Take this class. You will come out of it with much more knowledge about foreign policy and decision-making processes, not to mention an appx. 30-35 page paper under your belt. It feels damn good. Was the reading mundane? No. Was it unnecessary (inasmuch as it contributed to your paper or grade)? Generally. Was Prof. Farnham incompetent? Not at all. Did the class drag on? Absolutely. Do you have to keep up with all of the readings? No. Do you end up learning more about political psychology than international relations? Debatable. Very, very debatable. Overall, I think it was worth it. She's older than some but very intelligent and helpful when you seek out her advice. Pick a topic that you have GENUINE academic interest in; the paper will then feel like an adventure instead of a burden. And please, for the love of God, don't start it two weeks before it's due. Bad idea.
Truth is, I don't remember her saying much. Each week, a few ppl presented the readings, and then she sort of monitored the discussion, but thats about it. However, she was helpful during office hours and in her comments after we presented our research to the class. She is very knowledgeable, but hardly shows it during class. The readings are standard IR readings, except for the psychology crap that was barely understandable and for the most part ignored by the class. You wont love the class, you wont hate it. If youre looking for earth-shattering seminars, then skip this one. If you just wanna write your long paper and get the requirement over with, this is a good choice.
This class was a great pleasure (well, ok, that's relative to horrible classes). Professor Farnham is one of the most humble and yet knowledgeable instructors I've ever come across at Columbia (it's just too bad it took me until my senior year to find her). She really cares about your topic (an in-depth analysis of a decision made by any foreign government--although you can choose the US as your actor as well) and is AWESOME at helping you find amazing works that support your aims. The readings are manageable (~100 pages a week), the class is small (mine had 8 students), and the subject is intriguing. Professor Farnham's kindness is disarming but don't be fooled--she is an expert in cognitive psychology and international politics: utilize her help and you'll thank yourself.