Review Comment

[EEEB V1010] The Human Species: Its Place in Nature

December 12, 2014

Shapiro, Jill Silver_nugget
[EEEB V1010] The Human Species: Its Place in Nature

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

I'd like to give y'all and update as I read the "dear brilliant slacker" post and think that another perspective could be useful.

while it is definitely helpful to study week by week, it is not necessary. if you are willing to study for 3 days straight then you can get to the midterm and do perfectly. if you are willing to study for 3-4 days straight then you can do that for the final and know everything too.
Yes it is a TON of information to memorize, and some of it i think is not useful for us to learn, however you can memorize it all if you try. Also, you don't need to memorize absolutely everything because she gives you options on the tests and asks for 3-5 traits, so you don't need to know them ALL as she tells you in class.

Going in to the class I thought this would be a fascinating class on the story of human evolution, and would incorporate theories on why things happened (like bipedalism etc). However, sadly, this did not happen at all. Theories don't mater to Shapiro, only what you see in the fossils.

When the previous reviewers said "memorize a lot of bones" , I'd like to clarify that it is BONES AND ONLY BONES. Nothing else is important to Shapiro. Only bones/ skeletal morphology , and how the traits of the bones relate to taxonomy. In that regard, it is boring material - you learn bones and know that they relate to other species.

Also something I would have liked to know before taking the class: the first half of the class is all about evolutionary principles and morphological trends for primates and humans etc, and the second half is about the actual evolution of humans. However, this is thoroughly detailed, as we start with the evolution of primates and work out way up the phylogenic tree to hominins. just letting you know... there's a LOT. 65 millions years worth. I personally thought that primate evolution was excessive...

Overall, Shapiro herself is an incredibly dedicated professor, and it committed to having every student pass the class. She is incredibly particular and specific about what she wants you to know (throughout lecture she'll point out what you need to know and what you don't need to know for the test. she writes most notes on the board. anything on the board is fair game). this is helpful, though annoying to be always reminded about the tests every day in lecture.
She also doesn't like taking questions in lecture, but makes you ask them after lecture is over. I found this good because she uses every single minute of lecture to cram information in, and she can't get sidetracked. However i know that some students would rather ask questions in class. She is very welcoming of any questions in office hours and via email, and is extremely punctual at answering email!

know that she is very very very specific about what she wants - it shows in her emails, her exam instructions, and lecture, all the way down to what writing utensil to use on the exams, and whether or not you come to lecture (yes she takes attendance). I found this helpful but a bit overdone.

Workload:

brief articles to read every week. don't get or read the textbook, completely unnecessary. midterm 30%, final 70%, optional lab/discussion sections, some of which are helpful.

midterm: short answer questions with choice - you can choose some questions and within the question you can choose what to talk about, within her parameters of course. specific questions about the articles.
final: two essays and short answer questions.

January 21, 2012

Shapiro, Jill Silver_nugget
[EEEB V1010] The Human Species: Its Place in Nature

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

Dear brilliant slacker,

Do not take this class. It is not for you. I don't care what you've managed to do in the past, but the squeaking by with minimal effort stops here. I promise.

If you (for some godforsaken reason) are legitimately interested in learning about the shapes of primate skulls and are honestly excited about memorizing 65 million years of primate evolution, then by all means take this class. You will have a blast. If you are looking for an easy science credit that doesn't really demand your attention or involvement, DO NOT PROCEED. I mean it. Heed my warning. I ignored the warnings and regret it.

The frustrating thing is that this class is theoretically so easy. It is 100% memorization. Nothing is conceptually difficult. Shapiro, to her credit, is extremely straightforward about class expectations. She writes the important points of her lecture on the board and tells you exactly what articles to read. This information (the board stuff and the articles) and ONLY this information will appear on the exams, in exactly the layout that it was first presented. If you take detailed lecture notes and STUDY AS YOU GO, there is no reason you should not get a 100 in the class. It's that simple.

That said, you obviously won't do that. You will see that she only gives a midterm and a final with no other sort of work in between, and you will forget to review anything until the night before, at which point you will remember that 65 million years is a lot of evolutionary history and there is simply no way in the physical universe that you could ever, ever commit it all to memory, regardless of how simple the information is. Sorry.

Unless you really, honestly trust yourself to stay on top of the material--and if you can, good for you--or are genuinely interested in learning all about bones, find some other way to fill your science requirement.

Shapiro herself is tricky. In some ways she could not be more helpful. She really, really wants every single person in the class to come away with not only an incredible amount of knowledge but also a love of the material. She probably cares more for her subject than any other professor I've encountered here. Her lecture style is very clear and her exams are very fair. However, her classroom policies are a little absurd. She kept us needlessly overburdened by FAQs, course packets (20 pages!!), and clerical business. Any criticism of her teaching or classroom style was dismissed (preemptively, in the aforementioned 20-page behemoth) by her statement of her pedagogical philosophy. She doesn't seem to trust her students not to be stupid or dishonest, which I found very annoying. Borderline tyrannical computer policies, too.

In the end, this class wasn't a good one for me, but I can understand why people who like the material and are willing to put in the time like it a lot. Your call.

Workload:

Minimal. A 33% midterm and a 67% final. Textbook readings that you shouldn't bother to do. Some required articles, which will turn up on the exams. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD STUDY FOR THE EXAMS MORE THAN ONE NIGHT IN ADVANCE.

Don't buy the textbook. It's expensive and useless. The material tested is entirely from the lectures and the articles.

December 07, 2011

Shapiro, Jill Silver_nugget
[EEEB V1010] The Human Species: Its Place in Nature

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

You really have to follow Jill's advice. Take the notes exactly how she dictates, study in exactly the manner she proposes, do the readings she requires. If she says "write out five sentences," or "practice saying it out loud," you'd better do it. Likewise, make sure you read her other emails and instructions for the exams and way the class works. She has a clear and intentional pedagogical method that she has painstakingly devised, and she's right, so go along with it and you'll do great.

Some people don't think the textbook is necessary--it's easier to handle all the info if you read the book, but you can do well without ever opening it. I suggest not buying the book, but reading it (they usually have the newest edition in Butler). It's an expensive text and it gets outdated like every year.

I've been using the previous edition, and it's almost identical (but all the page number are off). Pearson Higher Ed will show you a sample of every page in the new edition on their website, so you can cross check from an older edition to do the right readings.

Workload:

Chapter Readings from the textbook, articles (a few a week), midterm (30%), final (70%), one Hardy-Weinberg problem set (mandatory, but just for practice). A lot of optional work for the interested.

May 16, 2011

Shapiro, Jill Silver_nugget
[EEEB V1010] The Human Species: Its Place in Nature

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

I learned so much in this class. The emphasis is on memorization, but it's taught in such a way that you'll retain most of the information. Jill Shapiro is a really entertaining lecturer and her exams are very fair if you take good notes and prepare accordingly. You can do very well in this class as long as you take excellent notes, which she makes very easy to do since she organizes her notes on the board.

