All Ratings and Reviews for Brian Esparza Walker
FANTASTIC CLASS. I was told to take this class because I heard that Professor Walker had a reputation for being the best teacher in the department.
He lived up to expectations. The class was difficult (the readings were mystifying pieces of cryptic philosophy -- think Luhmann, Habermas) but Professor Walker taught them excellently. What seemed impenetrable became knowable. The process (difficult, difficult texts followed by elucidating in-depth analyses in class) was probably the most rewarding educational experience I've had at UCLA.
Professor Walker was also just fun to listen to. He really loves what he teaches, and it shows. Most of the class was discussion, but the brief lectures he did give were extremely informative and engaging. His enthusiasm is inspiring.
One of the aphorisms Professor Walker threw out was that "pedagogy is the fight against forgetting." I think he won. :)
amazing professor, the best I have had at UCLA. Extremely smart/well read, fostered great discussion about interesting texts. Very engaging class and great seminar atmosphere
He is pretty conservative despite his gay rights stance and his class is centered around conservative issues. Ugh! Aside from that, he\355s racist, evident from his comments about Mexicans (his s/o being Mexican doesn\355t count apparently) and Arabs.
I am surprised he is a vice-chair of PS. After seeing him and his conduct I was totally turned off by the PS department. He\355s basically a conformist who is interested in power like all the rest of them, but then he attempts to distance himself from the rest by following Confucian ways (not). This guys character is horrible and he is not student friendly at all. He never even wanted to talk to me when I\355d email or go up to him. He only likes a \354certain\356 group of students, if you know what I mean. Also, he doesn\355t have discussions in class because he is just not that type of open-minded person. If he does have it, beware cause he will remember you and what you say, and if you are against his ideals then you\355re in for it. He\355s brutal.
As far as the class goes, there is a large amount of reading from writers like Aristotle, Weber, Plutarch, Rousseau etc. Towards the end the class is watered down, so have no fear you will survive. He doesn\355t teach the theories he just expects you to read them and learn. His quizzes actually make you study and the midterm is a 5-6 page take-home paper. The final is a long essay type exam, which is cumulative.
Personally, I loved the material, well, accept for the Capitalist stuff he shoved down our throat. I learned a lot from the reading, but I didn\355t learn much from him. His lectures are circular and he doesn\355t cover the material in the reading. It is merely his opportunity to vent and keep repeating his opinions over and over.
He likes portraying himself as a fair and balanced professor by asking for your input about the reading in a few surveys. At the same time, he will spend a long time justifying his choices for the class once there are a large number of students complaining about an issue. So, this all means he spends more useless time talking and less time actually teaching the material. Basically, you are on your own for this class and it is difficult to get an A. He thinks you have nothing to do but read for his class, and I ended up only focusing on this one class and did well. If you don\355t need the class, don\355t bother. I agree with the other comment, he is truly egotistical.
Professor Walker is honestly the best professor I have had at UCLA. He is extremely engaging and his love for political philosophy is contagious. You will walk out wanting to be a theory concentration. The class is really easy if you just do the readings, which are not long at all. There are pop quizzes, but he tells you ahead of time when they will be happening. The essays are easy too. Definitely take the class and engage in it. You won't regret it!
Course taken: PSM115C
This is an absolutely wonderful course, especially for people who want to discuss the issues facing current society.
Instead of just reading theorists of the past, Walker works hard to make students question what citizenship means in the current era. He is very open with his views and is welcome to students asking questions and debating/discussing in class. He always makes sure both sides are heard. Not a hard class if you read and a great experience.
He is very easy to understand, entertaining, and yet still manages to have a challenging enough class.
The papers were open-ended and interesting, the quizzes were annoying, though necessary, and the final was fair. Prof Walker is also very open to student input. He loves to discuss political theory and in most cases offers unbiased ideas, avoiding his own opinions and instead giving what the opinion of the author we are studying would likely have been.
Some also complain that the class has a lot of work and reading, but I would call it average...
I took him for PS 10 and came away incredibly impressed, so I jumped at the opportunity to take PS 115C with him. Best decision of my life. This class is - excuse the poverty of the English language - the shit. Professor Walker fundamentally altered the way I examine issues surrounding citizenship and the expectations that society has in store for its members. I consider myself to be a VERY politically-oriented person, so just that fact alone should indicate how relevant the material in the course is.
