Allison Busch

Dec 2012

Professor Busch is a wonderful thesis seminar instructor. She is kind, clear, helpful, encouraging -- everything she should be. And she brings snacks every week, which is always a plus since our class is Wednesdays from 6-8 pm! She gives feedback for assignments (via email) in a timely fashion and make sure that everyone participates in the seminar. I don't have a single bad thing to say about her. I would definitely recommend taking the MESAAS senior thesis seminar with her.

Sep 2007

I am disappointed with how many people on this review forum criticize Busch for her lack of glorifying Hinduism. What does that have anything to do with her teaching abilities and ability to be a professor. If you want a class which expounds to you the glories of "hindu civilization" or some thing like that, just go to your nearest temple/mandir and get your kicks there. This is a university, were we're obligated to consider seriously social injustices, even when they come in the name of our beloved Hinduism. That being said, Prof Busch is a moderate professor, not fabulous but not atrocious either. Take the class if it interests you.

Feb 2007

I think Professor Busch did not say a single positive thing about Hindus the whole semester, and kept criticizing implicitly their practices, beliefs, and even origins. I don't understand why she would be teaching a course on India when she can't seem to present a single good quality about Hinduism. Although tries to come off as impartial, is a very biased Professor.

Dec 2006

This woman should not be teaching at Columbia. I felt as though she had little clue as to what she was "teaching" if you could call it that. She agreed with almost any absurd point a student would make, even ones that contradicted each other. She tries to relate everything back to Hindi or some sort of Eastern study or religion, etc. as it's her field. She is scathing on grammar when grading essays. Her wannabe accent is also annoying. I'm not sure what she's trying to pull, if it's British or some sort of weird combination of something but it comes off as being obnoxiously pretentious and comes and goes in her speaking. I'm sorry if you have the misfortune of having her assigned to you for Lit Hum, if possible do anything in your power to get out of her section. One good thing about her is that she doesn't assign extra reading on the syllabus.

Dec 2006

Professor Busch is a smart and thought-provoking teacher. She does a very good job of moderating a discussion, and balancing the need to provide her own commentary based on background knowledge and allowing the students to guide the discourse. Her field of South Asian studies provides a nice contrast to the Western works of Lit Hum, and she is successful in making you consider the broader cultural and historical implications of the books we read. She is a fairly difficult grader, but in a good way, because she reads papers carefully and her comments are aimed towards improving your writing skills.

Nov 2006

I have to agree with the last entry; Professor Busch is intent on characterizing contemporary India and especially contemporary Hindus as the worst people in the world. She mischaracterizes everything, including asserting that Hinduism didn't come into being till 0 CE and sometimes every 1700's, while any Hindu knows that Vedic texts from the 3000's BCE are still used in marriages, funerals, and several Vedic gods are still worshipped, not to mention the fact that the Ramayana occured and was initially written before around 1000 BCE. Then she deliberately skips the Hindu Mauryan and Gupta empires and skips to Mughal rule, all the while suggesting that India never had a coherent empire on its own, although even she concedes this point when asked a question regarding it. Then why skip these two dynasties that spanned 1000 years, if not to suggest that the Mughals did not colonize India? Which brings to my next point: she describes Mughals as some really tolerant rulers, including Aurangzeb, who is hated by everyone in India. Her previous characterization leads her to conclude that the Mughals were ruling a chaotic place, and were legitimate rulers, in spite of them being considered colonizers by most Indians. Then she portrays Hindu nationalists as a coherent body of fundamentalists intent on destroying all Muslims in India, which is clearly untrue. That is like saying that Republicans and the Christian right and the Ku Klux Klan are all equivalent organizations. Furthermore, she dismisses all Indian scholarly work as biased, Hindu fundamentalist, and unfounded. My main problem with her is this: if you're going to teach an intro course on India, why not in the very least present a balanced viewpoint? Even better in my perception would be to present the Indian viewpoint, however, since most Americans do know the Western viewpoint via common media. Professor Busch has neither a coherent philosophy nor a good understanding or appreciation of Indian culture. She should not be teaching a course about India to propagandize about how India is the worst civilization in the world.

