professor
Judith Russell

Dec 2018

I don't care about the course (It was great though?! Super interesting, great topics, good readings, never dull, amazing discussion!) I care about Judith Russell. Judith Russell is wonderful. WHERE is this woman's gold nugget? She deserves it. The amount of time she spends in office hours is astonishing, and it is incredibly obvious how much she cares about and respects her students. She is by far the most approachable professor I met at Columbia. For her mentorship and office hours chats alone, any class she teaches is worth taking. Her name is going in the "acknowledgments" section of absolutely everything (if anything...lol) I get published. Her teaching? She's smart as hell, and it shows. Also, unapologetically liberal as f*ck. She is just a super fun person to sit in seminar with. eleven out of ten.

May 2014

This was a great class. I learned so much about political theory and its practice in American politics. I loved Prof. Russell, and I don't think she's disorganized at all. There's a huge value to her madness. I would suggest typing your notes for this class, though if you are to keep up and keep everything organized. Russell truly engages you with the major ideas and concepts and makes it so easy to comprehend. If you think you know American politics, you don't until you take this class. There's a lot of reading, but it's very valuable, especially the textbook with snippets from major political science works. It integrates arguments nicely with class lectures. You can speed read the other textbook and take down key terms, especially for the ID section on the midterm and final. Otherwise, you'll get the bulk of what you need from Prof. Russell. My TA was also great. His name was Steven White and he efficiently helped us to understand the main points of the weekly readings. Overall this class was great and I did really well.TBH I actually fell asleep a couple times during the final because I was so sleep deprived from finals week, but it appears I killed the final. Take this class.

May 2014

Russell is brilliant, but her lectures can be a bit disorganized dry, especially later on in the semester, when we discussed public policy, for which *there were no readings other than her book.* Overall, however, I learned a lot The readings could be long, tedious, and dry, but my TA was good at explaining them succinctly. This is *not* a repeat of AP Gov from high school -- you're not learning how a bill gets passed or things like that. Russell likes to talk about the theory behind how government works. She does have a political agenda, and this is made very clear to you by the end of the first lecture, and it does carry through her lectures. If you're not liberal, you might not like this. Either drop the class and take it with someone else, or bite the bullet and take it with Russell. Attendance is mandatory in both lectures and discussion sections, and Russell is fanatical about this -- there is an attendance sheet that circulates every lecture, and the TAs all take attendance in section.

Apr 2014

it's hard to describe this class. this was my first government class and I didnt know what to expect. Professor Russell is a nice person and she is always readily available in office hours but man her lectures were crazy! Best way put, she "shotguns" her material, she goes all over the place and goes a mile a minute, multiple times a lecture I would ask myself "is this really important to be writing down?" Her midterm wasnt too bad, if you went to class and actually paid attention somewhat. I felt like she over prepared us for the midterm. The paper wasn't too bad either, literally there was no topic, it just had to be about American politics and be somewhat relevant to what we were talking about. Haven't taken the final yet but I have heard its similar to the midterm. Also i feel like she is giving us subliminal messages to watch House of Cards and The West Wing and she said King Joffrey died the day after when half the class hadn't watched the latest GOT episode HA! In conclusion, is this a good class? No, it's really dry, She has potential but I think she has taught this class too much she has lost her magic. However, this class isn't awful, its just one of those classes you need to bite the bullet and just get it over with. You could definitely have a worse teacher for this subject

Apr 2014

Judith Russell is a very intelligent, devoted, caring person. However that does not mean she's a good teacher. The readings are heavy and dry (which is silly, because there are so many AMAZING American poli sci readings), and the things she wants you to glean from them are really not consistent or relevant. She seems like one of those people who is so intelligent that her thoughts come out scattered, as if her brain is speeding ahead at 500 mph and her mouth is sputtering out the bits she remembers. I think she might be better in a seminar, but in a lecture setting she's unfocused, repetitive, and doesn't answer questions. The TAs are alright, they're kind of constrained by the dullness of the course. Russell is very liberal, which she is upfront about, and she often points out that she is providing a liberal take on issues - but she often completely glosses over important conservative elements. She's very impassioned about West Wing and House of Cards, and while I appreciate that she tries to connect with students over these topics, she sometimes goes on tangents for half the class, but still expects you to know all the things she didn't talk about for the final.

