Student testimonies and evaluations

Fri 12/14, 6:27 AM

Hey Laurent,

I just wanted to email you to once again thank you for everything you’ve done this semester. It’s truly been a pleasure to be in your class (and recitation last semester), for a number of reasons. Not only did you successfully teach us the relevant information of the syllabus, but more importantly, you managed to frame the entire class in terms of “how it matters” in real-world application. From the awesome guest speakers, to your personal anecdotes, your approach to this class was a genuine pleasure to be a part of. As I mentioned to you earlier in the semester, I had been considering adding a sociology minor before this semester. However, it was you, both as an instructor AND as a person/role model that truly opened my eyes to the value of studying sociology. Frankly, you displayed (just through being yourself) how studying these social problems and sociological concepts can not only make us more intelligent people, but in my opinion, better people. I just want you to know that I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity to learn from you, and to get to know you through your stories and personal experiences that you shared with our class. Not only that, but you treated us all as intelligent, responsible adults whose opinions mattered; something that is unfortunately not always the case with college professors. Though I am (sadly) unable to take your environmental class next semester (the credits would literally do nothing for my degree unfortunately as it’s a lower division class), I sincerely hope to continue my relationship with you as long as you are at CU. Whether that takes the form of dropping by just to say hi, or if you’d ever be willing/able to help with any of my future sociological endeavors, I would consider myself incredibly fortunate to be able to continue learning from you. I apologize if this email seems like a bunch of unsolicited praise or brown-nosing; I can assure you, that’s not my intention. I simply feel that it’s important to let the people who impact our lives in a positive way know that they have done so. You, Laurent, both as a person and an instructor, have profoundly impacted me in the most positive of ways. I just want to say thank you, for everything. I sincerely hope we can stay in touch, regardless of whether or not I am able to take a class with you again. Good luck with your job search, and I hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday season. Talk to you soon!

For the longest time, I had a sort of…lax view of college courses. I had heard from my friends and family that, “college is about having fun, taking risks,” and that “the true college experience is meeting great friends and going to great parties.” I had never heard about what it took to study for and pass an exam, what it took to write an A-worthy essay, or even what it took to note everything I needed to know for my future classes. So, when I came to the University of Colorado Boulder and signed up for a class labeled “Social Problems”, I had every intention of listening with half an ear and somehow still getting a passing grade on my exams. However, from the first lecture given by Laurent Cilia, I forgot everything I had been told about blowing off college.

It was clear from his presentations that Laurent felt strongly about the subject he was teaching, from the numerous videos and podcasts that he would try to build a discussion from. This task alone was not easy, mostly because only half of the students did the assigned reading and even less felt confident enough to raise their hand in class. But, as the days passed and the subjects changed, I noticed more and more students raising their hands, and even found mine in the air a few times as well. It was impossible not to get drawn into what he was saying. His views on stereotypes, race, and gender (our September topics) were so open, so inviting, that I noticed many students waiting with bated breath for what he would say next.

It’s extremely difficult talking about the problems in our society, mostly because opinions on the matters at hand are so vast that it makes most people shy away from the questions that need to be asked, like “why do people think that persons of color are poor?” and “what is it that makes people so quick to judge someone else, simply based on what gender they identify with?” Laurent does not shy away from these questions. In fact, he is quick to turn them into a class-wide discussion. He even manages to throw in a bit of sarcasm to his lectures, which inspires even more students to participate. When a teacher makes you laugh, it’s hard not to feel excited by what he might throw at you next, even if the subject matter is hard to bear.

I was shocked by how entertaining and knowledgeable Laurent’s teachings were, and I consider it a victory on his part that he was able to not only entice me in class, but also entice my peers. I watched as almost every single hand raised in a discussion about gender normality, and how even the quietest student managed to voice her opinion. I was extremely impressed by how fluidly Laurent dealt with discussions on racism and bias, and how one of the more conservative students could be reeled in by what he had to say, and felt comfortable enough to voice her own views. Laurent made all of us feel like we could speak without being afraid of judgement or ridicule, and he never discouraged us from speaking about things we felt strongly about. I hope that Laurent continues to defy the norm of college lectures, and that even more students are moved by what he has to say.

