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Posts tagged “Social Sciences

Best Class: Political Economy 100

In his course, political economy professor Alan Karras transforms himself from a Machiavellian Prince into a Hobbesian dictator and a pragmatist in the vein of Rousseau. He embodies Adam Smith, Hegel and Marx in turn, each with the command of a brilliant orator, all in attire that would convince any aesthetics aficionado that he’s stepped straight from the pages of The Sartorialist.

Professor Karras masterfully guides students through the canon of political and economic theories of the last five centuries. He challenges students to explore how the writings of this host of thinkers – largely dead, white, bearded men – have shaped the way we and our governments deal with the world and individuals.

Karras is a professor in the old school dealing with old schools of thought, but he will not accept old thinking. Your questions will be deflected back toward you. You’ll gain more than a repository of information – and bragging rights for conquering Hegel. Instead, students will question the assumptions and -isms that make up the modern world, and create their own.

-Noor Al-Samarrai

Best Library: C.V. Starr East Asian Library

Overlooking the verdant landscape of Memorial Glade, it’s impossible to ignore the majestic exterior of the C.V. Starr East Asian Library. Opened only in 2008, it is the newest addition to Cal’s already extensive system of libraries. Built with elegant bronze screens and a minimalist form, the building boasts a modern aesthetic when contrasted with the more classical Doe Library from across the Glade. But for all its novelty, the East Asian Library contains some of the world’s oldest manuscripts, maps, and records in its roughly 900,000 volumes of original Chinese, Japanese, Korean and other East Asian documents.

Sadly, I lack the skills to read any of those records. But a knowledge of East Asian languages isn’t necessary to appreciate the library. There’s sofas too, and a spotlight. It’s the perfect place to nap or peruse a periodical, but why would you? The East Asian Library is perfectly equipped for the more studious person but the view of the study nook can only be so pleasing. Instead, the library’s sophisticated design and expansive contents are enough of an excuse to visit a building that manages to meld both intellect and beauty.

-Jessica Pena