Sudent Comments on ECO357L
- Political Economy of International Crisis-
Spring 2008

These are all the written comments made by students in their course evaluations: the good, the bad and the ugly.

"I am so fortunate. If I go astray, others are certain to notice it." - Confucius

Section One:

This course has been the most intellectually stimulating class that I have ever taken. Not only did it present the opportunity to learn about a great deal of the issues that surround us in the world today, but it allowed me to challenge my personal ideas, values, and perceived understanding of these issues in their broad and small-scale applications. As has been mentioned before in lectures, etc., I only wish that the course had time to cover more issues in greater detail - I plan on continuing my own exploration of such vital issues in a similar fashion as well as continuing my university-led understanding by changing my major to International Political Economy and attending UT-Dallas simply to do so. Clearly this course has made a significant impression on myself, as has Prof. Cleaver. I wish I could continue to learn directly from him - he presents information in a very refreshing manner and despite having an extremely thorough understanding of the material, doesn't ever seem to get bored or loose the passion or sense of importance regarding the material - which is rare for a professor.

It's a course you don't wanna miss. The amount of workload was excessive and hard to keep up, but definitely worth it and pays off a lot. Being in Cleaver's course gives you the experience of reading original materials, not distilled information. He encourages students to meet outside of class an discuss the materials, which I have done, and if you do too, would give you more various experiences.

I personally experienced a dramatic change in my way of perceiving things I already knew and things I didn't know before. Just take it and you'll see what you will never see in any other economics classes: you will have a departure from mathematical and graphical representations of economic phenomenon, and start to see thing in your own framework.

I've gotten so much more out of this class than I ever expected to. I've never had a professor that not only pushed me, but made me want to go beyond the minimum and actually apply what I learn to my life. He's made me see my entire education in an entire new light. Taking one of Cleaver's classes has been the most valuable class I've experienced at UT. This class in particular has led me to see so much more about the world and the struggles of peoples than I was ever aware of before. There was an overwhelming amount of reading, but it was definitely worth it. I would recommend this class to anyone who is willing to not only work, but wants to learn values that go way beyond the curriculum.

I felt the course is well structured and it is amazing the amount of work you have put into this course. I feel that grading appropriation is very difficult and I would suggest it could be done more effectively with a series of essays throughout the semester or through interviews throughout the semester. I would highly recommend this class to anyone interested in expanding their minds. I feel that if the main point of the class is appropriation, there must be a better way to determine it.

More than any other instructor, Prof. Cleaver has been able to apply course curriculum to the real world, and I have gained a lot of insights from this course, even if his politics were/are very different from my own. Lectures did get repetitive, however and uncertainty about the grading format did cause a couple headaches for me this semester.

This course was entirely unique. At first it was difficult to figure out what was going on and adapt. The course covers far more material than can be reasonably expected to be learned. I disagreed with the vast majority of Cleaver's political opinions. Finally, I am not going to get a good grade in this class. With all that said, this class was one of the best I've ever taken. He makes sure you get a new perspective on world affairs. I would recommend the course very highly.

Taking a class with this structure was definitely a learning experience in itself. Probably the only class I have taken at UT where I couldn't get by obtaining a surface level knowledge of material. Learned a lot about myself and became impassioned about the global economy. After this course, regardless of how grades turn out, I will think of this class as one of my most memorable and one that I have continued my learning in. Really confusing/hard for someone who has always had very structured classes though.

Assignments/tests were either never returned, or were returned after some delay. Lectures are at times difficult to follow because they don't strictly speaking follow the power point. All of that said, this is a great course that forces one to think about both economic history and theory in new ways. Cleaver was very relaxed and actively supports class participation.

Your class has been an interesting and valuable experience. Stay enthusiastic about what you teach. You should try to be clearer on what you expect from us assignment-wise. Also don't assume we are uninterested if we don't always keep up with the readings, we are busy college students after all.

