I took IDS 100A this past fall with her and on the up side, it was hands down the EASIEST class I've ever taken at UCLA. On the down side, she is the WORST professor I've ever had. This was the last class I needed for IDS and I've definitely had some inspiring professors. The professor is intensely cynical and is unbeliavably biased. She loathes all the big boys in development such as the IMF, WB, UN and presents her material with an utter hate for neoliberal economic policies. She digresses a lot, her lectures are unorganized and broad and she does not she offer any strong, objective, academic insight into core IDS subjects. Her exams are in multiple choice format/some short answer and are extremely easy; however, that's only because finding the correct answer is not hard since the exams are biased and it always ends up being the most cynical option. I think I would be ok with her if she was just another bad professor, but her one-sided analysis makes me dislike her more.
This professor has some really cool field experience she shares during lectures. She does have a really awful lecturing style though. Its like she's reading from a book and it can be hard to want to focus sometimes. She includes all the information you need for the tests though and the tests are really quite easy if you pay attention. She's not trying to give bad grades so if you want to you can do well. She's usually quite eager to help students so if you need something clarified just ask. I wish she could make the subject a little more interesting since its something I'm very interested in, she kinda sucks the life out of it, but the class is doable.
This is an AMAZING professor! I took her Globalization/Gender Systems course over the summer and it was truly an eye-opening experience. Most of the topics covered are political/current events issues and aren't the most pleasant to deal with, such as globalization of production, neoliberal economic policies, gender subordination, food insecurity, malnutrition and gender issues relating to HIV/AIDS, but these are topics everyone needs to know about and if one is dealing with these types of issues, rarely are they "fun." Professor Gunewardena assigned a lot of reading for this course (no textbooks, all material was obtained via downloads/links) and while at times it was voluminous, all of it was worthwhile reading and completely relevant to each week's subject area. During the course, we viewed 3 films and were required to write analyses of each; these assignments combined were worth 30% of our grade. Again, each of the films was on target with the subject area for the week. Attendance counted for 10% of our grade and informed participation in classroom discussions counted for 10%. The final was essay-based, there were 5 essay questions (1 for each week of topics covered beyond introduction to concepts) and counted for 50% of our grade. There were several students who complained repeatedly (but NOT to the Professor!) about being required to participate in discussion because it was not a 5 unit class and there was no discussion section assigned, which I personally felt was uncalled for and really immature. Last time I checked, being a student at UCLA meant that we are all expected to read the required materials, assimilate the readings and be able to at least ask questions in class about things we don't understand and/or be able to participate in discussion in class concerning the current topic. What's so hard about that? What's the point of going to class and simply being a note-taker? People who don't want to be actively involved in their education and make the most of it should probably give up their much-desired seat at UCLA and try online college or "distance learning" where they won't have to be accountable for actually thinking or being involved. I would not rate Professor Gunewardena as a difficult teacher because the term implies to me someone who practices academic terrorism, which she does not. Nor does she try to trick her students on tests, nor does she make the subject matter incomprehensible. On the contrary, if you are a person who is not up-to-date on all things political, or current events (like me!), she makes it possible to understand sometimes nebulous concepts such as gender constructs, agency, resistance and subordination which are necessary for the course. Professor Gunewardena is obviously extremely intelligent and really knows her stuff. She is very dedicated to her field and her work. Her enthusiasm is contagious. I had another professor the same quarter who was the chair of their department (and obviously tenured), and while this person is a long-time professor at UCLA, Professor Gunewardena stood in stark, positive contrast to this person as a superior teacher. She takes time to learn each student's name and is genuinely concerned that each student is learning and understanding the concepts of the course. She makes somewhat unpleasant subject matter interesting and engaging, and is a highly effective teacher. She is always available in her office hours and let us know beforehand if she would be away from them on a particular day. She kept in touch via e-mail and was responsive to e-mails sent to her. I cannot say enough good things about Professor Gunewardena and would highly recommend this course, and this professor, to anyone who wants to have a great learning experience at UCLA. She is the type of professor, and person, that one would remember with admiration years after graduation. Women everywhere of all ages should be thankful there are feminists like her that make our lives more pleasant because of her dedication and accountability.
