I entered this class my Freshman year only because it sounded interesting, and didn't know if I'd keep it in my schedule. From the first lecture on, I was hooked by Professor Jones's engaging lectures, sense of humor, and visible passion for what he was talking about. This class was the first I attended at Columbia and now in my Junior year, I am a history major, in large part because of this mind-expanding class. I expected this class to be a series of facts: names, dates, events, and because of the subject matter, inventions, and discoveries. Instead, as I learned only a few weeks into the course, it was much more a class about history itself, in that secondary texts were read not as facts (see: global core classes) but instead as arguments, with strengths and weaknesses. There was a great mix of primary and secondary sources which lead to great discussions in the section. My TA also happened to be a true badass. Her name was Reut, not sure about her last name, but I see her around every now and then so I believe she's still at Columbia. She is intense but pushed me to put full effort into this class which was highly rewarding. I can't recommend Professor Jones enough and look forward to taking another course with him this coming semester, not because I need to, just because I know it will be awesome.
Really great and highly invested professors. Prof Jones and WIggins are very funny when they're together. This class is also super interesting, I learned so much about the evolution of data practices and have questioned a lot about the ethics of data today. I learned some stuff about ways to code about data but was normally confused with the coding homeworks. I highly recommend this class if you're interested in technology, algorithms, data and the ethical practices involved. If you don't like tech or have no interest in data, you will be lost. The readings can be dense but overall very interesting. If you have absolutely zero coding background then it will be hard to do the coding homeworks because they start out very fast. I think the topics we studied in this class are important for the future of how we look at data and Prof Wiggins and Prof Jones really want us to think about the ways our world is evolving.
Though I graduated this past Spring, I wandered over to CULPA out of a sense of nostalgia and typed in a few of the teachers that I found most influential throughout my time at Columbia. Professor Jones does not need more praise than he has already received, but I noticed that many of the reviews here are dated. I merely wish to update CULPA to the fact that Professor Jones is still one of the greatest professors at Columbia, and to say that his teaching of Contemporary Civilization fundamentally changed the way that I interact with and view our world. Professor Jones is brilliant. I was a relatively unmotivated student before feeling the excitement that he brought to each class, which in turn made me excited to prepare for each class. Do take CC with him if you are ever offered the opportunity.
I took this class a few years back, but let me say that it is true that Jones is a brilliant lecturer who made going to class a treat. He is also easy to talk to and seems to be a nice guy. Let me also tell you that I'm not sure what I learned in this class. In fact I don't think I learned anything in this class, nor, I think, did many other people. I do however remember that Jones ended every single 75 minute lecture 20 minutes early. Make of that what you will.
Amazing amazing professor. Workload is light. Lectures are interesting. And he is very understanding with extensions and always available to help with essays. Even if you are not prepared for class, he makes the dense material understandable and is open to all comments or questions. Class participation is key but he responds well to any question, even if it isn't exactly correct, so its not that hard to participate. He loves making diagrams on the board to show different theories, so if you're a visual learner, then you're in luck. I would strongly recommend him.
I agree with most of the reviews below, Professor Jones made this class incredible. He presented the material and directed the discussion in such a way that we came to some deeper understanding of each of the works on our own. We all walked out of every single class with a much greater understanding than we walked in with. By far the best core class. My major has nothing to do with history, but I will definitely be taking his other classes.
A great course. If you like computers, Prof. Jones' course is a great way to get exposed to their history, which is pretty awesome considering how contemporary all of the material is. The course covers lots of things that you never knew about, but were fundamental in the evolution of computing, which is what a good history course should do. For what you pay, you should expect that the professors be brilliant, and Prof. Jones absolutely is. He switches seamlessly between software, economics, psychology, etc. He often understands what you are trying to say better than you do, and when he repeats it, you are left wishing that you could think as clearly as he speaks. A few caveats: - It is the summer, but the Prof. still wanted 200 pages of reading for each class, which can be intense from Monday to Wednesday, especially since readings are often only released after class. - It's a seminar, so be prepared to speak up. Also, be prepared to listen to other people, who may or may not have something intelligent to say. - Lastly, likely also because of the summer, Prof. Jones was not always readily available by email, so if you have something urgent, go find him.
I'm sure I don't need to add my pennies to the stack of praise for Professor Jones. I have hardly ever seen such a fine teacher. I will, however, highlight just one of his many admirable qualities, and allow it to stand as advice to any lucky enough to have this brilliant man for CC: Matthew Jones, far more than the dunce who taught you University Writing, will teach you to write well if that is the only thing he does for you all semester long. He took a month to grade twenty papers just so that he could comment on each and every syntactic and semantic point with which any could take issue. And his point is not pedantry: scholarly writing can furnish one with habits most pernicious to good style, so Professor Jones takes it as a personal burden to help each student rid her writing of dull imagery and obese phrasesâ€”verbiage of every kind and colour. Andâ€”needless to say, perhapsâ€”he leaves no grammatical flaw untouched. A word of advice, then: edit your essays with an unsparing pen. Cut out every impersonal phrase, every instance of the passive voice, every awkward phrase, every bit of language you don't absolutely need. You'll do yourself a favour. Even if you don't, however, Professor Jones will help. He's kind that way.