Workload:

Some reading (do as she recommends and write five-sentence summaries of the articles!), midterm (30%) and final (70%)

January 22, 2011

Shapiro, Jill Silver_nugget
[EEEB V1010] The Human Species: Its Place in Nature

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

Professor Shapiro is an interesting woman, and one whom I respect. She seems to only have one mode: extremely overzealous. This translates into everything from teaching with genuine passion for the subject to yes, writing 10 page single-spaced documents on what writing utensil to use for her tests. I can definitely understand how this personality would rub people the wrong way. Personally, I didn't have a problem with it at all--in the big lecture class, she was a remote enough entity that when she said that she would be checking the inside rim of every head covering during the midterm for cheat notes, I could just chuckle and think, "Ah Professor Shapiro. You card." One on one, a level at which I've interacted with her plenty, she's very personable. Her enthusiasm is genuine and not overblown or overbearing. She's just interested. You will be, too.

I respect her because she is very straightforward, without being rude. She speaks her mind and is not afraid of her own opinion or duty as a teacher. For example, after all, students DO cheat in all the various ways she warned against. I know someone personally who wrote equations on the inside of their shirt cuffs. Some teachers act almost apologetic of the silliness or inconvenience it causes to be rigorous about anti-cheating, perhaps trying to ignore a reality that disappoints them (that their students cheat). Professor Shapiro does not. (I personally have no crusade against cheating, this is just a good example about how Professor Shapiro addresses everything--even touchy topics--with refreshingly active honesty and unflagging vigor).

One important thing: she speaks loud enough, and clearly; she writes all information of the lecture, as she goes, in chalk on the blackboard--clearly and organized extremely neatly in an outline format. The information is not "easy," but her teaching style is. You will be grateful for it!

That being said, there is a LOT of information to learn, and she expects DETAIL on her exams--you can get something "right" and still get lots and lots of little point reductions due to a lack of specificity that translate into one or two grade letters lower. Her exams are like her: straightforward and rigorous. You can ace them, but you will have to actually STUDY, not just "review," which can cut it in so many other classes.

Workload:

Weekly readings from articles and textbook sections. Not too bad, maybe an hour or two of reading a week. Midterm and final that require a LOT of specificity, but offer no slimy trick questions or anything designed to fool you or make you slip up.

January 05, 2011

Shapiro, Jill Silver_nugget
[EEEB V1010] The Human Species: Its Place in Nature

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

TAKE THIS CLASS! It was one of the best experiences I've had at Columbia and Shapiro is probably the best professor I've ever dealt with. I see others have criticized the way she runs the class and her lectures. They clearly have no sense of humor. Shapiro is funny, obsessed with her field, and genuinely cares about her students learning and enjoying the material she's teaching. She's incredibly organized and that makes it easy to study and learn the material. The assigned readings were short and really interesting and her lectures are fantastic - incredibly interesting and well organized. Again, this also makes it easy to study for the exams because she specifically outlines what you're expected to know. Yes, there is a ton of material we covered over the semester but she and the TAs are very helpful in guiding you through it. Her pre-exam packets were especially helpful. She puts way more time and energy into her class than any other professor at Columbia (I'm a senior and I've dealt with them all). I would recommend this class to any Columbia student, science major or not. It was an overall great experience.

Workload:

Heavy but manageable. As long as you go to class, take notes, and read the assigned articles, you're fine. She often assigns chapters from the required book but I never read them because her lectures were sufficient. You need to read the assigned articles for the exam but they are short and interesting, I usually read them on the subway. The exams aren't hard if you study your lecture notes.

December 22, 2010

Shapiro, Jill Silver_nugget
[EEEB V1010] The Human Species: Its Place in Nature

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

I am going to be the only person here who did not enjoy Jill Shapiro, but someone has to be the minority report. Although much of what is written here is accurate, I found her to be extremely obnoxious and irritating and the class structure ridiculous.

Essentially, she has hypergraphia and OCD and treats the class like dim-witted kindergarteners in the way she explains the material. I always felt like I was being talked down to; concepts were explained in terms of things like Power Rangers, in what I found to be a very smarmy and patronizing way of speaking.

The course is just memorization and regurgitation (she has a strict no-questions, no-one-but-her-may-speak-during-class policy).

Most annoyingly, there was more meta-reading (i.e. rambling housekeeping / logistical notes) in this class than I have had actual reading in other classes. She spent the ENTIRE FIRST TWO class sessions (~3 hours) on content-free housekeeping, and before the midterm she distributed a rambling document that she instructed us to read - eleven pages, single-spaced. It was COMPLETELY DEVOID OF ACTUAL COURSE CONTENT, but contained such crucial information as:

- "All hats (though not religious head coverings for Moslem, Muslim or Sikh students) will be examined before the exam."
(Oh, Moslem AND Muslim! Wow!)

- "They will also be grading in green ink, none of that horrid red. [After all, red cues in this culture to stop while green cues to go. We want you to read the comments without fear.]"
(I'm so glad I internalized this crucial information as I study for a test where I will be asked to regurgitate dozens of dates!)

- "If English is your second language, you may bring a dictionary to class but we will have to check it for notes and scribblings."
(Really? All of it?)

- "If you write in another color ink or if you write in pencil, your entire exam grade will be dropped by a full grade."
(Glad this important information was in an 11-page document)

And on, and on, and on. The instructions for her tests were much longer than the tests themselves.

This was just for one exam, passed out ahead of time. And then what do we have handed out to us on the day of the test? If you guessed "the test", you'd be wrong. Yet another all-new instructions document! This, too, was full of wisdom, including a paragraph on why it is important to be quiet when leaving the room if you've finished your test early. It was useful for me, because I was planning on finishing before everyone else and loudly yodeling on my way out.

The syllabus and various supplementary housekeeping manifestos were a total of SIXTY-TWO (yes, I counted on Courseworks) completely content-free pages (including an entire page on how annoying laptop keyboard clicking sounds are and the implications of this for where laptop users are allowed to sit in the room and the penalties for use of laptops to do anything other than take notes. REALLY?!).

Workload:

Just memorize the hundreds of dates and names that she gives out and regurgitate them on the tests in short answers and essays. No higher-order thought required. There are dozens and dozens of articles (divided into "optional", "not optional", and "required for the test", handouts, videos, and textbook chapters that were assigned, but I did OK just memorizing most of the key factoids given in class.

Now, here's a quiz:

What professor has a strict "no asking questions in class" policy?
Who takes attendance in a 80+ person lecture class?
Who writes a 60-page logistics novella?
Who proclaims their class to be one of the hardest at Columbia, but explains everything in terms of children's cartoons and funny voices, as if speaking to a child?

The answer to all of these is, of course, Jill Shapiro.

December 20, 2010

Shapiro, Jill Silver_nugget
[EEEB V1010] The Human Species: Its Place in Nature

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

I, like many others, took this class for the science requirement.

Maybe this isn't the best time to review Professor Shapiro, as I just took the final, but let me just say:

This class is NOT easy, it's actually really fucking difficult, so don't think it's an easy A. You can get an A, but most people won't, even the science people.

There is just an INCREDIBLE amount of data that is almost impossible to know. She's clear about her expectations, though, so no surprises. Everything is fair. It's just that no one person can devote as much time to Human Species as her exams require.

That being said, take this class. It'll really change how you see things. The difficulty is worth it, because it's fascinating material most of the time.

Workload:

Not heavy - just take lecture notes. AND GO TO EVERY SINGLE LECTURE.

