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Max Berry, University of Georgia
I count it amongst the greatest blessings of my college career to have signed up for Mr. Lee Lukoff’s International Conflict class in the summer of 2016. I came to his class as a rising sophomore yearning to learn the art of diplomacy and the science of geopolitics, and I was desperate to do so with reprieve from the obnoxious and banal barrage of political agendas my past International Relations professors so enthusiastically let loose. What I found in Mr. Lukoff’s class was more beyond satiation and reprieve than I ever dreamed. Mr. Lukoff’s teaching style combines the Socratic method with the modern learning tools to create a wonderfully discussion-oriented, congenial classroom that fueled the fire of my passion for geopolitics like no professor I’ve had before. He strictly refrains from imposing his own beliefs upon the class, and he unabashedly confronts you with the true nature of the conventions of modern geopolitics. Mr. Lukoff seeks to give his students the capacity for true independent thinking and draws upon his professional background to instill a proficiency in skills that the typical intellectual simply cannot. My relationship with Mr. Lukoff, Lee as I prefer to call him, carried beyond the classroom as I began helping him with research on the Arab-Israeli conflict for his doctoral thesis. For this opportunity I shall be forever grateful as I am now proud to call Lee both a mentor and a friend. Lee is the pinnacle of professionalism with a brilliant political mind and teaching method. I urge you to bring him aboard your institution before someone else gets him first, and I would love to speak on his behalf at any time.
Sara Hahn, University of Georgia
Coming into my freshman year, I was lucky enough to have gotten into Professor Lukoff’s class. I had chosen International affairs as my major because it was something that interested me, something that I wanted to pursue, but also something I did not have much information about. A desire of mine coming into college was to stay more informed on present and past issues and Professor Lukoff’s class helped me to do that. The discussions he facilitated in class were interesting and helpful because it allowed information to flow from many different perspectives.
The most intriguing discussion we had in class was the conflict in Syria. Taking in knowledge from his students and his own, I was able to understand the conflict better than I had ever before. We learned about all the parties involved and how they were related to each other, something that I never quite understood before. When talking about this conflict with peers, I now feel fully informed and as though I can contribute to the conversation.
Eleanor Goldin, University of Georgia
Working with Lee has been a rewarding experience that has allowed me to gain valuable skills and experiences applicable to my future career in public service. I originally was helping assist Lee in his research for his dissertation, but as time went on we found a common interest in intelligence studies. We deviated from our set path and pursued research on an independent project about double agents, which we will submit to the American Intelligence Journal in April 2018.
Lee is a great mentor and has fostered my growth as a researcher and a student in general. I took his Global Issues course prior to our conducting research together. In the classroom he was engaging, respectful of everyone’s views, and a great lecturer. Outside of the classroom, I grew in my ability to communicate effectively and work independently, as we met weekly to discuss our relative findings. He is encouraging, provides helpful insight, and is flexible and understanding. Working with Lee this past year has been an invaluable experience that has set me on the right path toward public service.
Chanmeet Narang, University of Georgia
“Professor Lukoff’s class was one of the best, and Professor Lukoff as a professor was one of my favorite, during my tenure as a student at the University of Georgia. As a caring, wise, and humorous professor, as well as an accessible and valuable mentor/resource, Professor Lukoff made it his clear his goal was to help the students however he could.
While lack of engagement can be a tough factor in mandatory, requirement full-filling, early major courses, Professor Lukoff’s class had no such difficulties.
During the fall of 2016, as a member of the UGA tennis team, we’d have morning practices, and then everyone would hustle to classes. During that semester, I also had a broken foot. I had spoken to Professor Lukoff at the beginning of the year, so he was aware that ’d be hustling to class, but as a result of the morning practice, along with the difficulty getting around, I’d maybe be a few minutes late to class. Professor Lukoff was very understanding, and even offered after class, non-office hour, review times where I’d be able to catch up on missed material. I distinctly remember crutching into class a few minutes late everyday, and have to maneuver through to the very back of the class every single day. I love sitting in the front row, and especially considering this was an early morning course, lower level clothes, I’d figured I’d have an opportunity to do this. Unfortunately, with everyone clamoring to also sit in the front, I was left traversing through bag-packs and desks to the back—on crutches.
