course
Dynamics of American Politics

Apr 2009

I actually found Professor Johnson to be a great professor. She is definitely a really busy woman, but she was always willing to speak with me about anything after classtime. She was also a great resource, giving me suggestions for summer internships based on my interests. The class wasn't that difficult, but it's an intro class, so what are you expecting? And I thought she did more elaboration of the power points than reading straight from them. I actually really liked how she used the power points; I think they kept her on target and prevented her from going on rampages like other professors tend to do. It's definitely a class for the self-motivated; you get out of it what you put into it. I definitely recommend taking this class, I really enjoyed the class!

Jan 2009

I took this class as my first real Poli Sci class at Columbia and BLAH! Prof. Johnson is a super nice woman, seems really smart especially in the area of American Politics but god her teaching style just put me to sleep. She prepares powerpoints for every lecture and basically just goes through the powerpoint and elaborates. In the beginning it seemed like it was important to go to class, but by the end of the semester I couldn't get myself to go sometimes and my grade didn't suffer. It wasn't all boring though. When she got to talking about individual presidents I found that very interesting, and those were some of the more interesting readings too. But the stuff about the Equal Protections Act, political action groups, (which are all very interesting topics) she could not have made it more boring. What I missed was the connection to the amazing things that are happening in the political arena RIGHT NOW! That's what made me feel like the class was a waste of time. Now, two semesters later with several more poli sci classes under my belt, I can truly say that I remember almost nothing from her class. Although I did get an A, if that matters.

Apr 2008

Things that bothered me: 1. She reads from the power point, completely. 2. She is incredibly condescending. 3. She doesn't respond to e-mail. 4. Her quizzes and tests are multiple choice, and ask questions about minute details in an article. 5. The reading is absolutely staggering, and pointless. The only redeeming feature is the intense fascination you will probably experience marveling in her inability to engage the class, but alas, the wonderment fades quickly.

Apr 2008

i agree... there were absolutely NO dynamics in this class. she basically summarizes various theories of bureaucracy that have been proposed in the last 20 years or so. she is extemely bent on being politically correct and not entering into controversy, insulting the students' maturity level. It seriously requires every last sinew to stay awake in this class. Don't do the readings, she tells you what to prepare for the tests. but do fight the urge to lay ur head down... and make the effort to take notes.

Feb 2008

I went into this class having heard mixed reviews about Pious, but I ended up loving him. He does the best he can to make government, which is typically a boring subject, as interesting as possible. He is extremely knowledgable, and has plenty of first-hand experience and interesting stories that relate to the class. Pious can come off as strict at first, but its definitely worth staying in the class. Be prepared to take a lot of notes- he moves quickly, but if you take good notes they will be really useful when you go to write your papers (especially if you skimmed/skipped some of the reading).

Dec 2007

He begins the class by trying to scare people out with both the overambitious reading list and the fact that an attendance sheet will be passed around each class. 2 absences before it hurts your grade; 4 before he drops you from the class. If attendance isn't a problem for you, can manage the reading in your own way, and can write an essay, you'll be fine. There is a lot of reading, but all the exams are take home essays in which you answer 1 or 2 of a selection of questions by using the readings (no outside research). Basically, he is making sure you have done the readings and have understood them. If you don't keep up with the readings before the essay topics are handed out, it is still possible to do the essays - as long as you understand that you'll have to reserve at least a solid weekend to write the essay, which is definitely doable. Prof. Pious is absolutely knowledgeable about his subject, at times his personality is irksome - he shows off; is anal retentive about having no computers, no drinks (no water), no food in the classroom. The class is not taught in a chronological manner - it is not a history class. Complete unfamiliarity with American history would make this class more difficult, but the readings cover background and there is usually time for questions like this during class.

Apr 2007

Professor Pious is a great man. He is extremely intelligent, and for all of the people who complain that he's a "hard ass" just because he takes attendance, gets mad if you're eating, drinking, or talking on your phone, get over it--this is college. I took this class first semester my freshman year, and I actually looked forward to it. Pious is a good lecturer and as long as you go to class, take notes, and do the reading, you'll be fine and learn a lot of valuable information. I liked Pious so much I'm taking another class with him.

