Ayten Gundogdu

This professor has earned a CULPA silver nugget

May 2021

The TA sections were extraordinarily helpful and really the only reason I could understand what was going on in the class. Readings were not that heavy and somewhat optional, especially if you pay attention in lectures. The lecture felt a lot like a summary. The grading on the midterm/final was pretty harsh and because both were essay tests the grading was pretty subjective. The midterm/final questions were also difficult to understand. However, the class is curved. I think it would be hard to get below a B, but this is not an easy class to get an A in. I took this class online, so maybe it's different in person.

Mar 2021

Toughest grading I've seen in my 4 years at Columbia. Even harder than Jervis

Mar 2021

I chose this class because I really enjoyed CC. But after such experience, I found that these lectures were superficial (Wikipedia must be thorough) but the grading still horrendously harsh. There are some courses that the harsh grade is outweighed by a brilliant and engaging professor. This is not one of them.

Sep 2020

Professor Gundogdu is INCREDIBLE!! I honestly have nothing negative to say. The readings are all very reasonable and interesting, and her analysis in class is always helpful and helped me fully understand how to comprehend complex political theory debates and ideas. She is always available and very helpful in office hours, and truly cares about her students. She will sit with you every week for however long you need and help you understand the material. Her class is very organized and she outlines in great detail in her syllabus what is required of you, and works with you step by step as you put together your final 20-25 page research paper. Most professors just give you the assignment and hope for the best! Professor Gundogdu gives feedback multiple times in the process and will actively help you find resources that could be helpful for your paper. Anyways, definitely take a colloquium with Professor Gundogdu if you're into political theory and also appreciate when theory is contextualized in modern-day issues and interesting interpretations of law.

Mar 2020

Superficial and incomprehensible analysis of works. It is made somewhat easier by the fact that she is organized. Emphasis on somewhat. A tedious class with readings that are far-fetched rather than actually relevant, interesting, and helpful. Ultimately shows that if you want to take political theory, you are better off on the other side of broadway.

Jun 2017

This class was okay. Some of my peers and I had already taken CC and pretty much agreed that we didn't learn anything new; the lectures weren't very stimulating and seemed to delve only into a superficial level of analysis for most of the works. It was interesting that Professor Gundogdu chose to include Simone De Beauvoir on the syllabus but having taken several gender studies courses prior I found her analysis to be very surface level and even problematic at times. The TAs were very helpful; discussion sections offered many more provocative ideas and stimulating discussions. Lecture attendance is required and there is a sign in sheet. However only about a third of the class attended each lecture.

Sep 2015

TAKE THIS CLASS! Best professor i've had so far at Barnard (only a freshman) and even though im not a person interested in poly sci, she made every class engaging and enjoyable. You will love this class if you follow the news and have an opinion about the world. Can't express enough how much this class rocked!

Feb 2015

Pros: Professor Gundogdu is a brilliant professor, and extremely nice. I heard from many of my peers that she was very helpful in office hours. No homework. Readings aren't necessary, you could leave it for last minute and understand the parts you have to read and smart-read them. usually, you will have to focus on a chapter or two. No midterm, no final. 3 papers. She gives out a detailed outline for all papers that really help. Cons: Mandatory attendance, you pass around an attendance sheet for each lecture. No computers allowed! (WHAT THE.... was my first comment but each to his own I guess...) Mandatory disc sessions which go by quite fast since it's usually the TA talking and peers sharing thoughts. Since there are a lot of GS Students, many well thought claims come to light which help for the essays. Each time a paper topic was announced, 70% of the class was confused. Like literally, the next lecture would go by with people reformulating "WHAT SHOULD I WRITE?" around a million times.. Personally, I enjoyed the class very much. She organized the class so that she begun with Plato's democracy discussion up until John Locke, etc. So, it was like a timeline of political theory. She is obviously very intelligent and extremely kind, yet not the most entertaining teacher, I must say. Grades really depend on the TA, hope that you get an easy TA for the final one! SHORTCUT: If you're just getting into politics, don't want too much work I would definitely recommend the class

Dec 2014

I found this course to be a major disappointment. While Gundogdu seems to be a very nice person, she is not the greatest professor. She assigned a seemingly random selection of works that gave an incomplete picture of basic political theory. The final third of the course hardly even covered political theory, but was instead focused primarily on feminist sociology. Additionally, Gundogdu's lectures were essentially summaries of the readings, making one or the other a completely unnecessary exercise. The only saving grace of this course was the T.A. who led the recitation. It wasn't even worth the easy A.