Apr 2013

It's beyond me why this woman doesn't have a golden nugget. SHE IS AMAZING By far the nicest person I've met at Columbia (including students and dining staff). And by far the most accessible. When she says she loves to talk to students she actually means it. And yes, she does help with internships. For me, she not only wrote a rec letter, she actually called the senator office and made sure I got it. I LOVE YOU JUDITH RUSSELL. (I'd marry you if I was a bit older and/or straight) As for the class: It's a really nice class. It's not challenging or hard. It's a good overview and intro to American politics. As an international student, I was really interested, I assume that for most Americans this is stuff you already know... But still, the material is interesting, the readings are good, and professor Russell sometimes adds lectures on things like affirmative action which I found fascinating. Participation is a must. But for realz, she says it in the first lecture. If you think you won't be able to handle attending every class then just DROP THE FUCKING COURSE. Don't come here bitching about it. This was the first year that the exam was in class. I assume she's gonna keep doing it. But the exam is fair, if you attended class (and actually listened), and did the readings, you'll be fine. The discussion sections are ok, depends on who your TA is, but from what I heard they're all kinda good.

Feb 2013

Judith Russell is an amazing professor. Having taken her Intro class and worked with her in other capacities, she is one of the most knowledgeable people I’ve met on American politics today and historically, as well as on the American political science literature. Professor Russell has a superb understanding of the Founding Fathers’ thinking. You leave her class with a real grounding in the core thinkers who shaped the American political system. She also assigns thought provoking articles with differing interpretations about fundamental issues like the framing of the constitution and the role of the judiciary. Another wonderful aspect is that Professor Russell really pushes students to explore their individual interests and works with them to achieve that end. Further, she is excellent as an editor and as someone to bounce ideas off of, always adding valuable insight. Professor Russell is also an exceptionally supportive faculty member who goes above and beyond for her students. She is remarkable as a professor and as a mentor. Columbia is lucky to have her. Take her courses and get to know her—it is absolutely worth it.

May 2012

I completely agree and understand with how polar these previous reviews seem to be. For the first few lectures with Prof. Russell, I was convinced I had made a terrible mistake. She always begins lectures about 10 to 15 minutes late, and every other lecture ends about an extra 5 or 10 minutes early. Moreover, her lectures are messy, she stomps her feet and moves around a lot (which can be very distracting), and writes completely illegibly on the blackboard. She is repetitive, and takes constant breaks to try and figure out where she herself is in the material. Lastly, at a point the class feels rushed, because she takes days discussing some topics early in the semester, then struggles to catch up towards the end. It also doesn't help that she includes some random lectures on affirmative action and other topics that, while interesting, are not completely relevant and (not being in the syllabus) delay the class even further. Having said that though, I quickly realized I ABSOLUTELY LOVE THIS WOMAN. She is possibly the MOST approachable professor on campus; she truly makes an effort to get to know her students, and encourages us all to visit her for office hours. Eventually, you realize that her lectures are actually a lot better connected and relevant to each other than you first thought. Sure, she's still messy and she could definitely both streamline her material and cover a lot more of it if she were slightly more efficient. Nevertheless, at the end of the class you realize you've learned a *lot* more than you ever expected. Many come into this class thinking it's just another American politics class covering the same basics: Constitution, Madisonian model, blablabla. And it is. But you learn SO much more about all of these topics than you ever had, and you learn to look at it all through a very different perspective. The readings are a bit excessive sometimes (for one class, we basically had to read an entire book, plus a couple of articles and other chapters), but they're not absolutely essential (especially if you have a good TA). If you do them though, they are actually extremely useful and very interesting. Lastly, she is a great contact for internships and just as an all-around, fantastic, epic woman. If you can, TAKE DR. RUSSELL'S CLASS. She is a great person, you learn a lot more than you expected, and at the end of the day you'll realize you're really going to miss her lectures (no matter how much they *can* improve). It's tough to sum her up because she really is the definition of a hot mess. But in the end, you'll look back on her class and realize how much you've learned, what a great resource she can be (internships, interviews, other classes' projects, etc.), and how much you'll miss her lectures.