This is a testament to Professor Lukoff’s fascinating course material, and engaging persona. The material prepared by Professor Lukoff, as well as the teaching methods made the class very informing, engaging, and ever-entertaining. The lesson plans were thorough in material, and the exams fair always. Professor Lukoff’s light and amusing personality made learning the material fun, and the class light. Everyday at the end of class, 10-15 students would gather around Professor Lukoff’s desk, to discuss happenings in global affairs, as well as to discuss the day’s material. Because of the class high level of participation, a small community was formed with in the class. I often see many students around campus from that class, and I’ve only every heard great memories from that specific course.
As I’d mentioned earlier, Professor Lukoff has offered extra help, and I took full advantage of it. I attended many of the 5-days a week, after class, office hour sessions to catch up on material I’d missed. Not only would Professor Lukoff help me with missed material, but he encouraged big-picture discussion as well.
As a non-profit policy intern the summer before in Washington D.C., I had an idea that I wanted to return to DC, but wasn’t sure in what capacity. Professor Lukoff believed I’d be a great fit on The Hill, as a legislative intern, and encouraged me to pursue it. He was an instrumental part throughout the application process. From putting me in touch with his resources/contacts in DC, over looking my resume and cover letter, and giving me valuable interview advice, Professor Lukoff was an incredible asset to my application process. I achieved a Senate internship as a Banking & Taxes intern, and absolutely loved it. All the credit to Professor Lukoff for sparking the interest.
I’d say without any reservations, that Professor Lukoff’s course was one of my best memories, and Professor Lukoff himself, one of the best mentors/professors I had throughout my college experience, and still to this day.”
Nicholas Scoccimaro, University of Georgia
I took Mr. Lukoff’s Intro to Global Issues course in the Spring semester of 2017. My first impression was that he was professional and dedicated to his work. The class was very well organized, and we never deviated from the lesson plan. I found the class to be particularly engaging because he encouraged students to participate in discussions and civil debate.
The course material ranged from international affairs theories to in-depth analysis of current events and conflict. Such topics included Realism, Liberalism, Dependency theory, terrorism and piracy, and illegal immigration. While many of the topics discussed in class were hot button issues, Mr. Lukoff maintained an impartial and professional demeanor. I would take another one of his courses if given the opportunity, and would highly recommend him to any other student.
Michelle Rahimi, University of Georgia
Lee Lukoff was an incredibly intelligent, thought-provoking, and helpful instructor the two times I had the pleasure of having him as an instructor during my tenure at the University of Georgia. As my instructor for International Conflict during the summer semester of 2017, as well as U.S.-Israel Relations during the fall semester of that same year, he always taught in a very precise and organized manner which I extremely appreciated. The way in which he taught his courses allowed me to grasp new information easily, while also giving me time to dissect it. Not only that, but Lee also pushed his students to embrace subjects we were learning in class by allowing us to take part in several informative in-class simulations, which gave us a much better understanding and realistic perspective on what we were learning. I am grateful to this day for the amount of time Lee put into making sure his students understood the material being taught in class. By providing us with an immeasurable amount of aid outside the classroom, including a numerous amount of office hours, as well as several after class review sessions, I found the learning environment which he created to be extremely stable and also a reason why I decided to take his class a second time.
Lee also created an environment in which learning was enjoyable and uplifting. By requiring his students to complete a great deal of quality work, he pushed us to go above and beyond and think outside-the-box when coming up with ideas for our assignments and presentations. This personally gave me the confidence I didn’t have before when it came to writing on international relations topics. Because Lee raised the standard for all of his students, it personally persuaded me, as well as several of my fellow colleagues, to aim higher when it came to analyzing and presenting our thoughts on certain topics that we had learned in class. It is obvious that Lee is devoted to his work and loves what he does. His passion for teaching can be seen through the way we treats his students, the time and effort he puts into his lessons, and the way he presents himself when teaching. I truly enjoyed my time taking his courses and would recommend him as an instructor to anyone who had the opportunity to enroll in one of his courses.