Hands down best professor ever! If you get to take CC with him, do it at all costs. My best core experience yet! Coming to class every time was a joy. Since our class was on MW during the Fall semester which means we have an extra class day than the other TW classes, he gave us a day off! I don't think you can find a better CC, a better core professor.
My idea of a CC class is one in which a group of students and an extremely gifted professor gather in an informal manner to discuss the implications of the texts that have shaped the "Western" world, and Professor Jones definitely met (and exceeded) the "extremely gifted professor" part of that idea. There is no doubt that this man is brilliant, yet his personality is such that he makes even the least intelligent student feel comfortable. He formed an interesting and provocative analysis of the works we read while always dedicating a significant portion of the classtime to student-based discussions. His papers were the first at Columbia that I considered fun, and he never tested us over things that were not lengthily considered during class. In short, Professor Jones is GREAT, and one should feel extremely lucky to have him as a professor.
I hadn't taken a history class since high school, but I loved this course. Jones is phenomenal. His lectures were always 50 minutes long, and included a wealth of good natured and EXTREMELY coherent and organized information. He's got a great dorky but intelligent sense of humor and is great at making the material engaging. And despite his brilliance, he takes a sincere interest in his students and their opinions. Jones is by far the best prof I've had at CU yet and I HIGHLY recommend him. In fact I think CULPA should upgrade him to gold nugget....
He's an incredibly gifted lecturer, and probably the funniest at Columbia. It must suck being one of his TA's however, for sections were tedious and uninspiring in comparison to Jones' lectures. Unfortunately, Professor Jones may be too "spirited " for Columbia's History department. That's too bad because people like him are why we pay the 'big bucks" to attend Ivys. No other Professor from his generation at Columbia can hold a candle to him. But it's more important to have specialists in the 19th-century women's labor movement than classically trained professors, right?
I am just writing to present another point of view on Prof. Jones. While he is no doubt extremely intelligent, and I have certainly heard good accounts from all his History dept. students, in CC I feel that he reigned in the class far too infrequently, letting the discussion get either far afield or, worse, inaccurate. If you don't go in for shooting-from-the-hip philosophy, I would be wary of this CC section (on the other hand, I took this class two years ago, so things might have changed).
The remarkable thing about Jones is not that he is a brilliantly mesmerizing lecturer. (Insdorf a.k.a. Miss Showboat of the Film department could learn something from him.) You get the impression that Matthew Jones could read Butler Library in a fortnight, and then deliver it in the most incisively comprehensive lecture in one (maybe two) semester. Jones is also a nice guy and not full of himself, which is another rarity. I don't think he'll change, either. The downside are the bumbling confused thickbrained TAs who can't keep up with the course. Sitting through their section groups is like witnessing one of those incoherent creatures that shuffle through the subway and mutter endlessly in the twilight zone.
As has been said above Jones is brillant, interesting, yaddy yaddy ya...but he is also a very difficult teacher for those who have no background in the courses he teaches. He lectures as if everyone in class has memorized the works of Valla and Machiavelli. He says on a regular basis in lecuture, "Well I'm sure you have all read (fill in the blank with any obscure author) and everyone in the lecture hall looks around at each other in panic. Anyway, his class while informative was definetly not Intro level, even for a history major.
Contrary to the other reviews, I will maintain that Jones is actually mortal. Nevertheless, I admit that it was indeed the most rewarding class I have ever had at Columbia. I doubt there is a CC teacher better.
Okay, I wouldn't say his papers are "fun." I wouldn't say any papers are fun at that. I don't think that his papers are any more "fun" than your normal CC papers. He doesn't have a magic touch or something. But he is a really cool guy. He knows a lot about basically anything, and everything he says is something I always note as completely non obvious, so it's always fun to hear what he has to say. I have to say, though, that he isn't the best at promoting discussions. I mean, it's nice to have a retarded argument every once in a while in CC. And whenever we start getting into a heated debate over something, he pretty much stops it and asks a really obscure question. Usually I'll just think "damnit," after he does that. His intentions are good, of course, he's just too smart for us. But he is an awesome lecturer, which i sort of wish he would do more. I think it'd definitely be worth it to take at least one of his lecture courses.
I am in awe of this man. I feel he lacks the requisite arrogance for someone as intelligent as he is, but that will come in time, and meanwhile he makes up for it by being very available to his students. He is randomly hilarious, as a bonus. He made the Nicomachean Ethics enjoyable. Enough said.
The man is brilliant. I can't imagine reading about a fictitious character as intelligent as Matthew Jones. A quick resume: he graduated from Harvard in three years, having studied philosophy, mathematics, and history; he read History of Science at Cambridge in England; he went back to Harvard and got his Ph.D. in intellectual thought and the history of science. He knows two dialects of Ancient Greek, Latin, German, French, and, if I'm not mistaken, Italian. Columbia rushed him through his dissertation to bring him here and put him on the fast-track to tenure. As if those weren't qualification enough to teach here, he's a really sweet guy, friendly and approachable. He's happy to shoot the shit during office hours, and he's an easy grader, provided you know the material. Note that it is NOT hard to glean insight into the material he's teaching because he's a fantastic teacher, lecturer, and leader of discussion. Jones doesn't let discussion veer off course, and (!) he's tolerant of even the most absurd of comments or opinions. The only fault I discern is that he's too new to have built enough confidence. He'll always stop in the middle of sentence if someone hand goes up, but at least he cares about fostering discussion.