May 2011

I feel like some of the other reviewers and I must have been taught by completely different people. This is my second consecutive semester in a JR class - last semester I took Politics of American Policymaking (I'm doing it backwards, I know). She is the second-best professor I've had at Columbia. She would be the best, but Dean Awn's Islam class is absolutely amazing and anyone who hasn't taken it should get into it ASAP. Anyway, here's the deal with Professor Russell: attendance in class is mandatory. So I suspect that is what drives a lot of the negativity about her. But really, it's not that big a deal. Go to class. Her lectures are generally very interesting. She has a real gift for explaining the forces behind some of the biggest events in US political history. She has a good sense of humor and she insists that her students keep up on current events, often bringing in clippings from the day's newspaper or recent magazine articles and reading them to highlight how the issues we're talking about are still relevant. She's a good lecturer, but I think the best part about Prof. Russell is how much she cares about her students. Go to her office hours, email her, ask her a question before or after class - she will give you her full, undivided attention. She doesn't forget about people (well, sometimes she does, but when it happens she's extremely apologetic and then works twice as hard to take care of their issue). If you ask her one question, send her one email, or visit her office hours one time, she will know your name for the rest of your life. She'll help students find internships, help them find sources for their research papers, or just give you her thoughts on whatever topics you might be interested in. I never waited more than 24 hours for a response to an email. Several times she responded - with solid answers - in minutes. She is, of the professors I've met, hands-down the one who cares most about her students. The class is worth taking if only as a reason to meet Judith Russell and have her as someone whose knowledge you can tap into for the rest of your time at Columbia. The class itself is easy. I'll get to that in workload, I guess. Anyway, I highly recommend this class or any Judith Russell class.

Jan 2011

I cannot speak to her abilities in a seminar. This class however left me with an extremely negative impression. She starts class 10 minutes late, she clearly doesn't spend any time organizing her lecture, she feels the need to give her political thoughts on every topic, and she goes off on tangents that are almost entirely irrelevant to the topic at hand. All in all, I felt like I was being taught American politics by a pundit on MSNBC rather than a Columbia University professor. Yes, she is clearly a nice person who enjoys talking to students and getting people internships. But as far as her abilities as a into US gov lecturer? Go in another direction.

Jan 2011

These reviews of Professor Russell are all wrong. The woman is great. She is engaging, funny, caring, and smart as hell. Basically she's a legend. She has this sort of cult following in the political science department: she supervises quite a few theses and independent studies, which is rare here for an Americanist and rarer still for an adjunct. Why do you think that is? Why would so many people SEEK HER OUT to supervise their work (many after having taken her seminar?) It's because she's the best. The CULPA consensus seems to suggest that she's a bad professor. What can I say? I know what I'm talking about and these other tools don't. All I ask is that you give her a chance. Take her seminar and go to her office hours. You'll see what I'm talking about.

Dec 2010

People are not giving this woman enough credit. Yes, she is very all over the place and goes on odd tangents, albeit they are very interesting and amusing. The general direction and gist are easy to pick up on and as long as you pay attention and take good notes, you're set. Its very easy to pay attention in the class if you're at least semi-interested in the material. She is one of the most comical professors, with more personality than most, that I have seen here at CU/BC. Those who can't stand her are likely pessimistic and pretentious.

Nov 2010

I came to Columbia a naive eighteen year-old dead set on Poli sci, filled with starry-eyed dreams of retracing Obama's footsteps and studying at one of the nation's oldest Political Science depts, learning and frolicking among the hallowed stomping grounds of Hamilton and Jay. Columbia was supposed to be a magical, political place perfect for someone like me, and having come from a high school were no government courses were offered, I was extremely excited to see what Columbia had to offer. Granted, as a jaded sophomore today, I now realize that those unreasonably high expectations were... well, stupid. But I never imagined I would be as utterly disappointed with a poli sci class as I was with Russell's Intro to American Politics. This lady probably knows a lot. But she is a simply atrocious lecturer. Her lectures are basically a series of highly disorganized ramblings punctuated with illegible scrawlings on the blackboard. She almost always loses track of time due to her ranting and as a result we never ended up covering all the promised topics on the syllabus. Listening to her speak is painful and bewildering; it is hard to tell when she is making an important point and when she is simply going on a tangent. She jumps from subject to subject. I believe that Russell is passionate about the subject matter, but that makes it even more bewildering as to why she is unable to convey a coherent message. I do't believe I am alone in feeling this; looking around the room almost everyone else with a laptop is on Gmail, Facebook, or is doing other class assignments. Anyone without a laptop is doodling or slumped over the desk in defeat. It is terrible that Russell takes daily attendance; it's the only reason why people keep coming back. If she dropped the attendance sheet system, nobody would come. The TAs are absolutely useless and barely know anything; discussion sections are just a smaller, more awkward version of class. Overall, it is really unfortunate that this crucial, required class is such a drag. I'll still probably stick with political science for now under the hopes that higher level classes (or Barnard Poli Sci courses) are more interesting - but as for this one? It sucks. Stay away.

