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Class To Take As Recommended By Seniors

This chair is WAITING for you to discover which classes you’re going to procrastinate next

Who else can’t believe registration begins tomorrow?? Instead of clicking through Wikipedia pages about different dog breeds, we decided to procrastinate our pile of homework by compiling last year’s seniors’ favorite classes as mentioned in their Senior Wisdoms. Scroll through for potential electives, major credits, or at the very least, a good core professor. Course titles are bolded; Bwog endorsements are underlined. Leave your personal recs in the comments. 

  • Honestly, Music Hum. Or Earth Resources and Sustainable Development. Or anything taught by Rashid Khalidi or Joseph Massad. — Rachel Deal
  • My answer to this question since my first semester has been Philosophy and Feminism with Christina Mercer. Professor Mercer is funny, fiery, and doesn’t take any crap from the class. It was a pain to read Judith Butler in my first semester, but Mercer made it worth it. My favorite class in my department was Topics in Music and Society with Aaron Fox. I encourage anyone who wants to take a class in Music to avoid anything that focuses only on the Western Music Canon. While those are fun for the music majors, you may more enjoy a class that gives you the vocabulary to talk about other genres. —Ross Chapman
  • A tie between Rethinking Middle Eastern Politics with Timothy Mitchell and Islam and Medieval Europe with Adam Kosta. Special mention: Vampires with Gil Anidjar —Megan Wylie
  • I did go to class, even if a previous section suggests otherwise. A class I REALLY went to was Emerging Cities with Gergely “Gergo” Baics. Gergo’s enthusiasm for history and for cities is truly unparalleled, and he led this “lecture” like a seminar (perk of Barnard class sizes!). I honestly strive to be as excited by anything consistently everyday. You’re an inspiration, Gergo! Content-wise, this course made me realize how much New York has shaped me and my time at Barnard. It also made me realize I didn’t totally experience the scope of liberal arts — I could’ve/should’ve been an urban studies major or urban history major, and I compensated for that oversight by writing all of my term papers in classes taken since Fall 2016 on how xyz relates to maps/urban development/public transit. Take a class in every department! — Lili Brown