Michael Rummel, University of Georgia
The political atmosphere of the last decade, particularly on college campuses, has made honest and frank discussion about Israel, Palestine, and the United States a difficult one to have. There’s always a concern about professor’s or students turning a rational discussion into a vehement and emotional one, particularly if they have a personal stake in the conflict. While this is understandable, as discussion and dialogue do not occur in an emotionless vacuum, it’s not productive.
At the same time, the issue is one of the most fascinating when it comes to diplomacy, especially with the decades long interest of the United States in the region, and its more recent ‘special relationship’ with Israel. I’m also fascinated by Middle Eastern politics in general, and so it was a fairly easy decision for me to take the class, even with a class on political polarization being offered as another option.
Going into the class, I was a little nervous, largely because of the reasons mentioned in the first paragraph. How were my classmates, who were also my roommates, and I going to react to potentially difficult information. Would our discussions turn into the ad hominem territory? Would we have to avoid each others’ eyes at the breakfast table the next morning? And so on.
Luckily, my concerns were unfounded.
I had the pleasure of taking the class with an incredible group of students, and a professor to match. While some of us may not have always done all of the required reading (full time jobs, and exploring the nation’s capital are both time consuming projects), we all showed up with open minds and a willingness to confront challenges even if we disagreed. Professor Lukoff did a great job of chaperoning our discussions as well, ensuring that we stayed on topic and in the realm of fact. People were encouraged to share their opinions, but they needed the intellectual backup.
In conjunction with these discussions were invited speakers who came from a variety of places, ranging from the Brookings Institute to the Middle East Forum. I certainly didn’t agree with all of the speakers, which is something Professor Lukoff can attest to, but I always left with a broader understanding of US-Israel relations and the wide range of viewpoints about those relations. It was truly a privilege to be able to engage with the people Professor Lukoff brought in.
Overall, I would say that the class was both enjoyable and intellectually stimulating. I had taken classes in Middle Eastern history previously, but Israel was largely a side note in those classes, and when it was discussed it was largely from the Arab side of the conflict. This class taught me a significant amount about the Israeli side of the issue, and the vacillating positions of the United States toward Israel. I’m very happy to have taken the class, and equally pleased to have my perspectives broadened.
Tahira Allen, University of Georgia
Lee is a PhD student that taught one of my favorite courses at UGA (International Conflict) in the summer of 2016. Lee was such a phenomenal teacher who facilitated discussion on major topics that are at times difficult to talk about. During his course, I dug deeper into conflicts around the world and also learned from my peers in class. Professor Lukoff facilitated an environment that forced you to gather opinions, to think for yourself, and to engage with those around you. He could have taught from a strict syllabus, having his students copy hours of prewritten notes, but he did not do that. He pushed for discourse, competing opinions, and carried out problem solving activities in class.
After voicing my interest in his class and his dissertation field of study (US- Israeli Relations) Lee became a mentor. I signed on to do research for him, and his passion for learning - I have to say - rubbed off on me. His research led me to counter pre-existing opinions I had formed. He led me to able to really gain a love for academia and scholarly research.
Professor Lukoff promoted an open environment in class and challenged his students to participate. He also truly valued our opinions. He was always engaged, always supportive, and always showed patience and interest in what his students had to say.
Professor Lukoff even touched my life outside of class. As a research assistant for him in the summer of 2017, I would meet with him once a week to discuss my assignments. In one of those meetings, he sat down and introduced me to the Washington Semester Program. Participating in this program would change the trajectory of my academic and professional career and lead me to obtaining a job at Voice of America upon graduation.
Isabella Victorio, University of Georgia
Starting off at the University of Georgia as a Political Science major, I took an introductory course of Global Issues with Professor Lukoff. Very soon into the semester I decided to add International Affairs as a major, and I attribute this life-changing decision to Professor Lukoff. He made the material incredibly interesting, which could be seen through the captivated and participatory students every week. He is undeniably helpful both in and outside of the classroom, such as through his willingness to provide the students with a review session before each test, as well as giving advice as to how to pursue a career in the field of international affairs. Professor Lukoff facilitated lively discussions as well as intriguing presentations. His knowledge and research of global issues inspired me to broaden my studies by thinking about politics on the international scale. It was during this time that I realized I want to pursue the field of foreign service as a future career, and I attribute this to Professor Lukoff’s impactful course, teaching style and mentorship.
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