May 2013

Fascinating readings!! Gave a very holistic overview of how thinkers or philosophers or others grappled with violence, politics, and justice. The professor has a solid grasp of the material, and is very interested in helping students. However you have to be prepared to put in a lot of hours of reading. And it's not semi-optional, you actually have to read, annotate, respond, participate etc. But if you do the readings and keep up with the material, you'll be interested in what these people had to say.

Apr 2013

Professor Gundogdu is an exceptional instructor. Prior to class you have to read articles related to a specific subject then she reviews the readings in class VERY CLEARLY. There is absolutely no doubt what the author's main points are, how the argument is constructed or how it relates to topic/class. After spring break she began having us discuss the readings in groups rather than lecturing the entire time, which was very useful to work with others in trying to understand the material. If you have ANY question (which you probably won't unless it's about an assignment) she is very helpful. She definitely enjoys her field and she is passionate about teaching. If you keep up with the readings you will be prepared for the essays and short responses. Course is about how human rights laws/norms work with governments to address refugee, migration and asylum seekers' issues. VERY interesting course!

May 2011

This seminar was amazing. It wasn't initially my first choice for a first year seminar, but I am so glad that I was able to take it. While the subject matter was not really in my area of interest, it was all very though-provoking. This class taught me how to think critically about my sources instead of blindly accepting them as fact. While this seminar did seem to have more work than the rest of the first year seminars, I feel that it is well worth it. Although Professor Gundogdu is strict about the course material, she is actually a sweetheart and knows everybody by name. I highly recommend this course.

Dec 2010

This class was a vague jumble of philosophers. Professor Gundogdu tricks you with the first assignment of reading Antigone. It appears that the course is going to be easy and straightforward. As a freshmen, you are put at a disadvantage in this class. The upperclassmen with more college-level writing experience have a much easier time. It takes a while for the papers to start coming, but towards the end it is close to a paper every other week. Gundogdu is vague in her explanations and asks for too many student opinions. Students typically repeat what the professor and fellow students are saying. The professor fails to keep the attention of almost all of the medium-sized lecture class, and will constantly remind you that she cannot focus because of the "movement." The TAs are unhelpful in discussion. The best way to get a good grade on a paper is to go to office hours and have a TA or the professor thoroughly read over your paper. This class had a fair amount of work, if you did all the reading. Much of the reading is irrelevant to the papers. Towards the end, attendance was taken in almost every lecture. She often hands out note cards in response to a vague question about the reading. This is easy to bull shit even if you don't do the reading. The note cards and attendance were 10% of the final grade.

Dec 2010

Ugh this class. Not a fan. I was choosing between this and Intro to International Relations, and I really wish that I had taken the latter. More than anything, this class was just boring. I should have been more inspired, as I am a political science major, but I just could not get myself interested in the more abstract concepts the course involved. I think that the professor means well, and I really want to like her because she's adorable, but she can be crazy strict (for example, not allowing students to leave in the middle of class without a note, even just to go to the bathroom). I never did the readings, and I had trouble focusing in the lectures. However, from taking notes in the larger class and discussion group, I was able to get a basic idea of the texts' main points, and that was usually what I wrote my papers on (with help from sparknotes). I never got anything lower than a B+. I took this class as a junior, and I think the fact that I'd already had some experience writing at a college level really gave me an advantage. There are a lot of freshmen that take this class, and they're still figuring out how to write a paper the way that the professor wants them to, so if you're an upperclassman you'll already going to be ahead of the learning curve. Just actually do what she asks and follow the directions, and you'll be fine. Overall, this class was boring but not terrible. If it was not in my major, I probably would have chosen to take it pass/fail. It requires a lot of work for just a 1000 level class, and expects a lot of you, which is difficult when the subject matter is pretty uninteresting. Also, the TAs think they know everything (or at least, mine did).

Jan 2010

A good class, and a very good professor. Professor Gondogdu is very concise in her explinations and very clear explaining the material, which is necessary because sometimes you will understand what she says but fall asleep on a reading. She is also very approachable and helpful, and takes time to learn your name. There are some petulant complaints on culpa that she's unfairly strict but clearly those reviewers have failed to read what is on her syllabus; she's organized and strict but not unreasonably so, she made herself clear from the beginning e.g. about late work, cell phones, etc. Just meet her halfway, respect her the way she does you, and if you have a real issue then let her know. I came away from this class really learning something about citizenry and government though I was freaking out in the middle of the course, and a lot of people were. For me it was because some of the culpa reviews led me to believe this was an easy A class and I could just lean back and concentrate on other work. Wrong.