  • Anthropological Theory II with Mara Green: My only all female class at Barnard and it was perfection. Mara is an amazing professor, she’s delightful, she’s chill and more importantly, she is my spirit animal. Just take a class with Mara. I have also had great core professors, so take Humberto Ballesteros for Lit Hum, Christina Iglesias was a fantastic UWriting teacher (she now teaches Lit Hum, so you can still take a class with her), Branka Arsic only teaches the second semester of CC but she is absolutely brilliant and Julia Siemon’s Art Hum section is chill, you actually learn a thing or two and also she is pretty great. You’re welcome. —Gloriana Lopez
  • Psychology of Creativity with Professor Stokes. Her theories on needing constraints to be more creative are fascinating and a ton of fun to test out in class. The syllabus was also full of really special books I never would have picked up myself. And Stokes is an all-around badass. Runner up is the Toddler Center, I actually think it’s the greatest class at Columbia University but it’s definitely not one I’d recommend to the faint of heart. — Gabbie Lipson
  • Equity in Higher Education with Roger Lehecka and Andrew Delbanco. It was a senior spring class that I took because it looked interesting and was completely out of my major or concentration area – and it’s probably been the most formative class in helping me figure out what I want to do with my life. The class embraced difficult and especially relevant conversation topics in the realm of access to education in this country and made them feel very real. The volunteer work at the Double Discovery Center (DDC) was one of the best parts – it not only gave a practical and direct lens into the telos of the course, but also gave me a space to develop meaningful connections with other volunteers and the students there. Whether or not you take the course – volunteer at DDC!! I also loved Major Texts of the Middle East and India with Nathanael Shelley. —  Nathan Rosin
  • Darwin” with Prof. Kathryn Tabb. Amazing professor, fascinating subject matter. If you have the chance to take this class with Prof. Tabb before you graduate–do it. —Joshua Burton
  • Can’t pick just one, sorry – I cross-registered for SIPA classes, and it was the BEST decision. Do it if you can! Anything taught by Dipali Mukhopadhyay or Stuart Gottlieb is worth taking. Professor Honarmand is a wise and gentle soul, and everyone needs to take Farsi with him. I loved my classes with Wael Hallaq, who is possibly my most favorite professor here. He teaches you how to “go for the jugular vein” and says fun profound quotes like “You need to reinvent the wheel every time you ride the horse.” Not everyone is going to like his classes or message about modernity, but I think it’s very important. —Alissa Kruidenier
  • Art/Work: Sex, Aesthetics, and Capitalism with Alex Pittman. This class is where I first learned about emotional labor in an academic setting and I haven’t stopped talking about it since. –-Rania Siddique
  • Latin American Civilization II with Professor Jose Moya. —Isaac Bautista
  • I took Critical Approaches with Neferti Tadiar my first semester of first year and honestly it shifted my whole mindset; I feel like my neurons are still reconfiguring from it. It was really challenging in the best of ways and laid the critical foundation for a lot of things. I’ve taken a lot of other great classes like Black Women, Performance, and the Politics of Style with Shirley Taylor, Advanced Phonetics with Anne Boyman, and so much more. —Simi Olagundoye
  • My first dance class at Barnard, Modern V: Gallim with Andrea Miller —Maddie Molot
  • Black Memoirs by Professor Sorett —Nza-Ari Khepra
  • There are so many amazing philosophy classes. Islamic Philosophy with Souleymane Diagne completely changed my life, Metaphysics with Achille Varzi (if you want to learn about time travel or question whether holes exist), Philosophy of Art with Lydia Goehr. Life at the End of Life with Robert Pollack is a great seminar if you’re interested in volunteering in end-of-life care/questions about dying. Christia Mercer also teaches a cool seminar called Philosophy, Justice, and Activism where you actually volunteer at an activist organization of your choice! I also took Ceramics I with Leah Wolff this past semester, and it was wonderful. I don’t think there are a lot of opportunities in college to create things using only your hands, or to be actively encouraged to be expressive. Definitely take advantage! /// If you’re a rising senior and freaking out about being interested in everything and running out of time, take advantage of auditing courses! Seniors are able to formally audit courses (which means you take a course for R credit, which is worth 1 point, it shows up on your transcript, and you don’t have to do any assignments for it). One person I knew audited 10 courses (5 each semester) her senior year just to explore cool classes. —Alangoya Tezel
  • Exploring Barcelona with Elsa Ubeda and Reacting to the Past with Kristina Milnor —Anna Stoneman
  • Toni Morrison with Farah Griffin, Virginia Woolf with Edward Mendelson, Sociology of Work & Gender with Teresa Sharpe, the Great Keyboard Tradition with Magdalena Stern-Baczewska. They changed my life. —Cindy Liu
  • Abnormal Behavior with E’mett McCaskill because she’s a boss and it was the first time I was ever taught by a black woman. —Kirsten Dodson
  • I am part of the cult that was converted to being an Econ major by Principles of Economics with Gulati. I also really enjoyed Social History of American Public Health with Professor James Colgrove. —Karen Lopez
  • Advanced Programming with Jae Woo Lee, where I learned masochism. Honorable mention: Analysis of Algorithms with Eleni Drinea. Turns out my preferred lecturing approach was “tell me ALL the information about this thing”. —Seth Benjamin
  • Music Hum was my personal favorite. It so enjoyable after a morning of quantum mechanics I could sit down, listen to beautiful music and then chat about it. Also free/dirt cheap concerts and operas are nothing to sniff at.– Juan Pablo Gatica
  • The Ethnographic Imagination with Rosalind Morris. —Malaya Sadler
  • Anything with Manu Vimalassery (he is a blessing to this campus and to academia as a whole, oh my god). Politics of Crime and Policing with Matthew Vaz.– Ghislaine Pages
  • Engineering: Morphogenesis with Karen Kasza or Modeling and ID with Nicolas Chbat Other: Music Hum or East Asian Cinema with Ying Qian —Wing-Sum Law
  • To name a few, “The Rise of American Capitalism” with Professor Elizabeth Blackmar, “The Making of the Modern American Landscape” with Professor Elizabeth Blackmar, and my senior thesis seminar with Professor Elizabeth Blackmar. If you’re beginning to sense a pattern, it’s because there is one. Take a class with Professor Elizabeth Blackmar while you can. Also, ‘Theoretical Foundations of Political Economy’ with the brilliant Professor Belinda Archibong. —Sam Falcone-Coffin
