April 04, 2018

Hoenisch, Baerbel
Climate and Society

This class will honestly be the death of me, not because it's hard, but because I have never been in a sus dev class before where so few people know about sus dev. It's incredible. This class is pretty much a more in depth version of Science of Sus Dev into 3 different areas: bad ozone, ENSO, and CO2/ Climate change. As long as you pay attention in class it's pretty easy. Would definitely recommend for people who aren't great at hard math/science but need to fulfill the science requirement for the concentration. Also watching Baerbel get irritated at everyone's dumb questions is entertaining

Workload:

5 homeworks and 1 drops; 3 exams with increasing weight, none of them are cumulative

May 03, 2017

Honisch, Barbel Silver_nugget
Climate and Society

Bottom line: This is a dry course and for scientists. From day one, you are warned that you can expect a B+, never a good sign if, like any student at Columbia, you expect a perfect grade.

Professor Hoenisch gave this course for the first time in Spring 2017 and was obviously not at ease until the third tiers of the semester at least, in particular when it comes to the material about atmosphere.

The title of the course does not entirely reflect the reality. From the beginning, you are overwhelmed with stats, complex figures and equations, all things she enjoys a lot. Be prepared for a tsunami of numbers that make any too rare lecture about the "society" part a relief. Society is mainly explored through complicated policies.

Occasionally, Peter B de Menocal gave some lectures and it was a entirely different world. He was obviously the master of his course and was able to make any difficult concept a breeze, engaging students in a way Professor Hoenisch could not do because she is not exactly a warm personality.

Professor Hoenisch is approchable but nevertheless build some extraordinary difficult tests and exams. The TA was a harsh grader.

The class is highly challenging and not fun (unless given by de Menocal), the textbook is very dry also.

Workload:

6 difficult and not always well written Homeworks, lowest grade dropped.
Very dry textbook.
I midterm and one final, exams are tricky.

January 17, 2014

De Menocal, Peter
Climate and Society

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

This class has definitely changed for the better since the reviews about the class being a heavy anchor, etc., were posted. There are no longer iClickers, and as far as I can tell he doesn't even take attendance. He did say in the beginning of the year that he gave extra points for participation, but considering he didn't seem to be taking attendance or attempting to get to know our names, I'm assuming that was only happening if he actually knew who you were and registered your attempts to participate by answering questions, throwing out comments/questions, etc. I did make an effort to introduce myself to him and I participated in class regularly, so I may have received some participation points, but the people in back who spoke rarely and whose names he didn't know probably never did.

There is also no longer a final project. At first he said there would be a short, modified version of the project, but then he tacitly nixed it altogether. Our grades were based entirely on our five highest graded homework assignments (out of six, but we only actually did five because we ran out of time at the end of the semester and he gave us all 100% for the last one), the two tests during the semester, and the final.

But despite the improvements, be warned that this class is indeed not something to blow off. It's not that the workload is heavy, but that it has to be taken very seriously. He marks down (or rather, has his TA mark down) liberally for tiny mistakes, non-ideal wording, failure to mention a concept that the question wasn't explicitly looking for, etc. I was doing well on the overall concepts, but kept getting graded down on the homework because I was bleeding quarter points off everywhere for nitpicky things like that. The HW and test questions tend to be worded vaguely, which only makes it worse. Good grades can be achieved on the homework, but you will actually have to try. You can't wait until the last minute and do your half-assed best based on what you're reading as you scroll through the Powerpoint from that lesson (by the way, take good notes--the Powerpoints are SORELY lacking in text/explanations for what the slide depicts, so if you didn't take good notes on a slide, you'll be left to stare at some context-free diagram and wonder what the hell it's supposed to be depicting or how it relates to the lecture).

Similarly, you have to study well for the tests. You can't just memorize a bunch of facts from the lectures and expect to do well. The tests usually have inferential questions that require you to genuinely understand the material covered. Plus, you get a one page, handwritten cheat sheet, making it a waste of time to try to study via rote memorization. The test grading is not as nitpicky as the homework grading is, thank God. He also tends to like concise answers and specifically tells you to keep the short answer questions short (like two sentences, most of the time).