Laurent Cilia is a graduate student from France. He is an instructor for SOCY2031 at CU Boulder. Laurent lived in California and has spent time in Colorado as well, however English is not his first language and he occasionally struggles to pronounce non regular words. What makes Laurent special and stand out as an instructor is his attention to everyone in the room. CU Boulder takes pride in the diversity in its culture and Laurent teaches a class where it can be the easy way out to be one sided in his discussions. Sociological problems are founded mostly on opinion and by social constructs so students in a classroom of about 30 are bound to have different opinions. Laurent excels in keeping the discussions from falling into current politics or another controversial topic that would divide the class. By doing this he focuses on the material helping everyone learn better in the course. As any instructor/professor is expected to do, however Laurent refrains from even letting students edge on the side of binomial politics and does this in a respectful and also uses it as a learning moment as well. Being from Europe, he brings an outside view of world problems but never once has said that either Europe or the United States is better in any which way. While he is teaching a class is is very clear that he is not just going through the material like a lecture that he has to get out of the way, but that he is not only very knowledgeable about what he is talking about but passionate as well. Laurent’s unbiased teaching, attitude towards and respect of students has helped move his classes in the direction that the course focuses on and emphasizes, moving all members of society forward. With mentors like Laurent courses at CU Boulder can maintain their prestige in teaching environments, and overall wholesomeness. He has helped students both inside and outside of the class room. And exceeded as an instructor, one could easily mistake him by his demeanor and knowledge as a professor for many years. With already showing outstanding skills while also overcoming a language barrier Laurent has exceeded his expectations for teaching his course at CU.

The comments below were submitted anonymously as part of the student evaluation form. Original copies are available upon request.

Environment and Society, Spring 2019 (Instructor of Record)

I loved this class so much and I think it will be my favorite from all my time at CU Boulder. Laurent was so passionate and made learning the material easy and enjoyable. I was already very interested in the subject but Laurent made me even more interested. Laurent was great at communicating and responding to emails and I felt the class was set up in a really sensible way. If possible I will definitely try to take another class with Laurent. Lastly, Laurent made me consider things I have never considered and actually want to make changes in my life, and I am so happy I took this class.

Laurent Cilia was my favorite professor this semester. His lectures are engaging and discussion based. He responded quickly to any concerns I had and always has his students’ best interest in mind. The class was intellectually challenging and engaging. If you are willing to put in the effort he will make sure to do anything he can to help his students. Awesome class!

I really enjoyed this course! Every topic connected effectively to topics later in class and related to the bigger world. I would highly recommend this class to everyone as it opens your eyes to so many themes in life that I have not noticed before. Laurent Cilia is really interested in the material he teaches and it shows and makes the class much more enjoyable and interesting!

I loved Laurent. He was one of the most passionate professors I have ever had, and this helps a lot with my learning. Given that this is just an intro class, there is a lot of sociological information that you need as background knowledge, but a lot of non-SOCY majors are in it, because it is an intro class, and they don’t possess that knowledge. Laurent did an amazing job at accounting for this information and making sure that everyone learned the necessary information to succeed. He was a great professor and I highly recommend this class, not only for the relevancy in present day, but also for the influence that Laurent will have on you.

This course was very interesting and it really sparked an interest for me in both environmental issues and sociology. I feel like I was able to gain a lot of insight into the complexity of environmental issues and how it relates so social problems, economics and personal values. I think this course was taught very well and I think the articles and movies assigned outside of class were interesting and added a lot to the class rather than just reading from the textbook.

Very enthusiastic about the content taught in this class. I really enjoyed the lectures, very interesting content. I also appreciated the guest lectures.

I really enjoyed taking your class, Laurent. Your passion for the subject is clear which made the class much more interesting for me and my class- mates. I’m from Seattle and although sustainability and environmentalism has been sprinkled throughout my education and talked about frequently by my family, I learned a great deal from your class. Although I haven’t performed as well as I feel I should have, I enjoyed the course overall. Thank you!