Aug 2010

Everything that was said by the other reviewers is true (especially the poem one, props). Russell is a really nice lady who is extremely accessible and approachable, but her lectures are all over the place. Only after someone made a special request did she put the outline of her lectures on the board before class so that we could at least attempt to follow her train of thought. The material is not difficult at all, pretty basic US Gov stuff, and the TAs were awesome. Amy and David (I didn't have much to do with Zach) probably taught more PoliSci than Russell did, and saved the grades of dozens of students. Russell assigns a zillion readings, most of which aren't necessary, and if you have a good TA they'll tell you what's important to know and what's not. The midterm was take-home which was great and the research paper and final were mostly harmless. She gives you an enormous list of IDs beforehand and if you know that list, you'll ace the final. If I haven't made it clear yet, the lectures are pretty awful but you have to show up because she takes attendance, but if you put in one ounce of effort, an A- or an A is easily attainable.

Jun 2007

Stay away from the class at all costs. As an American Studies major with a focus on politics, I went in this class because I thought it would be a good background, having rad the reviews and thinking, “Oh well, how bad can it be?” Answer: pretty darn bad. The entire time spent in class was extremely tedious (particularly at 9 in the morning), and I gained nothing from the material (or lack thereof). Russell is a useless lecturer, and the high- school level of material combined with her shallow and scattered explanations lulled me into a false sense of security that anything covered in the class I already knew from my relatively broad political understanding and my high school government class. We didn’t have AP Government at my high school, but if you took that I could imagine that the uselessness of this class could be even more compounded. Come finals time, I had a bit of studying to do, but fortunately she gives you a list of IDs ahead of time (granted, 100+). I put the paper off as well which was a huge mistake and resulted with me getting a low grade considering the material, so be aware. One of the worst parts of this class is that there was a pointless discussion section led by a non-American who had never studied American politics or even poli sci in general before. We had to do short presentations on the readings, which were not usually that relevant to the course. In the end, I regretted the hours of life I wasted on this useless course. The only good thing about it was that she’s extremely helpful on hooking you up with internships with Hillary Clinton (though maybe that’s changing these days, I took the course Spring 2006). If you want to learn about contemporary American politics, just read a newspaper and you’ll learn more than Judith Russell will teach you.

May 2007

If Madison and Hillary both really turn you on and notes organized chaotically make your heart break out in song, there's a prof named Judith Russell with whom you can't go wrong (just check your own opinions at the door and you're sure to get along). She can't think through one whole sentence; one point takes three attempts, and on appropriate topics like Obama's experience, she just vents and vents. But Hillary and Madison, she loves more than her rents, and she'll tell you so most every class, until your patience's spent. Oh, and mandatory attendance ain't so bad, you say? Nine a.m. lectures that have no point won't keep your thoughts that way, especially when she enters on her LBJ jobs programs tirade and refers in third person to her book, at LEAST $30 on EBay. So if you think the professor's politics ought not affect the class, on spring semester American Government you ought to take a pass, cuz Jude's pointless rambling and Hillary rants killed my spirit fast and nearly made this polisci class my once-loved major's last. Cuz the only kids that like this class are the ones who want her bribes, the internships she loves to offer because it fills her heart with pride to imagine that the students think she's smart, when really she can't hide that Madison's been dead for years and Hillary's a cheated bride. Seriously, please don't take this class. It sucks.

May 2007

Professor Russell's Intro to American Politics class was basically a review of material learned in a high school American government class. For anyone who has had experience in this type of a class, Russell's class will not be hard. Her lectures are boring, which is made worse by the fact that they are at 9am and she takes attendance. She also refers to herself in third person, which is annoying after a while. She also assigns a ridiculous amount of reading, but almost all of it is unnecessary for the midterm or final. If you're looking for a basic introductory political science class, go ahead and take this one; just don't expect it to be very interesting or engaging.

