Students' Written Comments from Course Evaluations

Economics 357L, Political Economy of International Crisis
Spring 2003

(Included here are ALL student comments, favorable and unfavorable. The only changes are minor grammatical corrections. The originals are available to anyone who might want to consult them.)

This course is by far the best economics course I have taken at the University of Texas. Dr. Cleaver is very well organized and devoted to the course website, which is an excellent addition to the course. I have two criticisms: 1. There could have been more class discussion and debate. Perhaps if Dr. Cleaver devoted the first or last 15 min. of class to current events, recently published articles, or questions and comments from students, there would be more student-teacher and student-student interaction. 2. There was too much assigned reading. I like that there was lots of material available to us to read, and I like the "*" next to the more important articles. Perhaps there could simply be fewer articles with the "*" next to them? Also, I think if there were reading assignments on a daily basis, instead of the "read the materials at your own pace" method, there would be more reading on a regular basis, instead of cramming before test days. P.S. I liked watching The Trials of Henry Kissinger movie and would like to watch more. Perhaps add a film showing discussion section to the course? I know you mentioned a lot of relevant movies and it would be cool if we watched them (like Wednesday nights from 5-7 have a film showing as a part of the course).

I thoroughly enjoy your classes and lectures, this is my second course with you, because I feel I learn so much from your courses, despite all the time I have to devote to readings. Without a doubt I spend the majority of my time trying to complete reading the articles posted for this class. I fell like I learn a lot but I find it difficult to demonstrate the time and effort I devote on the exams. In the History of Economic Thought you also posted review questions for exams. I think doing the same for this course would be very beneficial to the students. The questions also helped me to tie the readings together. Again, I've learned more from this course than from any other (although it is depressing and has made me very cynical towards government.) and really appreciate your opinions and experience. Thank you and have a good summer!

I think lectures were highly thought-provoking and unabashedly one-sided. I must say that all arguments of his were well-supported and much needed for many students, if only to spark some doubt/curiosity/questioning of mainstream news/education. Some diatribes tended slightly towards conspiracy theory, but again, a fascinating and highly underrepresented viewpoint @ this university.

I found the discussion on the Middle East crisis very intriguing and the correlation to the course description was also maintained as well. Although I disagree with some issues I found that this course has spurred me to look deeper into some issues and crisis I took at face value, and find my own answers.

If you wanna take a course that will teach you something about the real world we live in then take this course and you won't regret it. Prof. Cleaver is one of the few professors that know what is going on in the world. If you need news on a regular basis and are aware of your surroundings in the world then this course will be easy for you.

I am very happy to have taken this class. It has been refreshing to get another viewpoint apart from the predominant neoclassical theory taught in Economics. Dr. Cleaver provides a wide range of material from many sources in order to validate his arguments.

I like the topics covered. I wish that more time could have been spent on the crisis of diplomacy section. The readings were all interesting. Thanks for having a well-organized class!

This course was very interesting, but sometimes it seemed to get caught up in discussions, which were not relevant to the class. Saying that, I would also like to say I enjoyed them. The readings were very interesting and hopefully I will be able to go back and reread/read more material because I think the readings could one day be very useful.

I learned a lot from this course. The material was sometimes excessive but it's worth it. Dr. Cleaver knows what he talks about and he is very charismatic when he lectures. It is hard at the beginning because you have no idea of what to expect in the exam. But after the 1st exam you could definitely bring your grade up. I recommend this course to any Economics student.

Another wonderful class. My 3 classes with Dr. Cleaver have been the highlight of my UT career. Why is not at least 1 of them required for economics majors?! Count on Dr. Cleaver for reasoned analysis and placing events in historical perspective, instead of jumping to conclusions based on assumptions and rhetoric. I really appreciated Dr. Cleaver amending the syllabus to discuss the war in Iraq. There is a fairly large amount of reading, but most of it is quite interesting.

Overall this is one of the most interesting classes I have taken at UT. I will however suggest that the number of assigned readings be reduced. For students taking class loads greater than 15 hours, it becomes difficult to keep up. However I must stress that Prof. Cleaver is one of the best at UT's Economics Dept.

To get an A in this course, you had to do the reading which I believe was excessive. Cleaver communicated the information well, which showed he had a thorough understanding for the course. The course was not very energetic. Cleaver's style of teaching was pure lecture.

I enjoyed this class because you tried to explain some of the true meaning behind int'l politics and policies. I was especially impressed with the amount of info you have collected on all the subject matter we discussed. This, as well as your History of Eco Thought class, have been two of my favorite classes at UT and I highly recommend them. Sometimes you demand a lot in the way of reading but you grade fairly and on a curve- and beyond that the info seems necessary and is very interesting.

The professor was really good with the info. I had some trouble in English and he helped to figure out problems.

I personally didn't care for the theoretical physics talk; however, I did enjoy that we changed the syllabus to incorporate current events. Also, this class didn't seem as well organized as Cleaver's other upper division classes, but there is a certain charm to any Cleaver class.

This is a very interesting class. There are a bit too many reading assignments. Lectures are very interesting and bring new perspectives to old ideas.

There were way too many reading assignments! Sometimes you talk too fast during lecture. I love the way you're so passionate about the issues and teaching.