Professor Laurent has been one of my favorite professors. He is kind and compassionate about what he teaches us and how we are doing in the class. He is extremely engaging and is very considerate to his students. Awesome class – I highly recommend

I think that the instructor did a very good job at providing helpful information about the topics throughout the course in order for the students in the class to do well in the course.

Very passionate about what he teaches and it translates well.

I really enjoyed the way this class was taught. It was very focused around class discussions, while learning the important material.

I thoroughly enjoyed this course and your creativity in drawing connections between concepts and their application to the world outside of the class- room. Also, I appreciate that though the readings are sometimes long and dense, the writing prompts are not too specific. I can tell that you encourage success in your students.

Very passionate teacher that’s good at encouraging students to think critically and get engaged

Loved this course. The things I have learned in this course are things I now consider daily, in my actions and have a great effect on my everyday life. One of the only classes I have taken where I really did not mind doing the readings, because they were all so valuable. Thank you!

At first I really disliked his Environment and Society course, but the more lectures I attended the class became more intriguing as I was able to see the relationship of the environment and society as Laurent explained. To say at the least, I enjoyed the class!

Best professor I’ve ever had. I really enjoyed this class and learned a completely new way of thinking about and analyzing problems. Your enthusiasm was so inspiring and contagious. Thank you for such a great class!

I really enjoyed this class and I feel like I learned so much and found a lot of new interests, and I’d like to thank you for that. You were great at getting the class engaged and making higher level considerations and connections about each topic that we discussed. Thanks for being awesome!!

He is one of my favorite teachers at CU. So prepared, knows how to narrow in the main takeaways, great course structure, so passionate, very clear, an inspired leader! Really learned a lot.

I learned so much in this course and I am really thankful to Laurent for that. If there were any suggestions that I would make are less reading memos that are worth more points that way we could devote more time and effort to them.

Race, Class, gender, and Crime Fall 2018 (Instructor of record)

Was prepared with a numerous amount of slides, but never really seemed to use the slides and was always flustered in getting through the slides in the time allotted. Seemed to want a more discussion-based class, which doesn’t always coincide with a large amount of slides. Really liked the additional class materials though, it’s refreshing to get podcasts instead of only academic journals.

Having already taken a deviance class, I was very pleased to find that this class was less theory oriented and more current event/ discussion oriented. I thought it encouraged deeper thought on the subjects presented in class than just lecturing about old dead sociologists would have. I also very much appreciated that the assignments were meaningful – meaning that I didn’t feel as if I was being assigned busy work for the sake of getting a grade. Assignments encouraged consideration rather than regurgitation, which I also appreciated very much.

The class should just be called “Black people, Crime, and Society.” In terms of teaching, he leans too heavily of class participation and it can create awkward moments when he just sits there waiting for someone to raise their hand.

Laurent is one of the best instructors I have had at CU! He is extremely engaged in teaching the material, stays up to date with relevant topics, and is very understanding and realistic. I would love to take another class with him!

One of my favorite professors I have taken at CU. really engages with the class and its pretty much a discussion based on the reading and he lets you state your points and will help you out if your wrong.

I loved having Laurent as a TA. I almost wish he was a professor for the class as well, but part of what I enjoyed so much about his teaching were the discussions he facilitated in our smaller recitation. He is incredibly knowledgeable and was able to effectively communicate complex sociological concepts with ease. He was understanding and respectful of all viewpoints and questions and truly embodied what it means to be a sociologist. Recitation was consistently engaging, no matter my interest in the subject, and I looked forward to it all week. His passion for sociology was infectious and made me think from new perspectives and analyze concepts in new lights. I hope to take another class from him in the future and would recommend this class to anyone.

Mr. Cilia is my favorite teacher because he is so knowledgeable, and class is always incredibly interesting. I am granted extended time, and he is very easy to contact and does his very best to find a time that works for both of us. I have enjoyed every aspect of his teaching and will look for classes that he will be teaching in the future!

Environment and Society, Fall 2017 (Instructor of record)

This was my favorite class I have taken in college. I found it so interesting and enjoyed going to class every day. If anyone were to take one class in college it would be this one. It will change your perspective on consumerism and the environment. Because of this class I want to go into this type of field. I find it critical for our generation to be educated in this area.

