Based on 12 User s
This is a pretty easy cluster to take if you're not a science major and want to knock out lots of science GEs. This is probably one of the better clusters as it knocks out up to 4 GEs and not hard, especially if you've taken any form of AP/IB Bio, Geo or Env Science. It'll also be helpful to have some background knowledge in Excel as you will have to use it for some of the labs. Although you will have to put in some work it's mostly busy work. I got 100% in the labs without trying too hard and mostly just writing everything that came to mind tbh. The writing assignments are a bit more challenging but definitely manageable. For the midterm and the final you will need to study a decent amount if you want to ensure a top grade. The TAs can be petty with definitions and long-answer questions, but if you have the background knowledge and do some studying they shouldn't be a challenge. Overall I really did like the first part of the cluster and Professor Nordby is a pretty good lecturer!
This is probably the easiest GE cluster at UCLA. Although I did read every single required reading in the textbook this quarter, I really did not find it necessary for the exams. There are some writing assignments because it is a GE cluster and it does fulfill your writing II requirement. I got at least an A on all three writing assignments with minimal effort. This is a great cluster to take if you are not a science major to get a lot of Science GEs out of the way. The exams (one midterm, one final) were very fair. They are free-response, consisting of short answer questions ( no more than a few sentences) and one long essay question (nothing more than a page). Don't be intimidated by the free-response questions. As long as you know the concepts, you don't really need to know anything in depth. All the professors are super nice and as far as I know, all the TAs are very nice and helpful as well. Just a side note, but if you end up showing up to class late, you won't get marked down but you will have to sit on the floor for the entire lecture since there are more students than chairs. There is also a 1% extra credit for just taking a survey at the beginning of the quarter.
Participation - 10%
Writing Assignments - 25%
Labs - 15%
Midterm - 20%
Final - 30%
This class really was easy but the tests are so short and worth SO much of your grade. The exams focus on such a small amount of information, so you end up overstudying but usually not the right information which really can damage your grade. Good class but just tricky and frustrating when it comes to tests.
Professor Nordby is amazing. She is a very clear lecturer and is really helpful. The material she covers is very interesting and does not make you fall asleep. The class is insanely easy and requires minimal effort. Nordby's midterm was very fair and based off of her slides. There is a textbook for the class but I never once opened it. Make sure you get a good TA for the class since most of the grades come out of your discussion section. Take this class if you have the opportunity too.
I feel like I would have enjoyed this course a lot more if I didn't come into it with such high expectations. Especially if you're a north campus major, this and the other science based GE clusters do not live up to their hype. While the class is not especially hard conceptually, there is so much busy work that it essentially feels like you're taking two classes at once. This busy work, while it is interesting and talks about the food part of the course that rarely gets discussed in lecture, isn't really related to the material that is tested, so it's very easy to blow off studying the actual lecture material because you're doing the assignments, on track with them, and are doing well. I did this, and it cost me my grades on the midterm and final, as well as my chances at getting an A in the class. The way these assignments are structured, as well as the essay questions, made it feel like an English class, meaning that it was easy to forget that small details and factual accuracy did matter when I was answering essay questions on tests, which require lots of memorization.
As for the lectures themselves, while there are random lectures where they take attendance, but missing just a couple of them would only make a difference of one or two points. You can come late on those days too, so if you can't be bothered, make a couple of friends who can actually be bothered to go and tell you whether or not they're taking attendance. They try to cram too much into them at once, and it's very difficult to discern what's important out of them and what isn't. But all the slides are posted online so you could theoretically treat it like an online class and just go to discussion. The material itself is essentially identical to AP Environmental Science, a class I didn't take in high school, and I feel like the fact that I didn't take it put me at a huge disadvantage. The lecturers are obviously very passionate about what they're talking about, but they assumed that everyone else equally was, and that made for very dull classes.
So in short, I felt that this class was not worth the extra time/effort commitment in comparison to just taking regular science GE classes, and because of that, I will not be re-enrolling in it next quarter.
I really loved professor Nordby. Overall just this food/environment and sustainable cluster was the best decision I ever made- I really loved it. Prof Nordby was super organized and clear and the for the final and midterm just study the slides and do the study guide.
Based on what I've heard from others, this is probably one of the easiest clusters to take in terms of workload. We had weekly readings that I ended up not doing as material on the exams were straight from the powerpoint slides. We had about 4 labs per quarter and pretty much everyone got 100s on them. There were a couple of writing assignments that made up a significant chunk of the grade and the grading of them really depended on your TA. The exams were pretty easy and as long as you reviewed your notes before, you'd be okay. Professor Nordby's section of the class was my favorite as she was a very straightforward and engaging lecturer. From time to time, we'd also have guest lecturers who were really cool. Going into this class knowing nothing about sustainability, I found it to be super interesting and it has made me more conscious of sustainability efforts.
Overall I really enjoyed this freshman cluster, which was taught by a combination of professors including Nordby. I found the class engaging and a great experience for freshman (on the Hill, field trips and other activities over a year long period). I found some of the assignments busywork but the grading seemed fair to get an A. The structure is three classes over three quarters, the final spring quarter being a seminar, which I really enjoyed as it was experience with seminars and research.