Jan 2007

Take this class. I was resisting the class from the moment Russell started talking but I came to enjoy it anyway. Professor Russell's lectures are very tangential & make no sense & she comes off as very arrogant. However, outside of class, she is one of the nicest & most caring professors I have ever had. I was able to talk to her several times about my research paper & she actually seemed interested & willing to help. She even came up to me one day before class & asked me how it was going. The workload is very doable. The reading is the lightest of any polsci class I have had and you can easily do it all right before the midterm paper & final exam. The midterm is a little annoying because it is 2 5 page essays on the reading that she expects back in a week after handing them out. However, I had no problem getting it done while working on them on & off for 2 weekdays in between stuff for other classes. The paper is no big deal: 7-10 pages of research on anything you want that has anything to do with the class. You have plenty of room to be creative. The final seemed very intimidating because of the study sheet that had about 100 random terms that usually did not come from the lectures (even though Russell swore they all did) & often garnered only a passing mention in the reading if that. However, the exam did not seem to be taken from this list for the most part & you can do well just by coming to lecture & going through your notes. There is a voluntary discussion section, but don't go. The TAs were totally worthless. They came from unrelated departments & did not seem to have a grasp on the material themselves. If you have any questions/problems, it is definitely much more worthwhile to go to Professor Russell (especially on the paper) & she is more than willing to help.

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.

Jul 2006

please tell me why is she teaching??????? 1. she can't speak without pausing every other second. 2. she spends lecture on current events for the entire class. 3. she is not very smart 4. her talks about hilary clinton are all petty 5. she takes attendance 6. did i mention that she is a bad teacher!

Feb 2006

Professor Russell is probably the most approachable, friendly, and fair professor here at columbia. This is because unlike many other professors, she genuinely CARES for her students. She wants each and every one of us to succeed and has proven that she will go out of her way to help. It bothers me to see such horrible reviews on here as they are not consistent with the experiences I've had with her thus far (I've taken two classes with her).

Jan 2006

Her lectures are AWFUL and boring. That said, she requires attendance at them but if you have a friend to check your name off the list my advice is to not go. Her guest speakers, for the most part were very interesting and she tested on them so you should go to those. The course material itself was very intersting if you like cities and/or politics. Although you could probably get away without reading most, or all, of it doing it probably made studying for the final easier, and it was generally pretty good.

Jan 2006

Oy, Jude. She's a very nice woman, but honestly, one of the worst lecturers I have ever listened to (especially at 9:10 in the morning). She will flounder for the right word, take a breather to collect her thoughts, and eventually spit out a sentence that has no point or makes very little sense. Granted, from the readings I did and from the few decent lectures/guest speakers we had, I learned a fair amount. The material even dares to be interesting on several occasions. Overall, I'm glad I took the class, but I can't say that I could reccomend a bi-weekly, hour and fifteen minute battle to stay awake.

Dec 2005

Uggh! She is the worst. The class drags on at 9:10 in the morning and she is crazy about the mandatory attendance. You will come into the class, listen to the first lecture, and think it will be great. But then, about two lectures in the class will take a turn for the worse and by the end will become one of the worst classes you have ever taken. The workload is absolutely ridiculous for a 3 credit class. About 7 million pages of reading, a take home midterm which will consume your entire fall/spring break, a 10 page research paper, and a final which will take the entire 3 hours and of which you will not stop writing for even one second. The worst is the review sheet she sends for the final-it is composed of about 150 terms that are so entirely broad they include things like 9/11 and New Orleans-not that we ever learned about most of this stuff in class but hey if its on the review sheet she can ask anything she wants about it on the final. Like I said- avoid this class at all costs!

Mar 2005

The course is interesting enough, and should be taken by anyone with an interest in post WWI America. It's by no means an out of the park poli sci class, but it's pretty good and always interesting. On the other hand, Prof Russell is a gem. Smart, kind and caring, she was willing and eager to help students in any way outside of class. Some students would joke that they'd go into her office hours for paper advice and come out with job recommendations. For me, Professor Russell has filled the void left by Columbia's non existant advising system, and if there were more profs like her, this school would be a much better place. You should take her course, but if you can't, you should stop in an pick the brain of a remarkable woman.

Jan 2005

Professor Russell is a great professor. I was hesitant to take this course because of previous reviews, however I was pleasantly surprised. She does have her faults: occasionally readings were a bit much, and she digressed during lectures, but these are minor overall. Professor Russell clearly cares about her students, which is rare at Columbia. She knew all of us, and went out of her way to help us on papers and to study. She always responded to emails or met students in her office. She brought 4 great guest lecturers to the class for us. She even arranged a tour of the shelter system for interested students after having a class which included the politics surrounding homelessness and housing. Finally, grading is fair; if you work hard, you will do well.

