I took Political, Social, and Economic Development of Brazil as an Economics major and with an interest in international affairs, particularly in emerging and developing economies. Within the first month, I was sure that I had made a bad choice in choosing this class. I commend the professor for inviting prominent political and economic figures from Brazil to engage the class but the course material, what we expected and the execution, class after class, was out of sync and chaotic. If your interest is to meet popular figures from Brazil in a small and crowded classroom, then you are up for a show every two weeks. If it is to receive a pity grade, I recommend this class. If you are accustomed to getting easy A's while barely putting in any effort in group work, you are up for a treat. If you plan on taking the sequel of the course, the professor is your best friend. However, if you are driven and ready to learn, look somewhere else. This is an extremely mediocre class with mediocre expectations. Going into this class, I was hoping that we would spend more time having deep and engaging conversations around economic and political issues in Brazil and while we did touched on topics that I believed were important to the speakers, I was left dull and confused after most classes. There was just no substance. Besides the language barrier of some of the speakers, I did enjoy some classes. The professor however, was very inconsistent in his lecture were bare and ineffectual. He did not seem very knowledgeable on a lot of topics and slurred his way throughout most of the sessions. Instructions for assignments were not clear and concise and he did not provide feedback for assignments submitted earlier in the semester until the very last week of class. He is very selective on what emails he responds to, he hardly responds and constantly cancels office hours. It is difficult to schedule meetings with him. There is so much more that we could have achieved in this class, but there is nothing memorable it.
Professor Cooper is one of the most hardworking and supportive professors I have ever had during my 4 years. She takes work ethics and dedication to a whole new level. The class is 2 hours but you won't get bored because she knows how to keep the students engaged. The readings that she assigns are very interesting and relevant. She would usually lecture on the topic for the first half of the class and then go into the details found in the readings. This is one of the few human rights classes where I actually LEARNED about international law. She takes plagiarism very seriously and would go out of her way to teach her students how to properly attribute information to their original owner (something most professors don't care about but is very crucial for graduate studies). I would recommend this class to anyone who is interested in learning about international human rights law -- Professor Cooper is a treasure.
I don't know what all of the hype is about. I found his lectures extremely dry and boring, he failed to respond to numerous emails (many people in my class had this same issue), he never returned feedback on paper drafts, did not give back papers for grades, and it is February 2 and we STILL do not have our SSOL grades.
Do not take this class. Yes, it's supposedly easy and your most likely breeze through the class. It's simply a midterm, a 5-7 paged paper and a final. Warren is simply not invested in the class he showed a movie in class at least 4 times and canceled class three times. He comes off as very nice and likable. With that being said we are nearly a month past the grade submission and none of us have heard from him. I know of at least half a dozen people who have emailed him and the TAs none of them have responded at all. The vagueness from the political science department implies that they to have been unable to contact him. In addition, to not being able to complete the grades he doesn't even have the guts to talk to those he's screwing over. I've even seem him on MSNBC during these last few weeks so he hasn't dropped off the face of the earth just Columbia's campus. With all that being said I enjoyed the class but it doesn't make up for this ridiculous situation. Even the worst professors I've had over these past three years submit their grades. Dorian does not deserve this silver nugget and he certainly doesn't deserve the tenure he has been granted.
Unfortunately, Sachs is more like a guest speaker who comes in once a week, and does not seem to even be aware of what is happening the rest of the time. He lectures on topics that are nowhere near his field of expertise (such as biodiversity), simply repeating, but much more inaccurately, what experts in the field are teaching in Science for Sustainable Development. Sachs is completely ineffective as an undergraduate professor, allowing the TAs to suffer with economic theory which they find nearly impossible to teach in the time available. The problem sets had errors that confused the TAs and which made some questions impossible to resolve. Worst of all, the midterm was simply canceled because Sachs could not care to modify his two-year-old exam, and students complained that others had 'cheated' off last year's midterm. In summary, this class was certainly the worst I have taken so far, as it is terribly structured, extremely stressful, and in all ways disappointing, as everyone looked forward to studying with Jeffrey Sachs.