2019 Provost’s Innovation in Teaching Award Winners

Dr. Randy Bass, Vice Provost for Education

“A core purpose of this award was to make innovation in teaching more visible to the whole Georgetown community, which means that we want to build a community of innovators.”

The Provost’s Innovation in Teaching Award recognizes a faculty member or faculty team who has used exceptional creativity in the use of innovative approaches to promote student-centered learning. This annual award will be based on the demonstrated success of the innovation(s), as well as evidence of impact on students, colleagues, and the potential for wider adoption. The Awards are given in two categories: Program and Individual. Some years, when appropriate, an award will also be given in the Career Category. 

2019 Award Winners

Program Category

The Disability Studies Program

Developed by Professor Libbie Rifkin with her colleagues in the Disability Studies program, the six-course Disability Studies Minor fosters a unique, dynamic, and growing learning community in the service of introducing our students to the complexities and issues at stake in the experiences of people who too often live at the boundaries of society. Built on cross-silo collaborative partnerships, this undergraduate degree connects courses from biology, literary and cultural studies, bioethics, nursing, healthcare administration, women’s and gender studies, and anthropology through common readings and visits by scholars, performers, and advocates both within and beyond the Georgetown community. A one of a kind program in Washington, DC, the teaching in the Disability Studies Program employs the principles of Universal Design for Learning from course design to class facilitation, and program assessment through PODS (Productive Open Design Space), developed at TLISI.

Faculty Category

Professor Jim Freericks

Through two projects, Freericks took on the challenge of making quantum physics conceptually accessible through digital media. Freericks created, with collaborative support from CNDLS, an award-winning massive online course that has reached tens of thousands of students and been run multiple times. Quantum Mechanics for Everyone was a 2018 edX Prize finalist and ranked 12th on Class Central’s Top 100 MOOCs of all time. In his second project, Freericks responded to Georgetown students’ need to practice the complex math required for the Physics major. By shifting lectures outside the classroom via the EdEx platform, Freericks ‘flipped’ Physics 155, Mathematical and Computational Methods to free up time for in-class problem-solving sessions and demonstrations that actively engage the students. The enthusiastic student reviews of the course suggest that this immersive and dialogic learning experience may support learning in ways a face-to-face classroom can’t. His course materials, especially the visualizations, strive to make the best uses of the affordances of virtual learning environments to make difficult material accessible. 

Career Achievement

Professor Elizabeth Stephen

Betsi Stephen’s dedication to her students has led to three newly created communities of scholars – both student and faculty – across years, across courses, and across campuses that explore the time and space of teaching. In one extended innovation, Dr. Stephen kept a cohort of students together for four years, from their first-year proseminar, to study abroad, to a Senior Research Seminar, assembling student work to analyze the inflection points at which their writing and thinking improved. Stephen applied her knowledge by then serving as the first-ever coordinator of all twenty-two proseminars taught each fall in the SFS and created a community of scholars among the faculty developing shared learning goals, syllabus alignment and convening regular gatherings and web-based resources. In the course Border and Security Concerns, Stephen brought together students studying abroad on three different campuses in three different countries into discussion groups in which they shared experiences and perspectives. The arc of innovation that spans her 31-year career at Georgetown has helped create a sense of intellectual community engagement and sustained inquiry.