The Fintz Award for Teaching Excellence in the Arts and Humanities recognizes outstanding tenure-stream faculty who, in keeping with the goals of integrative studies, seek to make students familiar with different ways of knowing and artistic expression and to assist them in developing critical thinking and effective communication skills. Every year CISAH recognizes two IAH faculty members with the Fintz Award (one in IAH 201-210 and one in IAH 211-241). The Fintz Award is possible thanks to an endowment provided by Professor Ken Waltzer, former director of CISAH, to honor his father. The selection of candidates, final recommendations made by the CISAH Advisory Committee, and awards ceremony take place during the spring semester of each year. IAH tenure-stream faculty may receive the Fintz Awards only once every three years.
The Fintz Awards Committee is pleased to honor Ronen Steinberg, Assistant Professor of History, for his outstanding teaching of IAH 202, "Understanding Europe in an Age of Globalization," in the Spring and Fall of 2015. Professor Steinberg's course explores new ways of understanding European history and culture in an age of globalization. In the course, he examines the rise, consolidation, and crisis of European global dominance from the eighteenth century to the present. He focuses particularly on interactions between European and non-European cultures and peoples, asking how such connections challenged and transformed both, and how, ultimately, they shaped the world in which we live today. The committee members were unanimous in their choice, noting that Professor Steinberg was among the highest ranked IAH professors 2015 and has made a significant contribution to the field of interdisciplinary study.
Students were unanimous in their praise. One student commented, "Professor Steinberg is a great teacher! Every one of his lectures are presented with enthusiasm, making the content enjoyable to learn. His quizzes and assignments are very fair. He is a great professor and has done a great job teaching this course!" Another noted, "Professor Steinberg was incredibly interesting and enjoyable to be taught by. He was very clear about his points, and also very genuinely nice and understanding with his students. It was obvious that he cared about us all and just wanted us to learn and do our bests. This was one of my favorite classes of college so far." Yet another student wrote, "Dr. Steinburg is an amazing professor with a lot of enthusiasm for this course. He is probably the best professor I've ever had. He is genuinely interested in the course material and really wants you to learn. I actually wanted to attend lectures since they were made so interesting by him."
In addition to his outstanding teaching, Professor Steinberg is a historian of modern Europe. His main areas of interest are the French Revolution, transitional justice, and mass violence. He has published articles on the history of terrorism, transitional justice, trauma and history, and the aftermath of the Reign of Terror. He is currently at work on a book manuscript titled tentatively The Afterlives of the Terror: Dealing with the Legacies of Mass Violence in Post-Revolutionary France. Professor Steinberg earned a B.A. from Tel-Aviv University and a Ph.D. in history from the University of Chicago. He has held fellowships at the University of Michigan, the American Philosophical Society, and, most recently, the University of Texas at Austin.
The Fintz Awards Committee is pleased to honor Terrion Williamson, Assistant Professor in the Department of English, for her outstanding teaching of IAH 211C, "African American Cultural Practice and Black Social Life." This wide-ranging course explored a range of forms, from reality television and dramatic film, to R&B and rap music, stand-up comedy and black foodways in order to chart the passage of contemporary African American life and its relationship to questions of race, class, representation, recognition, respectability, mobility, and social justice. The committee was particularly impressed with the ambitious set of assignments for the course, including position papers, a jointly authored "course blog," and final projects that ranged from traditional scholarship to photo essays and collaborative film work.
Student evaluations for this course went far beyond typical praise, with students describing her as both inspiring and life-changing. Two student comments in particular exemplify comments by many other students in the class:
"She has a passion for teaching this class, and for getting her students to go out and make a change to make the world a better place. She taught me so much that I never would have been able to know if not for her class. The best thing she did was make the class enjoyable and fun for everybody. There were topics that could possibly be uncomfortable to some, but she made a great environment where everybody could contribute and hear differing opinions."
"Dr. T's organization of the class did an amazing job in facilitating classroom discussion. After talking all semester about race, it seemed like the classroom had broken a barrier and everyone was able to be open and honest. It was something I had never experienced before in a classroom and it meant a lot to me. Discussing race the way we did in that classroom is so important and I think the reason we were able to do it was because of how the class was organized to cover the topics that we did. I really admire how Dr. T put the class together, always made room for all students to speak, and offered a safe environment to us to not only discuss but also respectfully argue about these issues."
In addition to her exceptional teaching, Professor Williamson is a highly regarded scholar. Her research and teaching interests include black cultural studies, gender theory, femicide and gendered violence, legal theory, media studies, reality television, and religious discourses, particularly within the black Christian church. Her current book project, entitled Scandalize My Name: Black Feminist Practice and the Making of Black Social Life, focuses on the discursive formulations and cultural histories of contemporary narratives of black women that coalesce within popular literary and cultural texts, and has been supported by funding from the Ford Foundation and the American Association of University Women. Professor Williamson earned a B.A. in English from the University of Illinois at Chicago, a J.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and a Ph.D. in American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California.