All Ratings and Reviews for Barbara Geddes
I took 154B (not 154A like it says above) with Professor Geddes, and it was honestly the best class I've taken at UCLA yet. The material is challenging, but she presents it in a way that unpacks it pretty well and as long as you pay attention you will have no trouble understanding the core arguments she presents. The midterm and final both focus on the big picture themes of the class. She is super knowledgeable and actually really really funny if you listen to her. AMAZING professor, highly recommended!!
Geddes is full of information and obviously knows the issues very well. She is able to illustrate very well cause-and-effect issues that are vital to understanding South American development. She hands out class outlines, which are a skeleton of the lecture she presents. The class mainly focuses on Brazil, Argentina, and Chile, but there is a paper that allows you to research your own personal interest. My only criticism is that she and the readings lack extreme focus and clairity. While she is focused, I feel that lectures could have been condensed into more digestible portions, and the reading could have been a lot more focused as well. Sometimes the articles were too long, and too often several important points were floating among other unrelated or distracting points. When this occurs too much, I think a different article that is more concise should be found and used instead. But overall, this class was informative and a solid UCLA class.
I think for such a dense subject, Geddes presented the material eloquently and very easy to understand. I'm a polysci major specializing in comparative politics and have found myself taking a lot of the "B" classes, which concentrate more on economic policy. These classes can be pretty difficult and some professors are pretty horrible, but I think Geddes made the class easier for us, by really preparing us for the exams/papers and presenting the material in a way where people who know nothing about economics (aka me) can do well. The midterm was a take-home where she practically handed the answers to us in a review. The final was in-class and she gave us all the questions beforehand plus a final review. There was also a paper, where we pretty much could write on any topic we wanted concerning Latin America.
Geddes knows her stuff about the subject, but the class is very boring, she always sounds like she's tired during lectures, which only makes it harder to listen to her talk, the readings are long and dense (for the most part, not all), but what people need to understand about her class is that although it's about South American politics, it's taught from an economics point of view. If you enjoy crap like: "ISI failed because its policies of high tariffs, overvalued exchange rate, and increased government spending couldn't be sustained", then this is the class for you. The point I'm trying to make is that, as much as politics is about money, this class is different from other poli sci classes in that its approach requires an interest and understanding of economic factors. If you shutter at the sound of economic issues, then this class isn't for you (because it's all economics). It's very dry and personally not interesting. It can ruin any interest you may have in Latin American politics. I know a lot about the politics of Chile and to come to this class and see how she presents what happened in Chile, makes that country's political history so unappealing, when it's really so unbelievably interesting, it's amazing to think that the events that happened ever took place.
I don't recommend her class...but I also took her class during my last quarter at UCLA, so maybe I've just had better classes in general.
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