Oh, and don't forget to read the articles.

February 07, 2010

Shapiro, Jill Silver_nugget
[EEEB V1010] The Human Species: Its Place in Nature

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

This course is rigorous, and taught very old-school style. Notes are meticulously organized on the black board, and the midterm and final are very fair, but extremely extremely intensive--you will have to regurgitate all that you have been taught so far. That said, you absolutely DO NOT need the text book. I repeat, YOU DO NOT NEED the text book. It's prohibitively expensive--I couldn't afford one; but Professor Shapiro will very kindly let you borrow her copy, and there are several in the library on reserve. Even so, the notes she provides are really more that sufficient. I never looked at the text book. Master the notes, and the handouts she provides. That will be a lot, and I mean, A LOT of information on it's own. Really, you'll save yourself more than $100, and be far far less confused-- because, Prof. Shapiro disagrees with the textbook on numerous occasions. Go to lecture, copy EVERYTHING that's on the blackboard, and internalize it. If you can do this, you will ace the class. If not, you will do very, very badly. Prof Shapiro, is , as all reviewers have already pointed out, unbelievably comitted to student learning, and EXTREMELY passionate about her subject. Her enthusiasm is remarkable.

Workload:

Midterm, Final. GO TO EVERY LECTURE, and TAKE NOTES. DO NOT BUY TEXT BOOK

January 13, 2010

Shapiro, Jill Silver_nugget
[EEEB V1010] The Human Species: Its Place in Nature

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

Everything has already been said extolling the virtues of Prof. Shapiro. My only addition is that she had a magical way of making the material l of her EEEB class live. As she guided us in tracing the beginnings of our human lineage, I awoke to the science and the mystery of who we are and where we came from. In many ways it was like being guided on a vision quest. The reading was intense & the memorization was intense. Yet her teaching style drew you in and made you grasp the material. It was nearly mystical. Yes,she deserves TENURE. She is a wonderful teacher.

Workload:

Intense reading from the workbook but you must be careful because new discoveries and dating methods often rendered the book outdated. But she tells you what is changed in the book. Ultimately her lectures are what one has to remember. Lab is not mandatory but don't be fooled. It was so helpful in pulling it all together. AND it was actually thrilling to touch the actual touch early tools and handle skulls. The final and midterm were serious but no tricks! She is accessible to any student and really explains the material for you.

January 04, 2010

Shapiro, Jill Silver_nugget
[EEEB V1010] The Human Species: Its Place in Nature

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

There is absolutely no reason why you should not take this class with Professor Shapiro. True, she does squeeze all the material she can into every single lecture (she vocally measures time, i.e. "don't pack up yet, we have a whole minute left and much to cover), but this material is FASCINATING. Professor Shapiro never disregarded anything such as Creationism; rather, she encouraged us to look at both ends of the spectrum and come up with our own theories. Seriously, the essays on the final, though strenuous to complete, were actually interesting to write because Professor Shapiro basically says "I've taught you all you need to know, now where do you stand?" All this woman needs is TENURE for Christ's sake! I was a first-semester Freshman who screwed up his grade by not attending discussion, lecture, etc. so if you take this class my best advice is suck it up! I wish my grade in this class would reflect how much I actually took away from it but nonetheless Professor Shapiro is kind, engaging, approachable, extremely knowledgeable in her field, and overall the most enthusiastic professor I had this semester. If more people loved their job as much as Professor Shapiro does, it'd be a better world. If ever at any time at all you asked yourself "why am I here?" or "why do we exist", I think it's about high time you take this class. Honestly, I have no regrets and Professor Shapiro is amazing.

Workload:

Weekly readings which are on the midterm and final so read them! The textbook is interesting but I think it deviates too much from Professor Shapiro's lectures and is rather not worth buying for that reason. The midterm and final are MASSIVE but you are given a packet of relative size which outlines EVERYTHING for you waaaaay before either test. Attend section and try to get to at least three quarters of the lectures (at the very least) or else your grade will ride on these two tests alone. Other than that, the workload is extremely, and I mean extremely, manageable.

December 21, 2009

Shapiro, Jill Silver_nugget
[EEEB V1010] The Human Species: Its Place in Nature

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

I sit in the library after my Human Species final, my hands trembling, while I write this. I refrained from reviewing prof. Shapiro's class before the final exam because so much of my grade (70%), even though little of my experience, is riding on this last pull. Now that it is done I can be honestly say that this was an amazing experience I would recommend to every student at Columbia.

The class is exactly the way it is described in the earlier reviews. There is a lot of work, a lot of reading and memorization and a necessary comprehension of the material. The details are as equally important as the big picture so there is no way of avoiding learning the massive amount of information the professor covers in each class. The best advice I can give you is to GO TO CLASS WITHOUT EXCEPTION and take extensive notes, DO THE READING assigned and read everything she posts on Courseworks (optional articles are not necessary) and DON'T WAIT till the exams TO STUDY. If you still have trouble, speak to prof. Shapiro in person and find out everything you need to know.

The reasons why I loved this class are many. Prof. Shapiro is upfront about her expectations and is very honest about what her midterm and finals will look like. There is absolutely no ambiguity about what lays ahead. The exams were never a surprise because everything that was expected of us was already explained beforehand. The class itself is very interesting and a good thing to know no matter your field of interest, but the way prof. Shapiro delivers the material is what deserves praise. Her classes are structured in a way in which she can expose you to enormous amounts of information without you feeling too overwhelmed (you will, at some point or another, nonetheless). She is very approachable and eager to answer all questions one might have after class or during her office hours.

The first part of the semester was easier than the second and there was a lot of pressure for the final as it is such a big part of your grade. I fell behind on the work after the midterm, but what saved me is that I still went to class and took notes even when I wasn't sure what she was talking about. Her classes tend to make little sense at the beginning but somehow always tie in towards the end (sometimes it takes 2 or 3 classes to see where the material is going).

Human Species is a great science requirement since there is no math whatsoever (unless we count one question that demands you know how to add and subtract to a 100 and divide with 10 ON A CALCULATOR!!). This is my first semester and I'm very glad I took this class. I hope I will have more professors like this in the future.

Workload:

Multiple articles to read on a weekly basis (best red before class in question and reviewed before exams as you will be tested on them directly)
NO NEED TO READ OR EVEN BUY THE TEXTBOOK AT ALL!

Midterm that takes an hour and a half to complete (30%)

Final that takes 2.5 to 3 hours to complete (70%)

Sections are not mandatory, but are recommended as they can help swing your grade. The sections in which we were dealing with fossils were extremely helpful for exams.

December 16, 2009

Shapiro, Jill Silver_nugget
[EEEB V1010] The Human Species: Its Place in Nature

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

Even as I sit avoiding review for the final, I think she must be one of the best professors at this University. Having Shapiro as a freshman or sophomore could be dangerous for a couple of reasons: the class is no joke and if you don't do the work you will not do well - no sliding by here. That said, Shapiro is utterly straightforward when it comes to what you have to know....a characteristic of her approach that is more rare among professors than it should be. She is great enough that you may never find someone who matches up to her level of engagement and enthusiasm for teaching.

Workload:

Significant. Worth it. Don't miss class.

