Solve the course quandry

For the sea of rising freshmen attending Colonial Inauguration, perhaps no task is as daunting as selecting a class schedule for the fall semester.

With no knowledge of GW’s professors and minimal guidance from upperclassmen, CI attendees will be codifying four months of their life cold. Luckily, The Hatchet has compiled a fall 2005 course guide by asking upperclassmen which classes they liked best as freshmen.

Use this guide to help determine which courses will help your GPA and keep you entertained. And remember – you don’t have to sign up for any 8 a.m. courses or make any trips to Mount Vernon, despite what you may be told.


A good way to fulfill some requirements is by taking an Anthropology class. One student recommended Introduction to Archaeology (ANH 003) and said it was one of her favorite classes.

“Professor Cline is incredibly knowledgeable about everything he teaches – his lectures about ancient sites are always accompanied with slides of when he went to dig there,” she said.

Cline explained that the class discusses such subjects as Troy, the Egyptian pyramids and mummies, King Tut’s tomb, Jericho, the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Chinese Terracotta Army. Cline will also teach a dean’s seminar for freshmen (CLAS 801), entitled “History and Homer: Did the Trojan War take place?”

Cline is a talking head on the History and Discovery channels and runs archaeological excavations – this year in Israel – in which he encourages students to join him.

Students also recommended taking anthropology courses with professors Robert Shepherd and Kannan Nambiar, who are both approachable. Nambiar’s socio-cultural anthropology class (ANTH 002) has multiple choice tests, and he said he tries to create a friendly, positive learning atmosphere. His course covers every aspect of human beings including the thoughts and beliefs of different cultures.

“Anthropology, if you teach it right, is a fun subject,” Nambiar said.

Political Science

Students recommended Introduction to American Government (PSC 002) with Lee Sigelman or Forrest Maltzman. Maltzman is an interesting professor who makes class fun, though the course can be tough and requires at least some prior knowledge of political science.

“The students who get the most from my classes are those who come eager to learn, willing to think outside the box and who are willing to make my classes a priority,” Maltzman said. “A sense of humor helps too.”

Some students recommended taking Introduction to Comparative Politics (PSC 001) with professor Mark Croatti. Students also recommended Michael Sodaro, who seems to have a love-him-or-hate-him reputation on campus. One student described Sodaro as a “genius when it comes to European politics.” Another described his course as “a waste of time.”

Croatti said he allows students to serve 20 hours over the course of a semester at an internship as an alternative to writing a paper in order to give them a taste of what the city has to offer without hurting their studies. He said he has a “hand-picked” list of hundreds of international organizations and interest groups that work on issues relevant to his class, and 50 of the groups have had his students so often they often hold spots just for them.

“It’s a great way for GW students to get involved and build their resume at the same time,” Croatti said.

He said that despite what some students say, his class isn’t easy and students must attend in order to succeed.

“Despite Internet postings to the contrary,” Croatti said, “grades vary in my class and they fall into the full spectrum, although I think the students that do well enjoy blogging more than the others.”


Students interested in taking Introduction to Psychology should be sure to ask older students about professors because their quality varies widely. Freshmen who plan on taking the course should consider taking it with professor Judie Vajda. Students said her course is interesting and should help your GPA.

“I hope that students will take (from the course) an appreciation of how important it is to have some understanding of how individuals influence, and are influenced by, the behavior of others, how we think, and how we interpret our everyday experiences,” she said.

Vajda also said she tries to keep her class fun.

“I find humor to be a terrific learning tool and I use it frequently,” she said.


Economics with professor Robert Trost received praise from students. Trost gives so many A’s that students have coined the phrase “Coast with Trost.”

Trost said his microeconomics course teaches students about market equilibrium in a supply and demand model and the theory of production and firm behavior.

“(A)ll professors at GWU hope students leave (Economics) 11 with a better understanding and appreciation for how our economy produces the goods and services we all enjoy in a free market economy but many take for granted,” Trost said.


