Professor Baics is engaging and kind, but his assignments were frustratingly vague. For every one, I was terrified and had no idea what I was doing. I found this aspect of the class incredibly stressful, although I ended up getting fairly good grades on each (A-). I think ultimately the class was very difficult and stressful for me, because vague assignments stress me out and I'm not a very visual person, which made the GIS aspect more difficult for me. I did pretty badly on the final paper because (B) because I just didn't have a good idea of what he wanted or how best to visualize what I was doing. tl;dr Professor Baics is engaging and I would recommend this class for people who don't mind/enjoy vague assignments and have strong visual skills, but I would not recommend this class if vague assignments and having to map out your papers stresses you out.
A new course for this semester, Colonial Cities has absolutely blown me away. It is taught by two professors who are adorably married. Professor Pizzigoni is a Latin American history scholar, while Professor Baics is an urban studies scholar. I have thoroughly enjoyed how their two minds combine, in a form greater than their sum, to provide us with an interdisciplinary perspective of how the colonial urban form has developed and differed across civilizations. The class progresses chronologically, beginning with the Maya and transitioning towards medieval European, Aztec, and Incan societies. We study how cities form in North America, analyzing the differences between Spanish, British, and French development, and South America, again seeing how different cultural, economic, and political systems between the Spanish, Portuguese, and other colonial powers defines how a city forms. Both professors are brilliant scholars and lecturers. I have been so impressed with how every lovely nugget of knowledge which leaves their beautiful minds ties back to the larger themes of the course. I am...almost inspired (?) by their lectures. I'll find that my notebook lay blank because I have become so enraptured with what they have to say. As I mentioned earlier, they are also so cute - they'll each take notes on the other's lecture + will smile whenever an interesting point is made. The class is worth it just for that. I have found both to be incredibly approachable during, after, and outside class. Take advantage of this approachability when you inevitably take this class and fall in love with them. Half the class has already taken a course with one of them (either Caterina's Latin American Civ or one of Gergely's urban studies courses), which is a strong signal that they've got a bit of a (well-deserved) cult going.
I'm taking 20th Century Cities: Americas/Europe which is the 2nd half of the Emerging Cities sequence, and I am really impressed with Professor Baics's teaching abilities and ability to convey the point of the material. Having never taken an upper-level course, urban studies class or history one, I was a bit nervous about taking the class but there really was nothing to fear. The readings are a lot, but that's to be expected from an upper-level class with mostly juniors and seniors, and he would sometimes substitute or reduce readings to give us a break and the readings were mostly interesting. The lectures were really interesting and informative and helped a lot with understanding the denser readings, and his enthusiasm and clarity helped get the main point all the time. It was definitely worth the 8 40 am start time, and he always made funny comments and tried to wake the class up. His accent as well was wonderful, and the class really helped me learn a lot about urban history. We had to watch a movie and analyze it from one of two questions, and I found it a cool assignment because it was just 1200-1500 words, and we embedded parts of the movie in the essay which was dope. Midterm was IDs and an essay from options, and if you listened in class and did the readings then it would have been totally fine, and he does a pretty good job of going over the material and using Google maps and websites and videos to show, in a more tangible manner, the things we discussed Final is cumulative On a more personal level, he is really nice and says hi outside class, and seems interested in more than just talking about the work in office hours, and will go out of his way to find an answer to any question you have about urban studies or otherwise TAKE THIS CLASS! OR A CLASS WITH GERGELY BAICS :)
I'm taking the second semester of this course- 20th Century Cities and I honestly do not understand how Professor Baics has a gold nugget. He is a mediocre professor, at best. It's clear that he knows the subject well but he barely gets his point across in lectures. He repeats himself a lot and I feel as if we go in circles in the lectures. The class may be moderately sized- with a cap at 75 students, but he doesn't make an effort to get to know individual students. I've walked past him a couple times and waved and he's stared blankly back at me. His accent is difficult to understand at times, especially when he is saying places/names. There's a midterm, a final and a movie critique. The movie critique was a disaster. He mentioned it at the beginning of the semester then barely gave us a week to complete it after going over the material we needed for the assignment. I only knew what the assignment was about from the discussion sections with the TA and from the readings. As for the midterm, he told us at the beginning of the semester that he may supply potential questions for the midterm and then select from those to put on the exam. That didn't happen. The amount of readings that he assigned was incredibly unnecessary. There was a lot of reading and you needed to know the general gist of them for the discussion sections. I've barely managed to keep up, but I try to read all of them because the lectures are insufficient in getting the material across. I have to say that I was disappointed in this class and in Professor Baics.