Dec 2004

After reading the other reviews of Professor Russell, I was scared to take this class, but signed up anyway to fill my urban studies requirement. Maybe it's just me, or maybe she's changed a lot, but I found most of the comments from other reviewers invalid. She did admit to us that she changed the syllabus this year and that there was a lot less reading, which was certainly true. I did the reading before the take home midterm (also a change from the in-class midterm previously) and before the final exam and did well on both. Also, a lot of the reading is repetitive, so you don't have to do all of it. As for her lecturing, she seemed to be fairly organized, although she does go off on tangents. The speakers she brings in are amazing and she plans to have them all at the end of the semester, so you don't have any assignments at that point. Overall, she knows her stuff and makes it as easy as possible to do well in her class, for example, the TAs informed us that our best grade would be the most heavily weighted. Take this class if you're an urban studies major; it's an easy A.

Nov 2004

this class was incredibly boring, and there was nothing in the material that hasn't been taught in an AP american government class. professor russell's lectures are dull, and she reads the material right off of her lecture notes.

Nov 2004

Although some of the lectures can be a bit all over the place, she is very open to suggestions comments participation etc...In other words the more you participate the better it is. The reading is excellent and you don't have to do all of it. Overall she is very approachable and some of the previous reviews simply don't do her justice!

Jun 2004

I love professor russell! I totally disagree with all the other reviews given about this teacher. She is so knowledgeable about the material, but the important thing is that she is sooo nice. She is THRILLED to help students on their papers, to just come talk to them after class, and to really get to know her students, even to talk to them on the phone during her own free time to help them out. I spoke to her many times throughout the semester and always found her engaging and insightful, not to mention very helpful on providing sources for papers. The class itself is discussion based and, while not all did participate, the ones who did I think got a lot out of the discussions, which I think really did pertain to the readings, contrary to the previous reviewer. I can not praise her enough!!!!

May 2004

I would like to congratulate Judith for writing a book. If you take this class, all you need to know is that Judith wrote a book. This is the most ridiculous excuse for a colloqium. She assigned about 5 books that you had to read and take notes on (hello 3rd grade) for every class. These were not interesting books, THEY WERE REFERENCE BOOKS. so after you spend 6590860965095 hours reading these books, one might assume that they will be discussed during the 2 hour session. WRONG. instead she likes to discuss all the random facts she knows about kennedy's presidency. if you do not know these random facts (WHICH ARE NOT IN THE READINGS) she will berate you for not participating enough. so either read an encyclopedia over the summer or choose another class. the situation is lose- lose. Let's not forget the almighty 25 page paper, which she grades randomly.

Jan 2004

Horrible class. The material had an opportunity to be interesting, however, Russell killed that with her umÂ’s and her random splurges. Classes seemed to have little structure, or to be too structured that she just seemed to be reading off a list. Grades were even more random, but that was mostly on the TAÂ’s. I would stay away from her class if you want to keep your sanity.

Jan 2004

When I first stepped into this class, looked at the syllabus, and then listened to a nearly unintelligible lecture, I thought I was in for a very complex and tough course. Entirely uninterested in the lectures and the subject (Russell simply cannot convey anything about poli sci in an appealing, understandable way), I began to slack off in the reading, reaching a point where I realized I had not read from the textbook in over a month. Though there is absolutely nothing intellectually stimulating about this course, you can get an A without doing any reading--you do have to show up for every class though (attendance is mandatory--and really annoying at 9 am). The TA's are very generous graders, and it's very possible to write the term paper in just a week (and get an A), do the take-home midterm without having opened the books before (and get an A) and cram for the final and once again, get an A. Definitely worth missing, but if you're looking for a filler course to boost your gpa, go ahead and take the class.

Jan 2004

Like the other reviewers have stated DO NOT TAKE THIS CLASS WITH PROFESSOR RUSSELL! She was the worst professor I have taken a class with at columbia. The lectures seemed to have no direction and Russell's presentation of the materials was incoherent. The reading assigned was massive, about 300 pages a class, and attendance was taken. If I didn't fall asleep from bordom I found myself wondering what she was mumbling about between all of the "ums." Russell races through the important material but spends hours pontificating on mundane and irrelevant material. Avoid this class if you can!

Jan 2004

DO NOT TAKE ANY CLASS WITH JUDITH RUSSELL. I have read the other reviews that say she is brilliant and although I do not think she is, that is not the issue. She is simply the worst professor I have ever had here at Columbia. Her lectures are so unorganized that it is never clear what points she is trying to make. She literally cannot finish a sentence without injecting 5 or 6 ums into it so that it is incomprehensible if she ever does finish it. She is didactic, extremely condescending, and not pleasant to listen to at all, especially when she berates the ladies in the class for not raising their hands enough and threatens to give out pop quizzes (as if we are still in high school). And to top it all off, she micromanages your life to the point where she takes attendance for a 9 am class (even my high school teachers didn't take attendance). The only good part about this class were the TA's, they were friendly and always willing to help decipher her messy and incomprehendable lectures. Really guys, for your own good, skip this professor!

