All Ratings and Reviews for Walker Wells
A very awesome class taught by the legend himself, Walker Wells. This class is only offered during the summer and winter, and it is a mix of students studying environmental science, architecture, and environmental engineering ( maybe some others out there too but I'm not too sure). As an environmental science major, this is by far the easiest class I've taken at ucla, and though I probably didn't take away as much as I could've from the class, I definitely felt that the class gave me a great introduction to the planning and humanities side of environmental science, especially in water. The class is very group work-heavy, and I'd say the assignments push you to "read your environment" and pick apart many details that you probably wouldn't have noticed before learning about them in this class. I felt really bad for Walker and our TA though because the class was online. The class had 999 slots, and around 60 people enrolled (which is like 300% more than usual, but unsurprising given that more people are able to take summer classes since they were moved online), so they had a ton of grading to do and often took a while. However, I'd imagine this will change moving forward, so hopefully it won't be an issue for anyone. Also, Walker wasn't the most apt with zoom, so he did often have some hiccups, but no biggie, teaching is just his side gig, and he still was able to teach a lot of good stuff.
Logistics: Since I took the class over summer (session A), it was supposedly much faster paced, but even then, it was extremely manageable. The meetings were once a week for 4 hours, with a 30 minute break in between (for most of the lectures). 5/6 of the lectures were dedicated to learning, while the last lecture was for final presentations (which actually spanned two days, though you had the option to choose which day you wanted to present). However, even with 3.5 hours of lecture, it was still quite hard to digest everything that Walker said. He isn't the most amusing lecturer tbh, and about half of his slides don't have words (good and bad thing). Other topics were pretty common sense, like why humans made buildings in the first place, or how skyscrapers became possible because of the invention of the elevator. However, a lot of the topics were still super interesting. Technically, you have quite a few readings to do every week, but during class, we didn't really talk about them at all, and I did like none of them, so they aren't necessary, but you'll definitely take more away from this class if you do them all.
Grading and Assignments: Participation is a good 10% of your grade, and apparently everyone is supposed to talk in normal in-person classes, but because of the sheer size of the online class, participation wasn't graded through this way. Instead, we had 1 CCLE discussion board that we had to do, as well as a proposal for our group final project that counted for participation. However, Walker still gives lectures with the expectation that people will participate, and he can dedicate upwards of 45 minutes just for discussion. It really isn't bad; most of the in-class discussions were just about assignments that we did, and people often stepped up to the plate to participate, but it seems that in past years he would randomly call people if no one answered. Apart from this, there's 3 assignments, and a final project. The first one is really easy and just on carbon footprint and how you can change your behavior, as others have mentioned. The second one is technically kinda new, because typically a field trip to Santa Monica would take the place of this assignment. The assignment was basically to pick a building/area on/off campus or that you know and describe some features of it and how you could enhance it with nature-like elements. These two assignments were 15% each. The third assignment was a group project, with groups that were randomly assigned based on interests (water, behavior, transportation, etc.) that you checked off in a survey at the beginning of the quarter. It's supposed to be a full-blown poster, and normally you would have to chip in some money to get that crap printed out, but since it was online, we just made it on Canva. Again, it was along the lines of picking a building or project and sorting out pros, cons, sustainable features, and some basic info (some of which, like financial info and architects, are pretty hard to find). It should be noted that the building/project of choice doesn't have to be about the topic you chose in that survey. Also, this project has to be presented during class, and although I didn't present because there were just way too many groups, it's really laid back, and after some basic info, Walker chimes in and dissects various elements of your poster and links them back to class concepts. Pretty neat. This project was worth 20%. Lastly, The final project, worth a whopping 40%, was with the same group, and you're supposed to redesign some real-life parcel of land around LA (everyone is assigned the same one) into something more beneficial that's related to your topic, all while incorporating concepts learned throughout the class. You submit your 10 slides and present them to the class, ideally for 10-12 minutes. This is also very doable as long as you don't have too many ideas, focus on how your deliverable will benefit the community, create a practical/feasible project, and INCORPORATE CORRECT INDICATORS (you'll know what this means when you get to it). Yes, indicators are like a huge point in this project, so don't forget them. Although the project and presentation were easy, Walker discusses some of your points after you present, and he can be quite picky (even doing as much as pointing out grammar errors). It's good feedback though, and the more concisely you present, the more time you'll have for feedback, and thus the more points of correction you'll have when submitting the slides (yes, you get to fix them before submitting them). However, be ready to know all parts of your project quite well (which is a given of course), because he does like to ask you further about certain things or challenge them, so a divide and conquer strategy might not be the best move (or if you do so, at least know what everyone else is doing).
