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I absolutely loved the Global Islam Cluster and Professor Sayeed! We learned about Islam from a wide variety of disciplines and perspectives, and it was incredibly eye-opening and fulfilling to finally take a class without a highly Eurocentric curriculum (a big change from typical high school classes).
I honestly looked forward to attending every lecture, even with the many pains and annoyances of Zoom University. Each lecture was so engaging and informational -- the professors in this cluster really pushed us to think critically and with an open mind. Professor Sayeed (as well as all the entire Global Islam faculty) is clearly extremely passionate about what she teaches and is dedicated to student learning; don't be afraid to ask questions during class and office hours -- you may end up having a really great and thought-provoking discussion!
The workload was a bit heavy at times with all the readings (though I found each reading to be extremely interesting), but the instructors were always super accommodating and listened to student feedback about lessening the workload/moving deadlines.
Though this class is centered around the theme of Global Islam, everything I've learned is applicable to so many other aspects of my life; I'm extremely grateful to have gotten the ability to take this course!
This class and professor Sayeed are excellent. The lectures (and weekly readings) are consistently interesting and the professors always leave sufficient time at the end of class to answer questions. Also, having multiple professors teach the course means there are many more office hours than typical courses, making it easier to attend, ask questions, and get to know the professors.
Unlike what my high school teachers warned of, the professors care about the individual students in the class and actively respond to student feedback. In my class, we mentioned that the workload was too much and the professors responded and decreased it to a manageable level.
The TAs are really exceptional; they are easy to talk to, extremely knowledgeable, reachable outside of class/discussion, and are accommodating of personal issues.
I highly recommend this class to STEM students looking for GEs. The cluster covers a wide variety of subjects and methodologies, letting you focus on the things you enjoy doing. Also, it forces you to get accustomed to reading peer-reviewed academic papers, which is a good skill to have if interested in doing research of any kind, including STEM research.
I am going to keep it real with all of you, there is not one person who I know that took this class and loved it. For all of my LS majors, I am still deciding whether this class is worth the extra GE credits. For other humanities majors I advise against taking this class unless you're really into learning about Islam.
I believe this class has potential but right now it is a little bit of a boring, confusing mess. The faculty involved in Global Islam are all very understanding and are really good at getting back to you. However, I found a lot of their instruction as vague. You are required to do about 3 hours of reading a week which is not fun because they are long and dense, but you have to read them and pay attention in class because you never know what will be asked on the weekly quizzes. The topic is very broad and although the professors try to centralize on the 4 "big themes", a lot of the information is random and doesn't exactly follow a pattern. Although I do like the professors as people, they somehow make the topic extremely boring. The research and writing specialists are nice, but are also not very helpful with the assignments.
The grading structure is based on 6 things. Attendance 10%, Participation 10%, Weekly Quizzes 20%, Response Paper 25%, Final Paper 20%, CoCurricular Activity 5%. The lowest quiz grade is dropped. There are 4 prompts for the response papers, you only have to do 3 of them, 500-600 words each. Final paper, 5-6 pages max, is broken down into 5 sections including related questions, articles, thesis and outline, revised thesis and outline, and final draft. I had a really difficult time figuring out what the paper needed. The directions and rubric were unclear and vague. The cocurricular is just a 2-3 hr activity you do outside of class and you have to write a 2 page response on it. The key to doing well in this class is building a good relationship with you TA, doing all the assignments, and participating in discussion. Your TA is your grader for everything so questions or details on assignments should be reviewed by them.
It is not inherently a difficult class, it is just a lot of work and it is not very fun. I do appreciate that faculty and staff are all a really nice and passionate about what they do but the structure and clarity needs a lot of work. Just prepare your friends and roommates for complaining about how much you dislike the class. I hope this helps.
Highly recommend this class. I took it the first quarter it was offered and even completely virtual the class was super engaging and interesting. Since it's a cluster you spend a year focusing on Islam from a variety of different perspectives from some of the most knowledgeable and amazing professors on campus, and I have to say it has definitely changed the way I think about the social sciences. As a STEM major, like many others I took this class because it satisfied a lot of my GEs, but I got way more out of this class than that.
To start with, the papers that I've written in this class have been some of the most interesting and unexpected, and I've been able to learn analytical skills both within and outside the social sciences that I don't think I would've learned outside this cluster and that I'll probably continue to apply beyond this class. The professors are so approachable and are always willing to help with research for your papers or your understanding of a topic.
The third quarter of the cluster is also organized into small seminars where you delve into a subtopic with a small group of students and a TA (there are multiple seminars, each on a different topic, which you can chose from). I've had some of the most interesting discussions there and the small class size (it was about 10ish people) made the class way more engaging than your typical GEs. There was also a lot of focus on connections with present day issues, which also made the seminar an awesome opportunity to become more informed and aware of how the subject (and the social sciences more broadly) intersects with contemporary environmentalism, politics, science, etc., and learn things I can take with me beyond this class.
There is a bit of work and reading that comes with the class, but if you stick with it it will be worth it, and you'll be proud of the diversity of what you've learned and of the work that you've produced. It's not the easiest class you'll find, but in a way the challenge made it worth it :D
The Global Islam Cluster is truly excellent! I really loved and appreciated being able to diversify my knowledge on rich religious and cultural tradition. Dr. Sayeed, and the rest of the professors, and TAs are so kind, inclusive, and considerate of all student concerns. The entire teaching team is incredibly receptive of varying backgrounds and are understanding of limited prior knowledge on the course material. They were very willing to adjust deadlines/workload upon receiving student feedback regarding different circumstances and academic pressures. I always looked forward to lectures because the entire teaching team is very passionate and truly wishes to help students and they encourage questions! The Zoom environment can be intimidating but it truly was not the case with this course!
Discussions are very enjoyable as well; all the TAs are excellent and they truly encourage positive and productive discussions. The readings could often take quite some time and thoroughness since they can often be written in specialized academic language, but were very interesting overall. TAs are always willing to go over information from lecture and help with difficult concepts. The workload is not extreme at all, however. It is important to plan out and organize readings and writing assignments to ensure ample time.
Receiving help during office hours (TA and Professors) and from the library liaison and peer research and writing specialist (they are all very supportive!) truly helps on enhancing research strategies, gaining new perspectives on one's writing, crafting outlines for papers, etc.
I would definitely recommend this course for anyone who wants to learn more about Islam and its vast impacts and rich history, and for the benefits on receiving GE credits. It was the first year it was taught when I took this cluster and I truly cannot stress enough how my first year of college was impacted as a result: it is very rewarding and the resources/skills (research abilities, critical analytical skills, specialized knowledge, etc.) one can receive are indispensable!