November 18, 2009

Shapiro, Jill Silver_nugget
[EEEB V1010] The Human Species: Its Place in Nature

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

Where is her gold star?!?! I have been here for three and a half years and never found a professor who seems to love teaching as much as Professor Shapiro. She is intense, brilliant, and has high expectations for you, but as one reviewer before has said, she is unambiguous about those expectations. She makes the material accessible without dumbing it down and will answer any questions you have without even a hint of condescension. After many semesters of tweed jacketed folk standing behind lecterns, I found her enthusiasm a little overwhelming at first (you will NOT need your coffee before this class). It is refreshing to be taught by someone who is a remarkable teacher in every sense of the word and an incredible scholar as well.

Workload:

2 exams. The reading is very manageable. A TON of memorization from class notes. I actually found discussion section to be really helpful. Stay on top of it and all will be well.

October 26, 2009

Shapiro, Jill Silver_nugget
[EEEB V1010] The Human Species: Its Place in Nature

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

I'm only halfway through the semester yet felt compelled to review this woman.

She seems really genuinely sweet, like she actually cares about the students. Very refreshing in what can feel like a cold university. She called me by my name despite having never spoken to me individually before and the class having nearly 70-80 kids. How does she do it? Who knows. She is also clearly passionate about the material, which shows.

What I really appreciate is how organized her lectures are: she gives them in a neat, useful, outline form that makes studying so much simpler. I'm so tired of professors who ramble aimlessly, leaving my notes a useless jumbled mess.

The readings are fascinating, the kind of "popular science" stuff I read for fun.

The midterm was harder than I expected, but only because I underestimated the class. I'm a bio major and thought that, as my "fun" class, it would be a breeze. I was wrong. You have to go to class! The stuff she says is not in the book! I learned the hard way, don't make my mistake. But now I've learned my lesson and know what to do for the final. Again, I can't stress this enough: GO TO CLASS.

Interesting stuff, great professor, reasonable workload= highly recommended!

Workload:

Moderate/Low. Keep up with the readings and go to class and you'll be fine.

March 02, 2009

Shapiro, Jill Silver_nugget
[EEEB V1010] The Human Species: Its Place in Nature

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

Professor Shapiro is an angel! She is insanely smart, hilarious, and extremely personable. She will work with you one-on-one if you are having trouble. The workload though is not easy. Make sure you do all of the reading and learn anything she tells you to know!

Workload:

Killer midterm, killer final, weekly TA section

January 21, 2009

Shapiro, Jill Silver_nugget
[EEEB V1010] The Human Species: Its Place in Nature

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

A true gold star professor!

It is only based on my truly wonderful experience with Professor Shapiro that I have felt complled to write this my first CUPLA review. Ah yes, long have been the days of simply being a passive CULPA reader, content to sit back and benefit from the labor of others, but no longer! I write only to taut the incredible merits of this great teacher and I say teacher in the purest sense of the word. She TEACHES and makes every effort to ensure that students do learn. Professor Shapiro is compassionate and very understanding.

Granted, Human Species was not easy and it will challenge you in new and unexpected ways yet do not despair nor shy away from a good intellectual romp!

Professor Shapiro will go out of her way to teach you the material, encourage you to come to office hours, and then never reprimand any ignorance on your part. If you want to CONNECT with a professor at this storied yet often coldly-distanced university then please take a course with Professor Shapiro.

Professor Shapiro cares about her students more than any other Columbia professor I've had. Take 'Human Species' from her simply for an engaging, rather fascinating, and incredibly humorous journey through our collective history.

Professor Shapiro is truly a saint! She provided her home phone number to contact in case of some emergency questions and even calls students who require extra assistance, though is never intrusive. She also reads CULPA reviews but this is in no way seeking any sort of favor from her as struggle I did with the course and by no means came out of it with a shiny top notch grade.

After three years at this venerable institution, Professor Shapiro is truly the only professor who I feel has gone out of her way to help students and make a personal connection with them.

Workload:

Very involving and detail-oriented Midterm and Final (not cumulative) plus lab sections of loosely required attendance

January 19, 2009

Shapiro, Jill Silver_nugget
[EEEB V1010] The Human Species: Its Place in Nature

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

Professor Shapiro was by far my favorite instructor this semester. Her lectures were always well organized and informative. She is so passionate about what she teaches and it makes the material, which can be boring for many, seem very interesting. She does expect a lot from her students but she also offers help. She is available during office hours and you can even contact her by phone during midterm and final cram time for last minute questions.

Workload:

There is a lot of mandatory reading. A text that follows the lectures pretty closely and about 20 or so articles before and after the midterm. These articles are necessary because questions will be asked about them on the exams. 1/3 of the grade is the midterm, 2/3 is the final. There is a massive amount of memorization, I mean MASSIVE. But as long as you study and keep on top of your readings getting an A/B is manageable.

January 04, 2009

Shapiro, Jill Silver_nugget
[EEEB V1010] The Human Species: Its Place in Nature

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

At the beginning of the semester, Jill Shapiro - clothed in dowdy vestments, arm upraised emphatically - declared to our class of lazy laymen trying to pass out of the science requirement: "This is a hard class." This was true for me, but it didn't have to be. What Shapiro won't tell you at first is that her midterm and final - which comprise the entirety of your grade - are directly from lecture. If you go to lecture, you will understand what she wants you to understand. If you don't go to lecture, you'll be stuck in the labyrinthine textbook, trying to sort out relevance from irrelevance in a discipline about which you are completely clueless. Plenty of reviews have already extolled Shapiro's endless list of virtues - kindness, energy, accessibility, humor, wit - so all I really have to say is GO TO CLASS.

Workload:

Midterm and final; just go to class and read the articles (not the textbook).

August 02, 2007

Valderrama, Ximena
[EEEB V1010] The Human Species: Its Place in Nature

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

Dr. Valderrama and this class have a number of pros and cons. Ultimately, I found it to be a good class in which I learned a lot.
Cons: she mumbles and trails off at the end of her sentences so unless you sit in the front and listen closely you miss a lot of what you are saying. She also skips over, maybe because this was a condensed summer course, a lot of detail. This leaves you with pretty much no idea how things work but with enough info to get by on the tests.
Pros: the power-point presentation she gives and hands out as class notes mean you don't really have to take notes and the quizzes and tests are directly from the power-point notes. I wasn't too keen on this style of rote memorization at the beginning but looking back, I actually learned a lot. She likes the subject, she's fair and even-handed, and she's kind of funny.

Workload:

Quizzes, 2 midterms, a final - all from the notes. Also, a project and a paper. It sounds like a lot but it's not.

April 24, 2007

Shapiro, Jill Silver_nugget
[EEEB V1010] The Human Species: Its Place in Nature

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

Great educator who makes the effort in and out of class to get through to the students. She expects you to work, though nothing unreasonable. If you pay attention to lectures, which are very well organized and presented you will do well. Fascinating subejct matter, and a teacher with a really great personal touch, make any of her classes rewarding academic experiences.

