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Douglas Birsch
(History/ Philosophy)


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Past 6 Mo.
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This Professor's Average Ratings
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Not Effective (1)
6.50
Very Effective (10)
What is the difficulty level of classes taught by this professor?
Very Difficult (1)
3.70
Very Easy (10)
How would you rate this professor's availability outside of the classroom?
Never Around (1)
7.47
Always Around (10)
What is your overall rating? Would you recommend this prof to your friends? 
Not Recommend (1)
6.45
Highly Recommend (10)

This professor has been rated 20 time(s).


Student Comments about this Professor
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Positive Comments (12)

Subject: He's a decent guy  (Jan 19 2010, 01:48PM)
Student: Anonymous (Psychology)
Class:Intro to Ethics (B)
 14 of 39 students found this review helpful.

 I took Birsch as a senior because I needed a gen ed in whatever category ethics falls under. Overall Dr Birsch is a pretty good guy, there are quizzes on the chapters the day he starts teaching them but you are allowed to take notes on the reading and use them for the quiz. No exams and only 2 papers to write in addition to the final, which he gives you a review for and basically gives you the answers. I would recommend him to anyone.
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Subject: Challenging  (Dec 11 2008, 05:31PM)
Student: Anonymous ()
Class:Comparative Religions (A)
 13 of 38 students found this review helpful.

 I've seen a lot of bad things said about Professor Birsch- at first I understood why- however, I've come to realize that most of the people writing these comments gave up quickly when their expectations were not met. If you're reading these "HE WAS BORING AND HIS TESTS WERE HARD HE GAVE ME A C ON MY GOOD PAPER" reviews and taking them seriously, there's not much I can say for you... but if you can take constructive criticism and be thorough, you will excel at this class.
The class is moderately reading intensive- most of the assignments are given within reasonable time frame (with the exception of the Qur'an, which was to be read within a week while also writing a 5-page paper). There is an unannounced (though easily predictable) quiz the class after a reading assignment from the textbook. The quiz is challenging, and will require reading the book. Any hand-written notes are allowed, and if one reads the text the material that will be on the quizzes is fairly obvious (If at any point it says "A fundamental concept of ___ism is ____" WRITE IT DOWN). There are also 3 in-class writing assignments (about a page of solid content will suffice) which are announced- the prompt is usually either given or strongly hinted at the class before.
There are two papers in this class, both comparing two sets of religious ideas. They are both 5 pages and require quotations from both the textbook and the holy text of the beliefs in question. I did poorly on my first paper, but his criticism is very through (even if it seems somewhat vague at first). Birsch clearly wants depth and sufficient understanding- the most important advice I can give is to write the paper as if someone who knew nothing about the faith in question was reading it. Assume nothing, explain everything, and for the love of God back your statements up with examples.
His final is fairly intense but again fair. You will write roughly 5 pages in a 2-hour span, over the course of 4-5 prompts. 10 possible prompts are given out about a week before the final, and 4 or 5 are selected (he selected the more specific and in-depth prompts for our final).
He does offer some extra credit- about 25 points, about a 10% on one paper, 50% on an in-class writing or enough to compensate for bombing one quiz. Because it is a high-level course, there is no attendance policy, and admittedly some classes (videos, day two of a two-day discussion) are relatively unnecessary, though sometimes he drops hints about upcoming quizzes and tests at these, so you want to come if you are struggling.
All in all, a satisfying- if not very challenging class- I would recommend Birsch to hard workers who take Philosophy seriously and want hard-hitting in-depth learning.
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Subject: Entertaining teacher who knows his stuff  (Oct 23 2008, 07:08PM)
Student: Anonymous (Comm Journ)
Class:Intro to Ethics (B)
 13 of 38 students found this review helpful.

 I really liked Dr. Birsch, I think he's a good teacher and is pretty straight-forward with grading. His quizzes are easy to Ace as long as you take brief notes on the reading. He's always willing to discuss grades, and is approachable. I would take his class again.
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Subject: Down-to-Earth guy  (Sep 29 2008, 09:08AM)
Student: Anonymous (Communications)
Class:Intro to Ethics (C-)
 12 of 37 students found this review helpful.

 Dr. Birsch will make sure you pay attention and get the material through your head, one way or another. The negative reviews on here seem like they're from people who didn't pay attention because they slept in the back of the room. We had class on the top, drafty, creeky-floorboard room of Gilbert. But it was worth the walk in the snow to get there and freeze my ass off because he was the funniest, nicest prof. I had my freshman year. The way to get good grades is to sit close to the front (duh) and take notes on what he SAYS as well as writes on the board. Read the blue book and check the questions in the back after each chapter. Also, get a head start on the papers; they will take a long time if you want to get them right, and he'll check a rough draft if you want. The best thing about Birsch is that he may never learn your name, and he'll just call you whatever he wants to call you. You may be a girl sitting in the front row, and for 75 minutes, 2 days a week, you'll be "Fred."
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Subject: Good Prof  (Nov 01 2007, 11:18AM)
Student: Anonymous ()
Class:Ethics (--)
 14 of 39 students found this review helpful.

