe about the class is the lack of discussion session; the readings are good enough that discussion would be interesting, and it might prevent students from asking dumb questions during lecture. Generally, if you want an entertaining professor who is not too difficult and offers an interesting perspective, I recommend this class.
I'm not sure which Justine the other reviewer from this class had, but she's fabulous. Very very smart, extremely knowledgeable, very available, willing to tell you what is actually going on. Hard grading but fair, and she has a blessedly low tolerance for the stupid, obnoxious, or arrogantly long-winded in section, and, I suspect, on papers. Nothing wrong with that, unless, of course, you are one of those three things, but if you aren't you will be very very grateful. She was the one saving grace of this class, and I would gladly take another class she was TA-ing. Ignore the other review - if she's a TA in your class, you should definitely seek her out.
The fact that this man has managed to become a well known political scientist and is tenured at a place with people like Waltz and Jervis is just one of the universe's great mysteries. As one reviewer pointed out, if you know ANYTHING about the regions he discusses, you will want to bang your head against your desk repeatedly because Baldwin seems to know very few accurate facts about the topic - you know, foreign policy? His class on the Cuban Missile Crisis was in and of itself a great puzzlement. The man does not seem to actually know in what years the Cuban Missile crisis took place. The one redeeming thing about the class was a terrific TA. Justine Rosenthal knew her shit, ran discussion sections smoothly and efficiently, and was very responsive and helpful, especially if you made the mistake of occasionally showing up for class and confusing your knowledge of world events (likely correct) with Baldwin's knowledge of world events (divorced from reality).
Hmmm..what can I tell you that you haven't already heard? True--this is not the best class ever but it is not the worst. If you have no prior knowledge of foreign policy, you'll learn the essentials. You might be able to learn a couple of other things from Baldwin's lecture, but they're not too insightful. The good news: you dont have to go to class or the TA sections. Read the articles in the books (preferably right after he assigns the paper)...mention the authors and their ideas..present a balanced argument, and your'e set. As for the other books--well just look at the chapter reviews and skim. While I was somewhat amused by the many times Baldwin was interrupted, I did not find his lectures to be THAT boring. But then again I dont bore easily.
By far the worst TA ever. If you see this women, run! Not only did she not offer any feedback on papers She is also the most parsimonious grader you will ever encounter during your academic career. And if you choose to take a class with her be prepared to battle for every meaningless, arbitrary point that she will begrudgingly give. Like a war hardened Soviet General Rosenthal will never budge an inch, no matter how much common sense she sacrifices. She was the worst TA I ever had the misfortune of meeting. When appealing a grade the chain of command should be avoided and the student is advised to go directly to the professor. But be warned one false step with this TA could land you on her bad side and if you get on her bad side you can count yourself out of recieving a decent grade or at least a grade that you deserve!
DO NOT TAKE THIS CLASS! By far the worst class at Columbia. This class was so boring you'll loath the days that you have to attend to listen to his mind numbing rhetoric of rivisionist non-sense. The class highlights include a devoted cadre of front row occupying sychophants who hang onto every word from this tired relic of a person, constant mis-information and mistakes during his lectures, as well as backrow know-it-all's who constantly interupt Baldwin to interject meaningless and irrelavant statements. The grading system in his class made no sense as well as the lack of feedback on the two assignments. Overall you will LEARN NOTHING at all and if you do not know how to politically score a good grade (A.K.A. Grade Grub) you're toast. Baldwin wears the same unflattering outfit to class everyday. In his assignments he is looking for a regurgetation of ideas not original thought. Definately avoid this class and all classes taught by him.
You'll learn a lot and be able to watch CNN like a pro after this class. The price? Bored silly for 75 minutes twice a week. If you have mild interest in foreign policy or if you get bored easily, avoid this class. But Baldwin does have a lot of interesting things to say if you can keep yourself from doodling all class. By the way, he's an impossibly hard grader.
Decidedly an unimpressive course. Yes, you learn some pretty basic material, but this is a whirlwind survey of foreign policy and will leave you feeling ripped off. Baldwin is organized but does not offer any particular insights of note, save the occasional jab at the military establishment to which he apparently was once belonged. The readings are basically articles from Foreign Affairs magazine (NOTE: DO NOT BUY THE $100+ READER, AS YOU CAN GET ALL ARTICLES ONLINE FOR FREE) and a couple of books which require relatively brief skimming in order to write the two papers assigned--fixed topics. Can't say it was a complete waste, but not much to gain either.
My goodness, three positive reviews and one negative for Baldwin - I dare say I must cast my lot with the negatives. The most arbitrary and subjective grading I've ever encountered at Columbia. Gives us nothing but informed opeds to read for course material, and yet lambasts us for producing the same in our papers. Not ON the papers, mind you - "feedback" is not a word in Baldwin's vocabulary. You'll learn the nuts and bolts of foreign policymaking, and then move on to a glossy, useless section on regional issues, where you will sit chomping at the bit to point out the factual and analytical fallacies in his lectures if you have a profound-ish knowledge of any particular region. It's awful. Awful, I tell you. I should have dropped it, but kept holding out hope that things would turn around. They didn't. Run. You're better off reading Foreign Affairs and the international section of the NY Times.
Sounds like a cool course, right? But with a rotten professor, it was as nightmarish as the subject matter itself. Do not take this class!!!
Baldwin is a reasonably entertaining and definitely intelligent professor, but it hardly matters; a junior polisci major could teach this course just as well. It's a cross between high school American history and intro to int'l politics. Great course if you've never taken polisci and want an overview of foreign policy, but PoliSci majors, avoid; you'll be bored to tears.
Baldwin is a great lecturer. Some people think he's incredibly dull.. I, on the other hand, believe that he hits each topic, which he lays out on the board before class begins. It's funny to watch Baldwin lay into his TAs when they are late or forget to do something. If you get bored in class you can laugh at Baldwin's perpetual wardrobe. He wears the same clothes every day. If you want to get an A, buy him a new shirt... he will be eternally grateful. Baldwin is very difficult to talk to outside of class. Like most other Columbia professors he won't remember your name.
Baldwin's lectures are very clear and organized. The class material is interesting, though he is not especially engaging. Overall, the class is very good.