Review Comment

[URBS V3420] Introduction to Urban Sociology

April 30, 2018

Passell, Aaron Silver_nugget
[URBS V3420] Introduction to Urban Sociology

Passell is a cool guy who teaches cool stuff. But he doesn't really teach this class like an intro class.

A lot of his readings are super dense and discouraging.
And his papers are super creative and requires you to hit all these marks that you ultimately miss and it is difficult to give him what he wants in regards to his papers.

Workload:

Readings
3 Papers

May 19, 2017

Passell, Aaron Silver_nugget
[URBS V3420] Introduction to Urban Sociology

This is a very well organized class with a reasonable and consistent workload. The course material provides a integrated and holistic way to view urban studies first understanding neighborhoods, then gentrification and finally environmental degradation. There is creative essay for each unit that are a refreshing approach. Passell provides A LOT of space for open discussion and wants us to engage with each other intellectually. However, it often times felt like he was using discussion to avoid giving a thorough, pre-planned lecture. The discussion often went in circles and led nowhere as a result. The participation grading system made it so everyone felt like they had to put in their two cents even if their answers were uninformed and badly crafted. Passell would entertain all claims, making the class feel impossibly long. Additionally, even though there was probably only around 30 students in the class, we barely received any feedback on our work or ideas. Grades were given with no comments. Despite the organized template of the class, everything else felt like it was kept to minimal effort. I would recommend this class only if you are truly enamored with sociology.

Workload:

A reasonably short essay for each of the three units; participation every class

February 08, 2017

Passell, Aaron Silver_nugget
[URBS V3420] Introduction to Urban Sociology

Aaron Passell is one of the best professors at Barnard. He is SO erudite and knows the subject matter incredibly well. I personally prefer him in a seminar-type setting better, but I loved his Intro to Urban Sociology class. You definitely have to pay attention and do the readings, but it is a really great class for a prospective Urban Studies student.

Workload:

3 manageable papers, no midterm or final, participation.

June 23, 2015

Passell, Aaron Silver_nugget
[URBS V3420] Introduction to Urban Sociology

Pros: Seemed to respect students from an intellectual perspective. Often asked students what they wanted to write about for assignments.

Cons: Gave the appearance of being flexible with deadlines, but disappointingly turned out to be an excessively harsh, punitive grader and was unreasonable. All in all, would not take a class with him again.

Workload:

Fair workload: regular readings and a few papers.

January 23, 2012

Olvera, Jacqueline
[URBS V3420] Introduction to Urban Sociology

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

So basically the class was a waste of time. While it did fulfill my Barnard Social Analysis Requirement, I was quite often zoning out and there was really no need to go to the class if you could understand her power points. The class is mainly how race (black vs white basically) works in the city, so if you find that a little aggravating don't take the class. I got aout with a B+. The TA's grade the paper and honestly depending on who grades your paper and what mood there in your grade can change exponentially.

A lot of work outside of class is required and you will be expected to interview strangers who quite often cop a tude.

Workload:

If you do all the "required reading" its ALOT. If you go to class and take notes on EVERYTHING she says because its hard to write the final exam paper without it - its still a good amount of work. If you're really good at writing sociological papers and like writing them...take it. IF NOT, DO NOT.

January 13, 2012

Olvera, Jacqueline
[URBS V3420] Introduction to Urban Sociology

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

This class was an absolute waste of time save for the interesting field work. Professor Olvera simply summarized the various readings in each class and as a result most people just stopped showing up. I found her lectures to be boring at best and terrible at worst. I did not complete any of the readings after the first week and I was just fine in the class grade-wise. Overall, if you are interested in urban sociology, perhaps take this course but skip lecture and do the readings or just don't take the course at all.

Workload:

three 4-5 page papers about a specific census tracts and a 5-6 page take home final. pretty light overall.