Our class as a whole was not doing well on the tests, so he gave us a long list of potential final questions in advance. One of the questions on the final wasn't from the list and I think everyone got it wrong (it was on something we barely touched on), but whatever. A good deal overall.

De Menocal does really know his stuff, and if you are interested in climate science, you will probably find the class enjoyable. Despite the irritation of vaguely worded questions, etc., I don't regret taking the class and feel I have a far better understanding of climate and the oceans than I did before. The climate change section wasn't particularly thrilling for me, but I am already pretty well-versed in the topic. I thought he did a great job of explaining the phenomenon and the realistic ways we're going to need to adapt to this new state of affairs on Earth. Plus, we had a small class (forty people or so) and a fabulous TA (Miyo--if you have her as a TA for this class, seek her help if you need it! She is very accommodating), which made the experience that much more pleasant.

Unless you want to get deeper into the science of climate change than the class really delves, you don't need to buy the book. I don't regret buying it and have found it interesting, but it was not used beyond being assigned as reading. I think I was one of three (at the most) people who were actually doing the reading. The reading also isn't necessary--like, you can get by without doing it, except for some stuff on the first test--but I found the subjects interesting and I liked having a fuller picture of what we were talking about, so I always did the reading.

In short, if you're looking for an easy science requirement class, take Oceanography or Psych, not this class. You can't just blow it off. If you are curious about the subject matter, want to understand climate change better, and are aware that you can't sleep through this class and then expect to do well, take it. It's a good course.

Final comments: I got an A, so take my (probably biased) assessment as you will. Also, the guest lectures at the end of term were sort of worthless. The guy from the Econ dept only talked about the Montreal Protocol, which is what we spent the entire first month of class covering in detail. The woman who used to work in petroleum was more interesting but the lecture was pretty scattered. De Menocal himself can seem standoffish, but I really don't think he intends to come off that way, and he loves a good, on point student question.

This class is graded on a strict curve, so there are a limited number of As per class--but also a limited number of low grades. And fortunately, the mean is set at a B+, not at a C or something. He made a couple offhand comments implying that if a student participated a lot and his/her grades were on an upward trajectory throughout the semester, he might reward them in their final grade, but I'm not sure if that's really true since he also seemed pretty strict about having a strict curve to ensure fairness.

Workload:

Five HW assignments (would have been six, but we ran out of time and all got 100% for the last one), two tests, and a final. Supposedly participation can garner extra points, but it's unclear if this is really true. Attendance does not appear to matter, but I would NOT bank on this. The second test counts for more of your grade than the first does, and the final counts for the most. The homework counts for comparatively little.

The workload seems deceptively normal, but rest assured this class will probably require you to put in some effort and take the work seriously.

January 07, 2011

De Menocal, Peter
Climate and Society

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

This class is awesome and I would recommend it to anybody. The material isn't hard as long as you go to class and Professor De Menocal is one of the best professors I have had at Columbia in the science department. If you have any trouble whatsoever with the material he has office hours after class for at least a couple of hours and his TA is also available on other days of the week.

Workload:

5 HWs that are pretty manageable. 3 Exams and class quizzes using iclickers.

January 04, 2010

De Menocal, Peter
Climate and Society

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

DO NOT TAKE THIS CLASS. If you are looking for a manageable class that satisfies a science requirement for the core then don’t take this pointless and horrible class. Take Oceanography instead, which is much more interesting and manageable. I got a decent grade from this class but that still wasn’t worth the mental agony that I was put through by taking it. My advisor said that Climate and Society used to be more manageable in the past but deMenecol has now made it a very heavy anchor for anyone’s student schedule. Let me explain the horror I went through. The key points why you should avoid this very far from enjoyable class:

-There is homework every single week that usually has nothing to do with anything we learned in class. You will find yourself figuring it out on your own and when you get downgraded on your homework there will be no explanation why.

