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Professor Berend is walking history. He has LIVED it all and wishes to share his profound knowledge with his students. The negative reviews I have read do not reflect poorly on him, rather on the UCLA admissions department for allowing lazy students into a world-class institution.
Professor Berend is exactly what I expected coming into college. He is smart, inspiring, kind and gentle, and he truly CARES about his students. If you think his lectures, readings, and grading are too difficult, perhaps you should try cal state. He grades extremely fairly, unlike some history professors who expect insultingly little of their students. If you've done the reading and absorbed his lectures, you should not only rock his tests, but you will be a far more educated person by the end of his class.
His classes are not fluff, and they're not a walk in the park. They're academic, intellectual, stimulating, and rewarding. If you fancy yourself an intelligent, competitive student, worthy of this great university, DO NOT MISS THE OPPORTUNITY TO TAKE ONE OF HIS CLASSES. I particularly recommend History 134B and 134C. As a senior, I have taken history classes with nearly every history professor at UCLA, and Professor Berend's classes have been, without a doubt, the most intellectually rewarding. Believe me, that's saying a lot.
Professor Berend is truly a UCLA treasure.
He knows his history, because he freaking lived it (ref the comment below). He is such a generous, sweet-hearted, intelligent, and knowledgeable guy and he is so warm towards his students. He has been around forever, so his teaching-style sometimes feels a bit archaic. I think he has very high expectations of UCLA students even though most other professors don't.
This course was well-organized and structured. It was obvious that the entire class was planned out, lecture for lecture, and it all flowed together super well. Same thing with the readings. I really appreciate that the class was so well-organized and well-thought out. I didn't think I'd enjoy this class at all and I walked away super interested in the topic and feeling like I actually learned a lot, which is rare at UCLA i think.
Class is a mid term and final, actual tests...not papers which is nice.
I also had Professor Berend for Euro ST 191, in conjunction with HIST 134B and it was great. He really was able to go much more in depth and have us think critically about the subject matter of the history class. Again, I really felt like I learned a ton, and information that was useful for other areas in my life as well. Since we were taking this in tandem with HIST 134B, we didn't have to take the mid-term and final, but instead we wrote a 20 page paper on a topic of our choosing and the grade for that paper plus our participation in both classes determined our grade for both classes.
Here are some quick hits for this professor.
Born and raised in Hungry under communism and helped design the economic recovery plan to turn hungry back towards capitalism in the 90s.
A wealth of information, you will learn a lot about economic history.
Accent is noticeably there, but you can understand 99% of what he is saying.
Getting a good grade is not that hard. Go to class every day and take good notes on everything.
Readings are really more of supplemental than required even though he says they are required.
Tests consist of Short answer and essay.
He gave us a study guide before the test, but the questions on the study guide were not exactly how they appeared on the test.
ex. what was the demographic revolution? (study guide question)
ex. how did the demographic revolution in Eastern Europe differ from Western Europe? (Test question)
Grading is 50/50 midterm and final, no papers.
Overall good class, I enjoyed it, but if you are not a history major or economic major think twice. While the teacher is not a boring the material may not interest you.