Dec 2006

Yes, as previously mentioned, Professor Pious is a genius in his field. He knows what he is talking about, and that certainly comes across during class. The lectures are packed with information, so good note-taking skills are a must. You will not put your pen down once during the 75 minutes of class time. He also summarizes most of the assigned readings during class, which can be helpful later for the papers. However, as he states on the first day, don't expect any use of media in the classroom. While he may occasionally crack a joke, what you get in the beginning is what you are going to get all year: straight-out lecture with a few minutes for questions. Attendance is mandatory, and an attendance sheet is passed around each class. Interest in the subject is a must, or by the end of the year the class can be brutal to sit through. In general, it's best to get to class about ten minutes early, as he starts class whenever he arrives, which is usually five minutes before the scheduled time. The workload really depends on how well you organize your time. If you do the readings when you're supposed to, I imagine that it takes much less time to write the papers later. Just make sure to take notes while you're reading, because he expects at least six citations a page for the papers. I personally left all the readings for the weekend before a paper was due, and would then pull an all-nighter actually writing the paper that Sunday. It's not fun, but it is possible, and I still managed all A's and A-'s. But don't expect to spend less than 24 hours writing any of the papers. For anyone who is passionately interested in political science, Professor Pious is your man. However, if you're just taking the class for fun and want something a little less intense, it may be best to explore your other options.

Nov 2006

Pious is a phenominal educator and a master in his subject matter. Don't let him scare you off the first few days, his lectures are PACKED with information - but he is funny, and most importantly he has lived through much of what he is talking about (any politics that takes place after 1960's he has some form of first hand experience with). do the readings. do the readings. do the readings. there are a lot, but skim through and pick out main points, and you should earn about a b+. He is a fair grader- but the papers he has you write can only be completed if you - DO THE READINGS. If you want a general overview of the American political system- this is the man for you. Truly, I couldn't imagine a more professional, knowledgable professor and haven't had one yet.

Nov 2006

Professor Pious is one of the most well-versed men I have had in any politial science class. However, he explained to me half-way through the semester that his class does not count for a political science major at columbia (as opposed to barnard- good thing I am a history major) A working knowledge of American History is preferred - as many political events take place because of world- effects- but it is not at all necessary. As a first-year, I thought that the way he explained everything in his lectures (of which you can only miss one- none if you want an A) was very clear and understandable. Pious has real life experience - he works for the Dem party and has written many many books on Political Science and the President (some of which you will be required to buy). Take this class if you want a basic but extremely extremely thorough understanding of American Politics.

Oct 2006

She is a good teacher who assumes her students remembered what they were taught in High School. I've seen some students look frustrated when she references, for example, the first article of the United States Constitution. She assumes they know what it is, and if they don't know, they accuse her of being a bad teacher. At Columbia however, you're supposed to be smarter than the average 12 year-old before you step into the classroom.

Jun 2006

Ok. I really liked this class. I did not take AP Gov't so I can't attest to its similarity to the class. As to the acussations, that the class is boring, or that Professor Johnson is clueless, neither is true. The class was very interesting. I enjoyed the historical and sociological perspectives of the class, and Professor Johnson was interesting, albeit occassionally class did drag on.

Jan 2006

I thought she was a great introductory professor. She is always willing to meet outside of class. Fair grader. The reading became crammed at the end because we were so behind, probably my top critique. She tried to incorporate class dicussion and bring in relevant current topics but we had so much to cover that it was difficult to stay on task, too. I would take another class with her.

May 2005

The first few weeks of Pious' class, I was so scared I almost dropped out. He is very intimidating in class, and doesn't hesitate to yell at anyone who's a minute late or-gasp-has any food or drinks in class. Once you get over this and the fact that he often goes on rants against anyone who even considers breaking one of his many rules, you'll realize what a good teacher he is. His lectures are packed with information- you literally do not ever put your pen down all class- and are really interesting, even if you don't know much about poli-sci. In person, Prof. Pious is very personable, nice even, and is very helpful on paper topics, or any other questions you might have. All things considered, definitely a class worth taking.

Apr 2005

save yourself. hes boring. plus, even if he wasn't, nothing gets graded till the last few weeks of the semester (if your taking it a barnard- since the course doesnt have a TA). Hes a really harsh grader, which sucks since your entire grade is based off of essays. He grades essays extremely nitpicky, especially for an intro class. I have taken upper level poli sci courses and gotten A's from professors of much higher intelligence, but yet somehow I got a B in Raymonds. i would say stay away.

