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Although the first week of classes is over, you may still be looking for a course that will make fall 2020 as engaging as possible. With the shopping period fully underway, Spectrum presents our top picks for courses at Columbia and Barnard.

Ariana Novo

University Writing: Readings in Gender and Sexuality with Teaching Fellow Sarah Rosenthal

“While it may be a required course, students generally have the option to choose which section they’d like for University Writing (even if it means switching into it). As an engineering student, I don’t have many opportunities to explore topics that don’t pertain to my major or concentration, but this class helped me understand the pervasiveness of gender and sexuality. The class explored how it affects not only my career path, but the relationships I have with the people around me, how the media affects my perception of society, and the intersectionality among human traits. While the subject matter can be intimate, the professors will work to create a safe and fun environment for learning where students feel able to openly contribute, leading to intriguing discussions that continued outside the classroom. Sarah Rosenthal did exactly that as a UW instructor although she is teaching Readings in Medical Humanities this semester”

Haleigh Stewart

The Origins Of Human Society with Professor Camilla Sturm

“The Origins of Human Society is a course in the Anthropology department that is taught by professor Camilla Sturm. The title says it all: This course takes you through a journey, beginning six million years ago, of how and why our species emerged into the social and political beings that we are today. What first attracted me to this course was its interdisciplinary approach; it addressed human development through a philosophical, archaeological, and evolutionary perspective. From diving headfirst into the major debates regarding evolutionary theory, to the development of human sexuality, to the domestication of plants and pets, to the framework of social inequality. In a world so fixated on human divisions, The Origins of Human Society is a breath of fresh air, reminding all students who take it that we are all humans.”

Jane Mok

Intro to American Politics with Professor Michael Miller

“As someone who grew up outside of the United States, I never got around to taking proper classes on the American political system, aside from the occasional YouTube crash course and what I could gauge through the New York Times or Foreign Affairs. This class really illuminated me on the history and mechanics of American politics and gave me much a clearer idea of why the United States is how it is. This is a great class if you want to better understand what you see on the news and the going-ons in the United States, even if you’re not inclined to doing a political science major!”

Jazilah Salam

Civil Rights and Civil Liberties with Professor Paula Franzese

“Professor Franzese is hands down one of the best professors I’ve had at Columbia or Barnard. Her course covers important topics such as housing rights and free speech, and even though it is a class of about 50 students, she tries to engage and include everyone in the discussion by treating it like a law school class. She assigns insightful texts that I continue to go back to even now, and invites captivating guest speakers to join her lectures, such as authors whose books we read in class or lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union. Most importantly, she makes her classroom feel like a safe space and supports her students.”

Lina Bennani Karim

The Interpretation of Culture with Professor Brian Larkin**

“Anthropology major or not, you will find this class amazing, and this guarantee is coming from a STEM major. This class was such a great introduction to the demands and rigor of college classes when I took it as a first-year. There was a decent amount of reading for every class, and participation in both class and recitation were a must. It really pushed me out of my comfort zone and definitely helped me get used to college classes faster than I expected. The material was also very interesting because it was always about different areas of the world and sometimes covered very niche topics I never would have thought of myself.”

** Professor not teaching in Fall 2020.

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