Dec 2003

Russell is a brilliant professor but she often goes on tangents in class and stutters alot. She is extremely helpful in office hours. Her TAs are very limited (English-wise) and the TA sections are of little value. The grading is mostly fair

Dec 2003

Professor Russell is a brilliant, well-read woman who should have stuck to writing (she mentioned her recently completed book at least once a class). Her lectures are full of useful and interesting information, a fact which you will discover weeks later while re-reading your notes in an attempt to figure out what the heck she was talking about in time for the midterm or final. She often jumped between the planned topic, and something to do with the 1960s (her specialty) and she talked so quickly that I often had trouble writing down even her main points (a lap top is a useful tool in this class). However, despite all the negative aspects of Professor Russell's teaching, I learned a whole lot. If you are an urban studies major, or thinking about being an urban studies major, this class is a really great broad overview. It's true that I had to work MUCH harder than I should have to learn as much as I did, and I would definitely recommend taking the class with another professor if it's ever offered. Until then though, if you are willing to work hard (and deal with a mediocre professor) this class might just be worth while.

Dec 2003

. . . and I agree. No need to repeat the rant. Just don't take this class.

Dec 2003

I agree with the other reviewers, exceit I wont even give Russell credit for knowing her stuff. She's not too bright - and her overarching themes are obvious and redundant. But the worst part of this class - which may be the worst polisci class at Columbia - is that she makes it impossible to take notes, because her sentences come out in gibberish. A typical lecture sounds like: "Um, um um , uhhh, so Reagan, no, Bush, um, Clinton, proposed, um, opposed, um said, um passed a bill, um to stop, um start, continue, um, welfare reform." This is not an exageration. And then there is also the expected liberal slant, so that whatever Saint Clinton did was great and whatever Bush or Reagan did was horrible. Just plain horrible class.

Dec 2003

Professor Russell is a very brilliant person: she's well read in political science literature and knows plenty about public policy and social welfare. However, all of this does not come through in her lectures: she's rather boring, speaks too quickly, and inserts "UM"s between every few words. You will leave her class scratching your head trying to find the point of her lecture, and you won't be the only one either: the TAs all agree that her lectures are disorganized and not cohesive at all. Also, she assigns WAY too much reading for the class, and don't even think of skipping any-it all appears on either the midterm or the final. Finally, attendance does count (so sign the sheet!), and since this is a 9 AM class, it can be pretty hard to get to class sometimes. My advice? Skip Russell's version of the class, and take it with someone who is a better teacher.

Dec 2003

My advice? Don't take this course. Not only is Prof. Russell insanely disorganized in her lectures (which she also gives far too quickly for note-taking), but the class isn't even about Urban Politics as a whole. Rather, it's about, as she says about ten times a day in class, the urban poor and "how they benefit" (which, is, apparently, her area of expertice). An interesting topic, but not the proposed one of the course. The copious reading is rarely incorporated or alluded to in the lectures at all, and the lectures themselves are beyond biased in political leanings; be aware that in papers and exams, you'd better agree with the Professor's take on things. Also, this course was the first one I've ever taken in which a professor directly told students that they were not allowed to directly email her, but were required to get in touch with the TA's first; talk about making oneself conspicuously inaccessible to students. And the class isn't even that big! Prof. Russell seems harmless enough, but her course somehow manages to cover too much material and yet remain highly repetitive in its themes and focus.

Dec 2003

I have mixed feelings about the course. THe subject matter is very interesting, but it could have been taught by a better professor. Although it is obvious that Prof. Russell knows what she is talking about, and often knows someone connected to it, she is very unorganized. Her lectures were painful to sit through, she frequently went off on tangents and rarely had any organization of the material. I found the readings to be far too numerous, and not always appropriate. If it was not for one of the TAs I would have been completely lost in the class. He was very helpful and guided me through her mass of confusion. If you have patience, then go for it!