First, I wanted to say thank you for such a wonderful semester! At the beginning of the semester I was a political science major, and after taking this course (even though it is a sociology course) I ended up switching my major to environmental studies, and I am minoring in political science. Before this course, I did not realize that I cared about the environment as much as I do, and I truly thank you for helping me recognize my passion and what I am meant to do! I have never been a student that enjoys reading large amounts, but because there were so many topics covered I never felt bored or overwhelmed with the readings, they were manageable. My favorite part of lecture was when we discussed how our individual actions(in each different topic) impacted us and those surrounding us. Learning about the social impacts of environmental issues rather than just facts and data made me much more interested in these issues and have helped me make positive changes in my habits. I thought that the body and justice unit was a little dry. The movie living downstream was helpful in seeing how harmful the chemicals are to people, but I did not enjoy the readings as much or discussing this as much as other weeks. Other than that, I really enjoyed all of the topics covered in this class. I wish I could take a whole semester course on what we have been learning the past few weeks, I think that learning about sustainable development and what it REALLY means to be happy perfectly supplements and ties together what we have learned this semester. After a semester of learning all of the ways that our earth is being impacted ( and how not much has been done to help) I enjoyed learning about a PERFECT solution to consumerism. I wish the whole world could learn this unit! It might be useful to discuss some of these solutions when going over each topic, so the idea of degrowth is not “new” at the end of the semester. Thank you for teaching such a wonderful course!

This was the most interesting class I have ever taken. Even though it is only my freshman year, I feel as though this class has really shape the rest of my college life and life in general. I have always been very interested in environmental issues, but I had never taken a sociology class. Because of THIS class, I am going to pursue a sociology major next year! You have been really influential to my learning and really flexible to my accommodations. The transition has been hard form high school to college and this class has kept me engaged in college and excited to learn. I feel very fortunate to have been able to take a class taught by such a knowledgeable, interesting, mindful person! Please become a professor because everyone deserves to take such an amazing class with a great teacher like you! Thank you!

Instructor was amazing and interesting to listen to, I went to class because I always learned something interesting or watched a video I ended up telling my friends or family about! The course was awesome but the teacher made it even better!! He kept the class alive with his sense of humor but also deep with the content we learned. 10/10 would recommend

Enjoyed the perspective of the course, even if it is not completely my own. I think that if you can have an open mind about the course, because it does challenge a lot of what we take for granted, you can get a ton out of it.

Laurent was an awesome instructor. He had a ton of passion for the course material and overall the course was a great and eye-opening experience.

This was by far the best class I’ve ever taken– keep making us read these awesome pieces of writing; keep the class discussion oriented; and keep teaching us to ask important questions. Have a nice winter break!

Prof. Cilia clearly cares deeply about the subject and conveys that in his lectures. He shows expertise and understanding of the subject every day. He is very available for office hours and prompt in his email responses. Definitely in the top 5 professors that I have had so far here at CU.

I had little to no prior interest in sociology, but this class has seriously made me consider switching my major to sociology. Laurent makes class very interesting and does a great job of facilitating discussion and debate.

I loved this course, it really helped me see the environment in a completely different way and inspired me to look into careers with the environment. Thank you!!

Prof. Cilia is a very passionate teacher that leads by example, which is very inspiring as a student. All opinions expressed in this class are very left, and rather anti-conservative. It might be good to get perspectives from the right side of politics–because I can say that I don’t know valid conservative points and couldn’t debate a conservative person with a well-rounded argument because I know a lot of good points from a liberal perspective, but I don’t think I could have a good rebuttal if someone had a valid conservative argument. But Prof. Cilia is a very passionate teacher and he uses examples from his life which is very inspiring to make a change yourself; he believes in the course material so thoroughly.

I come from a state where environmental conversations are pushed under the rug and not talked about. I actually considered dropping the class after the first day because I thought it wasn’t going to do much for me. As the semester comes to an end, I can say with confidence that I have learned more in this class than in any other class I’ve taken at CU thus far. Our instructor’s passion for the subject made the class more intriguing and exciting to come to. I am now passionate about environmental issues and that’s something I would have never said before this class. Everyone should be required to take this class.