Workload:

Take notes and know them well

April 09, 2007

Shapiro, Jill Silver_nugget
[EEEB V1010] The Human Species: Its Place in Nature

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

If you have a chance to take a class with Jill Shapiro, do it. She is the best professor I've had at Columbia, enough to reverse a lot of the disillusionment I have had with uninspiring profs and grad student instructors. She is hyper-organized - you will never be at a loss as to what she wants from you. Her lectures are fast-paced, exciting, interesting, challenging. The entire grade is based on two exams, so make sure to go to class. Plus, the subject is fascinating. It will challenge the way you think about what it means to be human. She presents all sides of each issue, in a humorous and engaging way. The class did not convince me switch to from archaeology to EBHS, but I am 100% glad I took it anyway. I look forward to taking a class with Prof. Shapiro in the future. Please, do yourself a favor - take this class!!

Workload:

Midterm, final, optional weekly discussion sections

March 06, 2007

Shapiro, Jill Silver_nugget
[EEEB V1010] The Human Species: Its Place in Nature

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

I took this class because it sounded interesting, and thanks to Jill Shapiro, I am now seriously considering the EBHS major.

She is a fascinating lecturer and her enthusiasm about the subject matter is contagious. She tends to be very specific about the way she teaches (borderline obsessive-compulsive, like when she times every single lecture and "makes up" for letting us out early by keeping us late, to the minute) but it makes for very organized lectures. Once you know her style, the expectations of the class are very clear and there is little to stress about as long as you stay on top of the material.

Weekly discussion sections are not required but can bump up your grade. The sections earlier in the year were not that informative, but are definitely worth it once the skulls come out (especially if you are a visual learner). Prof. Shapiro specifically dictates the content of the sections and so the it sometimes seemed forced coming from the TAs.

There is a LOT of memorization. The midterm and final (non-cumulative) are 1/3 and 2/3 of the grade, respectively. The midterm is entirely short answer, and the final is short answer and long essays. YOU WILL NOT DO WELL IN THIS CLASS IF YOU DO NOT DO WELL ON THESE EXAMS, and the only way to do well is to set aside time to memorize. Find a method that works for you and just memorize.

Workload:

Very doable reading (~2 short articles per class). One midterm (1/3 of grade) and one final (2/3 of grade), which require A LOT OF MEMORIZATION.

January 18, 2006

Shapiro, Jill Silver_nugget
[EEEB V1010] The Human Species: Its Place in Nature

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

Two thumbs up! :)

Workload:

Not much if you are interested in the subject. And very very engaging.

January 27, 2005

Shapiro, Jill Silver_nugget
[EEEB V1010] The Human Species: Its Place in Nature

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

Amazing professor, fascinating but difficult class.
1: PROFESSOR REVIEW. Professor Shapiro is the most enthusiastic and best organized professor that I’ve encountered yet. One senior who took the course with me said, “This is the kind of professor I’ve been waiting for for 3 years.” She’s very kind, and while she expects a lot from her students, she is unambiguous about those expectations. During each lecture, she writes outlines on the board of everything related to the day’s topic that we must know for the exams. If she says something during the lecture but it’s not written on the board, we aren’t expected to know it. This system makes explicit what we need to study for and what we don’t.

2: CLASS CONTENT. The course has four sequences: (1), a simplified overview of evolutionary biology, (2) an overview of the living primates, (3) a section on pre-hominid primate evolution, and (4) hominid evolution. The work for the first two sections was mostly reading, but in the last two sequences, much emphasis was placed on analyzing fossilized skeletal morphologies (especially skull casts during discussion section).

3: WORKLOAD. LOTS of memorization. Short required textbook readings (not essential), short required articles (essential), attendance at discussion sections (these recitations are definitely worthwhile). Midterm (one-third of grade) and non-cumulative Final (two-thirds of grade). Both tests required memorizing (i.e., being able to recite out loud) the lecture outlines, and understanding the required articles. Short answers on both tests, essays on the final only. AÂ’s are difficult, but with sufficient studying, youÂ’ll get a decent grade.

January 11, 2005

Shapiro, Jill Silver_nugget
[EEEB V1010] The Human Species: Its Place in Nature

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

I took Prof. ShapiroÂ’s class to fulfill my science requirement. IÂ’m glad I did for two reasons: (1) Prof Shapiro is aware that some students take this to fulfill a requirement and embraces this fact instead of resents it and (2) one can learn solid study strategies to add to their toolbox and use long after one forgets what allopatric speciation is.

Prof Shapiro rolls up her sleeves and digs into teaching up to her elbows. Within the first few weeks students get a rather long, (and I discovered after the mid-term) useful document on study strategies, as well as a long document on “class rules” with contact information. The web site for the course is excellent. It is clear Prof Shapiro puts a lot of thought and effort into every aspect of teaching this course. If you can play by the rules (which are not that difficult) and try to tackle the material, she will move mountains to help you. For example, she is very easy to contact and encourages students to take advantage of this. You can email her (most of my emails were answered within a day and the answers were friendly, informative and encouraging), she has regular office hours: go. She even allows students to telephone her at home!
There is a lot of material to cover in the course. Her objective seems to be that everyone will master the bulk of the material. Those who failed the mid-term were given the opportunity to enter into a “contract” where they would go through a series of steps to prove that they revisited and mastered the material (this includes meeting with her, she will help a lot if you show effort) and the student must agree to follow steps for the rest of the semester to avoid falling behind again. Fair, but strict and clearly beneficial. (She is focused and a strict taskmaster.)

The readings fit well with the lectures and are important when exam time comes around. She recommends reading the articles AFTER the lecture. I ignored this advice until the second half of the semester to my detriment. The lectures are good, I liked Prof Shapiro’s lecture style. Her lectures are fast, clear, and she peppers them with silly asides that are not gratuitous: She does it to help you remember something! For example for Homo habilis she said think of James Taylor’s “Handyman.” Sounds really silly, but these little things help. It is apparent that Prof Shapiro has sat down and asked herself “How can I present this material best?” For the dentition lecture, we bit into three different types of food and described which teeth we used for the initial bite. It is clear that she puts a lot of thought into every single aspect of the course, and I appreciated that a lot.

There is an average amount of reading for the class, but it covers a lot of material and one has to know it. (The articles are important!) The lectures are important. She usually brings a recent clipping from the NYTimes to each class that relates to the class. So, even during the semester, she is still trawling around for relevant information. The labs are generally not that great except for the ones we examined artifacts and skulls. (Shapiro keeps a record of who goes to the labs and good attendance reflects well on the student and translates into effort on her part to move mountains to give you help when you need it.) As a matter of note: she keeps cards with notes on each student, so she knows what’s going on with each student. The mid term is “time pressured” and detail oriented. The museum visit assignment (Prof Shapiro was at the museum to answer questions) got a groan and an eye roll from me but I ended up realizing it was a useful review for the final (if one studies a bit before doing the visit.) Overall, I highly recommend this course. Professor Shapiro is an excellent teacher who goes the extra mile for her students. If you meet her half way (and you must), she will do whatever she can to make sure you get something valuable out of the experience.

Workload:

Reading: average to a bit above average. Mid-term, Final, Museum Visit, Labs (not required but recommended)

January 04, 2005

Shapiro, Jill Silver_nugget
[EEEB V1010] The Human Species: Its Place in Nature

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

The best professor I've had at Columbia. She is absolutely crazy about anthropology, and by the end of this course you'll love it too. VERY CLEAR LECTURES, and the one class that I truly looked forward to because it was so interesting and because Prof. Shapiro is so funny. In contrast to many professors, Prof. Shapiro is great at teaching and explaining things so that they are fascinating. Wonderful course.

