Distinguished Teaching Awardees Named

By Ed Carpenter, Office of Marketing Communications Posted Mon, 09/20/2010 - 17:00

Brian DempsterBrian Komei Dempster and Ronald Sundstrom, associate professor of rhetoric and composition and associate professor of philosophy respectively, have been named co-winners of the University of San Francisco Distinguished Teaching Award.

Dempster (right) and Sundstrom were recently honored for their dedication to students, regularly spending time outside the classroom as mentors, providing extensive comments on assignments, and, in some cases, allowing unlimited revisions on papers as a means to drive student improvement.

Since 2002, Dempster has been a member of the faculty committee and an editor for Writing for the Real World, a multidiscipline essay anthology written by USF students, a number of whom come out of his classes.

Writing for the Real World is integral to helping students envision a deeper aim for their writing: to inform and persuade others, and even move an audience to take action,” Dempster said.

By offering multiple writing topics for most class assignments and peer review editing, he’s able inspire students to take responsibility for their learning and pursue what they’re most passionate about, Dempster said.

Dempster has also used his teaching skills outside the classroom in service to the Bay Area community by teaching writing to Japanese Americans in California, Oregon, and Washington who were interned in concentration camps during World War II and then editing a first-person anthology of their essays published in 2001, From Our Side of the Fence.

Ronald SundstromSundstrom (right), whose student teacher evaluations place him among the highest ranked professors at USF during the past six years, is able to open windows on worlds that some students aren’t familiar with in classes such as Ethics and Public Policy and Human Person: Race Issues.

“The basic principle at stake in all of (these courses) is the capacity of a multi-racial polity to deploy public reason and democratic disagreement in the service of public policy and the common good,” Sundstrom said.

Not only are Sundstrom’s students challenged by difficult topics, but his lesson are designed so that students must work together to devise a question related to the assigned readings, come to a consensus on an answer to the question to present to classmates, and, then, individually address and analyze in writing their group’s collective answer.

“This leads students both to build consensus around a controversial question and to understand their peer’s divergence on the topic,” Sundstrom said.

The approach promotes the idea among students that the focus should be on public reason, dialogue among citizens, and the value of striving for a common good, rather than taking a hard and fast position on a controversial topic, Sundstrom said.

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