Dr. Erik Alexander receives Teaching Excellence Award

“Teaching informs our scholarship in a lot of unexpected ways.”–Dr. Erik Alexander

Recipients of the Teaching Excellence Award for the 2018-2019 year were recently chosen with Dr. Erik Alexander, professor in the Department of Historical Studies, being awarded the Teaching Distinction Award. The award recognizes faculty for their excellence in teaching throughout the year and recipients are chosen based on nominations by the department and students.  

“The award required me to reflect a lot. There is value in stepping back and questioning why we do some of the things that we do in the classroom,” Alexander commented. Alexander is a Civil War scholar and exemplifies what it means to be an extraordinary teacher, engaging his students in experiential learning.

In the classroom, he is known for reenacting events like the Caning of Charles Sumner, a significant moment in history that is often attributed to leading up to the Civil War. “History is an evidence based discipline and my lectures are a kind of performance.” Outside of lectures that are both informative and engaging, Alexander lets his students take the lead on discussions and projects. He gave his upper-level students the opportunity for hands-on experience in working with over 100 original documents that were found by the Madison County Recorder office. “Students were able to learn firsthand from the documents and digitize them for a database.”

In addition to teaching, Alexander recently contributed a chapter to Dr. Bryan M. Jack’s New Book, Southern History on Screen: Race & Rights, 1976-2016. His essay focuses on the movie, Free State of Jones and he held a screening of the film through the Faculty Fellows program on campus. “A lot of ideas came from that screening and the exchange I had with the students. Teaching informs our scholarship in a lot of unexpected ways.”



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