One thing I loved about this class is that it doesn't throttle you with a huge workload. Professor Walker says you'll need 3-4 hours minimum per lecture to examine the reading, but that's really only true if you're struggling, or if the assigned reading that week is denser then normal. Otherwise, the course reader is structured in a way that makes it incredibly manageable - "sound bites" of different authors that don't suck up your entire evening yet still allow you to capture the essence of their viewpoints. The reader is 500 pages long, but split that up over 10 weeks and it only comes down to an average of 25 pages per lecture (although some will be more).
Speaking of reading, it's a necessity - you cannot get an A in the class without doing it. Not only will lectures be incoherent and reading quizzes annihilate you, but you'll be screwed on the final since virtually ALL the material is derived from it.
Professor Walker says the class itself is designed to be as ideologically nonpartisan as possible, and he succeeds at that for the most part. If you're conservative, you may like some of the immigration readings like Brimelow and some of the capitalism readings like Friedman and Gilder. If you're a leftist, there's a commensurate amount of material for your tastes as well. Contrary to some of the comments below, Professor walker isn't trying to take a particular view and "shove it down your throat;" the whole point of exploring seven different pathways of service is to allow you to find out which ones align with your perspective so that you might pursue. Walker might assign Friedman, and he can explain Friedman's position to a T, but if you stick around after lecture you might find out that he actually supports moderate-to-heavy government intervention in markets. Go figure.
Grading is pretty simple. There's five reading quizzes, two of which are dropped. These are really easy - virtually all the questions come from the study guide that comes with the syllabus. If you study the reading and answer the questions as you go, you're guaranteed at least a 4 out of 5. Occasionally there may be a question or two drawn from the previous day's lecture, so it's a good idea to show up and pay attention in class. (He moves pretty fast - I ended up typing 2000+ words of notes for some of the longer lectures, so a laptop is a good idea). The reading quizzes are a necessary evil. Even if you screw some up, at least they force you to do the reading so you can do better on the final, and if you ace them it's just brownie points.
There's also a six-page essay assigned week 2 or 3. I wasn't a fan of the fact that we were expected to discuss the modern view of citizenship despite the fact that we hadn't even gotten that far in the class, but I got a 96% and the class median was an 91% so I don't think it was a huge problem. (Only 4 people got C's or worse - you have to literally not try in order to get less than a B-). There's also a series of six journal 1-2 page journal entries that you have to do throughout the quarter; you have the opportunity to get feedback and edit them, so don't panic if you don't understand the prompt material the first time around.
The final is fairly easy. If you do all the reading, went to every lecture, and do a good job of studiyng the potential essay prompts he hands out, you should be good to go. I just gave my notes a quick review, re-read the most important authors (Cicero, Rousseau, Marshall, James, Van Riper, Weber, Thompson, Light, Collins, Friedman, Gilder, and Singer are probably the ones you can't afford to skip), and I was surprisingly good to go despite getting just 4 hours of sleep.
Section was usually worthwhile. I know Carol is a fantastic TA since I had her in PS 10, and from what I've heard Karl is also top-notch. Krishna was my TA this time around. He's pretty good in section in terms of explaining stuff, but his time management is terrible. We'd frequently fall short of getting to everything he planned to discuss in section, and his turnaround time on returning papers and journals reached almost comic proportions.
I put in a fair amount of effort and got an A+ - it won't happen to everybody, but it's definitely doable if you're sort of an intellectual nerd like I am. Still, I would give Professor Walker a 10/10 rating even if I had gotten a B-, that's how impressed I was by this class. Easily the most influential instructor I've ever had at any level of my schooling.
One of the most interesting professors I've ever encountered. He truly values knowledge over just getting the grade. He's awesome. I love him.
He tells you about the pop quizzes ahead of time. They aren't too difficult if you've read the material. Depending on what TA you get, essays can be very difficult or fair. I got a B+ on both and I'm a fairly strong writer. This class isn't an easy A but it's manageable. The final this year was quite straightforward and easy in my opinion.
TAKE THIS CLASS!
lectures were interesting if you wanted to learn, if you're just looking for a grade, don't take the class. the readings were lengthy but relevant and well analyzed in class. he really cares about student learning but the grading is not easy. overall good
Professor Walker is a very smart person who cares deeply about his class. I found some of the material interesting. I don't understand how some people get an A in his class without reading, frankly i read almost everything over and over...If you take his class make sure you get a good TA.
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