Michele Moody-Adams

This professor has earned a CULPA gold nugget

May 2021

Moody-Adams is a true badass. She is a fascinating and very kind woman who never runs out of interesting stories about famous philosophers she's worked with. She starts every lecture with a piece of artwork that connects to the material and overall tries hard to be engaging. My only critique (this may be specific for the online format because I know she usually holds exams differently) is that her assignments are both laborious and unnecessarily hard/complicated. I loved the class and paid a solid amount of attention, but no matter the effort I put in I was not prepared for the essays/midterms/finals. I know some other students who had a really positive experience but even they admitted that they were unnecessarily complicated. Honestly, I think moody-Adams does it because she really does care if you learn and makes you workkk for it. Like she expects you to be graduate student level... my friend went to office hours and asked a basic question and she was super unresponsive basically saying you should already know that. TLDR; she's one of the coolest professors I've ever had but her online format exams were tedious and unnecessary

Jan 2021

I loved this class. Professor Moody-Adams is an incredible professor, and it's clear that she cares deeply about her students and her work. This class tackles a lot of ethical debates regarding the practice and interpretation of the law, and I thought all of the content was genuinely interesting (many of the readings are fairly contemporary). The class is split into sections, starting with the theoretical nature of law and transitioning into schools of legal interpretation like textualism and living constitutionalism. You end on a much more applicable and modern section on mass incarceration. Throughout the course, Professor Moody-Adams introduces interesting contemporary legal debates on things like hate speech, product liability, and healthcare. She mixes up the content a lot, so there's plenty of areas to find interest. Professor Moody-Adams also spends most of the class clarifying the main points of the readings (which tend to vary and can be dense but aren't overly burdensome). No surprises on the essay prompts or exams, and grading is not difficult as long as you do the readings.

Jan 2021

I feel like I need to break this review into two parts: Michele Moody-Adams (MMA, as she often refers to herself) the PERSON, and MMA the PROFESSOR. MMA the PERSON is the bomb. She’s a legend, for more reasons than I can count, but it never seemed as though she lets it go to her head. She’s super kind, super understanding, and never made me or, as far as I can tell, anyone else, feel unintelligent. She was highly accessible outside of class as well. My review of MMA the PROFESSOR is a bit more qualified. I had two issues with the course. First — expectations for assignments were sometimes vague or unclear. Second — the syllabus was kind of a mess. Lots of good material on it, to be sure, but, especially towards the second half of the course, a lot of disparate content was thrown at us without links between classes or units being made clear. It sometimes felt unclear how we were meant to tie everything together. But the benefits of studying under MMA outweigh those costs by a long-shot. Had I not exercised the pass/fail option on the course, it would have caused my GPA to take a small hit, but I’d still take it again in a heartbeat, even without that safeguard in place. Overall rating: 9/10.

Dec 2020

Professor Moody-Adams is an absolute joy to learn from. She might be the kindest professor I've ever had, and somehow it comes through in the way she lectures. The syllabus is very compelling, the assignments are engaging, and the lectures are all insightful and interesting. She also opens up to questions/discussions very frequently, so it can even feel like a seminar sometimes. She assigns really interesting readings and lectures incisively about them, often leaving us with loads of questions to think about for ourselves. If you have even the remotest interest in law, take this class!! it was an absolute pleasure.

Nov 2020

I'm currently in her Philosophy of Law class and I am confident that even by next year, this will remain my favorite course at Columbia. She is beyond intelligent, so caring and kind, and will thank YOU for showing up to her office hours. You would think someone of her stature and position in the philosophy world, and having been the previous dean of Columbia College, would make her distant, but out of the five classes, I'm taking this year (some of which are TA based,) she has remained the most engaging and available for her students. The class is definitely difficult but it is so worth it. I implore you to take this class even if you aren't interested in philosophy or law, because you will definitely not want to miss out on having her as your professor.

Aug 2016

Professor Moody- Adams is an incredible woman who knows literally everything. i took her philosophy of law class in the fall and her ethics class in the spring and both were great choices. Moody is an incredibly organized professor, and the readings she assigns are never too long or useless. she covers the reading in class and posts her power points on courseworks. i still think its incredibly worthwhile to go to lecture though because she further elaborates on the major themes of the reading, and engages the class in discussion. by the end of both semesters i left feeling like i had a new perspective on what law is and what ethics means to me.

May 2016

Professor Moody-Adams is the single best teacher I've had in my years at Columbia. Aside from her outstanding and inspiring genius, MMA is kind and caring to her students. She makes a sincere effort to get to know her students, and this makes a difference in what can be tough philosophy seminars. Professor Moody-Adams has made me a better student and philosopher, sure, but she's also made me a better person -- and for that I'll be forever grateful. She is a truly amazing person.

