I took Professor Kimberley Johnson for URBS V1515, Introduction to Urban Studies. Professor Johnson is the chair of the interdisciplinary Urban Studies program (hosted at Barnard, but open to all Columbia College and General Studies undergrads as well), and is very knowledgeable on the subject. She kept lectures interesting with multimedia presentations, guest speakers, and a personal interest in the topic. At times the reading seemed overwhelming, but some of the readings were removed as the course progressed. Also, Professor Johnson was very good at succinctly reviewing the readings, so if there is something you didn't understand or get to, the lecture will fill in the blanks. There were around 50 students in the class, so the discussion was limited, but Professor Johnson was always available after class or during office hours to discuss anything from the coursework to what other classes to take to pursuing Urban Studies as a major. Professor Johnson is not an easy grader (she apologized to the class for making the midterm more difficult than she had planned, then gave a final which was just as difficult), but there were opportunities for extra credit.
The topic of the course is extremely interesting and it was the class i was looking forward to the most this semester. Now it is the class I dread the most. It is incredible how an interesting class can be ruined so easily by a terrible professor. She is very disorganized and not at all cohesive. I feel like I work so much and barely learn anything. She is not good at explaining the overall arching topic/goal she tries to present. You can tell she barely plans what she is going to say the day before… or maybe she does not even plan it. This causes her to be EXTREMELY unclear. She jumps back and forth during lecture and it is almost impossible to keep up with what she is talking about. You never know what year she is talking about, what author she is talking about. There is no order to her lectures and you either get really confused or you start dozing off. She could use some kind of presentation that could keep her on track and help students understand what she is trying to get at. Also, she created the midterm the day before the midterm. I know this because the last class before the test she said she had not created it yet. She just told us the sort of things she might put on the test. Point is, she did not plan out the midterm well and it was not thought out. It was super writing heavy over a very short period of time. The next class she apologized for having made it so complicated for a 1.5 hr test and thankfully gave us extra credit options. She changes the syllabus as you go through but is not good at explaining her changes. No matter how much attention you pay you are never 100% clear with what is to be done for next week. I do not recommend it at all.
***This is also counted as a political science class under the Barnard Political Science curriculum fyi. This class was great. I learned a lot about urban theory, policy and practice. There is a lot of reading, but you don't have to read all of it because she goes through the readings in her lecture.There's no participation, it's mostly Prof. Johnson talking. Of course you can input questions or thoughts, but she covers pretty much everything. You start off learning about prominent urban theorists (The Chicago School), brief history of urban development in the U.S. and you also focus on suburban development. Additionally, you address multiple regions in the U.S. and look at different patters of cause and effect of urban/suburban development. All of this is to prepare you for your final project at the end of the semester and ensure you have great background knowledge to help ground your urban studies degree tract. It can be a bit boring at times, but for the most part, it's eye opening.
I took Power, Politics, and Policymaking with Kimberley Johnson and she is one of the worst professors I've ever had. Avoid her class at all costs. I never like writing scathing evaluations of professors because they are people too, but she was horrendous. She assigned a lot of reading that literally nobody did. She is completely inarticulate and the lectures are word-for-word definitions of terms from the readings. She is incredibly boring and I struggled to stay awake in her class. Her assignments are unclear and she will not be around to help you with them or answer any questions. I learned absolutely nothing--as it is now, this class should not exist. She turned me away from PoliSci forever. Really, do a favor for yourself and don't take her class.
Kimberly Johnson is one of the least articulate, boring, repetitive professors I have ever had. She cannot function without her power points and the majority of the class just does their other coursework during lecture. 15% of your grade is participation but the questions she asks are typically one-word, too-obvious-to-be-real responses. She assigns an unbelievable, impossible amount of reading--I gave up half way through the semester. That being said, her standards are unbelievably high for not explaining her prompts or the format of most of the papers. I was really disappointed in her teaching. Like another review before me, let me just say, this class should be called The American Bureaucracy. Even the interesting sections on crime and obesity politics are made boring by the long-winded, static lectures.
Johnson is a fair, intelligent professor who makes her expectation clear and grades in a transparent, straightforward manner. Although she is bumbling at times and struggles with spelling, she teaches the material clearly and picks good readings. You may not look forward to lecture everyday, but she is a competent instructor who does her job well given the dull subject matter. She is also very kind and interested in the students. Getting a good TA helps so try to be placed well.
If you're debating taking Intro to American Politics and you see that Kim Johnson is the teacher, DON'T -- wait until a later semester to take the class. Put bluntly, she is the worst lecturer I've had in three years at Columbia. Her lectures have no overall organization other than the fact that she reductively summarizes the readings for that day, despite the fact that a.) the readings are so long they're almost impossible to do, b.) the TAs do the same thing during discussion section, and c.) it's evident that she hasn't read the readings in months -- she flat out gets things wrong much of the time. That being said, you're not going to get a bad grade from the class, and if you do the readings independently, you will learn enough to take any higher-level American Politics poli-sci course. But I'd hate to see anyone who's debating poli-sci or wanting to check it out take this as his or her first class.