The appropriation assignments were too vague. Even if you don't like the rigid structure of the education system it is all we know and all we can deal with, at least at first. The discussion which started towards the final weeks was a good addition as too much lecture isn't as effective. Overall, very useful and interesting course, website info (syllabus, reading list) could be better streamlined or consolidated. Thanks, good luck.

The lack of instructions for the assignments made this course very stressful. However, the material we covered was some of the most interesting things I've encountered in any UT class.

Prof. Cleaver is clearly very, very, knowledgeable about all the material covered and is an amazing resource. He sympathized with our heavy workload and opinions, which is rare for a teacher. Despite my annoyance at the level of arduous reading and notes, I found myself learning a lot. Everything I'd heard about the course was true (good and bad) but overall it was a very worthwhile experience.

Good course, not the typical read-> repeat in lecture -> test memorization stuff that usually goes on. A lot of reading though, the stuff is very interesting but loses that when it is a couple hundred pages!!

The instructor has immaculate knowledge and is very engaging to listen to. Personal stories keep you very interested. Maybe a bit more organization wouldn't hurt.

I enjoyed this course a great deal. After having taken other economics and government courses here at UT, it was refreshing to hear this material from an alternative perspective.

Dr. Cleaver, while sometimes quirky, puts a very good spin on the distilled and spoon-fed material of other classes. This class puts a good real world feeling in people's reasoning, rather than a classroom theory mindset.

Assignments and grade distribution could have been stated more clearly. The readings assigned could have been cut down to the most important and relevant.

I enjoyed the content but wish my performance had not been evaluated through essays and notes. Readings were interesting but excessive, there was lack of discussion. I would take it again, definitely interesting, Prof. Cleaver is a wealth of knowledge and experience.

Like the test format (sections where you choose one of two). The hidden history presented is valuable in providing a more diverse view of world/subject. Perhaps add a current events element, since after this course I found many parallels in news stories.

The class was much more than I expected. We delved into topics that are extremely crucial today. Professor Cleaver is an excellent professor because he is extremely knowledge on these crises. If any of you are thinking about taking this course be aware that even though there is a lot of reading, the benefits are well worth it because you do become less ignorant about our world. It does change your life and perspectives. You will learn and remember more from this class than most; that is a guarantee.

Section Two

This is the best course I have had at UT so far. I was able to appropriate much of the course material and deepen my understanding of political economy.

This course is by far the best course I have taken at UT. Prof. Cleaver is great, extremely smart and very inspiring. I would recommend this course to anyone who is interested in learning about the world they live in as well as about themselves. The reading is a bit intense, but it was all very interesting and improves the overall understanding of events going on around us. I only wish we had more time in the course.

The course has been valuable to me and the professor offered interesting lectures and comments. I appreciated that many of the topics were relevant to current events. However the prof can be a little brash and intimidating or offensive at times. During some lectures he commented on things that had no relevance to the course and seemed more like a political rant.

Fantastic course that has inspired me to be more cognizant of politics and assumptions behind many issues in the news today. I feel that the subjects covered in the course, however, had not been covered in equal detail. About 3 weeks had been used to cover the material on Keynsianism, whereas other topics, like this last one on the crises of the natural world, had been given far less time - though perhaps that is mainly due to the sequence of the crisis. In general, however, VERY valuable course and by far the most interesting one I have taken at UT thus far.

I appreciate professor Cleaver's candor in addressing important issues. He does not skirt any issues.

Enjoyed the course, the readings were excellent except they got a bit overwhelming, it would have been nice if the standards/expectations for how to do the notes would have been clearly defined.

Instructor is extremely well read and knowledgeable of material covered. Tries to get students to take something of value away from course, not just memorize the material. There is a lot of reading, maybe a little too much, but it is the nature of the class, and most is necessary. Enjoyed listening to lectures.

This course could definitely benefit from granting the students a bit more freedom in how they gather their information and what topics they wish to concentrate on.