May 2016

I highly recommend this class to anyone who is interested in philosophy or ethics in any capacity. Professor Moody-Adams is a wonderful human being and a great teacher. She lectures off of slides that she puts on Courseworks so a lot of people don't go to class, and this is a huge mistake. The slides don't contain everything she wants to say and often times she explains things in ways that the slides do not capture or she discusses something that isn't on them at all. The class covers some of the more classic ethical theories (util., Kant, Aristotle) and then moves on to some other topics (Ethics of Care, Egoism, Meta-ethics). It's a great introduction to some of the major topics in ethics (both new and old), and also a great introduction into philosophical thinking. Professor Moody-Adams is really nice so go to her office hours and ask questions. In general the grading is very fair and the workload pretty light. If you go to the TA's before the papers you will not have a hard time writing them.

May 2016

Moody-Adams is an ethical boss. Her understanding of the material and her personal insights into it--especially during the last third of the course--are amazing. She has done a tremendous amount of thinking--and writing--in philosophical ethics, and always gives well thought out arguments for and against the claims made in each reading. She has also developed some really compelling views of her own that seem to capture important aspects of what ethical inquiry what is really about. These views are creative and new, yet draw on what feels to be the actual way in which people think about their moral lives, and the class has the privilege of reading a few excerpts from her work in the last week. I'm a philosophy major and gained a lot from her class; anyone who puts thought into their interactions with the world has much to learn from MMA. I'm really happy I took ethics with her. That said, her lecture style can be frustrating. First of all, she uses powerpoint, which in my opinion is always boring. Her lecture style can be engaging--she certainly does not just read from the slides--but the medium makes the class boring at times and sometimes hurts the logical flow of the class. Secondly, she is often very tired, and it shows. She can be a little disorganized and some of her lectures were not so clear as a result. Outside of her lecturing--which, to be clear, is sometimes great, often just OK--she is always on point. She loves when students ask questions (though she never prompts them) and she consistently gives thoughtful and interesting answers. She's great to talk to outside of class and clearly cares to talk to her students despite how busy she is. Oh, man, the readings for this course are amazing. We read the big three of normative ethics--John Stuart Mill, Kant, and Aristotle--and then contemporary philosophers in each of their ethical schools. We then did a week on feminism and the ethics of care (super interesting), one week on egoism, and three weeks on metaethics (which addresses questions of objectivity in ethics and the nature of ethical inquiry). It was all great. There's not to much of it and not too much work either. It was a really great class.

May 2015

Despite her intelligence, renown here, (Moodygate) credentials, (she was Rawls' grad student and has previously worked in positions of power in several big-name schools) and being highly regarded in her field, she is personable, kind, and more than ready--excited, really--to talk to students. If you communicate with her one-on-one at all she will make you want to be a philosophy major. She taught a section herself this semester, and was constantly referring in class to "new insights" that her students had given her. While I was skeptical that a person of such experience could be really impressed/surprised with student contributions, it was nice to discover that she's not as jaded as many. The philosophers discussed were many and varied, and overall she did a good job of providing much of the spectrum of ethical thought. She also likes art, and worked architecture and painting in without losing touch with the goal of the lecture. Past reviews are true, she does read off the slides, but also adds her own insights that are invaluable not only educationally but also for writing the papers (and this is coming from someone who had never written a philosophy-style paper before this class, so believe me, I needed whatever she would give me content-wise as well as stylistically). It's not necessary to take notes all the time, which I liked, but anything that's not on the slides (and not a strange tangent) you should probably write down. Boredom in lectures is also real, but she is super quirky (slide typos lol) and I can't emphasize the extent of her intelligence and knowledge enough. Sections are fine, better if you really enjoy philosophical discussions. She has little or nothing to do with actual grading, so TA interaction is super important.

May 2015

All she really does is read slides of selected quotes from the text online, and read them. Is that supposed to be a way of highlighting parts of the text she thinks are important? I can't recall any critical engagement with the quotes themselves, except ask a bunch of meaningless rhetorical questions. The boredom felt sitting in class is excruciating - The discussion sections are also pretty irrelevant.

Mar 2015

Moody-Adams is an amazing prof! She is so funny and passionate about her subject (I took ethics from her). She is great to talk to in office hours and really cares about her students. She has studied under all of the most important contemporary philosophers and writers of philosophy. Take her classes!

