UCD’s Sarah Morton and UW’s Donata Romizi share CEU’s 2020 European Award for Excellence in Teaching

June 16, 2020

June 16, 2020, Budapest – Dr. Donata Romizi, University of Vienna (UW), and Dr. Sarah Morton, University College Dublin (UCD) are the joint recipients of the 2020 European Award for Excellence in Teaching in the Social Sciences and Humanities. The awards, which are accompanied by the €5,000 Diener Prize, will be presented at CEU’s Opening Ceremony on September 25, 2020.

According to Professor Marvin Lazerson, chair of the judging panel, “Dr. Donata Romizi is an outstanding philosophy scholar who combines passionate and innovative teaching with a dedication to high quality student learning. Her decision to teach academic philosophy to future high school teachers in ways that will have meaning for their futures, as well as engaging in a continuing process of self-learning from her students and then reassessing her teaching are special characteristics too often underappreciated in our universities. She is an unusual talent.”

With regards to Dr. Sarah Morton, Professor Marvin Lazerson says: “Dr. Morton creates learning environments that support students who have experienced lifelong educational disadvantage and continue to face major barriers to accessing and sustaining education. She does this with a strong educational philosophy and close relationships with community organizations.” Emphasizing that the relevance of Dr. Morton’s work goes beyond simply teaching, Lazerson adds: “At a time when universities must become genuine members of the communities within which they live, her devotion to having all stakeholders benefit from her work is extraordinary.”

The European Award for Excellence in Teaching in the Social Sciences and Humanities was launched by CEU Provost and Pro-Rector Liviu Matei for CEU’s 20th anniversary in 2011. As a part of CEU’s commitment to excellence in teaching within the institution and across Europe and beyond, the award is administered by the University’s Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL). The Diener Prize is made possible by a generous gift from Steven and Linda Diener in memory of Ilona Diener. For further information on the award and previous recipients, please visit: http://ctl.ceu.edu/news/recipients-european-award-excellence-teaching.

The 2020 winners of the European Award for Excellence in Teaching in the Social Sciences and Humanities:

Dr. Donata Romizi, Assistant Professor at the Institute of Philosophy of the University of Vienna, helped founding the University of Vienna’s Postgraduate Philosophical Practice Program (where she is also co-director), the only such program in German-speaking countries.

Reflecting on the responsibilities that come with teaching, Dr. Romizi notes that: “The commitment to high-quality teaching begins with taking responsibility for actions when you believe it is most important for the students – even if you have to pay a high price.”

The “high price” to which Dr. Romizi refers, are  the drawbacks that accompany teaching mandatory entry-level courses with large classroom sizes to students who – in part - do not really wish to be there. Despite the inherent risk teaching such courses has for lecturers early in their careers (dispassionate students facing high quality standards are more inclined to leave critical teaching reviews), Dr. Romizi is willing to take these courses on. Her dedication to teaching is further evidenced by her enrolling in a program – the Teaching Competence Plus program at the Center for Teaching and Learning of the University of Vienna - with the specific intent to improve her teaching skills, and “enhance the practical relevance of the class with respect to the future teaching profession of my students.”

According to Sandra Radinger, a student in the Philosophical Practice Program who is also a Pre-Doc Teacher in the Department of English and American Studies, Romizi’s dedication to her subject and to teaching is clear: “Dr. Romizi not only provides high-quality teaching herself, but in addition, she defends, with good reason and argument, the relevance of philosophy in today’s education and society. I would argue that her work is not only important for the teachers she educates, but also for the future of philosophy in Austrian school curricula.”

Dr. Romizi has received several awards for her PhD thesis, as well as a Teaching Award from the University of Vienna in 2017.

Dr. Sarah Morton, Assistant Professor in the School of Social Policy, Social Work and Social Justice at University College Dublin, reveals in a personal statement that “What is key to my teaching practice is creating learning environments that support students who have experienced lifelong educational disadvantage and continue to face major barriers to accessing and sustaining education. My main goal as a teacher is to ignite and sustain curiosity and passion within the students I teach for the subject at hand.”

UCD’s Community Drug Outreach Program, of which Morton is the director, is an initiative that seeks to assist students who have experienced educational disadvantages or social exclusion, as well as those affected by drug and alcohol issues, in finding a pathway to undergraduate study. According to one of her former students: “Dr. Morton is truly an exceptional lecturer and tutor. She is one of a kind displaying great passion for her subject and who personally through her support alone has given many of my year the ability to bring real change to their lives through imparting her knowledge in a jargon-free way and always being available and responsive to the needs of the person behind the student!”

Dr. Morton has previously been recognized by University College Dublin for her dedication to teaching: she was awarded the UCD College of Social Sciences and Law Teaching Excellence Award in 2018 and the University College Dublin Teaching Excellence Award in 2019.

Niamh Moore-Cherry, Associate Professor of Urban Governance and Development in UCDs School of Geography, University College Dublin as well as Vice-Principal for Teaching and Learning in the College of Social Sciences and Law, says of Morton that: “She actively seeks to create a learning environment that values and integrates the students’ lived experience as well as ensuring there is a culture of respect for peers and the University.”