Workload:

The concepts aren't hard to grasp, but there's a ton of material to remember. Do not skip class - it's easy to fall behind.

December 20, 2004

Shapiro, Jill Silver_nugget
[EEEB V1010] The Human Species: Its Place in Nature

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

She is a great professor. The most important thing is going to class- she takes test questions right from her notes. And the lectures are excellent- not only are they interesting but well-organized. The first half of the class is more science-y, the second half is more interesting but a little more memorization, (concerning past primate species that eventually leads to the human species.) She is very helpful during her office hours. If you don't understand something, go right away or else you'll start lagging behind.

Workload:

Midterm, Museum Report (at the Natural History Museum), Final. Alot of reading every week, I recommend reading the textbook before class and the articles after. The midterm was alot of work with a little time. The museum report will really help you out with the finals- I recommend going twice if you want to really understand the class.

January 20, 2004

Valderrama, Ximena
[EEEB V1010] The Human Species: Its Place in Nature

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

Okay. People need to get a grip. The material for the course is really fascinating, and the text is easy to read and informative. True, Valderrama is not a gripping lecturer, but she can be really funny if you pay attention. The tests are very straightforward, and if you actually know the material, they are also very easy.

Workload:

Weekly multiple choice quizzes. 3 exams (not cumulative!). The lowest quiz and exam are dropped.

January 11, 2004

Valderrama, Ximena
[EEEB V1010] The Human Species: Its Place in Nature

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

My biggest problem with this class (other than the MIND-NUMBINGLY BORING lectures) was the fact that it was billed as an anthropology course and was, in actuality, a biology class. I went in expecting an anthropology class from the anthropology department and instead wound up with a series of strictly structured lectures on bones and how they have evolved over billions of years! It was almost as if she was trying hard to make this class unpleasant. If you do take this class I recommend taking it pass/fail because by the end you will be so BORED OUT OF YOUR MIND—I can not stress this point enough—that you will not go to class except to take the weekly mandatory quiz. The whole class is basically Ximena reading powerpoint slides out loud to the class (these slides are then posted online). If you dare interrupt her to ask a question, she looks surprised, seems slightly frazzled, and the entire class stirs and awakes from a haze. Each class a ray of hope may shine down upon you, and as if granted by the will of God, she deviates from the slides to speak to you like a human being and relay an anecdote about scientists or a personal story. And you will think, “Thank you God!" and then you will be let down. I left every class with the impression that Ximena was only teaching because she had to in between conducting research on monkeys. Only in the last few classes were all the facts about genetics and evolution made applicable to life today, and by that time I had lost all interest. AVOID THIS CLASS AT ALL COSTS.

Workload:

weekly quiz that counts for 10% of the grade (you can drop one). three midterms instead of a standard midterm and final (you can drop one). Questions require two to three sentence answers. Two article summaries due in November that are strictly structured and like everything else in this class BORING.

January 11, 2004

Valderrama, Ximena
[EEEB V1010] The Human Species: Its Place in Nature

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

Alright, maybe some of the reviews of Valderrama are unfair (particularly the one comparing her to Hal from A Space Odyssey 2003), but it is true that she clearly does not want to be teaching. She would much rather be researching monkeys. The most excited I saw her all semester was when she related how jealous all the scientists were of the bonobo monkeys who had free sex to increase social bonds. But when all is said and done, at an incredible university like Columbia, why would you waste your time taking a class from a teacher who doesn't want to be there and who the best thing that can be said about her is "she isn't that bad"?

Workload:

weekly quizzes (you can drop one. recommend spending the class studying for the quiz instead of paying attention to lecture). three midterms (drop one, probably the second which many students failed). two article summaries (piece of cake, but arbitrary points taken off)

January 02, 2004

Valderrama, Ximena
[EEEB V1010] The Human Species: Its Place in Nature

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

The memorization so breezily cast off as simple has been misrepresented. The second block of subject matter, between midterms uno and deuce, is commensurate in its enormity only with the human capacity for regret at not having just gone ahead and taken biology like a real student. Those interested in anthropology and evolution in their own respective rights will be saddened at the boring, sprawling, going-through-the-motions mess of which they are made. Those looking to be challenged will be met not with intellectual stimulation- for the lectures are deadening, the readings are repetitive, and the textbook is, well, silly- but with the drudgery of having to devote entirely too much attention to a class from which they will ultimately take nothing beyond vague memories of the significance of the positioning of the foramen magnum in the long, boring cline of the australopithecine.
Those wishing to take the bull by the horns, the quiz every Monday, the eternal chafing of quiet despair- I offer you this advice:
The dropping of the lowest midterm grade means it's real easy to just get that 26 on the second exam. As for studying for quizzes during lectures, it's not only efficient- it's the only way to pass them. Midterm three is, after the war of attrition that was Midterm two, like walking on sunshine, especially if you read the text. Third semester outside readings were not featured on the exam at all. Onward, soldiers.

Workload:

3 exams (lowest dropped), weekly quiz (HARD, lowest dropped), 2 article summaries (10 hilarious percent of the final grade) and a required museum trip.

December 18, 2003

Valderrama, Ximena
[EEEB V1010] The Human Species: Its Place in Nature

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

Oh my God. Dr. Valderrama is perhaps the biggest plague to hit Columbia in its 250 year history. She not only has no idea what she is talking about (I stopped counting the number of misfacts she threw out by the second week of school), but she is simply not a nice person. Her lectures are bona-fide torture chambers, her quizzes force students to come to lecture once a week (otherwise, I guarantee you the class would be empty), and her exams, while hardly challenging (they are pure spitback), are the most nit-picky things I have ever come across on this campus (she takes off for spelling). However, there are 2 positives about the class: 1) if you do well on the first 2 midterms, the final bears no weight on your grade (I basically stopped working after the second midterm), and 2) it requires very little mental activity aside from raw memorization.

Workload:

weekly quizzes, 2 article summaries, museum trip, 2 midterms, final. hardly challenging even for a non-science person.

December 13, 2003

Valderrama, Ximena
[EEEB V1010] The Human Species: Its Place in Nature

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

There is a lot of memorization in this class, but that just makes the quizzes and midterms that much easier. The lectures are well organized and presented on power point slides that are posted online after class. So, you only need to go to class for the quizzes, which are very easy if you go over the notes once beforehand. There are two midterms and a final, and Ximena drops the lowest grade of these not very difficult tests, which is definitely a plus. Ximena basically reads her power point, but she manages to crack some jokes and get laughs. Especially toward the end of the semester, when we got into more complex material, Ximena got more animated, funny, and interesting. There is no better or easier class you could take to fulfill the science requirment if you don't like science. This course was an overall good experience. If you have questions though, talk to the ta's because Ximena's not that good at answering them.