May 2013

Moody-Adams is hands down one of the best professors I've had at Columbia and will probably ever have. Here's why: (1) She knows her stuff. Never have I encountered a professor who is so well versed in the subject matter that she teaches. In addition to historical context and the multitude of scholarly debates surrounding the texts, she would share little anecdotes about the authors and their backgrounds, which were both entertaining and informative. (2) She will make you want to be a philosophy major. Granted, I'm not going to change my major but the stimulating, intellectually driven conversations really got me interested in the works and helped me see how they are still relevant today. And she often "pushed back" in class discussions, challenging us to think more critically about our interpretations and viewpoints, which really helped me to grow as a scholar and thinker. Even with the authors that I didn't like or agree with, I came away with a thorough understanding of their works, what they were trying to say, and how they relate to the syllabus as a whole. (3) She's genuinely an extraordinary person. With all of her credentials and expertise, I was intimidated coming into this course. However, I found her to be a very approachable person. She had an openness about her, never hesitating to say what was on her mind or how things were going outside of class (e.g. her daughter graduating, going out of town, etc.) be it big or small, and she often shared personal anecdotes relating to the texts, sometimes referencing her Lit Hum-teaching partner in crime (her husband). (4) Um, it's Moody-Adams. Renegade ex-dean of Columbia College. Need I say more? She was a Marshall Scholar and studied philosophy at Oxford. She got her PhD in philosophy at Harvard. She studied under John Rawls. This woman is brilliant. Take her class! QUICK TIPS: (1) Use the handouts. They are a godsend. They're especially useful for going back over texts while studying or writing papers, or if you didn't have time to read it before class. (2) Make an appointment with her before your paper. For the first paper I met with her and realized that I totally didn't understand what was being asked. I came out with a good grade on the paper thanks to 5 short minutes of clarification. (3) TAKE THIS COURSE!!!

Apr 2013

If you haven't taken this class, take it. It is excellent. Moody-Adams is always organized and structured, but she is also a very talented . Don't expect to be blown away immediately, but as the course rolls on, you will realize that you are learning a huge amount and becoming a better student. The main this about her: she really cares about you. She will write detailed, carefully considered responses to your essays. She always tries to be fair with the amount of time she lets students talk in class and encourages participation. She is honest about what she knows and doesn't know -- she has said in response to questions in class before "that's a great question. I'll be honest, I think it is this, but I don't know if I am right -- can anyone else comment?" which I think is incredible! She never pretends to ramble on about something unless she thinks it is important. Midterm questions are to be expected. Papers are always well thought out. Office hours are generous. She expects you to put in effort but getting an A is not impossible.

Feb 2013

Michele Moody-Adams is an exceptional human being. If you have the chance to take her class (she doesn't teach CC very often), jump at it wholeheartedly. It is impossible for any professor to have mastered all of the texts we read in CC. MMA (as she refers to herself) doesn't try to pretend otherwise. She will let you know which texts she knows by heart (she wrote her thesis on Hume, but is also incredibly knowledgable about Kant, Rousseau, and other Enlightenment thinkers). She will also let you know when she only has a working knowledge of a text. Her lectures on the texts that she claimed to know the least about were still some of the most informative, entertaining, and thought-provoking classes I've ever had. She knows every anecdote about every author, she knows the conventional theories on the content as well as the more controversial historical and modern theories. She also often tells us about what modern philosophers think about these works. Overall, she manages to give you each interpretation of the text, so you really feel like you know the work well. Don't get it twisted, though. Her lectures are amazing, but this is no lecture class. I am NOT one to participate in class. I'm not lazy, but I'm pretty shy. However, she will never force you to participate. Rather, she will pique your curiosity, motivate you to read the texts, and inspire you to share your thoughts. I shit you not. I'm your typical overworked, cynical Columbia student, but she has actually made me love the core. The manner in which she guides discussions makes the class much more enjoyable too. My first term professor would routinely tell people they were wrong and that would be the end of the discussion. MMA challenges everyone who speaks and will help them, and the other students, come to a better conclusion on their own. Whenever anyone shares an opinion, she'll say, "I'm gonna push you to think a little bit further on that." It's cliche, but she really helps us become better thinkers. I appreciate that she doesn't let students share unfounded opinions (having clearly not read) without correcting them, but I also appreciate that she allows for a discussion, where people are never afraid to be wrong. As for the workload, it's minimal. It's CC, so you read a ton, but she includes fewer texts per term than the average professor. She also spends two classes, rather than one, talking about several texts. She'll generally give you an overview of the more difficult ones (Hume and Kant) and then give you a weekend to read it with what she said in mind. She's a very fair grader in my opinion. Even when you get an A on a paper, she'll give you tons of constructive comments. Basically, she's an angel. Again, if you have the chance to have her as a professor, jump at it.

Feb 2013

I don't find that any of the reviews are doing Professor Moody-Adams justice as I took two classes with her. First off, like [almost] every class, you can get as much or as little as you want out of it- the difference here is that she is by far THE most approachable person you will encounter at Columbia. I actually started the semester as a somewhat numb and unmotivated senior and quickly learned that neither one of her classes were going to be "cake" so to speak. I too almost cried after my first paper, but then I made a decision to do work, go to office hours and *actually* learn things that I will remember in 10 years. Let me say that it completely paid off and her classes even impacted my motivation and academic trajectory. To conclude, if you've ever felt neglected and frustrated by professors and need to know what a real educator is like - take advantage of the great opportunity to learn from a scholar of her class and take a course with her- you will be both educated and inspired as she is kind, brilliant, and incredibly generous. After all, isn't that what you came to Columbia for?