Nov 2003

I have mixed feelings about this class. First of all, if you are an urban studies major you should definitely take this course...but no one said it was going to be fun. Judith is clearly knowledgeable about her subject area and has a lot of real-world experience, but I found her lectures almost unbearable. She may say "um" eight times per sentence and go off on a tangent in mid-sentence, leaving you confused as to what was the main idea. I spent more than $200 on the books for this class (there were about 11 of them) and some of them were barely used throughout the semester. On the first day of class she mentioned how she takes it as a "personal insult" if students do not show up for class, and an attendance sheet is circulated every day. I also resent how she tells the class day after day to be on time, has the TAs e-mail us with requests to be on time, etc. etc...you get the point. Expect to be frustrated. However, I did learn plenty about urban affairs. Judith knows her stuff. She also brought in some awesome speakers, which was a treat.

Nov 2003

This class is an utter waste of time. Russell makes points that are extremely obvious even to the bluntest observers. Far too much reading and none of it is really relevant to class. She is obsessed with certain books that when I read I found to be written on perhaps an eighth-grade level. Russell herself seems to be on a power trip in class sometimes. She circulates an attendance sheet and always complains about people coming late to class which is simply a fact of life here. She also spends a ridiculous amount of time on administrivia. The TAs were helpful but not very knowledgeable--I had to correct them on several very basic points of American government. This class is a must miss.

Nov 2003

Prof. Russel, despite being very knowledgable and interested in teaching, is by far the worst lecturer I've ever encoutered at Columbia. There is absolutely no structure to anything she says, so you can't really take good notes and you leave the class more confused than you came in. "Ugh" is the most commonly used phrase and her statements don't even describe events in chronological order. The readings are overwhelming, but more importantly it isn't clear which ones you'll be responsible for and which ones you can skim. I can understand why she wants to have an attendance sheet going around because no one would show up to her class if they had a choice. The TAs were definitely helpful but for those of us that want to go to lectures, read what we have to, and understand what's going on, we were totally screwed. By far the most unintelligible and irritating class I've ever taken. She is so disorganized and demands so much reading, half of which is totally redundant, that her class ultimately turned into a 9 am nightmare twice a week. I can't urge you enough to STAY AWAY FROM THIS CLASS, it will ruin the poli-sci department for you.

Nov 2003

Professor Russell is an extremely intelligent individual. She knows her material and has read and often recommends tons of interest books on the subject of politics. However...the woman does not know how to give a lecture to save her life. Her public speaking skills are awful. She says "UM" like 500 times in an hour and a half class. She does not know how to engage her students and you'll probable fall asleep in the first 15mins. It's actually quiet sad that she has all that knowledge and can't properly convey it to students.

Nov 2003

This is absolutely the worst poli sci class that I have ever taken at Columbia. Despite the fact that she knows some stuff in American politics, she can't lecture for shit. Her thousands of "ums" are just plain annoying. Her strict attendance policy, which is only 10% of the grade is just way too ridiculous. She takes the attendance very seriously and personally, but everything she does in class is straight out of the reading. She also assigns way too many outdated books from the 70s. BE SURE TO SIGN THE ATTENDANCE SHEET!!

Nov 2003

Professor Russell is incredibly intelligent; you can deduce this from everything from her anecdotal comments to her knowledge of articles/books/authors/scholars from days gone by. Her skill in and passion for this subject area are truly inspiring, and the subject matter of the class is interesting indeed. However, Prof. Russell's intellect doesn't necessarily translate into lecturing skills...her lectures are full of "uhms" and "uhs" and if a student gets her off topic she might stay off topic for quite a while. They're worth attending mostly b/c she doesn't regurgitate the readings so it's mostly new material...and from time to time very interesting speakers come in. The work isn't ridiculous....midterm, final, one ten page paper...but you get an attendance grade (for a 9am class, I suppose I understand)...readings are mandatory-and there are many- but all of them interesting, and the TAs were amazingly helpful.

Nov 2003

Professor Russel cannot lecture for s**t. Her notes aren't an outline, just 2 pages of solid words that make sense to no one but her. Taking notes is a nightmare because of all the tangents and lack of organization, and I have a lot of trouble not falling asleep in the middle of taking notes at 9:10 in the morning. And she says "um" way more than should be humanly possible. The discussion sections are also awkward and silent, and not that productive. However! I still love this class, against all reason - I think the subject matter is incredible. So if you have a realy passion for urban issues and learning about them, it's worth getting through, but if not, you'll hate this class and want to throw your really expensive books at her everyday. And one-on-one she's a very nice person, and brilliant - one of the most well-read people I've ever met. She knows her s**t.