Nov 2009

This is a teacher is one person you will want to avoid... The class is supposed to be awesome but the professor is just horrible at teaching, her lectures are dry and boring. I am a poliSci student who loves Political Theory and political philosophy, and in fact I read philosophy books on my own time because I love it. However, Mrs. Gundogdu has turned this subject into something i want to avoid forever, and quit possibly I may never read the work of my beloved philosophers, just because of the agony I have to endure every minute I am sitting in this class. Let me make it clear, I have no problem with hard classes, but this class is not hard, it just does not make sense. The assignments are unclear and she does not take the time to clearly explains what we are suppose to write about. To be honest, I feel bad for saying this but TA's in their 1 hour writing sessions help me understand the material better than she does in class. And since we are talking about the TAs, you must know that they have absolutely no mercy in grading the papers. They expect you to know the material and write good enough papers as if the class lectures actually make sense. Unfortunately the lectures do not make sense.

Nov 2009

I feel badly doing this, but I do not know one person who actually likes this class. Everyone complains. Her lectures are unclear, and the TAs are incredibly harsh graders on the in-class writing assignments. (Essentially there are 10 surprise in class assignments). There are only 3 possible grades for these assignments, 5/15, 10/15, 15/15. I don't care if you've done the reading and feel like you understand everything asked of you, it is damn dear impossible to get a 15. Those grades will accumulate faster than you think. She also gives a lot of reading--most days are manageable (30-40 pages of reading)--but she also assigns reading the same day as essays. Her writing prompts make no sense, and she'll make up a lot of words during class. She actually speaks English quite well, it's just that she doesn't acknowledge that she makes mistakes and new words... I've spent a good 15 minutes simply deciphering her essay prompts. She's boring and uninspiring. I took this class hoping to really get some insight, but she manages to turn interesting reading into the worse hour+ in your life. This class ruins my day, everyday. Nice thing is that there is no midterm, nor no final.

Jan 2009

Overall, I give this class a thumbs up, although there were some times during the semester when I was doubtful. Prof. Gundogdu is a super nice, young woman from Turkey with a real passion for Political Theory. She's new to Barnard and it shows, though. Her biggest fault is that she spends too much time asking for student responses to her questions. The class is medium-sized so it's not necessary that she have student participation, and it's a nice idea that she does, but she just takes it too far. We all know that students have a tendency to basically say the same thing that the last five people have said, and that's what it is always like when she opens up the floor to comments, which is once or twice each class. I wish she would just wrap it up more quickly, get one or two responses and then shut the rest down. Everyone else thought that as well, you could see the exasperated looks on older students' faces. Other than that, though, I really enjoyed this class. It's super digestible even for your first political science class, and it's nice because you don't speed through a thousand readings. Instead, she picks 5 major books complemented by other smaller readings, and you end up spending at least two weeks on each segment of the class, which is focused on addressing a major issue of political theory. I liked the organization of the lectures and found the assignments very do-able. I like that the TA's hold optional writing sessions before each assignment is due as well.

Dec 2008

This is a great class to take if you're looking for an introduction to political science. The assignments increase in point value so you can get used to the style of writing and thought process. Professor has trouble getting people to participate in class and the conversations were dominated by a few overly enthusiastic students. She understands that not everyone feels comfortable talking in class therefore the class participation grade is composed of ten in class writing assignments on random days... you just answer a short question about the reading...really not hard at all. The other 50 points come from attending the 5 in class discussions on the days the papers are due. It is possible to get 20 extra bonus points because she gives two extra in class writing assignments. The reading is somewhat fast paced but manageable. The TA's hold writing sessions for each of the papers and grade them. The persuasive essays were somewhat hard but doable because there is not a specific correct answer to the question you are addressing. I definitely recommend this class as an introduction to political science and as a manageable way to get a good grade.

Dec 2008

This class is a waste of time. The readings are interesting, sure, but if you're in CC and going to read them in Contemporary Civilization, then don't take it. Ayten does not make going to class worthwhile, and if it weren't for the 10 point attendance quizzes, I wouldn't have gone: she only ever went over the reading, and never added anything insightful. I mean, we all got into college, I'm sure we can all understand what we're reading. But even more irritating, she tried to turn the eighty-person class into a discussion class; which isn't horrible in itself, but she did it by calling on people in a row, so that the "discussion" ended up being a series of disconnected comments rather than a fruitful conversation. If you want a reason to read these texts, or want to get a head start on CC, take this class, but otherwise wait to see if a better teacher comes along.