Apr 2005

Average at best. As someone interested in politics, I was really excited to take this class. However, I agree with some of the other reviewers insofar that it feels like a high school civics class and that Smith can be rather boring. He spends a lot of time on the structure of government, which is really mundane and rudimentary, but he does mention some theories that can be pretty interesting (if you can stay awake). I generally liked the readings, which were never overwhelming, and sometimes it's nice when he brings in relevant topics. I found the paper to be graded rather subjectively because he is very ambiguous on what he wants. However, the essay tests aren't that hard to study for (just read over notes), and he is a nice guy. And he certainly knows what he's talking about, but he doesn't bring in his superior knowledge enough to make this a must-take class. If you don't mind boring lectures and are looking for a relatively easy politics class, or have never taken American history in your life, this is for you. If you want genius and don't mind temperament, wait until Pious teaches Dynamics.

Jan 2005

Pious is a scary scary man. Although he is extremely knowledgeable about politics, his insane classroom rules almost made me forget about that. During one class, he yelled at a girl who came in a minute late-for about five minutes. But, if you show up and specifically on time, you will find the class extremely interesting and informative.

Dec 2004

This class was a fairly easy intro to political science and yes, I found that my background in politics and the U.S. government in general helped to make it both easy and boring, but Professor Smith taught the material in a very different way from my high school teachers. The information isn't just piled on; it was about linking the information together to form a complete picture of the government and the country. While Professor Smith's presentation of individual facts and concepts may have been sleep-inducing, I woke up when he discussed the way it all fit together. The best part of the class, though, was when he talked about current events. He definately attempt to make things interesting and less monotonous, as we had several in-class group projects that included discussing our midterm responses and organizing a grassroots campaign, among other things. Our particular class did not have T.A.'s but there were optional discussion sections that were basically talking politics over lunch. It definately wasn't difficult to do well, and overall I'd take it again.

Dec 2004

Good class. I liked Pious even though he was sometimes dry with this rather dry topic. He can be scary at times, but don't let him intimidate you. Just follow the classroom rules (no eating or drinking anything!) and try your hardest to always be on time or early, and you won't have a problem with him. Meet with him during his office hours and you'll score extra points.

Nov 2004

The class... was kind of...boring. He is a nice guy and I'm sure he means well, but he talks super fast. He usually goes right into the lecture without you even realizing it. Be sure to be up on the reading, and you'll definitely do well. Not a harsh grader, no T.A's.

Jun 2004

I don't know what people expected when taking this course - it's not listed as a current events class. Or as a discussion forum for the War in Iraq. While I hate that I had to take Dynamics after getting a 4 on the AP Gov exam as a senior - it was not falsely advertised. This class is about the fundamentals of American government. It is disappointingly similar to AP Govt, but until Banard offers exemption for a four on the test, so be it. It touches on key points including congress, the presidency, precedent laws, social movements and human rights. I feel like anyone could benefit from having some sort of background in these things, so that later in life, you don't have to look like an ignorant monkey in public. While Kim wasn't the most enlightening professor I've ever met - she wasn't horrible. Don't take this class just to fufill your Soc Dynamics req, if you HATE American Politics. You get what you sign up for.

May 2004

What a cranky old bully. Unless you regurgitate exactly what he wants to hear, laugh when he's in a (rare) joking mood and sit solemnly at attention when he's not, in my opinion he will openly regard you as a piece of pond-scum.

Jan 2004

This class is amazing and a "must-take" for anyone who is considering a poli sci major. I have never learned so much in such a short period of time. Professor Pious is a fascinating lecturer, albeit slightly anal -- on the first day of class, he hands out an extremely comprehensive list of his class rules, which include no eating or drinking ... he will publicly embarass you if you break one of his rules. He also gives the exact paperweight he would like you to use on his essays. Yea, it's a little nuts ... but he knows his stuff.

Jan 2004

The worst. It was like a really bad high school class. She often seemed clueless and we were always correcting her. The assignments are pointless and she doesn't specify what she wants from them that well. I learned little more than what I already knew from American government from senior year of high school. Classes were mental torture. One positive note: I didn't do even half the reading and still got an A-.

Oct 2003

She is HORRIBLE. This is one of the most boring classes i have taken here. She expects her students to know more than she does. The class drags on and on and on. Her grading of the papers is unfair..... mostly b/c it is totally unclear what she wants. She really wanted something different than what she assigned. This class is the reason I am no longer a Poli Sci major (though there are definitely some good classes out there...just hard to find the good Profs).

May 2003

Professor Minnite is a very sweet person, and is always willing to help out if you need to clarify any issues or ask questions. While her lectures can be boring (and you will likely see the attendance drop exponentially over time), she is extremely smart and knowledgeable. I learned a great deal, but the readings were lengthy and it was hard to keep up (but not always necessary :-D). In general, if you are looking for a way to fulfill a requirement, I recommend the class.