No professor received as much praise from students as Martin Zysmilich, who teaches “baby chem.” In the fall, Zysmilich teaches Environmental Chemistry (CHEM 003) and Medicinal Chemistry (CHEM 004). Students said he keeps his classes relatively easy, and they are great options for non-science majors who want to fill a requirement. He also offers extra credit.

“In both courses I provide the very basics of chemistry and then we apply those concepts to topics that are making the headlines in the newspapers: global warming, energy production, ozone layer depletion, drugs of misuse, drugs for HIV and AIDS (and) nutritional chemistry,” he said.

Many upperclassmen are quick to point out that Introduction to Geology courses – typically referred to as “rocks for jocks” – are not so easy after all. Students also caution that astronomy is about more than just stars and involves lots of math. Biology is doable, but best avoided.


Introduction to Logic (PHIL 45) is a relatively easy (though sometimes dull) way to fulfill a math requirement. In this class, students will learn about symbolic logic and fallacies of arguments instead of toiling away on their graphic calculators.

Students also suggested that people who were not “mathletes” in high school should avoid calculus. Several students also said that Math of Politics (MATH 007), where students learning about voting systems and the Electoral College, and Mathematical Ideas (MATH 009), where students learn about social choice, are good ways to fulfill general curriculum requirements.

Some students find statistics to be simple, others find it to be incredibly difficult. If you need to take an Introduction to Statistics class, don’t fret; just keep up with class and read the textbook frequently.

Art History

Students should be advised that despite the jokes about art history majors, these classes are some of the most difficult GW has to offer. Tests involve a great deal of memorization, requiring students to identify works by title, date and artist. That said, these classes could also be very rewarding for art aficionados.

There are two survey art history classes – AH 31, which goes from prehistoric times to the start of the Renaissance, and AH 32, which covers art occurring during the Renaissance and afterwards. Both courses can have difficult tests, but the survey teachers, including Chris Gregg and Chris Wilson, are very knowledgeable and have engaging lectures.

Professor Barbara von Barghahn-Calvetti, teaching Spanish Art II and Baroque art in the North, is a favorite among students. She frequently jokes during lectures, offers extra credit and has tests that are less difficult because many of her students are not art history majors.


Honors students seem to universally praise professor Matthew O’Gara, whose proseminar classes have been termed “enjoyable, informative and not a horrible workload.” This year he teaches Ancient Political Philosophy (HONR 15:12), where students will be exposed to Plato, Aristotle and Cicero, among other texts.


Students should try enrolling in one of GW’s many athletic courses, listed under the exercise & sports activities heading. Signing up for scheduled exercise is good way to prevent (or at least delay) the dreaded freshman 15 and can help you learn new sports you may be interested in. Popular classes include racquetball, yoga and karate. Be sure to keep an eye on these courses because they fill up quickly.


Students in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences have to take one creative arts class. Overachieving GW students may object to this, but in actuality, participating in an art class can help reduce stress and can be a refreshing break during the day. Many students enjoy the creative writing classes GW offers. Classes involve a good deal of writing, as expected, but students are usually pleased with their grades.

Drawing is a good choice for both beginners and students looking to improve their skills. Students practice exercises, draw from live models and are given plenty of time to experiment on their own. Professor Molly Springfield gives helpful advice and grades on effort, improvement and technique, and not necessarily the overall quality of the work, much to the relief of less-advanced students.

A word to the wise: don’t take Intro to Photography unless you are serious about the subject. Students say the class is interesting but can take up huge amounts of time.

School of Media and Public Affairs

Freshmen who have been admitted to the SMPA, and those who plan on applying their sophomore years, should take SMPA 50, which is a history of journalism. If you read the book and memorize important names, you’ll score an easy A in the class. Some students grow frustrated with Journalism 111, and the class is not an easy A, but it is a required class for many students.

Students recommend professor Sean Aday for Journalism 100, the Theory and Practice of Journalism, but caution that while his class is interesting he does not dispense many A’s.

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