professor
Steve Baker

This professor has earned a CULPA gold nugget

May 2021

easily the best professor I've ever had at Columbia! incredibly understanding, engaging and just a kind human being. PLEASE take a class with him if you can, especially Intro to Italian Literature (I or II). Steve is INCREDIBLE!

Jan 2021

I went into the class super scared because although I met the prerequisites, the idea of taking a literature focused courses entirely in Italian was really daunting. After almost dropping the class, I'm really glad I stuck with it. Steve is a gem. He's so kind, funny, patient, and understanding. He's so passionate about Italian literature and your Italian will improve so much. He was a really fair grader and left detailed feedback very quickly. The final and midterm were both super flexible and gave us a few different options to choose from. If you're looking for a fun Italian class, take this one with Steve.

Dec 2020

BY FAR the best professor in Columbia's Italian department. He is the sweetest, funniest, and the most understanding man in the world. His class "Intro to Italian Literature I" was so insightful. I had no interest in Italian literature going in but found myself becoming obsessed with Dante and ended up declaring Italian as a second major. Steve is incredibly passionate about his work and his classes are never dry. He does an amazing job of keeping students engaged. Would 100% recommend his class if you're at all interested in learning/improving your Italian. There's a good amount of discussion that keeps me on my toes and definitely helped with my speaking (and written) skills.

Nov 2017

Holy shit this is the best teacher I've had at Columbia. I had him last year in the 2016-2017 school year, and what can I say? He's a god damn genius. He comes to class prepared every day, is always full of energy and can get blood from a stone with his charisma. He is a wonderful person, and is extremely helpful with advancing any aspiring writer with his recommendations and advice. IF YOU CAN PLEASE TAKE HIS CLASS. I cannot repeat myself enough.

Aug 2017

I don't know why Steve doesn't have a gold nugget. He absolutely deserves it!!! Best professor I have ever had in my life and I wish he could teach every class. He is so engaging and enthusiastic -- you can tell that he really loves his job and cares about his students. He facilitates the best discussions and encourages students to make to connections to the texts outside of class through the many trips that he offers, from museum tours that he comes up with and leads himself to a night at the theater and then having the whole class come to his apartment for dinner after. Literally I can't say enough nice things about Steve. His essay prompts are thought provoking and engaging, and they were actually fun to write! Before every one, I would go to his office hours to outline my ideas and just brainstorm and chat, and I always left feeling so excited about getting started. And his grading! To say that he is generous is an understatement. If I ever need to feel better about my academic ability, I literally just reread his comments on my essays. They somehow managed to be both encouraging and constructive, and I do think I am a better writer from taking this course. I was in his class two years ago, and I still go to his office hours just to talk to Steve. Every other class I have taken since has been a disappointment in comparison with Lit Hum. Take his class. It will be the best class you ever take.

Apr 2017

Professor Baker is wonderful. He's incredibly enthusiastic about everything he does, from grappling with dense texts across the LitHum syllabus to planning class outings where everyone can get to know each other better and apply LitHum topics across disciplines. He makes everyone feel welcome, encouraging people to share their thoughts no matter how fully formed. He's equally friendly--if not more so--in office hours, when you can talk about papers or favorite books you've read or anything going on in your life, really. He's super supportive and wants to get to know all his students as well as possible to help them realize their full potential and feel comfortable in class. Three papers per semester seemed like a lot at first, but he often gives a variety of creative options and is equally open to creating your own topic. Especially during second semester, he's given us essay prompts that allow for the type of introspection and consideration of the big "core questions" that I think LitHum is really all about. I have no doubt that the takeaways from this class will serve me far beyond my time at Columbia, and that Professor Baker will be a close mentor and confidante of mine throughout college.

Apr 2016

Honestly one of the best and most thoughtful teachers I have ever had in my life, not simply Columbia. If you have the ability to switch into his class for Lit Hum — DO!!!!!! Best decision I ever made. The man is a genius yet also insanely kind. A rare breed at this institution indeed.

Apr 2016

Honestly one of the best and most thoughtful teachers I have ever had in my life, not simply Columbia. If you have the ability to switch into his class for Lit Hum — DO!!!!!! Best decision I ever made. The man is a genius yet also insanely kind. A rare breed at this institution indeed.