That's pretty much it to this course; no exams, just assignments. Definitely doable with another, and maybe even 2, other classes during summer session. Just keep in mind that because the class isn't rigorous, it's really up to you to get a lot from this class. I was definitely excited to take this class after hearing Walker speak during the Sustainability Talks, and although it wasn't the most mind-blowing class, it definitely has reminded me why I love my major. 8/10 would take again.
This class equips the students with real world knowledge and experience while allowing the students to use creativity and imagination to design our own sustainable architecture sites. I think we're pretty lucky to be taught by an expert in the industry, too.
The field trip was sick and you get to see Wells roll up in his awesome little street-legal electric golf cart. Total quirky, santa cruz bro. Kinda reminds me of John Craigie.
You gotta take this course. Also sit in the front row on the first day of class if you need a PTE--shit's a war zone after the first lecture. He ended up giving everyone a PTE last winter, but I heard that wasn't the case the year prior.
This is such a fun, easy class. Wells gives really engaging lectures, and he is really good at what he does. The concepts we cover are very interesting, and I enjoyed learning about different aspects of green urbanism and sustainable architecture. During the summer, the class is 4 hours long (5-8:50 PM), so they get extremely long. I personally do not think that the class needs to be this long, but this is my only critique of the course.
Assignments are quite easy. You will have no problems getting a good grade on the first assignment (carbon footprint). The second and third assignments are group projects, but they are honestly not bad. When you divide the work up among your group mates, you only end up doing like one or two slides worth of work. These projects were not super time consuming, and were very doable. The third assignment acts like your final, but Wells is so nice that he allowed us to turn the project in again after we presented and received his critiques on the last day of class. There is also a fun field trip in Santa Monica on one Saturday. Wells shows you some of the urban concepts we talk about in class in this area. The field trip is a bit long, but still pretty cool.
Informative, easy class. This is likely the easiest Environment upper division course you will find. I even found it easier than Environment 10. Highly recommend. Put some effort into your assignments and you will get an A.
B e s t c l a s s e v e r !
Walker was pretty much only in LA for class once a week, but was otherwise out of town for business. He's not an actual professor at UCLA, but is hired because he does such an outstanding job in his field. There is 1 homework assignment about carbon footprinting and what you can do to make your's less, there's another assignment two I think, which was also pretty easy. And then two group projects. Luckily, I got put into a good group, but if your group sucks, you're pretty much screwed in the sense that you'll have to do all the work. In my group, we all split everything up equally and it made it realllyyyyy easy. I have never enjoyed an Environment class more, as he talks about really interesting concepts about buildings and structures, and then you look for them in the building you analyze (for project 1), and then include them in the structure you create (for project 2). I bomb all other enviro classes, no joke, but I got a solid A in this one, with truly minimal work. HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS!
Side note: summer class is for 4 hours, so does get really long. bring food. you don't have to take any notes, it's just like watching tv and eating a feast :)
The best professor I've had at UCLA. Extremely easy going and nice. Will have no problems getting an A in this class, just participate. Summer Classes can get long but it's very copable. Total of 3 assignments, the first one is about carbon footprintinf (extremely easy assignment) and the second one your group has to present on a certain topic and present on a poster (also easy). The final assignment takes more preparation which is a presentation about a project idea your group created.
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