Aug 2006

just a biased professor who portrays a nation, culture, religion, and region as backward, decrepit, downtrodden, and a shame for the world. a major cultures class? i would say not. the reason: hinduism is portrayed from the observer's eyes, while the christianity/judaism/islam are taught from the believer's eyes. simply ridiculous. i could not bear sitting through that class at some points. the class was supposed to be about civilizations, but we spent approximately 5 minutes on the indus valley civ and 20 minutes on the moghul empire. Rest of the class was spent on how women are abused, sati (an ancient practice that she herself said was no longer an issue...then why did we waste time on it?), and the sexual texts of india. horrendous portrayal of this land. Aside from all this was the fact that she referred to an ancient text as "full of crazy S--T". While the text may be controversial, it was pretty ridiculous of her to say that in the classroom. In my opinion, she should not even be teaching at Columbia, and should not teach anywhere...until she understands that at this point in time, we have to learn BOTH positives and negatives of a culture, not just one. She has discouraged me from taking any more MEALAC classes about South Asia.

Jul 2006


May 2006

Allison covered the India half of the course. I was extremely dissapointed in this course and would recommend taking something else for major cultures. Allison seemed like a very nice woman and a very knowledgable professor. Unfortunately, though she clearly wanted it to be a good class, she just did not know how to run a lecture or structure this sort of class. The lectures were boring to the point of being painful and the reading were plentiful, scattered and also often very boring. I think with a little experience or a more specialized/smaller class, Allison could be a tremendous professor. Unfortunately, this class and Allison specifically were pretty terrible.

Mar 2006

I had high hopes for the India unit of the intro to MELAC class, but I was utterly disappointed. I felt as though everything we talked about was depressing and pessimistic, giving the entire class a very negative view of the country, its culture, and its religion. The midterm was like something out of middle school, except with an Ivy League twist. From the approximately ninety readings we had done in the course, we had text identification on the midterm. While some questions asked what the significance of the passage was, others simply asked "who wrote this?" It was not a comprehensive exam, but rather a ridiculous attempt to see whether people had done the readings. Even IF you'd done the readings, committing the ninety authors to memory based upon readngs that are all very similar is not a productive exercise. Due to the atrocity of a midterm, the curve was significant--an entire letter grade--but students were still left with D's. Basically they ahd to curve the exam so that people wouldn't fail. This class was Busch's first class she'd ever taught at Columbia. I feel like she has a lot of potential, especially if yo uwere to take a class of hers that was smaller and more focused.

Mar 2006

A teacher of the old-school variety: class attendance & participation as well as clearly demonstrated effort (on the student's part) to grapple with the material counts for big brownie points with Busch. (She's also a stickler for proper grammar and syntax - high school-ese isn't going to wash here.) The flip side of the coin, of course, is that she also goes out of her way to ensure that the primary purpose of the course - ie. learning - is achieved. In a class of 150 students, she encouraged us to meet with her individually to go over our paper topics (and was extremely helpful with additional sources in my case). Having said all that, her style of teaching - and this is a problem by no means hers alone, not by a looong shot - is probably more conducive to smaller group settings, eg. seminars and the like. She doesn't lecture, she talks. (Pritchett is another MEALAC name that leaps to mind.) That works great when there are only 20 people in the classroom - communication becomes a two-way street - but when you have to contend with a lecture hall mostly full of freshmen and juniors who behave like 5 yr olds with a severe learning disability then blank-eyed shoe-gazing, a general air of somnolence, and little incentive to engage in the learning process are only to be expected. (Which probably explains her heavy-handed tactics.) This was her first semester teching the course though, so I guess the rough spots should be ironed out the next time round. The material is structured thematically, which forces quite a bit of independent thinking, as opposed to passive listening and reception.