I DID NOT TAKE 185A this thing wasn't letting em post without selecting something. When I took her first class in spring of 2009 on Gender and Development IDS 191, I was uncertain about the focus I wanted in development. My regional focus I knew was Pakistan, but the country has so many problems, my main question was: Where can I start. Professor Nandani’s course was able to answer most of my questions. After three weeks I knew I wanted to aspire to be just like her. Empowering women in rural Pakistan has become my passion. Professors Nandin’s course lectures helped me realize my passion in the field of gender and development. I was able to critically reflect on readings for the course and could apply them to case studies. One of the major reasons as to why no professor has been able to inspire me the way professor Nandini has is because she teaches with passion. Her main goal is to make sure that when we leave UCLA we are fully equipped to take on our responsibilities as developers. She simplifies concepts for us in such a way that the concepts never leave our minds. They form the core development frameworks that I keep in mind whenever I have carried out research. She is an incredible mentors and advisor. I can practically talk to her about anything, and will always leave the room feeling empowered, strong, inspired and purposeful. I am currently doing an independent study under her guidance on “Women in Poverty in Pakistan”. The purpose of this project is so that I find a focus on an area within the field of gender and development. Despite her busy schedule professor Nandani has taken out the time to help me in my project because she believes that we as IDS students strive for something meaningful and can bring out about change. In my case she believes in my endeavors and recognizes the sincerity and commitment I have towards eliminating poverty on Pakistan. It is my wish to have Professor Gunewardena as an advisor in grad school. Unfortunately, UCLA does not have a development program.Professor Nandani has an understanding that a lot of professors who teach IDS courses don not have. This has a lot to do with the fact that she has so much on the ground experience but also because she herself has roots in a developing country, Srilanka. She genuinely feels for the injustices and inequalities that exist in developing countries while understanding the cultural and social limitations that exist. I will recommend taking all of her classes. Professor Nandini is a very fair grader and her exams are constructed so that she tests our core concepts... she is not interested in tricking students and making us write and write for hours. There are a very few classes at UCLA from i which i have actually "learned" soemthinhg... so if you are interesting in learning and being inspired at the same time TAKE HER CLASSSS!!!! SHE IS AWESOME!
I took IDS 191-Disaster Capitalism in the summer 2009. I really enjoyed the class but the midterm was very confusing. I think the seminar format is a great idea and really got all of us to read. However, the lecture left me a little ill-prepared for the mid-term. (Most of the other students did really poorly, too.) It was disappointing because the subject matter was really interesting. By the end of the course I think that most people had a good grip on the general ideas introduced in the class. Some students struggled because she is demanding in the 191 classes because it's a SENIOR SEMINAR! We were asked to do a fair amount of reading and then do analysis. She asks every student to share original ideas, based in the readings, EVERY time you meet. It's not hard work but one is asked to stay on top of it. Be prepared to do a bit of work and thinking. With all of this is mind, Prof. G is very fair and not out to get anybody in a bind. Meet with her in office hours, find a study buddy and talk about the class. Lectures are a bit "stream of consciousness" but nevertheless interesting and engaging if you're interested in the subject matter. If not, don't take this class. You'll suffer.
I had her for IDS100A, and she's really nice, extremely compassionate. If you ever get confused on the exams, big multinationals are evil and the little guy is getting squished. So, yes, she is pretty biased in that sense, and the entire class is based on this premise: LOOK WHAT'S HAPPENING TO THE POOR VILLAGERS. That said, make sure you attend class. She outlines all the readings pretty clearly so that reading is more or less optional. Midterms and exams are regurgitation.