Wayne Proudfoot

This professor has earned a CULPA silver nugget

Dec 2012

Professor Proudfoot is an extremely kind and approachable teacher. He is brilliant and erudite, though his lectures are at times boring and/or difficult to follow. He and the TA are very helpful outside of class, whether it be regarding material covered in class or about a paper (or anything else). His lecturing style does not lend itself well to class participation, but he does in fact like when students participate. His humility as a person and as a scholar is inspiring. Highly recommended!

Apr 2012

Proudfoot is an immensely long individual. He’s long, long, long—his body, his lectures, his papers, his assignments… and all these things even SEEM longer than they actually are. Paradoxically, Proudfoot’s lectures always start and end promptly within the allotted 75 minute period, his papers are by no means unreasonable and even rather lenient, and his reading assignments are far from the longest I have been assigned at Columbia (his body is actually just plain long, though). That’s why I say that, despite reality, all these things SEEM longer than they actually are. His lectures, for instance, tend to ramble. He repeats himself with regularity and constantly rephrases things several times during a lecture. On one hand, this is very helpful for grasping some of the harder concepts. Yet again, it can be quite boring. I found the texts that Proudfoot selected for this class to be interesting, but not much more than that. Nothing seized or enthralled me. Where the blame for this lies—with the text, the professor, or me—is a mystery. It’s probably a combination of all three. As for the papers, Proudfoot very kindly replaced the midterm with a take-home version. This made everyone happy. In fact, Proudfoot is immensely kind and approachable all around. He’s a solid grader. Not an easy A, but not a stick in the mud either. My main complaint is that the class only revolves around three grades: the midterm, the final, and one paper due on the last day of class. Although this is not the most consolidated grading format that I have ever experienced, it is among the more compact. My hope is that some day Proudfoot will assign the paper to be due during the first half of the semester. This will give students a better idea of what he expects from them earlier, and make the class a less mystifying experience. Ultimately, I’m not sure that I enjoyed Proudfoot’s class, although it was very decent. Proudfoot teaches other classes that seem equally as fascinating in print as this one did, but I doubt that I will take them.

May 2011

The Good: 1. Extremely nice! Extremely friendly! He is definitely interested in getting to know his students and he's all-around an awesome awesome person. He also shares a striking resemblance to Gandalf. 2. He understands that we have other work, so he's completely willing to lessen readings or lecture more during the class when he knows that we haven't read. 3. He likes class participation, which is great, because CC is a discussion class... The Bad: 1. Sometimes can lecture too much. Honestly, that's the only bad note I've got.

Sep 2008

If you want a thought provoking and intellectually challenging course, take one with Proudfoot. While his lecturing style may be a little dry (although definitely decide this for yourself - lots of people love him), he provides great insight into the material. Proudfoot is a really nice and accommodating professor. He is happy to meet outside of class and go over the material or the papers for the class. He is really knowledgeable but completely non-pretentious about it. He is happy to have a real discussion with students and here what you are thinking. Religion and Its Critics is an awesome course. It's a great way to cover major 17th-19th century philosophers, but addressing a topic that seems to get less attention (religion vs. metaphysics). Examining these texts provides a good basis for thinking about Enlightenment philosophy focusing on issues of tolerance and the notion of truth. The course and syllabus is well structured and organized. However, if you don't read the texts you just won't get as much out of the class - and it's a lot of reading. Also, I recommend taking CC first. While you could hypothetically take it before - the material will be much more appreciated after having the CC (especially second semester) courseload. Philosophy of Religion is also a good course but the syllabus is a little all over the place. You touch on issues of proofs about god, the problem of evil, politics and religion, feminism and religion etc. So, while certain of the topics were interesting in it of themselves - it might have been nice if the course was a bit more focused. The reading is much lighter than Religion and Its Critics - the hardest stuff being Kant.

Jan 2007

Blending a philosopher's intellectual precision with the infectious, inexplicable enthusiasm of a mystic sage (or perhaps just William James), Proudfoot is the perfect professor for the material. This course confirmed my selection of the religion major.

Dec 2006

I found Professor Proudfoot to be thoughtful and patient. He has the ability to stand before a class and just lecture on his material. I personally found his lectures compelling, and one of the most cohesive of any expository lecturer I've had yet at Columbia. He does allow and ask for class involvement in his lectures. The class analyzed three philosophical topics about religion: 1. The existence and attributes of God. 2. About the personal value people find in religion (their religious experience). 3. The place of religion in ethical/political debate. It is very apparent from his lectures that Proudfoot is a leader in his field. Despite this, he luckily exhibits little pretension. If you are considering taking this class, it does help if you have some religious/philosophical background. However, I think everyone, from any background, can get something from this class. If you want to see Proudfoot's lecturing mannerisms check out this presentation. The link to his video is at the bottom.

Apr 2006

If you are a religion major take this class. I am not a religion major and thought that this class sounding interesting and somewhat easy, but it really isnÂ’t. If you are interested in CC all over again, this is a perfect class for you. There is lots of reading, which in my opinion was optional. Professor Proudfoot is charming but not a good lecturer. As long as you go to lecture and discussion sections, you will be alright but very bored.

May 2004

Prof. Proudfoot really knows his stuff and is great at contecting the different writers that we studied during the course. He can be a bit dry at times especially if you haven't done the reading. If you have (and this is absolutely critical) his lectures are very good.

Nov 2003

This class was amazing. Having gone into it with almost no religious background and only 1 introductory philosophy class I was at first concerned with the number of religion majors in the class, but everything turned out just fine. Although the readings were a bit difficult, Professor Proudfoot explains them so well in lecture that I actually understood them. The class is mostly lecture, but even as my last class on Thursday it was still always enthralling. I highly recommend this class!!

Aug 2003

I can't agree with the above review of Prof. Proudfoot. I think I can speak for most of the majors and concentrators who took this class with me in saying that this professor alienated the interested and did nothing to bring the uninterested in. The reading list isn't really his fault (well, maybe the inclusion of his own book is), but really much more could be done with this material, not to mention this subject matter. The key flaw is that his long-winded, noteless, graphic-less, disorganized spoken explications took up 1-1.5 hours of each class meeting. That's 50-75% of total class time. Then more time went to "student presentations", a Colloquiums 101 trick that i can't really get behind, especially when you ask a student to present on a book you wrote. The guy is smart and has a clear head for philosophy but is not well suited for running a colloquium on a topic as complex and emotional as "the study of religion"

Nov 2002

I highly recommend this class! He makes heavy readings like Kant incredibly clear. Teaches from a wide variety of scholarship, all really worthwhile. Proudfoot is such a nice guy, too. His interest in the subject makes it worth your while. Very approachable. Really, really wonderful experience.