I took a first year seminar with Michelle Smith and she is amazing. I love her! She is really disorganized and will never respond to emails but it is ok. She is super laid back and the class was really engaging and fun. Just a really great professor with not a lot of work!
I really enjoyed this class actually! It has a great syllabus of 19th century thinkers, and it's a great class if you want to expand your knowledge on different theories in Black political thought. I had never taken a political science course and I was totally fine in this class. I also really liked Professor Smith. She's incredibly kind and gets along really well with her students. She also gives a ton of extensions which is great. However, she didn't grade essays on time. I didn't get a single grade back until the day before the last class. It turned out fine, I don't think anyone gets less than a B+ on assignments, but it was annoying. However that being said, I appreciate that despite this class being an 8:40, I found myself actually looking forward to it.
I had Michelle Smith for Great Political Thinkers in the Black Intellectual Tradition. It was a great class! And Michelle is a great teacher and very passionate about the subject matter. But she was pretty disorganized throughout the semester, i.e. didn't give us our final on time, didn't grade anything until the end of the semester which was frustrating. But overall very life-changing and gave me a new perspective on race.
One of the best classes I took at Barnard/Columbia. As an American Studies major, I voiced concerns that I might have already studied and read a lot of material on her syllabus, but thoroughly enjoyed her teaching style and enthusiasm. I was looking for a class that might offer a more global perspective. In response, she added something to the syllabus every single week.
Professor Smith's enthusiasm for political theory shows is contagious and I really enjoyed her teaching style. In addition to giving engaging lectures (she utilized Prezi rather than slide shows, included videos, and funny images), she facilitated discussions in the classroom which made what could have been a boring subject very interesting. She was also extremely understanding with regards to extensions if you come to class, participate, and do the work. Although there is a lot of reading assigned, the Prezis are extremely informative as to which sections of the readings you should focus on.
Professor Smith is very nice, however, she seemed to be much less knowledgeable about political theory than either of her two TAs. I understand that she is a new professor, but her level of mastery in the field could easily be that of an entry level graduate student. For example, I tried to explain to her in her office hours how classifying people as "the other" is polemical. She couldn't quite understand this concept, and frankly, didn't even seem like she wanted to. Her TA however, Andreas Avgousti, did a superb job at elucidating the basis for this idea. There were also times when her feedback conflicted with that of her TAs. This resulted in a game of grading roulette, where your grade simply depended on who received your paper, regardless of the quality of your work. This was probably the worst part of the course, for it invoked a feeling of helplessness at the hands of an instructor who couldn't quite comprehend complex arguments.
Not my favorite course. To begin with, Professor Smith is a perfectly nice woman. But something about her teaching style just didn't work too well for me. She is a lecturer not a notes giver so you kind of have to make your own guesses as to what's important. The readings were the only part of the this course which I particularly despised. For a 1000 level class, this class had ABSOLUTELY excessive amounts of reading for every class along with pop quizzes for those readings. The papers were graded kind of harshly by the TA, and not so much by Professor Smith herself. The one thing about essay prompts is that they are very unspecified while the TAs look for specific things. It's hard to do well when you are playing a game that you don't know the rules to. Conclusion: This class is not for the weak-stomached.