By News Office staff | Videos by UChicago Creative
The 2016 Faculty Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching and Mentoring was presented to one Social Sciences faculty member, Linda Zerilli, Charles E. Merriam Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science. The awarded was presented to a total of five recipients from across the University.
The University of Chicago annually recognizes tenure-track and tenured faculty in the Biological Sciences, Divinity School, Humanities, Institute for Molecular Engineering, Physical Sciences, and Social Sciences with the Faculty Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching and Mentoring.
Linda Zerilli, Charles E. Merriam Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science
Linda Zerilli loves the sense of discovery in her graduate seminars—both for herself and her students, whom she calls her “true intellectual peers.”
“I just don’t have a sense that when I walk in, I have to have mastered the material in order to teach it. It’s more of an exploration,” says Zerilli, who studies feminist theory and issues in gender and sexuality and is faculty director of the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality. “I think that gives students a sense of input. They want to think that there’s something in this book that’s left to discover that the professor hasn’t already figured out.”
Zerilli tries to build community in her competitive classrooms, driven by her experiences as a student. She tries to avoid the “banking theory of education” proposed by Brazilian scholar Paolo Freire—“Professor comes in, makes a deposit in your brain, and at the end of the quarter, wants to get it back out in the form of an exam”—and instead tries to emulate her former graduate school professors, including the late Michael Rogin, AM’59, PhD’62, of Berkeley.
“His classes were just absolutely electric. There was this sense of urgency, that this was alive,” says Zerilli. “We don’t get taught how to be teachers. I think at the end of the day, it’s ‘Who modeled good teaching for you?’ It’s kind of like becoming a parent.”
“We don’t get taught how to be teachers. I think at the end of the day, it’s ‘Who modeled good teaching for you?’ It’s kind of like becoming a parent.”