My expectations for this course were very much fulfilled. It took all the policy that we learned in our lower-division economic courses, and applied it to the real world/real life examples. Prof. Cleaver is an excellent lecturer, very clear, very thorough (although, at time biased!). This class went beyond what I had expected. I recommend this course to all economics students.

I have really enjoyed this class. Dr. Cleaver provides tons of information on all sides of the issues. In addition to communicating the content of the class he has prepared us for seeking out further knowledge of what has and will occur in our world. Very valuable class.

It was great to finally take a business/economics course that provided an opposing point of view, unlike the usual pro-capitalist, mindless rhetoric usually shoved into my brain. I also enjoyed using articles and papers as opposed to textbooks. I learned a lot more than I expected to in this class. Even though the amount of reading was excessive, I always felt that I was able to get out of this class what I put into it.

Great class, I love the discussions. The website and all its contents is invaluable. I hope to take your class on Marxist Economics in the fall.

Very interesting course, very knowledgeable teacher too. However, too little time to have an organized way to follow every topic and the reading due to the broad scope of each chapter. On the other hand again, it is the only way to get a broad picture of the world situation.

Lectures were very interesting. You would leave class with a new perspective of how diplomacy, politics of economics and the rules of the world work. The professor kept in touch with current events, if you knew of an interesting article or whatever information you had, he will get a pen and paper, write the source and read it later.

Instructor communicated material well, the only change I could see is a better review or study guide before taking the exams.

The course was extremely interesting, but at the same time very time consuming. The subject matter makes it all worth while though, and it's necessary to have discussions. Can the class be set up to have discussion sessions? I think they could really complement the course.

An exceptional course. Taught by the greatest professor at UT!

Professor Cleaver clearly has a vast knowledge of the subject matter, and is very good at conveying information. In addition he constantly looks for new, interesting sources to read and analyze so as to get more information on each subject. He does, however, have a rather left-wing stance on a lot of issues and I warn that while he makes very good argument you still need to try to dissect them as most are spun off a socio-political framework. This course has taught me a lot and I am happy that I was able to have this professor again.

This class challenged me to think - not just learn what someone else thought about. I'm glad that I didn't have to buy a course packet but I ended up printing out most of the articles anyway, so I'm not sure how much that saved me. I know that it was harder to keep up with the reading because they weren't always in front of me when I wanted. Someone should really write of compile a textbook for this class.

There's no doubt that Cleaver has the intelligence, passion and the credentials to teach the class effectively. The only problem is that his vast knowledge and quick remarks make it very intimidating to ask questions. When one asks a question the person, it seems, is ridiculed for not knowing the answer. Cleaver teaches well but should leave himself more open to questions.

I needed more organization in this class to be able to keep up with the reading and know when my tests were actually going to be. I did not like how you used the class format as a way to spout off your own political ideas - especially when these ideas were not well substantiated with evidence or it was clear that you had not made a serious investigation to see what was really happening.

I like a course that is structured in a way that you are able to get as much from the course as you want. This one was that way. Improvement never hurts.

If a student didn't have to worry about retaining everything that he/she hears in the lectures, he or she would really enjoy the discussions that are carried on. This slides provide a very broad and general idea of what is discussed in the class. Each line can be expanded into 2 to 3 pages. The exams sometimes feel like a race to write the fastest.

This is the second course I've taken by Prof. Cleaver, and I'll say that quite frankly, it's the reason I'm probably still interested in Economics and academics in general. His lecture style feels more like an informative discussion than a stand-at-the-podium-and-read-to-you session. One minor complain is the sometimes inclusion of unnecessary anecdotes. Fortunately, these break up the monotony of the info presented, at least. Recommended for all majors, if you want to actually exercise you thinking capabilities.

His biases do him a disservice as a teacher. The reading consists of 10 articles that agree with the professor for every 1 he supplies that does not, although he discredits those reading in his pre-read summaries. Later he says, "don't take my word for it evaluate the readings on you own."

This class was a lot of work and it was very difficult to keep up with all the readings. BUT I found this course to be the most valuable class. Cleaver's approach to teaching should be applauded. It is very satisfying to know that there are people out there who don't give a care what other people think! This man expresses his ideas and they are most eye-opening and give you a different view on the world we live in today. I'd love to take another class like this where the professor spoke his mind! My only regret from taking this course is that I took it alongside ECO 420K and was not able to dedicate as much time as I'd like to all the readings! Thanks Cleaver! It's much appreciated.

Too many readings to stay on top of the issues as they were being discussed. Slow down the class so that discussions can emerge. The class has interesting topics but it would be more interesting if the students were involved. I will have to finish the readings over the summer.

I am very glad that I took this class. I have learned so much about American foreign policy - an area which I knew nothing about. I also really like how Cleaver allowed us to study the current situation in Iraq. I feel very grateful that I took this class during this semester I was very happy with the tests they are very fair - also, I like the way we are evaluated - 3 tests - no dumb presentations. Lastly I would like to express how happy I am that the Eco dept. offers this class. This is the last eco class I took, and honestly this is the only one that I feel has been of value to me. I wish I had take more of Cleaver's classes and fewer from some of the other professors.