Four faculty in the Trinity College of Arts & Sciences were recently recognized by the Arts & Sciences Council for outstanding achievements in undergraduate teaching.
Members of the council — in collaboration with the dean's office — choose the award recipients each year by considering student evaluations, teaching statements and recommendations from colleagues as part of the selection process. Four awards are given each year, spanning the breadth of undergraduate disciplines offered in the college.
“The winners of the Arts & Sciences Council Teaching Awards are some of the very best instructors at Duke. They are not only highly effective and innovative teachers, but also people who care deeply about the personal growth and development of our students,” said Connel Fullenkamp, Professor of the Practice of Economics and Chair of the Council's Committee on Undergraduate Teaching and Academic Standards.
This year’s recipients are:
“Few things matter more to our liberal arts educational model than the connection between students and their faculty," they wrote. "Each year, we acknowledge colleagues in Trinity College of Arts & Sciences who not only exemplify our foundational commitment to excellence in teaching, but who also serve as aspirational models for our entire community.”
Read a bit more about each of the 2023 honorees:
Ahern-Dodson creates engaging learning environments that encourage students to connect course materials with their own experiences. She works with students to apply their knowledge beyond the classroom, fostering a supportive community founded on respect, active listening and collaboration. Her teaching approach revolves around igniting curiosity, promoting equity and inclusion, and continuously improving her methods.
From students: “This class provoked me to think about how I hope to define and live by my personal values in the professional world and world of adulthood. Rather than just considering my academic passions and career goals, it pushed me to think critically about how other personal elements such as family life and relationships fit into this puzzle.”
Fernandez’s teaching philosophy emphasizes fostering curiosity, enthusiasm and building a sense of community among students. She focuses on promoting engagement with diverse perspectives and experiences to enrich learning.
From students: “The learning environment of this class was amazing. Prof. Fernandez created a caring and fun class environment, and every day in class was a joy. I believe she truly cares about all her students, and she shows it with the way she carries herself. I also liked all the activities we did in class and out of class where we got a chance to interact and learn from Latin American people and cultures.”
Miller employs diverse active-learning strategies to ensure an inclusive and equitable classroom. Additionally, she designs assignments and activities that encourage students to connect course material to real-world contexts, fostering deeper and more meaningful learning.
From students: “Prof. Miller’s class was full of discussion and incorporated many different types of learning to accommodate all types of learners. The different activities we did in class were very helpful and ensured that we were reaching higher levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy [of learning], and not just memorizing information.”
Rudin is deeply committed to equity in her teaching practices. She stresses the importance of open discussion with students, offers timely and relevant projects for her classes, and holds herself accountable for staying up to date on her field.
From students: “I can attest that Prof. Rudin is an incredible research mentor and teacher who truly cares about her students. Working with Prof. Rudin was an incredibly valuable experience for me and the other members of the lab, due to her careful cultivation of all her students’ research skills, leadership skills and careers. She always encouraged me to strive higher and often believed in my abilities and skills more than I did myself.”