course
20th Century Urbanization in a Comparative Perspective

Aug 2007

Though I generally enjoyed learning about specific "case studies" as an Urban Studies major, there were a few things about this class that bothered me. 1) This is a history class, and at times the information given to us during lectures seemed irrelevant or unnecessary. 2) Neither in lecture, nor in discussion section did we ever had the chance to analyze anything. Everything was thrown at us on a purely factual level. 3) At times Prof. Gutfreund felt it appropriate to treat us like children in the middle of class (ie. making people shut computers during films, scolding us for finding amusement in the films... etc). It was condescending and insulting. Despite this, he loves Urban Studies majors and is very helpful one-on-one. SimCity is really fun, but don't leave it to the night before, as I did on more than one occasion.

Dec 2005

This class changed my perspective on cities, to be sure, but only because I had never taken another urbanization class. That said, only take this class if you enjoy the style of learning history which reccomends memorizing facts without any sort of theory or explanation as to why they're all important. Owen talked really fast and clearly was very knowledgeable, but he was unable to discern between relevant and irrelevant facts to include in his lecture. So I did learn many things about the cities we studied, but I didn't learn many methods of analysis specific to urban studies, or how to go about investigating cities in the future. We investigated GIS methods in our discussion section, but as the class was large and only had one TA, discussions sections were biweekly and therefore very cursory. Part of the grade was also to post in discussion on CourseWorks, but I feel it would have been better if Owen had provided questions to guide our discussion, since it ended up being very unfocused and generally people made uninteresting comments just so they could fulfill that part of the class. Many people in the class enjoyed it; I did not. Just be clear before you take it about what sort of experience you're looking for.

Apr 2005

Great class. Prof. Gutfreund is a well-prepared, engaging lecturer and is clearly passionate about the city. His lectures are so interesting and he uses websites, videos, and guest lecturers to complement what he has to say about the cities that we are studying (Denver, Melbourne, Kano (Nigeria), Beijing, Singapore, Brasilia, Mexico City and Toronto). The SimCity assignment is not much fun if you don't get into the game, but he gave us a lot of freedom on the other paper. Discussion sections (run by the sole TA) are informative and interesting as well, and we got the option of taking a discussion-based section or learning GIS.

Apr 2005

James is a great TA. He's the sole TA for a 90 person class, and leads discussion sections, grades papers/exams, and is still extremely accessible and willing to help. He is a master's student in urban planning and is teaching us his GIS skills as an option for section. I am astounded by the amount of work he takes on for this role, especially considering most classes that I've had this size have at least 2 or 3 TAs. He and Prof. Gutfreund work together to create a really great interactive course.

Jan 2000

This was not a very good course. Too much time was spent on esoteric matters of too few cities. One glaring omission was the lack of any look into European cities. It seemed like the professor had little expertise on many of the cities and relied on reading straight from websites. There is very little work in this class - NO READING - there are no texts and the website reading is irrelevant. The required work includes posting to a newsgroup, 3 short easy papers (one being a SimCity project), and a fairly easy midterm and final. There just isn't much material in this course. Expect somewhat harsh grading as it seems like the professor is defensive about qualifying this course as a legit class. Also, expect the prof to get irritated by stupid little things. TA's are second-rate.

Jan 2000

This is a relatively new class in a relatively new department, so expect there to be many changes from semester to semester. I suppose the lectures were adequate and Prof Gutfreund knows quite a bit of esoteric facts, but this class really couldn't capture my interest. The grading was a little harsh, particularly considering that this is more of a fluffy class.

Jan 2000

I was expecting a lot more out of this class, but the sad thing was how boring the class was. I thought this would be an exciting look at different cities and an overview of urbanization in the global world, but the course ended up being a static look into a few specific cities. Often we would spend extraordinary amounts of time covering minute historical facts about a city that were truly irrelevant to the purpose of the course. I do not recommend this class.