November 16, 2011

Olvera, Jacqueline
[URBS V3420] Introduction to Urban Sociology

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

I actually enjoy this class and would generally recommend to someone who might want to be introduced to a different way of looking at the environment we study in. Prof. Olvera is a nice lady, she does explain things well, she obviously knows what she is talking about, and I do like the fact that, despite being in a lecture hall, she asks questions and tries to get people to analyze and discuss the topics at hand (which is can be borderline painful when either the entire class is reluctant at the same time, or, more likely, didn't read the big ass urban ethnography she had the audacity to assign for an intro course). Granted, I'm an Urban Studies major, and I actually love Urban Sociology--I'm specializing in Sociology for my major--so I could read urban ethnographies all day; However, I don't think the vast majority of the class has acquired the...taste... for such works just yet and feels little motivation to read them. But the material, if inconsiderately long at times, is interesting if you like to think about how people interact and stuff; to be completely honest though, I took Sassen's Global Urbanism and Baic's Craft of Urban History last year and have already learned everything she's teaches, so I don't put much effort in.

I do think it's a bit of a pain in the arse for her to base 60% of your grade off of these written reports you have to do field research for and only 25% on the material that we literally spend the entirety of the class discussing. Not only are these assignments really easy to fake (why travel to Far Rockaway on 3 different days to observe the census tract when you could just make it up?), but, being currently enrolled in Methods for Social Research and knowing just how REAL sociological research can get, the fact of the matter is that these students are not going to walk away with any significant understanding of what social research is actually like. I get that she wants to introduce us to both theory and the methods of urban sociology; but I think she needs to reverse her priorities because the major strength of this class is the material itself, not the half-arsed attempts to "get our hands dirty".

Plus, I always harbor some animosity towards any prof who takes attendance, at EVERY SINGLE LECTURE, and makes attendance/participation 15% of your grade. I'm pretty sure I have my HS diploma so don't treat college students like their little teenagers who need to be coerced into being responsibility. You are educating ADULTS--so act like it.

But that's just me.

Workload:

5 pg report describing a census tract in new york - 20%
5 pg report describing field observations in the census tract - 20%
5 pg report describing interviews with ppl in same tract - 20%
take home final - 25%
attendance/participation - 15% (and if this is true, i don't know how many are passing....)

November 08, 2010

Olvera, Jacqueline
[URBS V3420] Introduction to Urban Sociology

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

She's a very nice lady and will help you in any way possible. Plus she actually learns your name. If you want a relatively easy class, you should take this one. You basically have weekly assigned readings and the classes are composed of powerpoints so you don't have to take any notes as you can print the powerpoint before class. All the readings are summarized in the powerpoints so it's not confusing at all. You have 3 papers that concern a census tract in Manhattan so you do have to prepare in advance because they take up a lot of your time. The class is really interesting, and the class discussions are too. It's worth taking this class to fulfill a requirement.

Workload:

Weekly readings, 3 papers (5 pages) and a final take-home essay. no midterm.

March 31, 2010

Olvera, Jacqueline
[URBS V3420] Introduction to Urban Sociology

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

I found the course material interesting and the lectures helpful and informative. Prof. Olvera's PowerPoints are thorough and her lectures provide a deeper analysis to the material. It's not always fascinating stuff, but I do feel like I learned a decent amount about urban life.
The problem with the class is that the grade is mostly based on a series of assignments you do; you pick a census tract in the city and write three different essays about different aspects of it over the course of the semester. So the grade ends up mostly being based on your ability to do a sociological study...thus even if you've done all the reading and kept up with everything, you might not really get credit for that. The TA (Dave) is a harsh grader and can write some genuinely rude comments...not cool at all especially when you're struggling with an assignment.
That said, Prof. Olvera is very nice and gets to know everyone's name. And she was very supportive when I needed some extra help and an extension on one of the essays, and she allowed me to hand a rewritten essay into her rather than to the TA--I think her generous grading on that saved my GPA last semester...So go to her if you need help, it's worth waiting during office hours, she'll be nice if she sees you're making a real effort.