Dec 2012

I was planning to review Philosophy of Law after Christmas, but the negative reviews have prompted me to defend it earlier. I agree with the former reviewers that it was not a standard philosophy course, however, I think it happened to be so for the following two reasons: 1. The subject matter – philosophy of law – falls under “applied” ethics, which is apparently different from philosophy qua philosophy; 2. Columbia doesn’t offer pre-law classes, and this definitely could serve as one. With that being said, students who sign up for Philosophy of Law should at least expect for two things: a) the course is not purely “theoretical”; b) the course is closely related to “poli sci”. Bearing the above assumptions in mind, I think Professor Moody-Adams did a great job in putting this unexpectedly large class together. As the first reviewer commented, Professor Moody-Adams lectured in a very orderly manner, and her Powerpoints were very clear and well-formatted. It was also true that 70 percent of the lectures were on the texts assigned for reading. Nevertheless, as someone new to the field, I did find the lectures helpful for me to better understand the relationship between different theories. If it were true that it is the professor’s task to clarify the course materials and the student’s task to build connections between conceptions and to shed new light on the readings, Professor Moody-Adams completed her task very well. Yet different people have different teaching philosophies, which explains the situation in the previous review. It was also worth mentioning that the readings for this class were extremely interesting, hence discussing them in class was quite an enjoyable experience. To cater the needs of both “philosophy students” and “law students”, the course began with “the nature of law” (theories) and gradually shifted its focus to more concrete matter. Considering the nature of this course, I think the arrangement was understandable. It might be better, however, if Professor Moody-Adams could adjust the proportion a little bit to cater the needs of the “philosophy students” more. Different from the first reviewer, I think the essay topics were highly relevant, and working on them has significantly helped me appreciate the nuances of the texts. Professor Moody-Adams has a very specific idea of how a “good essay” should look like, and will make sure that you know what it is. Do follow her suggestion and give her what she wants. When in doubt, R.B. Brandt and John Stuart Mill are your friends. As half of the class were seniors, and at least 80 percent of the 74 students wanted to go to law school, competition was not nonexistent. It therefore made sense that not everyone was happy to be there. As a sophomore, I felt intimidated throughout the semester, yet it was exactly this “intimidation” that motivated me to work harder. When the semester ended, I was surprised of how much I have learned in this class thanks to my intelligent classmates. To me the discussion in class was a valuable part of the course, although the second reviewer doesn’t seem to think so. Besides the classmates, the two teaching assistants, Jonathan Fine and Nick Engel were also essential to the course. Both of them have been exceptionally kind and helpful. It was a pity that we didn’t have recitation sessions. I think the grading was fair and even quite generous at the end. I did cry after getting back my mid-term and first essay, but felt very happy after receiving my second essay and final grades. There are a few theories that can explain this phenomenon; all of them lead to the conclusion that the grading system is designed to make students “do better” at the end. To sum up, I highly recommend Philosophy of Law to those who are interested in philosophy of law, or law, or both. The experience is not always pleasant, but definitely rewarding. You will love this course if you put you heart into it.

Dec 2012

This is one of the worst philosophy courses I have taken. It is not the worst, because most of the readings are very good. Lectures, however, are a painful waste of time. Professor Moody-Adams merely reiterates a summarized version of the readings, adding almost nothing to them. She is more interested in making students feel smart, even and especially when they are remarkably dim, than in discussing or giving a more nuanced version of the readings. For some reason, she is unable to tell a student that he or she is wrong, even when it is blatantly obvious that she should. Grading is on the harsh side, although feedback is good (both of these, however, are up to the TA). This should undoubtedly be a 2000 level course. If you are interested in philosophy, don't take this course. If you have a superficial interest in law, and not in philosophy, then maybe this course is for you. You will certainly read about and learn about all kinds of "-isms," but you probably won't learn anything about philosophy and/or methodical thinking. And if you do, it will be in spite of Moody-Adams.

Dec 2012

MMA is a very clear professor who went over the readings in a very organized way in class. She obviously puts a lot of effort in to creating her ppts that she puts online. That being said, the class could have been much better for the following reasons: 1.) The class is in the philosophy department but it felt more like a poli-sci class. The material was to focused on particulars of law. This may be a good or bad thing but you should know what you are getting into. 2.) The assignments did not seem very relevant to the class, especially the essays and the final. The midterm was very relevant to the class 3.) Grading is harsh. Not sure if she's going to curve but the avg as it stands, it is around a B-/B