AskBwog: The Global Core Exists

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But, I am le tired

In AskBwog, we tackle hard hitting issues facing American teens today.

Dear Bwog editors,

Class registration for Fall 2012 is fast-approaching (scary!), and I need to take a global core class. I’m writing you for help picking a class, and also because I’m sure many other CC students would appreciate Bwog’s input as well. I want a class that’s not super demanding, but I’m not necessarily looking for just an easy A. I understand that the point of the Global Core is to expose students to interesting things they would not otherwise study, and I want to take something interesting! Do you have any suggestions for a good global core class, ideally with an awesome professor, being offered in fall 2012?

Thanks for your help!

Globally Off-Centered

Dear Globally,

We all go through the Global Core, some more gracefully than others. It’s like puberty that way. Here are some suggestions. Readers and dissidents, pipe up.

Happy registering,



  • Stathis Gourgouris’s World Responds to the Greeks is “amazing.” Examining “post-colonial African, Caribbean and South American Lit that reworks Ancient Greek tragedies and epics,” the course is taught by Gourgouris who knows “everything about any liberal intellectual literary or philosophical movement ever.”
  • Wael Hallaq’s Colloquium on Islamic Texts is “magical.” It’s a weekly seminar where there “are no tests;” only two papers about anything you want. He is a specialist of Sharia and takes you from the Qur’an to an essay by Bin Laden, and ties everything he teaches back to the onset of modernity and the enlightenment thinkers, in order to morally evaluate their roles in capitalism and nationalism.  He’s also pretty well-published.
  • Islam is “great,” but “it is not an ‘easy’ A.”
  • The Rise of Civilization (duh)
  • Mahmood Mamdani’s Major Debates in the Study of Africa
  • Intro to Comparative Ethnic Studies
  • Gregory Pflugfelder’s  Cultural History of Japanese Monsters; it’s “really popular and hard to get into,” perhaps because “you get to analyze Pokémon.”
  • Michael Como’s Intro to East Asian Buddhism


  • Rashid Khalidi’s History of the Modern Middle East, which is “scattered and too much of a survey for me to really feel like I came out of it with something.” Your grade is based upon two papers in which “you must regurgitate the arguments of the lectures and selected texts.”
Globe, get it?  via Wikimedia Commons 

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  1. Anonymous  

    Latin American Civ with Caterina Pizzigoni! Favorite lecture at Columbia by far

  2. cc'12  

    moerman's "colloquium on major east asian texts", focusing on china, japan and korea was really good. it's maybe more reading than in other global core classes, but moerman's hysterical and really relaxed, and the final is just a conversation with him about three texts--your choice.

  3. Anonymous

    Andean Art and Architecture! I'm a hardcore scientist and I still got an A.

  4. Anonymous

    Rise of Civ is no longer as easy as it once was

  5. modern middle east  

    does indeed suck

  6. Anonymous  

    Latin American Politics with Professor Murillo is a class you will learn a lot from, especially if, like me, you know very little about the history of modern Latin America. There's a fair amount of reading but not much writing, and the lecture is generally well-organized and interesting. Finally, if you're willing to put a bit of time into the class you can be fairly certain to do well--it's not incredibly difficult to get an A.

  7. ugh

    bwog you could at least recommend classes that are actually being offered in the fall

  8. anon  

    any feedback on global urbanism?

    • took it 1st semester freshman year  

      global urbanism review (for anyone else interested): very dense content, definitely feels more like what you'd be taking as an upperclassmen or grad student compared to my other sociology class at the time (Social World). generally topics included sustainable development, income inequality/globalization, public space, and other seamless crossovers between social sciences, looked at through cities. it was not a super-structured class, but individually there were a lot of points you learn that you can kind of synthesize into ideas about cities and globalization and such.

      fascinating topics after it gets past the "here's why cities are important" segment. sometimes turns into pointless redundancy (mostly when it's about like "the nature of the Chicago School vs the Los Angeles School" and stuff like that, where it won't actually mean anything to you after you know the gist). but then she'll do something like spend a whole lecture talking about occupy wallstreet or telling you to go to see a speaker at a conference instead of go to class.

      great lecturer usually, she's one of those "brilliant and funny" types, usually shows up a few minutes late

      if you do even half of the "necessary" readings and dabble in the other stuff (otherwise you're doing hundreds of pages a week in incredibly dense stuff), and go to some of the lectures and all the discussion days (which take the place of lectures), you can get in the B+/A- range pretty easily, because the only grades were A) three take-home essays for midterm, B) three take-home essays for final, and C) recent addition of a 20% participation grade, which they seemed very lenient on. this allows you to just focus on doing the readings every week without worrying about quizzes or anything else, but still be held accountable for a ton of content for the midterm and final--i actually loved that way of conducting class.

      overall, worth taking unless there's another topic that's way more relevant to your major

  9. cc'13

    if you can wait till the spring, hawley's hinduism class is truly wonderful. he is an amazing lecturer, personally a really sweet man, the reading is interesting and moves pretty quickly, and he is happy to meet with you during office hours, as are the TAs who were also surprisingly good. the workload is also pretty reasonable-2 papers, midterm and a test that he gives you study guides for.

    i personally did not enjoy hallaq's seminar at all, even though i agree with a lot of what he has to say i found he veered too much towards the political, which he oversimplified. the texts are rich enough on their own!

  10. Contraster

    CC student: "Unfortunately, the global core exists."
    SEAS student: "Fortunately, the global core exists."

  11. Anonymous  

    I have to dissent on Khalidi's History of the Modern Middle East. I took it last year and personally felt like I got a lot out of it. The readings are interesting (if you do them, that is, come on they're not too copious) and the class itself is not much work, just some short essays for midterm and final. Plus, Khalidi is a boss and he devotes part of every lecture to fielding questions about current events in the Middle East. If you have an interest in Modern Middle East stuff, then do it.

    • Anonymous  

      I didn't even do well in this class and I agree. Granted I don't care that much about grades. I seem to have an acceptably high gpa, but I'm not sure if thats important to me or not. Anyway thought the class was really important. The readings were good, Khalidis lectures are really well thought out, and I felt prepared to take tim mitchel's class the next semester which was one of the best courses I've ever taken.

  12. Anonymous  

    Is there a link to the 2012-2013 approved list?

  13. Anonymous  

    michael como's japanese religious history - learn a ton, great teacher, AND easy A

    african civ with marie-helene koffi-tessio

  14. Anonymous  

    Como's east asian buddhism class is fantastic, and not too difficult. but i thought it was only in the spring?

  15. advice

    If something sounds interesting to you, consider taking it. If it doesn't, consider not taking it. Chances are that if you're interested, you won't actually find it difficult, whereas if you're not interested, you might find it difficult even if it's easy.

  16. Anonymous  

    gourgouris's class is so disorganized and although readings are interesting, the class itself is a serious waste of your life. whose info are you basing this off bwog

  17. Anonymous  

    take any class with paul anderer!

  18. Anonymous  

    Rachel Chung's Intro to Major Topics in East Asian Civilizations is AMAZING. Seriously, Prof. Chung is an incredible professor, and you won't regret it.

  19. Major Texts (Middle East and India)  

    I took the Major Texts seminar on Middle Eastern and Indian texts with Professor Kamaly at Barnard, and loved it. Imagine Lit Hum merged with CC, but only once a week, and far more fun. Really, the syllabus is fantastic and Kamaly is so thoughtful and intelligent.

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