 Dr Birsch is a very nice guy. He has a dry sense of humor which is very funny to listen to. He teaches the material well and truly cares about the students. The class consists of pop quizzes(can use notes)writing assignments(easy) and 2 essays(take a long time but simple) and a cumulative final. Take him-he is a nice guy!
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Subject: Good Prof  (May 16 2005, 10:30PM)
Student: Anonymous (English)
Class:Intro to Ethics (A)
 12 of 37 students found this review helpful.

 Dr. Birsch wants you to get your money's worth out of his classes. His examples are great and at the end of the year you feel like you've learned a lot. As long as you pay attention in class, do the reading, and write the papers and final based off of this you'll do just fine. Dr. Birsch is also just a plain nice guy.
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Subject: Stay on your toes  (Apr 09 2004, 01:17PM)
Student: Anonymous (undeclared)
Class:Intro to Ethics (C+)
 14 of 39 students found this review helpful.

 This prof is crazy. He tries to be serious but he will fool you. He has great jokes and keeps you interested in whatever the topic may be. You have to stay on your toes though because he wrote the book and if you don't know your sh*t then beware. He grades papers very fairly but is always willing to help and will come to school if you really need him to. All his quizzes are open notes and we had no tests. You have 2 papers to do and a final with essays. All in all........funnyass man, very cool prof!!!
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Subject: funny guy  (Apr 08 2004, 11:14AM)
Student: Anonymous (Sociology)
Class:Intro to Ethics (--)
 12 of 37 students found this review helpful.

 i enjoyed this class so much that i'm gonna take the 2nd level of it next semester. it's pretty easy, you havta read the chapters in his book for the pop quizzes, but he lets you use any notes you take on them, so that's easy. the 2 papers he goes over almost completely in class, so just write down what he does and your paper is basically written for you! take this guy for an easy philosophy class!
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Subject: Good Teacher  (Nov 20 2002, 06:21PM)
Student: Anonymous (Communications/Journalism)
Class:Intro to Ethics (-)
 13 of 38 students found this review helpful.

 Although I can see where some of the negative comments are coming from, overall the class is great! Dr. Birsch wrote the book in a really understandable format. And if you read the chapters when you're supposed to and take notes on them then you're guaranteed all A's on your quizes. He lets you use the notes and you usually know when they're going to be. The only tough part is the writing. He grades like a nazi on the two papers. But class is really interesting and his sense of humor is great. He's like a little kid!
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Subject: He's cool  (Nov 04 2002, 10:35AM)
Student: Anonymous (Communications)
Class:Intro to Ethics, Media Ethics (B)
 13 of 38 students found this review helpful.

 This guy is really cool, you have to go to class, participate and actaully do the reading, but if you do, you will understand so much and he's actually really funny!
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Subject: Its not that bad  (Oct 28 2002, 05:36PM)
Student: Anonymous (Sociology)
Class:Intro to Ethics (A)
 13 of 38 students found this review helpful.

 Dr Birsch is a pretty cool guy. Yeah, the class is somewhat challenging but most of the topics are not only interesting but alot of common sense. To get a good grade on the papers all you have to do is get them done a few days early and go to his office and he'll tell you everything to change. If you are actually interested in learning, take this class.
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Subject: Good Prof  (Oct 27 2002, 12:57AM)
Student: Anonymous (Pub Admin)
Class:Intro to Ethics (-)
 12 of 37 students found this review helpful.

 Well, first off I definently see where the people are coming from who made the negative comments. But I really do enjoy his class, the papers are hard, but you should get a "C" easily, but you must follow the directions to the bone. READ, he gives 5 pop quizes on the reading, you are allowed to use notes for them. He also gives 2 pop quizes on the class discussion. Alot of in class group work. He has a real dry sense of humor, I think he is funny.
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Negative Comments (5)

Subject: He has a doctorate?  (May 04 2008, 09:17PM)
Student: Anonymous (English)
Class:Intro to Ethics (C)
 12 of 37 students found this review helpful.