Too much reading. However, all the topics were very interesting. Maybe instead of turning in notes, you can make a simple quiz once a week. Taking notes while reading takes too long. Reading and then taking quiz proves you read the material just taking as taking notes does.

At first I thought this course would be impossible to pass but I was forced to take it since I need it to graduate. So I showed up to class nervously thinking I may failwell not quitethe rumor around UT is that prof. cleaver is a hard prof. but I've come to find out that you are actually the complete opposite. You go over it in class; it makes everything worthwhile. I feel this course has benefited the most out of any class I've taken at UT thus far. I feel like I have a new/different outlook to our current problems because of your assignments. I enjoyed having you as a prof and keep it up. PS. notes appropriation was not such a good idea for those who are willing to spend their entropy studying will do so one way or the other.

The tests have been graded subjectively in my opinion but because the TA's grade most of the tests this does not reflect on Cleaver as a professor. I am unsure of the calculations used to determine final grades which has caused me to contemplate the value of test scores and whether or not it is worth my time to find each TA (who grade different questions on each test) in order to raise my test scores.

Although the grading system does not necessarily match up to my preference, the class provided mush more information and knowledge than any other course at UT has done for me so far. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Thank you Professor Cleaver, I really enjoyed this class. It's amazing to learn how these things that happen in the world are all interconnected. I think this class gives an honest and intelligent assessment of the things that are happening. My only complaint is that one semester seems too short to cover all the material, but at least I feel that I have a concrete base from my judgments where before I only had a vague dissatisfaction. The only other thing was that the note-taking was too time consuming. I agree that appropriating the material is an important process, but it's a hard thing to do as an assignment. Still great class.

Professor Cleaver clearly shows an enthusiasm on the topics that we covered. The topics that we discussed were so interesting that it could take us a whole year to complete it due to the content of the issues. The course covers interesting topics such as immigration and Monetary Policy. However, the course load is somewhat high and requires hours to read, understand and take notes. The class was excellent; I would just like to cover more topics and more discussion.

Although I appreciate the freedom that Dr. Cleaver gave us with the structure of the writing components in this course - the ambiguity of what was actually required was frustrating - especially when faced with an overwhelming amount of reading. However, I found comfort in the fact that there is a curve and others will have to have the same issue. I can also understand that Cleaver is extremely knowledgeable in these areas and that it would be hard to narrow down the reading involved- and frustrating trying to get the bigger picture across in such a manner.

I know it was mentioned but I think the material should be covered in 2 classes (optional to take the second) Also- maybe a different way of getting class participation- small group chats about readings before lecture - more specific questions to go along with readings that could be thought of prior and help prepare for discussion. That being said - I truly appreciate this course and will carry it with me always.

Cleaver is easily one of the best professors I've had at UT. I thoroughly enjoyed the course and only wish it was broken up into two semesters so there was more time to really cover all the material. I think to some degree he could have communicated better with students outside of class (less didactically,) but I would not question his commitment to passing on knowledge to others. Cleaver's lectures were ALWAYS invigorating and thought-provoking and I would certainly recommend his classes to other students. He's completely open about his biases and provides a much needed balance among other economics professors.

This has been the best course I've ever taken in my entire life. Professor Cleaver is not only genuinely interested in objective learning, he is happy to talk with students about their views. The structure of the course at once does justice to the material in light of economics, but also surpasses that objective on some many levels. The assignment regarding intellectual trajectories has been very useful in my personal development as a human being and has not only changed the way I learn but helped me to take more out of all educational experiences. Professor Cleaver should be commended for his dedication to the ideals of objective thought and learning because, although he has very strong beliefs, he ensures that students feel comfortable disagreeing and holding diametrically opposing views. The only complaint I could fathom is that the office hours are only once a week, and that there is no discussion section to accompany the class, as it would have been a pleasure to spend more time with the material.