  • Okay so I’m going to list three. Human Origins and Evolution with Jill Shapiro, Philosophy of Law with Michele Moody-Adams, and Contemporary Civilization (I know, the horror) with Jessica Lee. For me, a class that ends up having personal meaning to me long-term is a class that changes the way I think about the world around me. All three of these classes resulted in me viewing the world around me in a vastly different manner afterward, and I appreciate that aspect of learning more than any other. Runner Up: PE Rec Games (no explanation given or needed) —Matt Neky
  • Field Botany and Systematics with Professor Matt Palmer —John Hao
  • Professor Lisa Dale’s Public Lands of the American West. It’s this little class full of Western expatriates where you geek out about national parks and wilderness lands. I’ve never felt more at home at Columbia. —Kate Welty
  • A History of Environment and Health in South Asia and Beyond with Kavita Sivaramakrishnan! Don’t be fooled by the class’ long name– it’s a seminar that cemented my interest in the medical humanities. Narrative, Health, and Social Justice with Sayantani Dasgupta is the first time I’ve shared some of the rawest parts of myself in an academic setting. Finally, Contemporary Civilizations with Nicole Callahan. —Omar Khan
  • Not to play favorites, but anything with Professor Gareth Williams in the Classics Department may just change your life. Advanced Microeconomics with Professor Susan Elmes in the Economics Department, Game Theory with Professor Benjamin Ho in the Economics Department, and Physical Chemistry II with Professor XYZ in the Chemistry Department were also incredible. —Zoey Chopra
  • I can’t think of one. I generally struggled through classes though.– Gary Kim
  • Sociology of the Body with Elizabeth Bernstein— if you want to have your mind blown. Buddhism and Neuroscience with Bernard Faure– also if you want to have your mind blown (by the fact that you’ll have no idea whats going on). American History 1940-1975 with Mark Carnes– if you want some historical context as to why the state of our society is currently in the shitter. He’s the best. —Shoshana Lauter
  • Frontiers of Science had a profound impact on me— lmao jk. I had a great experience in Contemporary Civilization (CC). Really contextualized my beliefs by providing a philosophical foundation for them.–Gurnoor Tucker
  • My most enlightening classes at Columbia were Gender, Punishment and Justice with Professor Kaba, and Technology, Religion and the Future with Professor Kittay. Through these courses, I studied subjects that I had never even thought of before and learned so much about them and myself. My experiences in these two very distinct classes reaffirmed my love of learning for the sake of it. And thanks to Professor Kittay, and much to the dismay of my friends, I will probably never stop making references to the simulation. —Justice Betty
  • Either Observational Astronomy with David Schiminovich or Merchants, Pirates, and Slaves with Carl Wennerlind. One involves a field trip and the other involves pirates, so it’s really too close to call. —Ben Hord
  • Geochemistry for a Habitable Planet with Terry Plank! It’s basically a semester-long story time on how the Universe and Earth were created—told by everyone’s favorite volcano lady slash MacArthur genius. —Charles Harper
  • My favorite class was Contemporary Issues of Education. It was my first education class and opened the door for my concentration in Urban Teaching. Without the class, I wouldn’t have considered becoming a teacher. The education department is wonderful and supportive. If you get the chance, you should 100% take one of their classes! —Nicki Felmus
  • Intro to Linguistics with John McWhorter. It changed the way I think about language, the brain, the sciences, and the humanities. In a single class I found a personal mentor and a career interest. Everyone should support Linguistics at Columbia; some very nice and very bright people are involved with the small yet proud program! But also… does Step Aerobics Class with RJ Jenkins set to “Ladies of the 80s” empowerment songs count? Because he got me in shape and dancing… that’s pretty important too. —Ben Gersten
  • Special Relativity with world-renowned theoretical physicist Brian Greene. I have all his books. He signed them for me after I turned in my final. I only cried a little bit.– Andres Aguayo
  • I have three: Technologies of Dissent with Dennis Tenen to be wowed and terrified by the implications of the digital world; Freedom of Speech and Press with PrezBo to get to witness how he thinks through complex issues; and any class with Edward Mendelson to learn how to read and think more compassionately. —Catie Edmondson
  • It’s a tie between the two first history classes I took here: US History 1940-1975 with Mark Carnes and Social History of American Public Health with James Colgrove. —Julien Reiman
  • Diabolical Dramas. And it was a seminar in Pupin, which really says something. —Henrietta Steventon
  • Mafia Movies: From Sicily to The Sopranos. Intro to Translation Studies was also cool as hell. —Julia Lubey
  • CS Theory with Tal Malkin / Symbolic Logic with Achille Varzi / Introduction to Linguistics with John McWhorter —Matt Malone
  • Organic Chemistry Lab with Anna Ghurbanyan. When it comes to science classes, I’ve often found that it’s been super easy to get caught up in the rote memorization of pathways and reagents and sometimes lose sight of the bigger picture… Anna made me actually want to understand what I was doing in lab so that I wasn’t just meaninglessly mixing chemicals. She gave those “sciency looking” reactions meaning. Long story short, in one lab, I used chemicals to make soap that smelled quite nice, and understood what I did and how I did it. It was lit. —John Avendano
  • My Barnard Poli Sci Colloquia, Urban Violence with Eduardo Moncada and Race and Ethnic Politics with Audrey Neville! Also, I can’t believe I’m this person, but PrezBo’s Freedom of Speech and Press. —Ali Fraerman

One Butler library for me *PLEASE* –via Amara Banks

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  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Anything taught by Robert Friedman in the math department is absolutely golden! Especially his Modern Algebra sequence!

  • ocd says:

    @ocd great list but i wish content was organized lol
    also take any class with margaret vandenberg. you are missing out!

    1. Amara Banks says:

      @Amara Banks truuuuuuu next time ill organize it better much love also good looks was thinking taking pomo with her next sem

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous I loved music hum, I took it in the summer with the chairman
    who was better than “Bernstein at Harvard”

  • Don't understand the fascination with Cannon says:

    @Don't understand the fascination with Cannon Never really cared for him. Have met others who weren’t fans either.

  • anon says:

    @anon Great list, but one inaccuracy: you do not get a point when you take a class for R credit! The course name appears on your transcript, with a mark of “R” and zero points.

    1. Amara Banks says:

      @Amara Banks thanks G!!!!!

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