James Colgrove

This professor has earned a CULPA gold nugget

May 2020

Colgrove is a king, periodt. 8:40 every t/th i was HYPE to learn from his expertise. Colgrove knows how to work a class/engage students. SO much to absorb by looking at public health through a historical lens (pre bacteriological revolution to present). I also loved that the papers were on topics of your choice so no one was pressed to write down everything he said. We could just lean into the class, critically listen, and really learn. I feel like I am so much more aware of my surroundings and everything public health does. He is so passionate. Literally, would give him my kidney. PLEASE TAKE THIS CLASS. YOU WILL NOT REGRET IT. Even if you are neither pre-health or history focused, so worth it.

Apr 2020

Yeesh, this has really been difficult. I loved the course a lot, until Covid hit. When Prof. Colgrove didn't adjust the length of the large research paper to fit the fact that we are in a literal public health crisis, I was rather discouraged. While many professors have been accommodating and understanding, he has not been, something I find rather ironic, given that he is an authority on the subject and should understand the amount of stress this imposes on people's psyches. :/

Apr 2020

Take this class. Colgrove is so caring and nice, and most importantly the class opens your eyes to a wide variety of issues (the lecture spans from colonial time up until the 21 C, covering all sorts of important public health issues.) He does a great job at presenting multiple perspectives on issues and always asks engaging ethical questions about subject material. Also very interesting with respect to Covid-19.

Jan 2017

I took this course as a first-year in the fall. Since it was an upper-level course, I was nervous about the workload. Professor Colgrove and the TAs, however, were approachable both in person and responded to emails to help answer any questions I had about the readings and/or the 2 papers (mid-term and final). The class itself did not fall short of my expectations whatsoever because of my deep interest in public health, but more importantly, the social determinants of health. Although it was an 8:40 class, Colgrove masters the art of PowerPoints and organizes his lectures with interactive videos and role-plays about public health practices during the 19th Century helped me interact and engage so early in the morning. With all that being said, TAKE HIS CLASS. YOU WILL NOT REGRET IT. He's a great person to talk to as well if you intend to pursue a career in public health bc he works at the Mailman School.

Dec 2016

Colgrove himself is a wonderful lecturer. Whether you complete all the reading or not, his lectures give a comprehensive view of the points made throughout the reading. Not only does he teach us the history of public health, but he also keeps the class interactive and relatable by interspersing it with videos and images and tying it back to how these public health policies relate to or affect us now. We've done class debates and a simulation of what immigrants would go through at Ellis Island, all of which were very fun! The time of the class may or may not work for most, as it's 8:40 in the morning (or at least when I took it). However, I still strongly recommend this class nonetheless. The workload is managebale, although some of the readings were 40-100 pages total; however, the papers are skimmable and you learn to find what main points to look for in terms of looking at the development of certain public health issues. There are two papers (a midterm paper and final paper), both of which are manageable. The TAs are very helpful in writing these, though I would suggest going beforehand rather than starting it the day before the due date. Their office hours really helped save my grade for one of the papers. There is a discussion session for this class.

Apr 2014

This class is hands down the best class I have ever taken at Columbia. I agree 100% with the review below and am mostly writing this so that Colgrove will get a gold nugget. Social History of American Public Health is the perfect amount of work, and the perfect amount of material. At Columbia it's always hard to find classes where you will actually be able to enjoy the class because we usually get so trodden down by the insane workload and difficult exams. That is NOT the case with this class- you can easily keep up while still enjoying going to class. Colgrove does not assign any irrelevant assignments or busy work. Colgrove is the best lecturer I have witnessed yet: he is a great speaker which always makes his lectures fascinating. Even though he mostly just talks, he never reads off notes and he uses a lot of video clips and other visual aids to break up his talking. The class covers major events in the history of public health and each week is devoted to a different topic. The readings are quite heavy but you can skim most of them and still understand what is going on in the class. You have three grades in the class: participation - mostly just how much you participate in discussion (And your weekly post) 1st paper- a 5 page historiography on the topic of your choice (isn't as nearly as bad as it sounds and the TAs are more than willing to help) 2nd paper- around 15 pages on the same topic but with primary sources to back up historical arguments (also not as bad as it sounds) There is a mandatory discussion section which I hated at first but if you really like public health and you don't mind participating for 50 minutes a week in small groups then it's actually really enjoyable. I had George as a TA and he was brilliant, if a little cocky, at leading discussion. Take this class if you are at all interested in history, medicine, health or sociology. It's great!

Jan 2014

GIVE THE MAN A GOLD NUGGET. One of the most engaging speakers I have ever encountered, at Columbia or otherwise. Colgrove is at once insightful, brilliant, wonderfully articulate, and an expert deadpanner. He is a maestro of the powerpoint, filling it with media from videos, 19th century magazines, newspapers, and other documents to illustrate the colorful history of public health in America. The class material is well chosen, and the readings are substantial but on the slightly shorter side for a history class and could be skimmed because Colgrove is so crystal clear about the important takeaways in his lecture that you hardly have to take notes. If you do, a quick glance at them a week later would re-tell the narrative of that class. You'd be missing out to skip the readings, though, nearly all of which were worthwhile. Shout-out to TA Ian Shin, an exceptional discussion section leader. He brought further insight into the texts, compared them well, and helped us synthesize and consider the broader narratives of the course. He was accessible for help week to week, and literally cleared his schedule to support us come midterm and final papers. Do yourself a favor and take anything Colgrove teaches.

Nov 2013

Professor Colgrove is an amazing teacher. I genuinely enjoy going to class everyday. The class isn't just interesting - but interactive is well. He is constantly engaging us in debates and or giving us worksheets to fill out with partners. Even though there are close to 60 people in the class, it still feels small and Professor Colgrove seems to know everyones name. The material is fascinating as well and the readings are never too long. He also explains the readings in class and shows movies or commercials or newspaper articles that make add to the readings. He's great and if you have any interest in medicine or public health this is definitely a class for you.

Dec 2012

If you have an interest in public health, you must take this class. Professor Colgrove is, hands down, the most engaging lecturer I have ever encountered at Columbia. From his use of video clips and pictures to give us a visual perspective on the historical era and subject matter to his surprise use of small group discussion on certain days, he always kept class interesting. I also appreciated his wit and the occasional vehement disdain for certain politicians past. Overall, you will learn a ton about how disease and public health interventions came to shape America--highly recommended for anyone at all interested in health or medicine.