professor
Martha Zebrowski

Mar 2009

Not really my area of interest in political science (took this course to fulfill a major requirement) but Martha Zebrowski managed to make it bareable. Great sense of humour - even at 9am - and she really knows her stuff. Workload more than manageable - a book every week or so and a take-home midterm and final. i know some people in the class felt grading on the first exam was a little harsh, but she was more that willing to meet with students to discuss how to improve and really seemed to take that improvement into consideration in the final grade. Lecture attendance is compulsory, but there were no discussion sections.

Apr 2008

GS Political Science majors are required to take this course. What you may not know is take you can also take CC to fulfill the requirement (there is an all-GS section). If I were you, I would look into and consider this option, as I wish I had taken Contemporary Civilization instead of Intro to Political Thought. However, once you have taken this course, you cannot take CC (if I understand correctly). While the lectures can be interesting, the other reviewer is fairly accurate in describing the overall arbitrary and scattered nature of the course. The material is fabulous, but, unfortunately, we never went in-depth in either class or discussion. We talked around everything (as the other reviewer states). Paper topics were strange. We were asked to boil everything down in the form of analyzing at least 3 of the thinkers in each of 2-eight page papers, where we also asked to include “goals, methods, etc” as some have mentioned in previous reviews. Expectations were not clearly outlined. As the papers were distributed, we were given information about what was expected, but it was still vague and ill defined. Unfortunately, I did not get much more than my own thoughts and observations out of this class. I regret taking it as I truly looked forward to insights and intellectual debate about these great thinkers.

Jan 2008

I usually never write statements about Professors at CULPA, since people tend have extremely positive or negative opinions about a professor. But this time I will have to make an exception. Zebrowski bases her grades on other aspects than the work load or your knowledge of the material. In the beginning of the semester she might seem like the easiest professor ever and you might think “What the hell are these wimps complaining about.” Her grading seems extremely easy, since she only expects attendance (10%) and two essays (45% each). She will laugh it off as an easy A. Her lectures are interesting, to say the least. She will tell you everything you will need to know about the authors and MORE. (Favorite foods, sexual orientation, favorite color, height, weight …). Unfortunately, she only shallowly touches on the actual book. You might as well go to Wikipedia and just print the summary. So you might hope for the TA, who in my case was Pablo, who seemed to have been unwilling to read the material himself. You might still think “Ok, I can still do this on my own”. So you read the books, do extensive research in Butler on the subjects, and you feel “I should be ok, since most of the class is not even doing the reading”. Then, the big day comes… MIDTERMS!!! And it is indeed THE BIG DAY, since the grade you will receive will turn out to be your final grade. READ CAREFULLY NOW …. Here is the midterm question: Compare and Contrast 3 Authors and everything they incorporate and their philosophies in less than 9 pages. After meeting with her, trying to get a feeling of the direction she wants us to go, I got a LOVELY answer: “JUST START WRITING AND SEE WHERE IT TAKES YOU.” So I did … many, many times. I wrote a solid, TIME CONSUMING paper. I felt confident. A week later, the big day for all of us finally arrived…. GRADES! I like to call it “the Zebrowski blood bath”. 40% got a C or less. A couple of Bs and a couple of As. I was happy to have gotten a B-. I figured, my essay must have gone in the wrong direction, so I read four of the five A-papers, which were very similar to mine. I set up an appointment with Zebrowsky to discuss my Midterm paper. She simply stated “some people have a talent for writing papers and others just don't.” I WILL NOW REVEAL THE SECRET OF ZEBROWSKI GRADING: 100% Personal Preference. The Ass-kissers under you might now believe “I got this”, however, being a professional myself, believe me when I tell you: “YOU HAVE NOOOOOOOOOOO IDEA.” You won't know whether she likes you until you receive your grade. Some of you will make the mistake of trying to write a better paper for the final, since you think you might be able to save your grade, and waste even more valuable final time on this crap. AGAIN … WRONG! As she stated herself: “In my experience, students tend to consistently write the same grade-level papers.” I survived with some scratches and my first B, in my Junior Year at Columbia, but many of my friends were not as lucky. If for you grades “should not be important”, and you would like to work at Starbucks after graduation … GO AHEAD AND GIVE IT A SHOT AT THE ZEBROWSKI LOTTERY. For everyone else, pick ANYTHING else … anything.

Jan 2007

I generally write positive reviews on CULPA, but I am hard pressed to do so for this professor. The best part of the class is the reading assignments - Amar, Sundstein, and stone ! dont expect much from her otherwise. Do the readings and you will be fine. If she likes you she will engage you and show interest in your law school application etc., but if she is nuetral toward you - you may as well be invisible, she completely ignores you....and your comments. As mentioned by someone else here also, she does not appear to be impartial at all, for any arbitrary reason, she either likes you or not - take your chances. It is a big plus if you have taken a prior class with her. Essentially, you either like her or not.

Aug 2005

Easily the most worthwhile class I've taken at Columbia. At first, the 6-8p timeslot, serious reading list, longer paper, and final threw me off thinking this class was going to be awful. It took me just a week or two to realize the opposite. Maybe it's because she's adjunct and doesn't teach many other courses or maybe it's because it's just the way she is, but Professor Zebrowski cared so much for everyone in the class (at 12 students). She realized we chose our topics for a reason and talked about how our background, current work, and future aspirations would fit in. Incredible amount of office hours (she'll meet with you whenever you want) and great responses to e-mails too. She started each class with some time to discuss research problems or questions and we spent a good deal of time in the beginning of the term going over how to do research for and write the paper (as well as prepare for the presentation). The first 6 weeks or so were devoted to Bill of Rights by Akhil Reed Amar, which became a fixture in the class, and Perilous Times by Geoffrey Stone. Then we had presentations (2 per class) of about 45 min each with 15 min for questions. Prof. Z encouraged more class discussion on the books and topics than talking herself (though she always had insightful things to say) and she easily made the process more comfortable to work on, present, and write. The seminar sometimes gets a bit more legal-based than political or social (and attracts many pre-law) but it didn't get too esoteric for the future non-lawyers amongst us. Absolutely take this seminar if you can fit it in and get in it!

