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Most of the reviews for Wainfan’s classes have an element of truth to them (she can be harsh on students, she’s newer to teaching and could improve, and the readings are a LOT to handle, especially if you fall behind) but to me it just seems like a lot of poli sci students love to just complain if they can’t skip class, not do the readings, and still get an easy A. This class was hard, but I felt like I learned so much about critically analyzing published academic research and critiquing methods and models used. The truth is you don’t really need to do ALL the readings but it’s helpful to be able to understand discussion about the readings during class so that you have something to say for midterm/essay/final. I also thought her slides and lectures were thoughtfully put together and intentionally relevant. She often would include articles from the week of class on current events. Most poli sci classes taught by professors who are smart/distinguished but could not care less about the class and just recycle old material and tests and essay prompts year after year; this class is not that at all, which I appreciated.
If you want to succeed in this class you 100% have to go to her office hours. I was always lost during lecture, but when I attended her office hours for the writing assignments she was somewhat useful. I wish a different professor taught this class because it had so much potential, but she taught this class as though we were all graduate students with a clear understanding of the abstract theories. 10/10 would NOT recommend this class, unless you want to suffer in it with a friend, then maybe you should take it.
This is my second class with this professor and while I do enjoy her, it is too difficult to follow her course. I maintain A's in most classes and this is one which seems to avoid me. Her readings assigned are usually between 30 - 60pgs each and are dense analytical journals that favor extremely cerebral content. With a tough topic such as nationalism, she doesn't allow her students any time to acclimate and dumps these extremely theoretical readings. Her quizzes are very intricate in details and will attempt to examine your ability to remember small details from these readings. In class, she runs through the slides at the most basic of levels and doesn't attempt to engage in thoughtful discussion on these matters. There are only a handful of students who are able to participate in the course, while many are also left confused. I feel as though she would greatly benefit from understanding these are undergraduate students seeking to develop an understanding of nationalism, not PhD students who completely understand the phenomena as a whole and can read these journals with a sense of confidence. It just seems like a square peg attempting to fit into a circular hole here. Not working.
It has all been said by the other reviewers. To summarize, Professor Wainfan knows the material inside and out but is not a good lecturer. She assigns incredibly dense academic articles for reading every week and two papers during the quarter, in which students are to summarize, synthesize, and criticize a week's worth of the papers. Many students did well on these papers and then received low grades in the class after bombing the final. Fulfill your comparative politics requirement with a different professor, or take a stab at game theory instead.