January 16, 2015

Lincoln, Edward
[W4325] Economic Organization and Development of Japan

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

AVOID THIS CLASS AT ALL COSTS!!!!!! AVOID! AVOID! TURN AROUND!

If someone tells you this class is NOT THAT BAD, THEY ARE BULLSHITTING YOU. I like probably everyone else in this class figured it'd be worth the sacrifice to knock an Econ elective and a Global Core out with the same course, and how bad could it be?

Answer: really fucking bad.

This class was an exercise in torture, honestly. Prof. Lincoln is actually quite a nice guy, approachable, knowledgeable, but lectures are a fucking PAIN IN THE ASS. 8:40 am and you have to haul ass to Mudd, only to watch the prof read off his lectures and summarize the readings (so don't bother doing them) and contribute nothing that makes the lecture itself worth going to. And worse: he passes around an attendance sheet. Better hope you have a decent number of friends in the class so you can share the sign in process and never attend more than say 5 lectures total. I've always thought profs who pass around sign in sheets are too lazy to make their lectures worth going to -- I only skip classes that aren't actually helpful with the course material; I never skip lectures that are enjoyable or actually help me understand the material beyond my just reading the textbook/lecture notes on my own time -- and this course is a PERFECT EXAMPLE of this.

The exams are hard -- entirely open-ended questions in which you need to write certain terms in the answers to receive credit, or remember not just the specifics about what happened but what specific economists say about events (for example, easily could see a qu that is like, what did X economist think caused Y event; and the next qu would be, what did Z economist think about the same Y event), and partial credit is virtually nonexistent. The tests are based entirely on memorization -- of Japan's entire economic history from like the year 1600 to the present, AND what economists think about it!

Bulk of your grade comes from a final paper that everyone pretty much writes two days before it's due. You can pick any topic you want, as long as it's related to the course in some way, essentially. It's a good experience (especially in preparation of writing an Econ seminar paper) since no other Econ class I've ever taken/heard of requires a 3000 word analytical paper. But like everything else in this course, it'll blindside you. I skipped class for weeks and weeks and then had to pull an all nighter for the midterm, promised myself it wouldn't happen again, but it happened again for the paper and then for the final. That is all definitely my fault, but if the lectures/teaching had been worthwhile at all I wouldn't have felt like i was learning an entire country's history in a night before each exam.

Also prof is just weird. Collected all the final papers on the last day of class (as in like December 7) and said we wouldn't be getting our final grades until "after January 7" because he was "going home to DC to spend time with his family." The TAs proctored and graded the final exams I am pretty sure and did a first read on all the papers. He commutes from DC for lecture every week so I doubly don't understand why it is that early in the morning, and he only holds office hours immediately before/after class.

This class was literally the bane of my existence this past semester. If you're convinced you want to take it, don't take it as a senior. By the third week of class I didn't even bother pretending I would try to show up for Thursday morning lectures. Many thanks to all my friends in the course who signed me in at least once (or in some cases over and over again) -- I owe you a meal.

Workload:

20% midterm (something like 25 open ended qus)
30% final (something like 40 open ended qus + an economic model question of some sort)
40% final paper (2500+ words not including graphs)
10% attendance

No problem sets which makes it impossible to keep up with coursework unless you have literally nothing else to think about.

As far as I can tell, there was essentially no curve. The numerical calculation of my grade based on the breakdown was <0.5% from the letter grade I received.