May 2005

While I understand the students that usually post reviews on CULPA are the ones that either love or hate a particular course, I am sorry to say that I will not be diverging from this trend. That being saidÂ…..THIS WAS THE BEST COURSE I HAVE TAKEN AT COLUMBIA. If you have any desire to go to law school I would only recommend three must-take courses at Columbia which I will list in order of preference for your convenience: <Br> 1) The Bill of Rights w/ Prof. Zebrowski<Br> 2) Freedom of Speech w/ President Lee Bollinger<Br> 3) Constitutional Law Workshop w/ Jay Topkis Finally, I will be attending USC Law next fall and I feel significantly more confident in my understanding of the basic philosophical principles of the law having taken these courses. I hope this was helpful. Enjoy and good luck!

Jan 2005

I really enjoyed this class. I did not find the subject matter too thrilling but I really enjoyed Professor Zebrowski. She views the class as a "working group" and will spend most of the first few classes discussing the paper topics. The entire class is basically geared towards the paper, much more so than any other seminar. She's interesting and funny and not too harsh a grader.. Also, she takes a real interest in her students and is more than willing to meet people to discuss their papers( she also reads drafts).

Jan 2004

Prof. Zebrowski is a perfectly nice woman, but an extreeeeeeemely boring professor. She does little to stimulate class discussion (indeed, she often inhibits it, and essentially eliminates any chance for debate). Her treatment of the material was generally mind-numbing with a few bright spots towards the end of the semester. She does genuinely care for her students, and if you stick with her class you will receive a decent grade. Honestly though, its really only worth sticking with this class if you know any cc section you take will bore you. If you have any hopes for being interested in cc, switch out asap.

Jan 2004

Prof. Zebrowski was one of the best professors I have taken at Columbia. Her Executives seminar, as the other review indicates, is your oyster. Your experience will have a lot to do with the executive you choose to profile. If you have trouble finding research material (as I did when I chose an obscure leader), she is very encouraging and makes herself very available to meet with you and work things through. She may be one of the polisci department's best kept secrets!

May 2003

My CC section with her was rather uneven. She was good at certain texts, and extremely weak on others. Thus, it was something of a crapshoot showing up to class. Her style is rather contradictory - she wants participation, but also is a rather verbose speaker. Papers are generally extremely vague and broad - which seems nice, until you have to try cram it into a 6 page limit. She's not a bad professor. But I think there are better.

Feb 2003

Most of my friends rave about their CC professors and how much they're getting out of the class. Unfortunately, I can't say the same about Prof. Zebrowski. She's so boring, and so biased towards the students that kiss up to her that it's made me stop reading the books altogether. There is something seriously wrong when a professor is bad enough to make a student want to stop learning. If you get her, transfer out.

Jan 2003

Though I do not doubt Prof. Zebrowski's abilities when it comes to teaching Political Science, I must agree with the comments regarding her handling of the CC course. Taking CC with Prof. Zebrowski was undoubtedly the most agonizing and mind-numbing academic experience I've had at Columbia so far. I'm extremely attentive as a student, but the excruciating monotony of this class made me want to run out screaming !

Dec 2002

In defense of Professor Zebrowski, she is genuinely interested in the intellectual endeavors of the students. I took this seminar, and it was overall a very positive experience. You have limitless freedom with respect to the subject of your paper (basically ANY leader in history who was special for some reason--HINT: don't pick a character that noone's heard of because you think it'll rivet everyone; the key is to pick someone interesting but also with enough research material on them). Digressions aside, Prof. Zebrowski is really very mild-mannered and encouraging. The final quiz (in addition to the paper) is a little ridiculous: it basically serves as a reading quiz to make sure you did the required readings--blah. Other than that, this is great for a Poli Sci major interesting in getting a seminar out of the way.

Dec 2002

I have to disagree with the other reviewer. I have never had Prof. Zebrowski for CC but her seminar--Executive Leadership--is one of the better ones to take in the PoliSci department. In this class you read case studies (not too many) of famous leaders for the first half of the class. You then listen to you peers present their case studies for the second half. Prof. Zebrowski seems very concerned with how her students are doing--as students and people. She is more than willing to talk with students outside of class and is one of the kinder, more gentle professors.

Dec 2002

Stay away from this boring professor with a huge case of OCD. You will fall asleep in class while she lectures on and on about material that isn't relevant to the book, or helpful for your understanding. She gets angry when no one participates, which is funny because she never lets anyone speak. Zebrowski does not know how to engage her students, and has only a superficial understanding of the books. Her grading is extremely arbtirary; she writes little to no comments. And she is extremely biased by giving better grades to the people she likes. Don't be fooled, she is mild-mannered and gives off the impression that she is nice, but she is just a horrible teacher that does not grade fairly. Also, her essay topics are some of the worst I have ever been assigned. They are vague and broad and require you to cover too many questions. And all of them are the same, asking you to compare the "methods, goals, suggestions, and styles" of two or more writers. CC for a lot of people, is supposed to be a class that changes the way one thinks, but this teacher just ruins it completely.