January 05, 2012

Okihiro, Gary Silver_nugget
Introduction to Comparative Ethnic Studies

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

This is the quintessential global core class. It speaks directly to the white-thought-heavy core curriculum that Columbia forces students to take, making you wonder if the education you receive here is actually racially/ethnically skewed. Still, it provides wonderful balance to the white authors/playwrights/philosophers we study in the core that have frequently been touted as the height of civilization.

Prof. Okihiro is clearly an intelligent man, and an eminent scholar in the field. Although his ramblings make it hard to follow him at times, his passion for the subject is evident, and he gets his point across 9 times out of 10. He's funny, and drops heavy hints as to what will appear on the midterm/final, so be sure to attend lectures.

The lecture is huge (about 100-200 people), so this might make it intimidating to share your opinion in class, but a lot of people still do, and it is refreshing to hear what some people have to say on the topic at hand. Okihiro welcomes students' participation, and it is actually one of the things you'll be graded upon, so you should speak up both in lectures and in discussion sections. Your TA will be the one grading you on attendance/participation—I think he/she grades your midterm/final as well—so be sure to attend recitations. It's not hard to get a grade in the A range if you faithfully attend lectures/recitations, do the readings, and participate occasionally in class.

Workload:

About 100 pages of reading per week; a weekly response to the week's readings (in the form of a question); a midterm and a final. Format of the final will be either in-class or take-home depending on how you and your classmates vote. Grading components are attendance/discussion (15%), weekly discussion questions (15%), midterm (30%), final (30%).