Workload:

weekly readings about 75 pages, 3 5-page papers, 5-page take-home final

December 17, 2009

Olvera, Jacqueline
[URBS V3420] Introduction to Urban Sociology

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

Worst. Class. Ever. Boy, do I wish I had dropped this class when I had the chance. She gives an absurdly large amount of reading for an intro class, and all of it is DENSE, PRETENTIOUS, and BORING. She types up "notes" (AKA a summary of the reading, NO ANALYSIS) and puts them on a power-point and reads off the power-point, VERBATIM. That is not teaching. That is reading out loud. She never graded any of the papers, and the TA was kind of a hard grader. On the plus side, Olvera's a nice lady and she actually learns your name. She also seems to care for her students, even if kind of on a superficial level.

Workload:

3 essays. Too much reading. BO-RING. 1 final take-home essay.

December 16, 2009

Olvera, Jacqueline
[URBS V3420] Introduction to Urban Sociology

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

This class is boring at best, completely worthless at worst. While Ms. Olvera seems like a perfectly nice person, her lectures simply rehash the readings, providing few interesting points in a straightforward shallow manner. The readings themselves are arduous in their length and most would only appeal to the most dedicated sociology scholar. Luckily, you do not have to read them if you don't want to since they are summarized in class, and you are never tested on them anyway. All grades come from three inane paper assignments and a final paper. The three assignments require you to do "fieldwork" in a NYC census tract, which basically entails watching people as if they were birds and trying to come up with some profound insights that relate back to the topic discussed in class. I'm not sure how you do well on them. You have to be able to bullshit like a sociologist I suppose. The T.A. who grades the papers wrote I was not "sociological enough" for one. Do not take it unless you know you are passionate about sociology. Find some other class if you are fulfilling an urban studies requirement.

Workload:

Relatively heavy if you do all the readings, not too bad if you only read what you want. Most of the worst comes from the census tract assignments, which will really try your patience. The final paper wasn't so bad luckily.

December 16, 2009

Olvera, Jacqueline
[URBS V3420] Introduction to Urban Sociology

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

I have Professor Olvera for Intro to Urban Sociology, and she's definitely been one of my better professors this semester. She obviously knows a lot about the topics at hand, and while the Power Point format of the class wasn't always the most easy to pay attention to, the in class discussions really helped my understanding of the theories and concepts, in addition to being mentally stimulating. Prof. Olvera's best attribute, however, is her attention to individual students. She actually makes an effort to learn names, and is happy to pay you individual attention. Although our TA does the grading, Prof. Olvera certainly notices discrepancies, and follows up on them. At least in my experience, she's been extremely reasonable about grading and given ample opportunity to do well on assignments.

Workload:

Readings for each class, 3 papers and a take home final. Participation and attendance also go into your grade. Manageable as long as you keep up.

May 21, 2009

Smithsimon, Greg
[URBS V3420] Introduction to Urban Sociology

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

Ridiculously dreamy professor who would be a perfect 10 if he worked out a little more. Last reviewer was right, he talks way too fast to get most of what he's saying and sometimes his mouth is working faster than his brain and it just mumbles jibberish for a few seconds until his thoughts catch up. I also agree that if you're not a racist, you don't really NEED the class (although my classmates were better than the previous reviewers, and we all seemed pretty forward-thinking, or maybe just the stupid ones kept their mouths shut). He assigns a RIDICULOUS amount of reading, especially for those of us who like to read every word, but at least 89% of it is interesting. But none of this really matters anyway, since this was his last semester. I kind of feel bad for the students who will miss out on the easy-ish A and those baby blues.

Workload:

Too much reading. Really.

March 11, 2009

Smithsimon, Greg
[URBS V3420] Introduction to Urban Sociology

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

I HEART GREG! Yes, his class is so boring that I want to make a break for the door 20 minutes into his lecture which he manages to deliver at top speed, mumbling most of what he's saying, but his mild attractiveness and metrosexual fashion sense keeps me seated as I try to figure him out. Overall, he is a good person and grading is more than fair... (Isn't that all that really matters?)