I really love this course. I strongly believe every college student should be required to take this course (or a course like this one) because it is extremely informative and honestly causes self-evaluation. This course actually presents topics and issues that are so prevalent and central to our lives. This course was a bit reading intensive at time, but overall I love everything about this course and the way it was structured!

I absolutely loved this class. I learned something new and incredibly interesting each class about ways in which we impact the environment in ways I’ve never thought about before, and I truly thank Laurent for his constant passion and efforts to try his best to teach a very sleepy 9:30 class on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

He really makes the class interesting by sharing personal stories and making us talk to each other and get to know our classmates despite it being a larger sized class. He is able to keep it real and be able to share his points in a clear way that is very enjoyable and funny. I really enjoyed his class and he has really helped me see the world in a new lite and has encouraged me to make life choices through the lectures and the thought-provoking homework he assigns.

Love his teaching style and found him extremely engaging. Would recommend him to everyone!

Professor Cilia is INCREDIBLE!!!! This was by far my favorite class of the semester. Although it not part of my major, I LOVED learning about sociology and the environment and ways to become more sustainable. Professor Cilia is extremely engaging and passionate. He clearly loves his field, and it shows in his effectiveness at teaching. His views on social and environmental issues are so intelligent and factual, and I loved being in his class. He is still only a Ph.D. student, but very good at what he does.

This course was my favorite class this semester! I enjoyed coming to class every day because the instructor did an excellent job at making the material interesting and applicable to our everyday lives. His facilitation of discussion is superb, and I really respect that he plays devil’s advocate allowing us to view all perspectives on the issue. I highly recommend this class due to the instructor’s passion for the subject and creativity with material.

This course was very interesting. I have learned a lot and it was very eye-opening. The topics that were discussed during this course was intriguing to me and I liked how everything connected together. And I thought that the way the course was set up or the order of the way the topics were introduced helped me see those connections.

Laurent was a great teacher and was able to teach the subject in a way that made it easy to understand and connect important ideas.

Thank you emails received at the end of the semester.

Wed 4/24/2019 12:04 PM


I just wanted to let you know how appreciative I am of your passion and motivation to preserve our environment. Not very many of my teachers, day in and day out, come to class as excited and amped up as you are. This helped a lot with my motivation and enjoyment of the course, plus it has changed my mindset on the ways that I should go about living. I don’t think professors get enough credit for all of the work that you go through. With all of the emails and probably obvious questions, I am inspired by your passion for the subject you’re teaching, and I just wanted to let you know that I am very honored to of had the opportunity to learn from you.

Thank you so much,

Today, 12:28 PMLaurent Cilia

Hi Professor Cilia, 

I was in one of your Social Problems courses last spring semester. I recently transferred schools, however I just wanted to let you know how much I use what you taught us in that course. I find a lot of what we learned valuable lessons that I apply to so many different topics and courses that I am in now. I just wanted to reach out and say thanks!

Thank you

Fri 11/17, 2:42 PMLaurent Cilia

Professor Laurent,

I owe my progress to teachers like you, the ones that really made an impact on my life. Seeing you made my day! I thought I should return the favor!


Today, 1:53 PMLaurent Cilia

Dear Laurent, 

This is ………………… from your Environment and Society class last semester. I just wanted to thank you so much for being one of my favorite teachers I have ever had. Your passion for what you teach and your personal connection to the class content did not go unnoticed, and I just wanted to say thank you for helping me open my eyes to the world around me. I miss our class. It has made me want to double major in sociology and will always help me remember how much my first semester at college helped me become the person I want to be. I hope you can stay in touch and if you have any reading or podcast recommendations that would be very much appreciated. 

Thank you again,

I have just submitted my final paper and it was a very bitter sweet moment. I would like to thank you for your unconditional support this entire semester. The entire semester I felt like you viewed me as a human and not as a robot like most of my other professors did. I was extremely drawn to sociology and maybe it was your enthusiasm that got me there. I am certain that when the circumstances are right and the timing isn’t so rushed I will continue to feed off of this sociological lens. Again, I thank you for all of your hard work and I really really hope that you get to inspire more people for a really long time!

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