Aug 2015

Steve was the best thing that ever happened to me my freshman year. Coming from not a very strong background in literature and being haunted by lithum since receiving my acceptance to Columbia, lithum ended up being my favorite class both semester. Steve is the most understanding and kind professor, while not being a push over. His students respect him and you don't mess around and screws off/dont do the readings because you know you can get away without doing it. I went to steve for everything. office hours are great and make the most of them. even if you don;t have questions about the readings or and essay he loves when students just come by to chat. He is a great person to just chat with when things around school can get really crazy and overwhelming and he is always happy to do so.

May 2015

I really have little to say about Professor Baker than that he is as close as you will get to an IDEAL LitHum professor. Does he know what he is talking about? Yes Is he passionate in class? Absolutely Is he the kindest professor on campus? Surely And does he give fair grades? NO (he gives everybody much BETTER grades than we really deserve) If you have professor Baker as your Lithum professor, you are blessed indeed.

May 2014

Baker's silver nugget is very well-deserved. I have had Baker for two semesters of Lit Hum, and it has been a great experience. Personality-wise, Baker is extremely friendly and helpful. He's really good at making everyone feel comfortable and part of the class. Last semester, he invited the class to eat dinner (prepared by his girlfriend) at his apartment. Because I told him that I was part of the wind ensemble, he showed up to our spring concert with his girlfriend to listen. In class, Baker is very knowledgeable of the different works and facilitates discussions well. He frequently goes above and beyond by giving extensive background information on the texts and providing useful guides for understanding the works (for example, Baker created a useful list that summarizes the different events in The Histories). He also cracks some jokes that people usually don't get, but people laugh anyway since he's a fun guy. (important: Baker does not allow the use of computers in class unless you are presenting. He also requires the physical copy of the text) In office hours, he is very helpful. He usually requires students to sign up to discuss the direction of their essays. His opinions and suggestions are very helpful for writing the essay. It's a good idea to discuss the paper before writing it, since he usually provides helpful guidance. As for the grading, I think Baker is fairly lenient without being a total pushover. Most students in the class do well. tl;dr If you get into his class, consider yourself very fortunate!

Apr 2008

Steve Baker is one of my favorite people in the world --- forget about professors. He is very enthusiastic and funny. He is a great teacher! Take his section!

Nov 2007

STEVE BAKER IS AMAZING!!!! Oh my god I went into italian knowing absoloutely nothing but somehow he managed to actually teach me italian! He met with me whenever I needed to and reviewed whatever I needed to. He's always in a good mood...always bene bene bene...and he is one of the funniest people period. He makes funny sounds in class and he is so engaging and he just wants to be your friend!!! He is absolutely amazing if you have a chance to have him get him but it become pretty difficult just because everyone always wants him but if you have a chance take him!!!!! He's brilliant!!!

Nov 2007

Steve was fantastic! He is really nice and always wants to help you. I had him for two semesters and did well without too much effort. He is not from Italy but makes up for it by engaging his class. Take Italian with Steve!

Nov 2007

Take Steve Baker's class if you can. Please, do it. He is amazing. He makes class enjoyable, efficient, and just awesome. He is extremely approachable and accomodating and creates a great classroom environment. Because he is a native English speaker, it is very easy for him to follow his students' train of thought if there is confusion about translation, and he is generally very good at presenting new material in an understandable way. We begged him to ascend to the ranks of Intermediate with us, but alas, he braves Elementary still, and has amazing patience even with those who are not so gifted with foreign language. I will take it personally if you don't appreciate him as much as our class did. The casual conversational excercises, along with Steve's open and helpful demeanor, ensure that you'll be speaking fluent Italian at parties in no time (not to mention bragging to your friends how cute he is!)

Nov 2007

I literally cannot think of a complaint about Steve Baker. He is charming, enthusiastic, and throughly knowledgable. It is evident that he truly wants all of his students to succeed and will do whatever is necessary to make sure everyone understands. I looked forward to Italian with Steve because he makes every class entertaining and engaging, and I have never picked up the basics of a language so quickly.

Apr 2007

OMGosh!!! Literally the best teacher EVER!!! Steve is so funny, and makes class so enjoyable. I thought my last Italian teacher was great, but Steve is AMAZING! He is so positive and never is in a bad mood. I actually struggled with the class in the beginning, but Steve was encouraging and helped me through it, and in the end I succeeded. Everyone has a blast in class! We were always laughing and having so much fun learning Italian! I wish all my instructors were like Steve! One word to describe Steve... Hilarious!!!