Apr 2003

This class has a ton of reading but it is not that difficult to do well. The topics for the 4 ten page papers are so broad that they are simple to write, especially because he loves you to fill them up with citations. He also covers a lot of material in class which helps with the papers. He comes off a bit arrogant and moody. One minute he is making a joke and then starts yelling about people having food in class. You do learn a lot but it's so much material in such a short amount of time that it's hard to retain most of it.

Jan 2003

I LOVE HIM! He is the best teacher that I EVER had in this school. His knowledge is amazing. Also his ability to fit in such amazing and important information in an hour and fifteen minutes (sometimes he went over but before class he would let you know that he would go over the time) was great. Questions are allowed, but not stupid questions where you might want to demonstrate your intelligence. The best professor to e-mail or see in office hours! He might appear to not care about students, but he really does. As long as you do not violate his rules, which he discusses during the first week, you'll be fine.

Jan 2003

I took this class at 9am and never fell asleep, andeven often took notes. So that should say enough about that class. If you have this class as a requirement, take it with Minitte, it's certainly bearable and even enjoyable at times. She's very nice and available to her students.

Dec 2002

Not that I have any personal experience, but taking this class was a lot like giving birth. It engenders an incredible amount of stress and sleepless nights (and I don't even mean if you're stupid enough to write your paper the night before!), but the end result is worth it. An illuminating, informative, cogent class. Probably the first class in my life where I actually went back to my room and, pondering certain things we had discussed in class, did a significant amount of research so that I could present my point without being shot down. This class makes you want to work hard, for two reasons: 1) you don't want to fail and 2) the hope that you will make some brilliant statement that even Pious will concede is correct, although that didn't happen in my semester. Quite simply, Professor Pious is is one the university's greatest, if not the greatest, resources on American government and politics. But don't let him hear you say that. Actually, on second thought, if he did, he would warmly agree with you. One caveat: this teacher believes that expertise allows for rudeness, which basically characterizes his behavior in class. But when taking individual questions, he is attentive and brings the full weight of his considerable intelligence to answering it.

Dec 2002

To sum it up: there are NO dynamics in this class with this professor. Class size dramatically decreased as the semester progressed, as people realized that lectures were completely unnessesary. Lectures are STRAIGHT from the highschool-level textbook and are extremely boring. There was no talk of current politics. Professor Johnson was monotonous, boring, and appeared clueless at times. Many, many people fall asleep. Basically, this class was a waste of time.

Dec 2002

Although a little obnoxious at times, I think that he is an amazing professor who has been around since forever and really knows American Politics, inside and out. The readings can be a pain in the ass, but it's american politics, what do you expect? I strongly recommend this class to any political science major (well, it's technically one of the requirements so you have to take it anyway) and/or non-political science major. I'm sure you'll get at least one thing out of the course that you never knew about the American political process.

Dec 2001

This is a great course. Pious is a great Prof. The guy knows his stuff and is witty and sarcastic. He hates it, and will let you know that, if you eat, drink, read or do anything in his class that is not listening to him. This is not just a standard intro course. It is far more thought-provoking than that. Pious is a great teacher and commands respect for being tough in class and in his grading. So be forwarned that this is not an easy A course, but he is far better than the other teachers for this course.

Jan 2000

If you do the work in Pious's class you will learn more about American Politics then you thought possible from an introductory course. If you do not do the work he will fail you from the course. As far as doing the work goes he is a fiend from hell, he does obscene amounts of work and will expect that you do the same. He really seems to act as if you are in no other classes. He also is trying to scare people who think that Poli Sci is the default major that you take when you have nothing else to do away from the major. On the other hand, I have learned so much about the American Political system from his class that it is hard to complain.

Jan 2000

If you want to know about the way our political system works, this class will answer every question you have ever had. Many students sit captivated by the vast experience and expertise that Pious brings to this intro course. He expects the class to run in a pretty formal way (no food, be prepared to answer a few questions about the reading) but you just have the most respect for him. A lot of students find him not very approachable and even rude in class, but during office hours he is completely wonderful, kind, funny, and very helpful. He is very excited about his students and his subject.

Jan 2000

Pious is a Poli Sci god! He knows his stuff and his lectures are so packed with info., is bound to make your head spin. But Pious also take arrongance to new levels - which might upset some (especially those who are socialists). The work load is unheard of & the chances of an easy grade (other than an F) is nil. Just make sure you're not a mental patient by the end of the semester.