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Help Us Help You Take The Best Classes Ever

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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  • Anonymous says:

    @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.


    1. Also says:

      @Also Prof. Horejsi’s baking prowess is unmatched

    2. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous I’d like to second Veronica White in Art Hum. I lucked into that class and it’s one of the best I’ve taken here. She has some affiliation with the Met and her guided tours were amazing.

  • alum says:

    @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.

    1. Non-alum says:

      @Non-alum “Only the most mainstream of choices”… Hipster alert!

  • Anon says:

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

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous Heed my advice: it’s a different class with Shlomo.

      1. shlomo says:

        @shlomo is the man. keeper of the keys. dragonslayer extraordinaire

  • Anonymous says:

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

  • economics says:

    @economics Marcellus Andrews at Barnard is a seldom appreciated genious

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous What does he look like?

      1. Anonymous says:

        @Anonymous I hear he says “what” pretty frequently.

  • Anonymous says:

    @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.

    1. cc'14 says:

      @cc'14 eh, I didn’t like it as much. he has a weird style of teaching, and talks for hours without really saying anything. If you’re doing Art History, go for Bahrani, Deutsche or Mylonopoulos instead. A+!

      1. Anonymous says:

        @Anonymous Mylonopoulos is the best ever.

  • Her biggest fan says:

    @Her biggest fan Any class taught by Liza Knapp. Fantastic professor, fantastic person.

    1. Her fair critic says:

      @Her fair critic A very sweet person, but an unbearable class. Resist the urge.

  • Anonymous says:

    @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.

  • I hate to break it to you, but... says:

    @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.

    1. cc says:

      @cc I wouldn’t say “disappoints” – you just get used to it. he *is* brilliant.

    2. alum says:

      @alum the thing with McWhorter is that you need to learn when to put your pen down and just enjoy his stories. He *will* go over EVERYTHING on his exams, so don’t worry .

  • HALLAQFTW says:

    @HALLAQFTW Wael Hallaq’s Central Questions in Islamic Law

    take it!

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous :(

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous oops. I meant the “:(” as a reply to the fact that Dr. White was no longer teaching art hum

  • Fangirl says:

    @Fangirl Rosalyn Deutsche is SO good.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous First Year English with Margaret Vandenburg changed my life.

  • Anonymous says:

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

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous What?

  • Tiny says:

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


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


    Lindemann: Introduction to Psychology.

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous she is pretty cool

  • Anonymous says:

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

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous RE: Liza Knapp, not Lindemann

  • Anonymous says:

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

  • In Religion/Global Core... says:

    @In Religion/Global Core... take Hinduism with Jack Hawley, he is brilliant and so so kind. Same for Rachel McDermott.

  • Anonymous says:

    @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.

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous Above comment was about Jonathan Crary.

    2. CC'14 says:

      @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.

  • Anonymous says:

    @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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