Karuna Mantena

May 2021

I took Professor Mantena's Politics of Nonviolence this spring. I loved her class and the content of the course itself, but I have to say that if you are an overachiever who will kill him/herself without a flat A in a class, this class is not for you. I have a 4.2 GPA with an Economics-Political Science major at CC and this was my junior year. I did every single reading and completed the take-home exams over the course of the entire week that was given to complete them, yet for every Passage ID, the TA found some sort of reason to take off 0.5-2 points for each one. For both the Midterm and Final Exam, I got 7 and 9 points taken off respectively on just the Passage IDs. As for the comments, it was usually one minuscule piece of detail that I "should have" mentioned that cost me the points. Even with that being said, Professor Mantena is a wonderful, caring professor who is very well-acquainted with the material. However, both TAs, were very strict and frankly unfair with the grading. I talked to one person in the class who got a 80 on one exam, and when we compared our exam content after grades were released, there was pretty much no difference other than the fact that I spoke a lot more in sections. I ultimately finished the class with a B+. My GPA was brought down significantly because of this class. I recommend the course itself but certainly not if you're looking for an easy A or A+.

May 2021

I absolutely enjoyed taking this course. While the course focuses on protest movements at large and considers the moral, tactical and strategic significance of non-violence as a means of political action— you also wind up learning a lot about the histories of the Civil Rights Movement and the Indian Independence Movement. The course encourages you to think critically about political action and protest movements— and we frequently dedicated a lot of time to connect the things we learnt to modern-day protest movements. Take this course even if you don't think you agree with the philosophies of Martin Luther King and Gandhi— because you'll definitely learn to think critically about what it means for an oppressed group to acquire political power/catalyse political change within oppressive institutions. This course changed my worldview, and I absolutely think this is what all Pol Sci courses should be like. Professor Mantena is, without question, one of the most incredible professors that I have had during my time at Columbia. Besides being extremely knowledgeable about protest movements, non-violence as a means of political action, and the historical time periods that the course covers— she is an incredibly kind and empathetic professor. She was one of the few professors that expressed enthusiastic solidarity with the Grad Workers' protests, and she even gave a few TAs the chance to speak about their goals during class hours. Moreover, she allows you to see everything you read in light of both its strengths and its critiques and weaknesses. In short, a truly incredibly professor.

Apr 2021

Professor Mantena is great! The lectures (mostly asynchronous for this class) were helpful and engaging. She's clearly excited about the topic, and she gives a really good balanced explanation that keeps you interested but doesn't make you feel obliged to agree with the political stances given. There's a lot of connection to modern-day issues (BLM, Occupy) that's handled really well. The readings were actually super cool, although I sometimes got a little behind on them.