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Professor Von Blum is one exciting, inspiring and intelligent man. He is extremely engaging with his students, managing to get impressive participation in a class of over 120 people on sufficiently controversial topics. As others have said, he encourages you to think about issues-apathy, inequality, racism, war, patriarchal society-in order to form (or reform) your position. His personal history aids tremendously to the lecture (more like discussion) time, and I suggest you talk to him during office hours to get a different side of his personality (he could come off as a screaming madman at first but he honestly cares about his students). He has taught for 45 years, and his teaching shows it- AWESOME professor!
I took him for CS175
I took Professor Von Blum last quarter, Fall 2008, for Comm 165 agitational communication. It was a mixed bag. The class was 3 hours long on a monday. At the end of every class I would leave with less than one page of notes. The lecture was just way to long for Von Blum to rant.
Speaking as a Conservative I have to say Von Blum did not constantly rant about his idology. While he had the normal unprevoked attacks on conservatives and conservative values it wasn't a constant drone.
One of the best days was when he spent the entire time talking about his life history going thought the 50s 60s and 70s and becoming a teacher.
My last paper I decided to take a completely opposite view that Von Blum and his TAs would have. I was still given a good grade. So you can write what you believe in this class.
Overall, the lectures were long and boring, papers were not that hard, and you didn't have to do the reading if you didn't feel like it.
If you like the history of protest movements or want to learn about the civil rights movement this is a great class for you.
Courses Taken: Comm 175, Comm 165
Von Blum is the most dynamic speaker in the Communications Department. Seriously. He yells. His classes are different than others at UCLA in that the focus really isn't as much on the information as it is on forcing you to re-evaluate and codify your own beliefs, morals, and values. Von Blum takes controversial, but principled and consistent stances on issues ranging from feminism to the dumbing down of education. Although he is intimidating because of his convictions, he encourages participation and you shouldn't hesitate to engage him (it makes the class more interesting for everyone else). I would highly recommend taking at least one class with him (I enjoyed 175 more than 165, and there is a bit of overlap in issues he touches upon).
In terms of grades, you write two 6-7 page papers, on prompts that relate to the class and ask you to form an opinion and defend it well. He gives you a wide selection of prompts, and you will find at least one intriguing. You also have a short quiz (one-two sentence answers) on the last day of class which is no worry as long as you go to class and pay attention. He lectures without Powerpoint, so be prepared to take notes (although you won't have to take many, especially for a 3 hour class). Discussions are required, and are hit or miss depending on your TA and if your classmates have done the readings or care about the class at all.
Many reviewers have commented on his radical liberalism: I disagreed with him on a couple issues, but don't let that stop you from taking the class, as learning opposing political/ethical arguments will help you strengthen or redefine your own.
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