 I thought this class would be cake. My roommate had it last semester, so he was able to help me out with the general outline and structure of the papers. As an English Writing Major, who received nothing but A's in my other writing courses in high school and college, I expected to receive high marks in this class on the in-class writing assignments and on the papers he assigned. I was wrong. To my dismay, I soon realized that professors of Ethical Studies (at Shippensburg) do not have to pass a proficiency exam in spelling, writing, or formal sentence structure. I have no idea how a man of such passionate ignorance and obvious disregard for excellence could ever maintain a job anywhere else other than K-Mart. I realized this to be an issue once he asked the class on a daily basis how to spell words that he used in his published book. My first essay earned me a D+. I took my paper to his office and he continued to insist that my grade was well-earned due my my lack of knowledge in organization and structure. I took the blow, determined to still earn an "A" in the class (to obtain my 4.0). I implemented all of the strategies he told me to use on my second paper, and I did so. I talked to previous students of his about the paper, and received a great deal of help on the paper. My fruitless efforts got me a C+. The in-class writing assignments further lowered my grade when I wrote compound sentences and simplified his vague and disjunct thoughts into short, neat, and conjunct phrases that fit perfectly. Needless to say, he did not like his students writing what was correct, but he rather preferred to take off points for what he calls "NTBA" or "not the best answer". If what he said to write on the assignment in class is not the best answer, I asked myself, then what is? The quizzes are open-note. Should have been cake. However, if you answer them word-for-word as his textbook defines the words, you will receive comments and point deductions for...yes, believe it or not..."NTBA". Honestly, Dr. Birsch is a disgrace to Shippensburg University and should be relieved of his title as "doctor". He obviously has not earned such a title nor implemented anything he learned.
**The course requires 2 textbooks - one blue, one black. Do NOT buy the black book. He does not use it for any graded assignments until the final, for which he tells you everything you will need to know from the black book ("Ethics for Everybody" by David Benatar).. The blue book ("Ethical Insights" by "Dr." Douglas Birsch) is used for his grading scale. If you memorize the book and kiss his ass, you pass the course.
All in all, this class did not teach me anything about ethics, only that I wasted 1/5 of my tuition taking this class and it lowered my QPA because he is clearly not qualified in anything but writing his own books.
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Subject: drop this class  (Jan 24 2006, 03:15PM)
Student: Anonymous ()
Class:Buddhism (--)
 12 of 37 students found this review helpful.

 This guy wants extensive readings done in multiple books for every class, 8 unannounced pop quizes to make sure you're doing the readings, 3 tests, 4 in-class writing assignments, and two 15 page research papers done on buddhism, WTF? Way too much work for a philosphy class, which you cant even major in here at SHIP. If you're taking a philsophy minor I suggest you look for a another 300 level philosophy class to fulfill the requirements.
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Subject: jerk  (Apr 03 2003, 10:56AM)
Student: Alex (History)
Class:Intro. to Ethics (--)
 14 of 39 students found this review helpful.

 Do not take Intro. to Ethics with Douglas Birsch. If you go into his office for help after getting a bad grade he makes you feel sub-human. I do not recommend this class because the guy will treat you like crap and is not very helpful.
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Subject: Pissed Off  (Oct 16 2002, 01:20AM)
Student: Pissed (Comm/Journ)
Class:Intro Ethics (C)
 13 of 38 students found this review helpful.

 His papers are rediculous!!! He grades so hard and he will embarrasses you in class, also if you think you can bull shit in class well, he wrote the text book... SOO DON'T TAKE HIM!!!
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Subject: Boring Sh*t  (Aug 21 2002, 02:47PM)
Student: Anonymous (Undeclared)
Class:Intro To Ethics (D)
 12 of 37 students found this review helpful.

 This guy takes a hard class and makes it even harder. He expects you to read all this stuff out of a book he wrote and another book and actually understand it and discuss it in class. His quizzes are impossible and he grades the papers very hard. Don't take him!
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Neutral Comments (3)

Subject: Don't take as a Gen Ed!  (Jan 19 2006, 11:49AM)
Student: Anonymous (Comm/Journ)
Class:Intro to Ethics (B-)
 12 of 37 students found this review helpful.

 He warns you at the beginning, actually he practically begs you to drop his course if you are looking for an easy A. But if you are really interested in whatever the class is about then I highly recommend him. He is an excellent professor, he knows what he is talking about and likes discussions. He is NOT the kind of professor that loves the sound of his own voice, he really wants students to get more out of the course than a requirement for Category A, but he is not going to hold your hand. His papers are extremely difficult, but thankfully we only had one. Also take him for a night class if at all possible. He really seems to loosen up at night and he encourages students to interact and he makes sure that you have a chance to understand what he is talking about. I definitely recommend him and at the end even though I only got a B- it is the first real grade I think that I earned here.
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Subject: NOT EASY  (Aug 25 2002, 10:26PM)
Student: Anonymous (Comm/Journ)
Class:Ethics (D)
 13 of 38 students found this review helpful.

 If your looking for easy, FORGET IT!! I had a B until the final, if you don't write word for word what he wants forget your grade not only on the final but on the impossible quizzes too. Nice guy, it seems like he wants to help you but doesn't. Interesting class but forget your grade!
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Subject: Tough grader  (Aug 07 2002, 10:36AM)
Student: Anonymous (comp sci)
Class:into ethics (C+)
 12 of 37 students found this review helpful.

 He is entertaining and enjoyable to be in class with, but watch out for the 2 essays, they are graded very tough and are worth most of your grade. Even if you go see him and he tells you what you have to change in the paper to do well, and you change everything, you may still only get a B. Not a bad class, but if your looking for an easy A, don't take him. But for some reason if you like ethics and want to learn, by all means take him.
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