Review Comment

[CSER W1040] Critical Approaches to the Study of Race and Ethnicity

July 30, 2020

Lee, Jennifer
[CSER W1040] Critical Approaches to the Study of Race and Ethnicity

I have mixed feelings about this class. For the most part, I liked it I think it was very informative and data-driven. You can tell Professor Lee is super smart, very informed, and an engaging lecturer. Her lectures are filled with studies and she explains them very well.

She also provides all the readings material for the class, and she says this is because she wants to be inclusive, which as an FGLI student I agree and I appreciate she did this. Both her exams are in-class essays but you are given the prompt a week before and it's open book. Most people would just type their essays and then write it in the blue book. She did this because she wanted to be inclusive to those who did not have laptops.

I will say though she doesn't take BS. She has very clear expectations from you and does not allow any flexibility. I think her expectations are fair, she just expects you to do all the readings and do NOT miss the exam. She would always emphasize that if you missed the exams you will fail and she will not let you do them at another time, no exceptions. This bothered me because if you're going to claim to be so inclusive having rigid policies like this affects the most vulnerable students. Another issue I had with her was that she would say very elitist things (like making it seem like Columbia/Ivy League students are better, and idk who needs to hear this but you're not), which bothered me coming from someone who claimed to be so inclusive. Finally, it also bothered me that she didn't really talk about the different races that exist within the Latinx identity, which completely dismisses Afro Latinxs and Indigenous Latinxs.

Overall, I would recommend the class, just be aware about what I stated above. Especially if you're interested in research, hearing her thought process from the research/ studies she conducted helped me frame my research better.


Readings every week (very manageable)
1 midterm + 1 Final Essay, both in class but you get the prompt a week before/ open book

December 31, 2019

Lee, Jennifer
[CSER W1040] Critical Approaches to the Study of Race and Ethnicity

if you can stay far awaaaayyy from this course... the absolute biggest regret I have at columbia is taking this course with this professor I should've listened to my friends and taken Race and Racisms instead

Class was s extremely disheartening to see an established professor conduct her class like not take this course periodddd


4-5 Readings every week ~1.5-2 hrs
1 midterm + 1 final + participation (both midterm and final were in class essays)

June 18, 2012

Wills, David
[CSER W1040] Critical Approaches to the Study of Race and Ethnicity

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

This class will forever go down as one of the best classes I've ever taken. David is an outstanding person - hilarious, articulate, and adorable. You will wish class came more often. The readings are dense, and there are many, but learn to skim and absorb and you'll fare well. You'll show up to class expecting the conversation to go one way, and then ending up somewhere completely different. David has a keen interest in (often archaic (German)) philosophy, so expect that to play a major role. One moment, you'll be discussing "projecting myths onto bodies" in very abstract terms, and the next, you'll realize how relevant that is to the latest episode of Teen Mom! I kid you not, we spent part of a class discussing that program.

This is the kind of class that will (hopefully!) have reunions in the future. David gives you a lot of room to design your own essay topics and projects - probably in part because he's a young teacher, but also because he's genuinely interested in seeing what you can come up with. This can be daunting, especially in considering all the material you've covered, but don't sweat it. He really just wants to hear you speak about something you're interested in, and who better to ask the right questions than you?

I left this class with an entirely new understanding of race, ethnicity, privilege, prejudice, myth, and intersectionality. I feel I can engage in these kinds of discussions with a strong foundation (I can use the words "discourse" and "normative" and really mean them!) in the subjects, but more importantly, I can listen and be open. Because if the class taught me anything, it's the these concepts are ever-shifting, and always-crucial. In short: everyone should be required to take this class. You WILL learn something, you will in all likelihood love it, and you will want to pursue the subject more.


There are quite a lot of readings (not always crucial but very helpful anyways), a weekly 1-2pg paper (you can literally write about anything), a 5-7pg midterm and a 7-9pg final. As previously stated, the topics of the final and midterm are really designed by you.

Directory Data

Dept/Subj Directory Course Professor Year Semester Time Section
CSER / CSER CSER CSER W1040: Crit Appro-Study of Eth & Race Clinton Wills 2012 Spring MW / 5:40- 6:55 PM 1