Dr. Cleaver, I think that if you started out by assigning perhaps two readings that are significant to the lectures instead of a conglomerate of the same you would have less people trying to cause a revolution against the reading. Overall this class was very very very good, in other words exceptional. The material taught in that class was enriching to many aspects of life. I found myself analyzing stuff in all of my other classes around the conceptual frame work in which Dr. Cleaver teaches this course. I do believe though that it would be ever more valuable if there was some information on the other side of the issues we covered, just for the sake of neutrality. I thought this class was going to be too much work but also now think it was all worth it. Thank you Dr. Cleaver for an amazing semester.

I am not an economics major and I'm very glad I took this course for these reasons: 1)Your perspective is very different than my business classes and you challenge us to think which is not an easy task. 2) You are clearly passionate about the material and show interest in our understanding of it. 3) your personal experiences that you shared are very interesting - thank you, 4) your tests are fairly easy and a good representation of what we know - I appreciate that very much. Some Critiques: 1) the conversational element of class is nice, but I would have liked a little more structure so I could know where we're going and how it all relates. 2) I think you could greatly increase class involvement by being a little less intimidating at first. 3) I took very little from the class notes. 4) scheduling your final on the last day of class would have been nice.

The material presented to us students was valuable but quite excessive in terms of length. A lot of the articles were redundant. The lectures were quite uninteresting and I did extremely well on the test just from reading the articles: please make your lectures lively by involving students. It was unclear how you wanted us to take notes and quite time consuming to summarize and reflect on more than 100 pages a week. The work load was too much and maybe that's why students stopped turning in notes. I like the test format you either know it or you don't. This class has made me think, explore and formulated my own opinions which is quite rare for any class at UT. I was extremely satisfied but thought the organization of the course could use improvement.

Overall I enjoyed the course, however I enjoyed it more after the reading assignments didn't require note taking. I feel I can get as much out of reading and interpreting the articles myself than writing notes. This course has forced me to think about world events differently and more critically than I did before. My recommendation is not to change your teaching style or the material. Simply reduce the amount of external reading or don't make note taking mandatory. Otherwise great class, although the tests were difficult I liked them because they forced me to use my brain. Something that is still lacking in many of my courses.

I liked the subject matter of this class and professor has a lot more enthusiasm for the subjects he teaches than most of my professors here. I however, I had some very serious complaints about the course. For one, the reading was excessive for a non-graduate level course. Two, the expectation that we were asked to appropriate something from every single reading and write it all down was from the beginning an unrealistic demand. Third, although many of your digressions are interesting and entertaining, I feel like a lot of the time you deviated too far from the subject we're supposed to be learning about. Some whole classes I leave feeling I know more about your travels in France than I do about debt crisis. A more straight-forward approach to teaching can sometime be good, especially if you're going to stick to the traditional model of having us recite back what we've learned in tests.

Thank you for practicing what you preach. It is so refreshing to learn from someone who understands so clearly the student's side of things, I know this sounds fake, but I really enjoyed this class and the ideals Cleaver upholds and stands by. Never change.

It's refreshing to see someone looking at the situation from the accurate perspective rather than some trumped media network or biased writer. I expressed in my intellectual trajectory paper that I wanted to know why some things happen, the reason behind the reason, and little did I know that was exactly what the course and yourself stand for. I appreciate the time you put into teaching us about the behind-the-scenes and yet in-your-face situations that have and are still perplexing the world.

Course wise very interesting. What you put into it, you get out. Prof Cleaver is a brilliant professor but his wiliness to help students with their grade is minimal. Take this course for the interest in material not for a good grade. Also this class has very extreme people in it with views that are not mainstream. Be wary if this may bother you. Workload is the highest I have had in college as well. Prof. Cleaver will broaden your knowledge and views through which was a major plus for me.

This was a valuable course although I wish we'd spent less time discussing the international Financial crisis. Gracias por todo.

There is nothing that I have to say that I have not already said so I just want to thank you for another great and mind expanding class and I hope that you will continue to teach more classes as inspiring as this one.