Workload:

not bad at all - two short article summaries, some reading which is unnecesary, weekly easy quizzes, two midterms and a final

December 13, 2003

Valderrama, Ximena
[EEEB V1010] The Human Species: Its Place in Nature

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

I think that all the negative reviews Prof. Valderrama has been getting have been very unfair - this class is definately not as painful as it has been made to sound. First of all, instead of complaining that the material is simply memorization, my friends and I were extremely grateful for a class like this in the middle of all our papers. Not only are the readings extremely light, but after the first midterm they become completely unneccesary. Yes, the memorization is considerable, but the concepts are about as easy as any class can get, and all that needs to be done on either of the two midterms is regurgitation of facts.
Prof. Valderrama isn't the best lecturer, but you only have to go to take the quizzes, (her lectures are online) which are, again, completely memorization and extremely easy. The material, as with any intro course, isn't going to be the most fascinating, but when we got into talking about subjects that actually applied to her work she was very knowledgable and excited. I don't think there is a prof out there that could make taxonomy interesting.
If you hate science, this is the easiest way to fulfill your requirement, and the most painless if it is done correctly. I especially recommend this class if you have ANY biology background at all, because it is a summary of the most basic evolutionary concepts up to the first midterm, which will be simple. Don't go to lecture unless there is a quiz, and study for the upcoming quiz during the lectures you do attend. This way time spent studying is minimal. Don't expect the material to be interesting, but do expect to leave with a working knowldge of every single step along the evolutionary chain to modern humans - which is not so bad in itself.
That being said, I really enjoyed this class simply because the material was so easy and the lectures basically optional.

Workload:

Two midterms and final - none of which are cumulative and one of which is dropped (if you play your cards right, the final won't even matter). Two article summaries, one trip to the museum of Natural History, which is annoying, and easy weekly quizzes on her lectures.

November 20, 2003

Valderrama, Ximena
[EEEB V1010] The Human Species: Its Place in Nature

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

I don't usually skip class. I like to think of myself as intellectually curious, and I usually have the problem of attending too many classes rather than too few. But even the thought of going to this class makes me uncomfortable -- depressed, and sick to my stomach. This is easily the worst class I've taken at Columbia, and I'm a Junior, so I've taken enough to know what's typical. The Professor, quite frankly, cannot teach, which in itself wouldn't be so bad if we weren't forced to attend class to take weekly quizes. The material is not particularly difficult, but it requires a great deal of memorization, mainly from the notes that are posted online. These notes, by the way, are an exact copy of the power point presentation that she reads aloud in the torturous endurance trials that she tries to pass off as lectures. In my opinion, she doesn't want to teach, and I don't want to make her. I skip whenever possible.

Workload:

Weekly quizzes, two article summaries, 2 midterms, and a final.

November 17, 2003

Valderrama, Ximena
[EEEB V1010] The Human Species: Its Place in Nature

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

I took the class under the impression that the tests wouldn't be that hard. Unless you memorize EVERYTHING that she covers, the tests are indeed impossible. You really only have to go once a week to take the quiz- there's online notes. reading the notes online actually was better for me than going to that class-when i tried to take notes i fell asleep.

Workload:

weekly quizzes, 2 impossible midterms, 2 article summaries, final. curved at the end.

January 15, 2003

Valderrama, Ximena
[EEEB V1010] The Human Species: Its Place in Nature

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

She's really not that bad. I mean, she isn't the most inspiring speaker, and if you're looking for some brilliance then, yeah, try somewhere else. But I believe that this course, which covers a WHOLE LOTTA material, was very nicely laid out. And I would credit this to the teacher. So that's a plus. The class is pretty straightforward. The key is memorization. And I found her very easy to approach outside of class. I don't think her quizzes were that stuck on detail, cause the truth is, in the end you either know it or you don't. Basically, if you're up for some tedious but easy memorization, and some short but overly factual and detailed lectures then go for it. It's not bad stuff.

Workload:

Weekly quizzes, two article reviews (way easy), mid-term, and final.

January 01, 2003

Valderrama, Ximena
[EEEB V1010] The Human Species: Its Place in Nature

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

Perhaps the biggest waste of my time and money imaginable. Prof. Valderrama managed to turn a fascinating subject into the definitive course from hell. It was quite a feat and involved hours of droning "lectures" (a.k.a. literally reading from a pre-prepared script), ridiculously picky weekly quizzes, and a complete failure to grasp the class' questions (so I am sure that you can imagine her "answers"...). Although the material itself requires a certain amount of rote memorization, Valderrama focused only on these small details and never clearly presented the bigger picture. Sure, she may be a new teacher, but this does not excuse her complete inability to communicate ideas in a logically structured fashion. The only satisfaction I got from the course was in the irony the a class on what it means to be human was "taught" by a robot.

Workload:

Discussions sections are pointless bitch-about-valderrama sessions; weekly quizzes are hard; MIDTERM AND FINAL ARE IMPOSSIBLE- I wish that I had just stayed home to watch Trading Spaces.

November 30, 2002

Valderrama, Ximena
[EEEB V1010] The Human Species: Its Place in Nature

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

Yes, prof Valderrama is boring but I dont think she deserves the very harsh revies she's been getting here (and in discussion section). She's a brand new professor, and has spent most of her time before this earning her phd studying monkeys. The first few lectures were brutal, but she got feedback form the students and ta's and changed. She slowed down her delivery, and made notes available online. She tries to joke every now and then, but those dont work out (becuase she's jsut getting the feel of being a professor and cause no one will give her a chance). The material is interesting but also requires memorization of latin names and physical featues. Thats not her fault, its what the course is about. The midterm is tough, but not incredibly hard as some would lead you to believe, let me say that the previous professor for this course was well liked and gave a much harder midterm. If you want to learn about human evolution, take the course, and if you want to stay away form other 2 part science sequences, take it as well. At worst you can skip class and read the notes online.

Workload:

weekly quizes (5 multiple choice questions), 2 article summmaries, midterm, final

November 30, 2002

Shapiro, Jill Silver_nugget
[EEEB V1010] The Human Species: Its Place in Nature

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

How anyone could ever submit a negative review about Professor Shapiro or this class is completely beyond me. This class ROCKED MY WORLD!!!! Professor Shapiro is, without a doubt, the greatest teacher Columbia has EVER seen. As a bright-eyed first-year, I walked into her class, and I'm sorry I had to leave. This was my first encounter with a true New Yorker, who talked faster than I could think and whose enthusiasm for oranguatans and fossils filled the room and our brains. Her love for the subject, for teaching and most importantly, for her students made the work load okay. Yes, it was a hard class. But she warned us the first day, and every day afterward. If you don't have any interest in evolution, this probably isn't the class for you (although you're still better off here than in chemistry if you're science-phobic). If you have any miniscule interest in the subject, you will leave her class completely enthralled. So TAKE THIS CLASS!!!! One problem: Professor Shapiro isn't teaching it any more. Unfortunately, the university is allowing the anthropology department to rid itself of its physical anthropology component, so Professor Shapiro is now working as a dean in the junior class center, where her incredible knowledge and enthusiasm of human evolution languishes. If you care at all about such an amazing field, let the university know that you want this importat subject taught, and you want this incredible woman back teaching it!

Workload:

So it was hard. A midterm (1/3) and a final (2/3) with weekly readings and a museum project (which was incredibly helpful for the final and a lot of fun, besides). Don't worry, if you go to her office hours, she WILL get you through and she won't fail anyone who tries.