Professor Baics (pronouced Ba-eech, get it right for brownie points) is the absolute coolest. His lectures are about 75 people but it never feels like it could possibly be that large because the way he lectures feels so much more personal. He clearly loves his subject and wants you to love it as well. In that goal, he succeeds--he's the reason why I chose and Urban Studies major with a concentration in History. He's an incredibly eloquent man, and if it weren't for his Hungarian accent (he'll make sure to tell you he's from Budapest) you'd never know English isn't his first language. But you love the accent, believe me. I'm currently taking his 20th c. Cities class (the second half of the Emerging Cities lecture) and he takes what he considers a chaotic century of history and delivers it in a neat and orderly fashion--if it really is that messy a time period, you'd never know it. Professor Baics also really accessible and easy to talk to, and he's also incredibly kind and hilarious, and seems to really enjoy getting to know students, either personally or just in the context of his class. As he teaches, he tends to break the lecture into sections of about 30 minutes each and will ask if anyone has questions. Most of the time, people won't answer and he gets amusedly disgruntled, and sometimes likes to wait until the silence gets to be too awkward to continue. The class requires a fair amount of reading, and he does expect it to get done. He also expects you to attend class and not ditch after two weeks, though I can't imagine wanting to skip it. Discussion sections meet every other week. There's a short mediathread paper early on in the semester, a midterm (a few IDs and an essay), and a final exam OR a paper (12-15 pages). The professor and the TAs are really fair and want you to do well. *These two lectures are formatted the exact same way in terms of the work -load and -structure. All in all, I'd say Gergely Baics is one of the best professors at Barnard AND Columbia. Cool guy, really damn smart, and also I think everyone in the class has a giant crush on him because he's just the best. I'd definitely recommend taking him for absolutely anything.
Professor Baics is extremely enthusiastic about this course. He can go off on tangents about his favorite planner (Aldefonso CerdÃ¡) or his favorite topic (public health), which are delightfully entertaining because of his expertise and accent. Don't fret - his lectures are completely intelligible. I would highly recommend this class, as you will learn a ridiculous amount of urban history. Baics delivers comical lines equal parts kitsch and historical context: â€œYou do not build parks because they are cute! You built parks because they save lives! As well as they are cute.â€ First half of the course is considerably heavier in reading; it becomes more interesting and lighter after spring break.
Really great class. He has been one of my best professors and really inspired me to explore urban history. The class is organized by method (so economic history, geography, oral history, etc.) which really exposed me to all the different ways you can look at a city. However, there was a lot of reading, even by seminar standards. I didn't do all the reading, but it was interesting and I somewhat regret it. He manages to keep the discussion free-flowing but also guided so that we were able to talk about what we were interested in while still hitting all the main points. Both because of him and the other students, this was one of my best seminars. Baics is strict about deadlines, though, and the class is a lot of work. Not an unreasonable amount for a seminar, but definitely took a lot of time during the semester.
Prof. Baics is amazing. His natural ability to lead class discussion and get students thinking astounds me, considering the fact that he only recently received his PhD. He really wanted everyone in the class to do well and is the friendliest, most open-minded and approachable instructor I've ever had. He maintains a surprisingly good balance between his own work/research and teaching and has a lot to share with the class. You'll never think of history the same way again. As for the books we read, a lot were really good and some were EXTREMELY boring. Baics took our opinions into account and showed a great deal of empathy when the workload was too heavy or the reading wasn't the greatest.
This was one of the best classes I've taken on this campus. Although the reading was a bit much and most students didn't finish it, the discussions were quite enriching and prof Baics was the first prof. I've had on this campus who was truly encouraging of the students to explore ideas with disregard to his own opinion. He was super helpful and available. This man truly cares about history, urban centers, and teaching. If you can I highly recommend taking a course with him.
Gergely Baics is one of the best professors I've had so far. Take his class. One of those professors that makes the material more interesting by teaching it well. He always did a great job mediating discussions, posing interesting questions, and explaining gray areas. He related the texts to each other in really cool ways. He made the big picture of all of the material visible which made understanding each text easier and more interesting. He brought in cool outside materials to relate to the texts. He brought us cookies. He's always positive and brings a great energy to class. He is patient, enthusiastic, funny, and seems to genuinely care that his students have a good learning experience. He's not overly nice or push-overish like some fresh-out-of-grad-school professors are but nor does he seem to have too much to prove. He's very helpful with the writing assignments and grades fairly.