-Professor deMenocal may seem very nice and affable on the exterior until you ask him questions after class. There were instances where he flat out told my friends (in not so many words) that he is too busy to work with the student and to figure it out for themselves. The teaching assistants never answered emails and their office hours were only held on Friday so making your way to school on an off day only to learn that for the most part the TAs don’t really have any clue can only give a student the abyssal feeling of hopelessness.

-Throughout the middle of the course we were told to buy an additional book, which was horrible and a waste of money due to its irrelevance. Yay.

-Quizzes, quizzes and more quizzes.

-The web-poster project requires you to build a website and publish it to the web but like most students...nobody has any experience with that sort of thing at all. Doing the large amount of research alone is a lot of work for this project and fellow students downgrade each other during group presentations through the iClicker voting process just so things can be curved towards them. deMenocal is a harsh grader when it comes to these web-poster projects as well. He was not even there for the student’s presentations on the last day of class…you know..the presentations that students have been working on for most of the semester.

-The very few interesting things you learn in this class you can learn in Oceanography, which is much more interesting and manageable. Oceanography only requires three easy muliple choise homework's, a midterm and final. All tests use the 70%, 30% group testing process and the professor is very nice.

Climate and Society is the perfect example of horrible and dull science class. It is a grueling experience and the worst class I took since have I been at Columbia. I plead with you to steer away and take something like Oceanography. Turtles and dolphins are much cooler than false global warming data.

Workload:

Quizzes. 8 homeworks(usually consisting of work we did not cover in class) Midterm(almost impossible even with allowed cheat sheet) Webposter project(a lot of work with research, web design and group presentation-harsh grading) Final(much more manageable-allowed cheat sheets helps) Pile all of this up and you have yourself a nice heavy anchor in your student schedule.

January 07, 2009

De Menocal, Peter
Climate and Society

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

Do not take Climate and Society unless you are SURE that you are EXTREMELY interested in the materials covered on the syllabus. I signed up with a vague interest in the material, and ended up hating lectures and not learning much at all. Though deMenocal is clearly a very brilliant and knowledgeable guy who is enthusiastic himself about the topics, his lectures are actually pretty dull and not particularly engaging. In addition, he basically forces you to spend money to buy an iClicker so he can take attendence, which is a huge annoyance since few took it seriously to answer the multiple choice presentation questions. In addition, this is simply not an easy way to fulfill the science requirement if that is what you are looking for.

Workload:

There are regular homework assignments (varying difficulties, and definitely not always a breeze to complete) and lots of material to cover for the (difficult) midterm and (much easier) final--he does, however, allow you a cheatsheet. By far, the most annoying part of the course is a web poster project, which is very time consuming and graded harshly.

December 23, 2008

De Menocal, Peter
Climate and Society

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

I say with complete confidence that this was among the worst classes I've taken at Columbia. To say that the material is not 'riveting' is a gross understatement. Many people did not attend lecture, and most who did came only to get a few clicks on their iClicker to make their attendance count - a lot of people couldn't even bear to bother with notes and didn't even bring notebooks to class, instead just playing games on cellphones. But all this would be okay, especially if you're taking it to fulfill the science requirement like I was. However, BE AWARE that this is NOT AN EASILY GRADED CLASS, nor is the workload a total joke. That pointless final webposter project was beyond tedious and a complete waste of time and effort - not to go overboard with the superlatives, but once again, worst project I've ever been assigned so far at Columbia, and I'm a senior.

Basically - I highly recommend NOT TAKING THIS CLASS. It has been a huge pain in the ass; it seems deceptively easy, but every other science class I've taken has been less difficult in terms of workload and especially grading. Just don't do it.

Workload:

Not too out of control, but just enough really annoying shit to drive you crazy. Homework assignments relatively often, difficult midterm, the dreaded webposter project (see above), and another difficult final (yes, final project and final exam). Like another reviewer mentioned - it is not that the work is so hard or so much. Rather, it cannot be treated like a joke - hence the disappointment for those looking for an easy fulfillment to the science requirement.

