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Past Winners of the Teacher of the Week

Kwame Harrison


The Center for Instructional Development and Educational Research (CIDER) recognizes Kwame Harrison, associate professor of Sociology, for his commitment to developing learner-centered classroom communities.

Harrison cultivates enthusiasm, a sense of ownership, and critical thinking around the subjects he teaches. In his AFST 1714: Introduction to African American Studies course Dr. Harrison asks students to write papers exploring their family histories and to consider these against the history of American race, ethnicity, class, and gender relations he presents in the early part of the course. Harrison's SOC 4114: Sociology of Popular Music class culminates in an ethnographic field assignment where students observe and write about the different ways music structures the use of social space. Most of Dr. Harrison's classes are writing intensive and he encourages his students to express themselves both academically and intellectually. His 2011 Popular Music and Society article "Reading Billboard 1979-1989: Exploring Rap Music's Emergence through the Music Industry's Most Influential Trade Publication" (co-authored with University of North Carolina -- Greensboro masters student Craig Arthur) began as a CLAHS undergraduate research project.

Harrison is a recipient of the 2011 Edward S. Diggs Teaching Scholar Award and has twice won the Department of Sociology's Undergraduate Teaching Excellence Award (in 2007 and 2011). He is on the Faculty Advisory Board of Philologia (the CLAHS undergraduate research journal) and has led or co-led a "Teaching with Our Mouths Shut" Conversations with Faculty Workshop three times. In 2009 Harrison and Joan Watson (Director of the Pre-Education Advising Program) were invited guests at a VT Recreational Sports Staff retreat where they facilitated a series of exercises and discussions about staff-student relations. As a 2011 Diggs Scholar Harrison plans to lead a forum on teaching and stuttering. In her Diggs nomination letter, Dr. Laura Gillman, associate professor of Women's & Gender Studies, writes, "Kwame's 'pedagogy of community' is not a labored, self-conscious construct; rather, it is his way of being in the world as a result of his experiences. He likes and sees the best in students. He is excited to get to know them and he starts from there. All of this helps to build a relationship based on trust and mutuality, one that allows the students to take risks in their learning and be willing to open themselves up to the subject matter."


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