Workload:

Obnoxious amount of reading-mostly boring material. 2 papers;Midterm;Final.

August 29, 2007

Smithsimon, Greg
[URBS V3420] Introduction to Urban Sociology

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

I disagree with the negative reviews of this professor. He allows his students to express their opinion and allows us to talk about racial issues that honestly just make some students uncomfortable. But that is the beauty of his class, he is trying to expose the truth, not try and be so polite that he cannot touch upon racial issues. It is impossible to talk about city life without evaluating race relations. Also, I enjoyed his essays because he gave us room to develop our own ideas and go out into the city for a hand-on experience.

Workload:

Two short pages, 3 and 5 pages. Papers are tied in with readings, but leaves you room to develop your own concentration and expolore an area in the city of your choice. Mid-term and final were essays. This means either you know your material or you don't, but exams are very fair. Pay attention to the major ideas in class and basic concepts in the reading. Concepts in class appear on exams.

July 30, 2006

Smithsimon, Greg
[URBS V3420] Introduction to Urban Sociology

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

I have two main problems with how Greg teaches:

1. He presents material in a very one-sided manner. The readings and lectures all correspond to his nouveau-socialist political perspective and thus you never have the chance to critique this viewpoint. Objectivity? Nah. My politics are left-wing, and even I thought this class was ridiculously biased. I felt like you pretty much get taught that unions can do no wrong, all white people are racists, if you criticize teen pregnancy you're biased against the working class, etc etc.

2. I get the distinct vibe that he assumes every white kid in the class was born with a silver spoon in his/her mouth and has never had to struggle or work for anything. This viewpoint is condescending, innacurate, and insulting. I never knew if he was taking me seriously, thanks to my background.

I mean, he's not terrible, but this class didn't teach me anything I didn't already know.

May 06, 2006

Smithsimon, Greg
[URBS V3420] Introduction to Urban Sociology

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

This class is such a dissapointment. While the topics are absolutely fascinating, Smithsimon is a total flake. He cancels class at the last minute, shows up 10-20 minutes every class, does not respond to emails, returns papers/exams almost a month later, and implements mandatory discussion sessions half-way through the semester. Furthermore, no direction whatsoever is given on what IDs/ESSAY QUESTIONS might be on the exams. This instructor is a complete waste of time.

Workload:

2 papers; midterm; final

April 15, 2006

Smithsimon, Greg
[URBS V3420] Introduction to Urban Sociology

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

If you've taken any class that dealt the slightest bit with racism, you don't need this class. It only repeats the obvious. At first I really liked it but Greg's style of teaching very quickly wore thin. By the middle of the semester it turns into just nonstop white guilt. I also think there's a lot more to urban studies than race and class. When we talked about the property market I was really interested and I wish there had been more of that, but instead the class just turned into racism 101. It gets old quick.

Directory Data

Dept/Subj Directory Course Professor Year Semester Time Section
URSB / URBS URSB URBS V3420: Intro to Urban Sociology: Introduction Urban Sociology 2012 Fall MW / 4:10- 5:25 PM 1
URSB / URBS URSB URBS V3420: Intro to Urban Sociology: Introduction Urban Sociology Jacqueline Olvera 2010 Fall MW / 1:10- 2:25 PM 1
URSB / URBS URSB URBS V3420: Intro to Urban Sociology: Introduction Urban Sociology Jacqueline Olvera 2009 Fall MW / 1:10- 2:25 PM 1
URSB / URBS URSB URBS V3420: Intro to Urban Sociology: Introduction Urban Sociology Gregory Smithsimon 2009 Spring MW / 1:10- 2:25 PM 1
URSB / URBS URSB URBS V3420: Intro to Urban Sociology: Introduction Urban Sociology Gregory Smithsimon 2006 Spring MW / 1:10- 2:25 PM 1