December 18, 2008

De Menocal, Peter
Climate and Society

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

Great Professor. Took Climate and Society-a course designed for undergrad non-science majors. deMenocal is charismatic and very enthusiastic in the classroom. Very energetic and has a way of getting non-science types like me interested in the material. Brought in a number of guest lecturers from various departments at Columbia to speak about the cutting-edge research they're doing. I took two things from his choice to do this: 1. he wants students to think horizontally (which will become increasingly important in the future), and 2. he's very secure about his teaching abilities and his command of the class. I've seen teachers try to butt in during guest lectures in other classes, but he sat in the front and shut his mouth like everyone else.

Even though deMenocal tailors the class for non-science majors, his standards are still high. Some of the homework involves a decent amount of math-nothing too heavy-and all of it requires critical thinking. If anything, the midterm and final were a bit on the easy side, but I didn't respect the class any less for that. I think deMenocal's style is such that the real learning is done in the classroom and in the research-the tests are somewhat of a formality. I think he's found a good balance between fun and challenging. I'd criticize the fact that he didn't make sure we knew how to do some of the math before handing out the assignments, but if I wouldn't have waited till the night before it was due I'm sure I could have asked one of the TAs.

Group research project involved building a website on which the research results are displayed-this was easier and more enjoyable than I thought it would be. Ours was probably around the average quality for the class (haven't gotten grades back yet):
http://sites.google.com/site/waterincrisis/

I would recommend this course for anyone who needs the core credit, especially those interested in any social science or policy field in which the issue of climate change might someday arise. It's probably a decent beginner course for interested science majors too-although I imagine they'll find the quantitative side a bit light.

Workload:

One semester research project in which the report format is a functioning website (that your group must build from scratch) and a 4 minute presentation.

8 homework assignments-pretty easy.

1 midterm, 1 final. All multiple choice.

December 16, 2008

De Menocal, Peter
Climate and Society

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

Professor De Menocal is very enthusiastic about his subject. As another review here has noted, the majority of students are in this class to fulfill a science requirement, so there's less enthusiasm coming from the student end.
It is a lecture class, so if you can stay awake (I can't) you may be able garner some information, although all the slides are online so its not imperative that you concentrate.

Guest lecturers are a highlight. We had some very interesting visitors.
Overall I recommend this course for anyone who's willing to put in some effort to get more than a superficial understanding of climate and the policy issues involved.
Alternatively, you could just gloss right through it, fulfill a science requirement, and forget about it.

Workload:

Light. There are meant to be eight homeworks, but we only ended up doing six.
Each of these took me no more than a couple of hours.
The midterm and final are not hugely demanding, just know your stuff.
There is a group project that is very stressful, because its... a group project. It requires some solid research, and you have to build a website, but I felt it could have been a lot worse.

January 15, 2008

De Menocal, Peter
Climate and Society

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

As as I could tell, everyone in this class was taking it to fulfill the science requirement, and it gets the job done. Professor De Menocal was organized, usually enthusiastic (although not very warm or friendly), and clear about his expectations for us. That said, his lecture style got a little stale as the semester wore on, and it often seemed like most of the class either wasn't showing up or wasn't paying attention. This class isn't as interesting as some past reviews make it out to be, but it's not so bad. I'm glad it's over, though.

Workload:

The occasional problem set (usually very easy), a bunch of readings that most people don't do (and aren't necessary to know for the exams), a midterm and final, both graded on a curve, and an irritating project about some environmental problem that a lot of people spent way too much time on (note to many of my peers: get a life). Because the lecture format was so repetitive, just attending class became a task in itself.

Directory Data

Dept/Subj Directory Course Professor Year Semester Time Section
EESC / EESC EESC EESC V1003: Climate & Society: Case Studies Peter Demenocal 2012 Fall MW / 8:40- 9:55 AM 1
EESC / EESC EESC EESC V1003: Climate & Society: Case Studies Peter Demenocal 2010 Fall MW / 9:10-10:25 AM 1
EESC / EESC EESC EESC V1003: Climate & Society: Case Studies Peter Demenocal 2009 Fall MW / 9:10-10:25 AM 1
EESC / EESC EESC EESC V1003: Climate & Society: Case Studies Peter Demenocal 2008 Fall TR / 4:10- 5:25 PM 1