November 23, 2002

Valderrama, Ximena
[EEEB V1010] The Human Species: Its Place in Nature

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

send this woman back to the congo. lectures are painful to sit through as she delivers them in a voice that is a decent imitation of "hal" in 2001: a space odyssey. totally humorless and passionless about what she teaches. a collective sigh of relief can be heard at the end of each lecture. the ta's, however, are the saving grace of this class -- jessica and paul are disarmingly funny and help to clarify the loads of information vomited out by valderrama in lecture. really, valderrama is unnecessary -- it would be better if she just stayed in the lab and got one of the ta's to point and click through the powerpoint slides.

Workload:

average to heavy -- weekly quizzes, 2 short article summaries, difficult midterm & final. pure memorization of facts -- no insight or thought required.

November 04, 2002

Valderrama, Ximena
[EEEB V1010] The Human Species: Its Place in Nature

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

semester: fall 2002 this woman is the most boring teacher i've had since 3rd grade. all she does is read her notes to the class for an hour & then tells us to leave. she tells us all these scientific terms like we know what they are & gets really REALLY excited when we talk about monkeys. she has like 10 ta's who just sit around the class & make sure no one falls alseep. i guess she knows that she sucks as a teacher since she puts all her notes on courseworks, so one really only has to go to class when there are quizzes. personally, i wouldn't take the class if it wasn't part of my scince req.

Workload:

really all you have to do is study for quizzes. she gives a god-awful amount of notes, but you can just print them off of courseworks. the midterm is hard as balls though.

January 22, 2002

Shapiro, Jill Silver_nugget
[EEEB V1010] The Human Species: Its Place in Nature

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

Two words--pretty hard. If you're looking for an easy A forget about it, if you're for an easy B forget about it. 1/4 of the class failed the midterm, need I say more? Shes NOT THAT great of a professor, people seem to rave about her but shes really not that approachable unless you can recite all the articles she gave and even then she can make you feel stupid in a second. Eh, cute class, but don't expect a break. Choosers BEWARE.

Workload:

GO TO LECTURES!!!! LOTS OF MEMORIZATION FOR FINAL!!!!!!! Museum trip that is awesomly long. (it is awesome for a reason)

January 21, 2002

Shapiro, Jill Silver_nugget
[EEEB V1010] The Human Species: Its Place in Nature

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

After years of swearing to leave, Prof. Shapiro has, and that's a shame; she's a gem. She is the only redeeming thing about this class. I can't imagine wading through the only vaguely interesting high school bio review, primate facts, and endless lists of primate and human ancestors were it not for the promise of being taught by her.

Workload:

Silly textbook readings and a long list of articles; museum project that will eat five or so hours and be promptly forgotten; midterm; final. The physical workload is next to nothing, but the amount of memorization for the midterm and final is sadistic. Beware. The weekly recitation is recommended, but not really required.

December 03, 2001

Shapiro, Jill Silver_nugget
[EEEB V1010] The Human Species: Its Place in Nature

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

A perfect example of why a great professor does not always make for a great class. Shapiro is one of the best profs at Columbia, hands down; her energy and passion fill the room and reverberate off the walls. Her lectures are incredibly well organized and make for great notes. In addition to being an expert in her field, she seems to know everything there is to know about both pop and haute culture, filling her lectures to the brim with references to everything from obscure, artsy foreign films to cheesy 80's pop to The Simpsons. Slightly insane and a virtual wellspring of corny jokes, but always incredibly engaging. Also really dedicated to her students; on Sept. 11 she sent out her home number and told students they could call as late as 3 am if they wanted to talk for any reason. Very clear about the course requirements, INCREDIBLE about answering students' questions, just overall a fantastic, brilliant teacher who makes students her #1 priority. You almost forget while you're under her spell that you're being forced to memorize a bunch of long Latin names and annoying details about every single known human ancestor. Not her course, she only fills in from time to time, and I suspect it would be a better class if she took more liberties with it. Recommended for the experience of having her, and because it's a way of fulfilling the science requirement without having to take a lab, but you won't likely find the material itself particularly thrilling.

Workload:

Short textbook reading and 3 or 4 articles due every class. Textbook readings are useless, but read the articles carefully. Going to class also a must. Mandatory, time-consuming trip to the Natural History Museum, midterm (super-picky but easy if you have a decent science background), and final (study your ass off). No papers, problem sets, or written work of any sort (except study guide from aforementioned field trip.

September 09, 2001

Shapiro, Jill Silver_nugget
[EEEB V1010] The Human Species: Its Place in Nature

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

I took this class two years ago, but it's still one of my favorites. I LOVE Jill Shapiro, she will always amuse (to some people, annoy) you and she's very committed to helping you pass the class. An excellent teacher, very organized, and very helpful.

Workload:

Fair amount of reading, second half of course deals with lots of memorization.

December 31, 1999

Shapiro, Jill Silver_nugget
[EEEB V1010] The Human Species: Its Place in Nature

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

I took this class over the summer as part of the anthro science sequence. Overall, I feel that this class was more interesting than the next semester's Behavioral Biology of Living Primates. There's quite a bit of material to memorize in this class, and it didn't help that everything was compressed into one summer session. There's also one project where you have to go to the American Museum of Natural History and spend literally at least half a day copying down tons of information that you're just going to forget anyways. Decent class I suppose. The professor has a great personality and obviously tries to get students interested in the material. I do respect the fact that Prof Shapiro cares a lot about teaching unlike many of the other klumps Columbia hires to do research.

December 31, 1999

Shapiro, Jill Silver_nugget
[EEEB V1010] The Human Species: Its Place in Nature

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

Professor Shapiro has an excellent teaching method. She is articulate and exciting, and displays an obvious passion for Anthropology. A note to those who don't actually like Anthropology but are taking the class to fill a science requirement Don't. If the origins of humans interests you, it won't be so hard to pick up the bunch of different species names, but if it doesn't, be prepared to memorize gobbledegook and hope to understand it. Also, since the textbook almost never covers what's "current" in Anthropology, don't expect to not go to the lectures, do the reading, and pass.

Workload:

Reasonable amounts of reading, midterm, visit to Natural History Museum and Final

December 31, 1999

Melnick, Don
[EEEB V1010] The Human Species: Its Place in Nature

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

Intelligent, focused and well-dressed. As an important leader in the field of Environmental sciences, Melnick is an eco-pimp. Class participation is not valued or encouraged in large classes, a fact disceranible by his visible discomfort when answering the occasional student question. The Human Species class is a relatively painless way to satisfy the science requirement and leads into the Behavioral Bio course as a sequence. A fair amount of time is required to memorize time-lines and genus/species names. Still, his interest in the field and tight organization makes it a good class. The textbook is reminiscent of High-School science (margins loaded with definitions, pictures and the occasional illustrated guest essay).

Workload:

Midterm and Final exams.

December 31, 1999

Shapiro, Jill Silver_nugget
[EEEB V1010] The Human Species: Its Place in Nature

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

Thinking about taking this class because you think it's going to be an easy science req class? Expect to memorize tons and tons of crap that you will quickly forget. Very boring subject matter.

Workload:

museum project, midterm, final.

Directory Data

Dept/Subj Directory Course Professor Year Semester Time Section
EEEB / EEEB EEEB EEEB V1010: Human Species Its Place in Nature Jill Shapiro 2008 Fall MW / 10:35-11:50 AM 1