Okay, so I think that del Nido genuinely cares about the content of the class, but maybe not the students themselves. The structure of class and grading leaves a lot to be desired. If you're already super knowledgable about religious philosophy then you'll probably be fine, but if you're just there to learn (like a lot of us!) then look elsewhere. Class time is just a bunch of students trying to talk over each other for that sweet participation grade, even if it didn't add anything substantive to the argument. And while I don't expect CC to be an entirely lecture-based class, I sort of expect more involvement from the teacher. His essay grading was pretty harsh and kind of arbitrary, and the midterm and final were way harder a lot of other sections my friends were in. If you needed any more convincing, every single second semester CC section was full except for his (I think there were 14 out of 22 students enrolled by the end of the add/drop period?). All of them. I ended up constantly refreshing Vergil/SSOL during registration for any spots open with literally any other prof. Basically everyone I knew that took CC with him in the fall switched out for the spring.
He does not care about his students at all. Most of the grades are very arbitrary and the tests are hard. Even if you do the reading, you may not do well in his class. He is a religious studies professor so he solely focuses on religion even though philosophical texts extend beyond that... He is not clear about what is tested on nor how to study. You'd basically need a photographic memory to be able to ID all the quotes correctly. He isn't flexible about meeting with students outside of office hours; and if you don't write essays that agree with his own opinion, your grade will so reflect. For crying out loud, this is a core class--he makes it way too difficult. He's the worst core professor I've ever had.
He is generally knowledgeable, but not very good at managing discussions. He lets people interrupt and rarely can one finish a coherent trail of thoughts. After some time we just give up trying to speak at all. Overall an incredibly boring class. To put in perspective, 21 out of 22 students from my class decide to switch out for the second semester.
Daniel del Nido is the most lovable professor I have had at Columbia. The man is very intelligent and runs a great discussion. He is very quirky and uses some pretty outlandish hand motions but it's all pretty entertaining. Really makes me enjoy the texts and discussions that we have. The only problem is that when some students would make stupid comments he wouldn't really shut anyone down even though we all know he has a much better grasp over the material than we and could easily shut them up. Overall though, I love this man!
Dan is an encyclopedia. He seems to be familiar with the literature, history, and philosophy (academia, culture... you name it) of any time period and geographic region in any field. I feel like I become smarter by just being around him. Dan's teaching style is fairly consistent. He poses questions, allows people to respond, and each time summarizes their responses in much more eloquent terms that make it easy to follow the authors' arguments. He is genuinely intellectually curious, which means sometimes he entertains questions that stray outside the texts and may take away from class time that can help us understand the writing itself (something that is often hard to do). However, I still feel like his class has given me a great foundation in our readings. He is super available (always willing to meet, even if not in office hours), and his comments on graded work are always super detailed. He also asked for our own anonymous feedback at the midpoint of the course, and I have noticed changes (for the better) that have likely been in response to our suggestions. He clearly cares a lot about his students, and this translates to enthusiasm for his class (never have I consistently gathered with friends after a class to rehash its goings on, but I do after this every M/W for lunch). He is also remarkably personal. It's almost become a game amongst our class to wheedle details of his personal life out of him just because he's so candid and funny. P.S. I'm not writing this as an A+ student that's so happy about their grade – Dan's class is challenging in a good way, and I accept the rigor with which he looks at our work because honestly, he is usually right.