I actually found Professor Johnson to be a great professor. She is definitely a really busy woman, but she was always willing to speak with me about anything after classtime. She was also a great resource, giving me suggestions for summer internships based on my interests. The class wasn't that difficult, but it's an intro class, so what are you expecting? And I thought she did more elaboration of the power points than reading straight from them. I actually really liked how she used the power points; I think they kept her on target and prevented her from going on rampages like other professors tend to do. It's definitely a class for the self-motivated; you get out of it what you put into it. I definitely recommend taking this class, I really enjoyed the class!
I took this class as my first real Poli Sci class at Columbia and BLAH! Prof. Johnson is a super nice woman, seems really smart especially in the area of American Politics but god her teaching style just put me to sleep. She prepares powerpoints for every lecture and basically just goes through the powerpoint and elaborates. In the beginning it seemed like it was important to go to class, but by the end of the semester I couldn't get myself to go sometimes and my grade didn't suffer. It wasn't all boring though. When she got to talking about individual presidents I found that very interesting, and those were some of the more interesting readings too. But the stuff about the Equal Protections Act, political action groups, (which are all very interesting topics) she could not have made it more boring. What I missed was the connection to the amazing things that are happening in the political arena RIGHT NOW! That's what made me feel like the class was a waste of time. Now, two semesters later with several more poli sci classes under my belt, I can truly say that I remember almost nothing from her class. Although I did get an A, if that matters.
Things that bothered me: 1. She reads from the power point, completely. 2. She is incredibly condescending. 3. She doesn't respond to e-mail. 4. Her quizzes and tests are multiple choice, and ask questions about minute details in an article. 5. The reading is absolutely staggering, and pointless. The only redeeming feature is the intense fascination you will probably experience marveling in her inability to engage the class, but alas, the wonderment fades quickly.
i agree... there were absolutely NO dynamics in this class. she basically summarizes various theories of bureaucracy that have been proposed in the last 20 years or so. she is extemely bent on being politically correct and not entering into controversy, insulting the students' maturity level. It seriously requires every last sinew to stay awake in this class. Don't do the readings, she tells you what to prepare for the tests. but do fight the urge to lay ur head down... and make the effort to take notes.
Ok. I really liked this class. I did not take AP Gov't so I can't attest to its similarity to the class. As to the acussations, that the class is boring, or that Professor Johnson is clueless, neither is true. The class was very interesting. I enjoyed the historical and sociological perspectives of the class, and Professor Johnson was interesting, albeit occassionally class did drag on.
This is definitely one of the most painfully boring and pointless classes I have taken in my life. The class should be called "Bureaucracy" because that is the only thing covered the entire semester in an endless list of terrible readings and lectures (which are basically along the lines of Johnson reading aloud from the horrible books in a monotone voice). Looking back on the semester, I can't really remember what we covered or learning any of it.
I don't know what people expected when taking this course - it's not listed as a current events class. Or as a discussion forum for the War in Iraq. While I hate that I had to take Dynamics after getting a 4 on the AP Gov exam as a senior - it was not falsely advertised. This class is about the fundamentals of American government. It is disappointingly similar to AP Govt, but until Banard offers exemption for a four on the test, so be it. It touches on key points including congress, the presidency, precedent laws, social movements and human rights. I feel like anyone could benefit from having some sort of background in these things, so that later in life, you don't have to look like an ignorant monkey in public. While Kim wasn't the most enlightening professor I've ever met - she wasn't horrible. Don't take this class just to fufill your Soc Dynamics req, if you HATE American Politics. You get what you sign up for.
The worst. It was like a really bad high school class. She often seemed clueless and we were always correcting her. The assignments are pointless and she doesn't specify what she wants from them that well. I learned little more than what I already knew from American government from senior year of high school. Classes were mental torture. One positive note: I didn't do even half the reading and still got an A-.
She is HORRIBLE. This is one of the most boring classes i have taken here. She expects her students to know more than she does. The class drags on and on and on. Her grading of the papers is unfair..... mostly b/c it is totally unclear what she wants. She really wanted something different than what she assigned. This class is the reason I am no longer a Poli Sci major (though there are definitely some good classes out there...just hard to find the good Profs).
To sum it up: there are NO dynamics in this class with this professor. Class size dramatically decreased as the semester progressed, as people realized that lectures were completely unnessesary. Lectures are STRAIGHT from the highschool-level textbook and are extremely boring. There was no talk of current politics. Professor Johnson was monotonous, boring, and appeared clueless at times. Many, many people fall asleep. Basically, this class was a waste of time.
This class was incredibly disappointing. If you can take it with another professor, do so. I really enjoy urban studies yet this class was an absolute chore. She started nodding off during students' presentations of their final projects. I am not kidding. She does little if anything to stimulate discussions. Stay away.