December 13, 2010

Weinstein, David Silver_nugget
[W4325] Economic Organization and Development of Japan

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

Weinstein is a very good professor, a strong lecturer, and a genuinely nice man. His class is a 50/50 blend of Japanese history and economic application, with a focus on history in the first half of the course. His lectures are all structured and run off a powerpoint, but he will occasionally draw a graph or equation on the board, and what he writes is often the most important in terms of what might show up on a test.

Personally, I didn’t find the material that exciting, and I don’t think this class pretends to be teaching you anything groundbreaking or unique – it’s a history class with graphs. It is certainly not an easy class, but unlike classes that are just impossible for the sake of it, there is about as direct a correlation as I’ve seen in terms of work/effort to one’s grade. The midterm/final are difficult, but fair (54/77 was the median, whatever that comes out to). The bulk of the grade for the class comes from a 2500-3000 word research essay in which he asks you to develop a question from primary data, and structure an argument/try to answer that question. Not an easy paper to write, but if you find a topic that you find interesting (and most importantly, has a lot of primary data), it can sort of write itself.

This was not one of my favorite econ electives, but it was a solid one nonetheless. I really respect Weinstein as a passionate lecturer and very intelligent guy. I would recommend it to those with interest in Japan (obviously…), or the history of economics.

Workload:

Readings, but not required, and don’t show up on exams. 10% participation component… asks for your name every time you answer a question, it’s funny how every time, right after he calls on you, like clockwork – “uh, um, ok, and can you uh… oh I forgot it! Can you tell me your name?” “” “Ah yes! ”

Anyway, midterm (fair- 20%) final (fair- 30%) paper (40%- get out of it what you put into it) participation (10%)