Help Us Help You Take The Best Classes Ever

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You can spend a semester learning all about this

Today is the first day of classes—a.k.a the week where you sit at your computer desperately refreshing SSOL hour after hour. And if you’re looking for that one class that will advance your intellectual journey (and give more credits than Pilates), we’ve got your back. After the jump is last year’s list of must-takes; bolded classes are being offered this semester.

You might notice that there aren’t that many bolded classes—we’re looking to you to tell us which professors and courses should be added to this list! Give recommendations in the comment section, and help a horde of unsure freshmen—and even less sure upperclassmen—fulfill their intellectual destinies (/global core requirement).

Go forth and comment!


American Studies: Andrew Delbanco, Foundations of American Literature

Anthropology: Rosalind Morris, Mythology

Art History: Rosalyn Deutsche

Astronomy and Physics: Jacqueline Van Gorkom, Beyond the Solar System

Biology: Solomon Mowshowitz, Immunology

Biology: Nataliya Galafiankis, General Physiology

Chemistry: James Leighton, Organic Chemistry

Civil Engineering: Jose Sanchez, Engineering Graphics

Classics: Gareth Williams, Selections From Latin Literature: Horace

Core: Mark Lilla, Lit Hum; CC

Core: Richard Sacks, Lit Hum; CC

E3B: Jill Shapiro, Explorations in Primate Anatomy

Economics: Xavier Sala-I-Martin, Intermediate Macroeconomics

Economics: Sunil Gulati, Principles of Economics

Electrical Engineering: David Vallancourt, Intro to Electrical Engineering; Digital Information Era

English: James Shapiro, Shakespeare I, Shakespearean Poetry

English: Erik Gray, Victorian Poetry, Romantic Poetry

English: Nicholas Dames, The Victorian Novel

English: Edward Mendelson, Critical Reading, Critical Writing

English: Brent Edwards, Jazz and the Literary Imagination

English: Stephen Massimilla, Modernist British Fiction

History: Alan Brinkley, America since 1945

History: David Rosner, Social History of American Public Health

History: Kenneth Jackson, History of the City of New York

History: Samuel Roberts, Race, Technology and Health in US History

History: Eric Foner, United States in the Era of Civil War and Reconstruction

Linguistics: John McWhorter, Intro to Linguistics

Mathematics: Mu-Tao Wang, Differentiable Manifolds

Mathematics: Dave Bayer, Linear Algebra

Philosophy: Christia Mercer

Physics: Brian Cole, From Quarks to the Cosmos

Political Science: Andrew Nathan, Chinese Foreign Policy

Psychology: Catherine Monk, Abnormal Psychology

Religion: Peter Awn, Islam

Sociology: Shamus Khan, The Social World

Spanish: Francisco Rosales-Varo, Intermediate Spanish I; Spanish Pragmatics

Visual Arts: Thomas Roma, Photo I

Visual Arts: Jon Kessler, Sculpture II

Visual Arts: Rirkrit Tiravanija

Women’s and Gender Studies: Lila Abu-Lughod, Women and Gender Politics in the Muslim World

Women’s and Gender Studies: Beck Young

Global Core

Anthropology: The Rise of Civilization

Anthropology: Mahmood Mamdani, Major Debates in the Study of Africa

Center for Ethnicity and Race: Intro to Comparative Ethnic Studies

EALAC: Gregory Pflugfelder, Cultural History of Japanese Monsters

Religion: Michael Como, Intro to East Asian Buddhism

Japanese culture via Wikimedia Commons

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  1. Anonymous  

    Global Core/Philosophy: Islamic Philosophy (sometimes listed as History of Philosophy in the Islamic World) with Souleymane Bachir Diagne. He's also a a boss CC prof.

    Lit Hum with Nicole Horejsi is awesome
    Art Hum with Dr. Veronica White is THE BEST

    Philosophy and Psychology of the Human Experience with Joshua New and John Ross Morrison is a sweet class.


  2. alum

    froshppl beware--the classes/profs listed are only the most mainstream of choices. enlightening no doubt but by no means the be all end all.

  3. Anon  

    Computer science: Advanced Programming : Jae Lee is the best class ever

  4. Anonymous

    take Zionism with Dan Miron. BEST. COLUMBIA. CLASS. BY. A. MILE. (balanced and related to MidEast.... errrrrrr?!)

  5. economics  

    Marcellus Andrews at Barnard is a seldom appreciated genious

  6. Anonymous  

    Nineteenth century art with Jonathan Crary will blow you away. The man is an absolute genius. (Taught this fall, Mondays and Wednesdays at 10.10am)

    Also, note to the above commenter: Dr. Veronica White no longer teaches Art Hum.

  7. Her biggest fan

    Any class taught by Liza Knapp. Fantastic professor, fantastic person.

  8. Anonymous  

    History: Kenneth Jackson, History of the City of New York

    Not actually offered. He has a small seminar about 20th century new york, but the main History of NYC isn't offered this fall.

  9. I hate to break it to you, but...  

    Do NOT take McWhorter. Halfway through the semester you will ceased to be amused by his off-topic tangents about broccoli and his neighbors. Especially when you realize that those things are not on the exam. Horribly overrated. Dazzles at first--disappoints by the end.


    Wael Hallaq's Central Questions in Islamic Law

    take it!

  11. Fangirl  

    Rosalyn Deutsche is SO good.

  12. Anonymous

    First Year English with Margaret Vandenburg changed my life.

  13. Anonymous  

    Intro to Comparative Ethnic Studies *is* being offered this semester.

  14. Tiny  

    Chinese Foreign Policy is offered in the spring, not fall semester.


    What about a list of classes/profs you should avoid at all costs?


    Lindemann: Introduction to Psychology.

  16. Anonymous  

    LOL you're wrong. Seriously guys, she's the best professor I've had at Columbia.

  17. Anonymous  

    RE: Liza Knapp, not Lindemann

  18. Anonymous

    Bruce Robbins Comparative Contemporary Fiction is a great, relatively easy English class for non-majors or new-majors. Seriously fun, great TAs.

  19. In Religion/Global Core...  

    take Hinduism with Jack Hawley, he is brilliant and so so kind. Same for Rachel McDermott.

  20. Anonymous

    I agree. He would spend so much time fussing over the glass slides to ascertain that they were in absolute focus on the screen. He wasted about 10 minutes of our mid-term exam time doing this. Be careful because he will absolutely call you out in a class if you even look at the person next to you and look like you might start a conversation with them. He spent way too much time on the artist, David and ended up rushing and not finishing the syllabus.

    • Anonymous

      Above comment was about Jonathan Crary.

    • CC'14

      Glass slides? When did you take this class, Fall '89? :D

      He is even worse now (in the digital age). No laptops, because they ~ruin the visual experience~ (of seeing a 72dpi jpg against a black slide background). And he messed with the light for 10 mins each class, and even told us that he went to Facilities a couple of times to "check if they could create more nuanced lighting" in Scherm 501. Jeezus.

  21. Anonymous

    Nobility and Civility with Ted de Bary (or any course with Prof. de Bary). He coined the term "Core Curriculum," and he's sometimes the only person who can give you a straight answer on why the Core matters.

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