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Believe it or not, the semester’s almost over. How can we tell? All the major semester check points are flying past: In-person housing selection is done, Bacchanal is a thing of the past, the Varsity Show tickets are now available for purchase, and course registration begins in exactly a week from today.

Over the next seven days, we’re going to be producing a ton of content targeted at helping you get through your gen ed requirements in as pain-free of a way as possible. Today, in addition to talking about both Columbia’s science requirement and Barnard’s quantitative reasoning requirement, we’ll also focus on Barnard’s one-semester Thinking Through Global Inquiry requirement.

Thinking Through Global Inquiry is fulfilled by classes that target other countries’ cultures. The best thing about it is that a ton of classes will satisfy this requirement—it’s so broad that you may have already taken a class that will fulfill this requirement without even noticing—but if you still need this one checked off, here are our recommendations.

Democracy and Dictatorship Eur (POS-UN3401)

There are a couple of pros to taking this class. First, you can choose to have it double up with either your Thinking about Social Difference or Thinking with Historical Perspective requirement. Second, this class will be taught by Sheri Berman, who has gotten really good reviews on CULPA—in one, the writer says that they have “never been so inspired by a course.”

The workload of this class generally consists of two take-home midterms and a take-home final, which isn’t too much. However, this is a political science class, so there will be a decent amount of reading each week. You’ll need to do a majority of the reading in order to write a convincing midterm/final, but fortunately for you, there’s a way to get a lot out of a reading even when you can’t sit down and read it properly.

  • Professor: Sheri Berman
  • Time: MW 11:40 a.m.-12:55 p.m.
  • Credits: Three
  • Discussion? No

Classical Myth (CULT-UN3132)

As the title suggests, this class will focus on classical myths—writers such as (according to the course directory) Homer, Hesiod, Aeschylus, Euripides, Sophocles, Vergil, Livy, and Ovid. If you’re interested in learning more about classical writers and philosophers (or if your major relies heavily on knowing a bit about such philosophies), this class might be for you.

However, note that most people give a mixed review of this class. Most people say that even though the weekly readings are manageable, the tests are straight-forward, and the essays are easy to do, the lectures can be a bit boring. If you’re looking for the easy grade, this is great. If you’re looking for something more inspiring, you’ll probably need a pre-existing interest in the topic.

  • Professor: Helene Foley
  • Time: TR 2:40-3:55 p.m.
  • Credits: Three
  • Discussion? No

Introduction to Architecture (AHIS-UN1007)

This is a prereq for all architecture majors, but it’s also a lecture class that’s open to everyone. In this class, you’ll look at famous structures across all time periods and cultures—according to its course directory page, you’ll study “architecture from both the Western canon and cultures of the ancient Americas and of the Hindu, Buddhist, and Islamic faiths.”

The workload of the class is also manageable—a handful of short responses to readings and lectures, short identification quizzes, a short “visual analysis paper,” and a final.

There’s only one review on CULPA for Professor Waters, but the writer thinks that’s because he might be a newcomer at Columbia. Taking a class taught by him could be a risk because not too many people can give their opinion on his teaching style and class. However, take comfort in the fact that the reviewer spoke very highly of him—they said he was “excellent” and saw a “gold nugget in the making.”

  • Professor: Michael Waters
  • Time: MW 10:10-11:25 p.m.
  • Credits: Four
  • Discussion? Yes

Modernism (ENGL-BC3195)

This one is taught nearly every semester. In the fall, the professor will be Margaret Vandenburg, who consistently gets good reviews on CULPA. The workload is also relatively light (usually a written midterm, short research paper, and take-home final), but modernism is a difficult genre even for English majors. If you’re looking for something that’s a bit more walk-in-the-park contentwise, you might want to look elsewhere. However, if you’re interested in taking something cool for the purpose of learning, definitely give this a go. You can always choose to P/D/F it, after all.

  • Professor: Margaret Vandenburg
  • Time: TR 2:40-3:55 p.m.
  • Credits: Three
  • Discussion? No

Honorable Mentions

I personally was a big fan of Introduction to Art History (AHIS-BC1001), which is your pretty traditional look-at-art-and-analyze-it class. I took it in the spring with Anne Higonnet, when it focused on the Renaissance period and after. If you do decide to take Art History in the fall, it will focus on the Paleolithic era until the Renaissance, which many people have expressed is much more boring.

  • Professor: TBA
  • Time: MW 2:40-3:55 p.m.
  • Credits: Four
  • Discussion? Yes

Back in the day, we wrote a feature on Emily Sun, who teaches Introduction to Comparative Literature (CPLT-BC3001). Overall, her class gets great reviews, and you can chose to double count this class with your Arts/Humanities requirement.

  • Professor: Emily Sun
  • Time: MW 11:40 a.m.-12:55 p.m.
  • Credits: Three
  • Discussion? No

Classes you may not have known counted toward this requirement

  • Elementary/Intermediate Spanish I and II
  • Elementary Portuguese I and II
  • Judaism
  • Islam
  • Feminist Theory
  • Jazz
  • Introduction to East Asian Civilization: China/Japan/Tibet
  • African Civilization

Just remember: Barnard didn’t create the Foundations curriculum just to be a pain in your side, but instead to give you a well-rounded ~liberal arts~ education. Embrace it while you still can.

Have another Thinking Through Global Inquiry class that you would recommend? Let us know on our Facebook, Twitter, or Snapchat @CUSpectrum.

Veronica Grace Taleon is Spectrum’s editor and a Barnard sophomore. Deciding whether to include Democracy and Dictatorship class was a semi-dilemma; that course is currently on her planned schedule, and she doesn’t want anyone to take her place. Her moral compass prevailed in the end. Reach her at

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