Give Professor Isiksel a gold nugget! She is, without a doubt, the best professor I've had at Columbia. Both in discussion and written assignments, she pushes you to think critically and never settle for the easy answer. She makes philosophy feel meaningful and contemporary and brings in all kinds of interesting debates on race and political ethics. The fact that every single student stayed from the first to the second semester attests to just how great Professor Isiksel is. Professor Isiksel is also just an incredibly kind person who clearly cares about her students. She takes the time to stay behind every class to talk and arranges for students to meet her for coffee outside of class. Despite being a philosophical genius, she's very down-to-earth and doesn't put philosophers on a pedestal just because they're part of the Western canon. The writing assignments are pretty rigorous compared to other sections (you have a little over a week to write 7-8 page papers), but it's absolutely worth it. Everyone should take Professor Isiksel's class. Columbia, please make her teach more undergraduate classes.
NOTE: There's 2 people listed on CULPA, Nihal and Turkuler Isiksel, but this is the same person. I think she generally goes by Turkuler but her legal first name is Nihal. Either way, you should probably call her professor to be safe. Also, note that this review is for CC *online during COVID-19* so it might be different if you are reading this for (one day?) in-person classes. Dr. Isiksel is literally a genius. For every insightful thing or paradox, you find she has at least 3 very profound remarks to share that deepen your understanding of the text or create some kind of mind-blowing moment. She is deeply passionate about what she teaches and has gone many extra miles to make students connect with CC and the Columbia community. She's intimidatingly smart but very affable -- she invited people to get coffee and shared Thanksgiving cookies (socially distant & outside) and sent memes in the class Zoom and emails. She's very good at connecting the texts to contemporary political issues and highlighting how they've influenced history & western political philosophy, since that's her specialty. She even weaves students' discussion posts and in-class comments into her lectures. Each class is preceded by a pre-recorded 20-30 min lecture on Canvas that offers background context and thematic summaries to keep in mind as you read. It's actually pretty interesting information and since you can watch it on 2x speed it's not that much work. There is a sometimes brutal amount of reading, and only 9 days to write 6-8 page essays. She's not particularly harsh with grading (perhaps due to the pandemic) but definitely has high expectations and she gives helpful feedback in the essay margins. If you want to really improve your essay writing and critical thinking skills, Dr. Isiksel's CC class will help you do that. I'm a poli sci major so I may be biased, but I could not have imagined a better or more rewarding CC experience than this class. Definitely deserves a gold nugget.
Professor Isiksel is probably one of the most brilliant professors I have had at Columbia. She is extremely well versed in philosophy and political theory, is well traveled, and is quite intimidating. She is a very sweet, gentle person concerned with the well being of her students. In fact, on several occasions, she ordered tea and cookies for class in order to make students feel more at ease and relaxed. Her discussions are very well organized, and she absolutely loves students participating in class and presenting their own opinions on every philosopher known to man. Overall, she is genuinely concerned with making sure all of her students mature academically and intellectually in her class. Most of her readings are manageable; however, she does not give enough time for students to write term papers. She gives students only a week to write 6-8 page papers which tend to be very detail oriented. She also conveniently assigns a ton of reading during those few precious days which if you are a science major coincide with about 3 midterms! Grading wise, she is one tough cookie! Warning: unless you are a humanities major with a wonderful understanding of philosophy and political theory, your GPA will take somewhat of a nose dive. She is an extremely tough grader, but that being said, she expects a lot out of her students. She even writes full page commentaries on each essay in order to guide students in the right direction for the next essay. Her midterm and final consist of IDs and essays. Be warned, her IDs are killer! Her essay questions are pretty standard and she is much more forgiving on in class essays than on take home essays. If you are a humanities major, I would definitely recommend her. If you are a science major, I would not recommend her as CC professor unless you absolutely love philosophy and are slightly sadistic. My class unfortunately consisted of mainly humanities majors who loved discussing the nature of man and justice in the polis. For much of the class, I was somewhat lost. In fact, it was only after the final did I understand what Plato's definition of justice was thanks to my roommate who is a philosophy major!