Two members of the philosophy and religious studies faculty were presented with outstanding teacher awards at the NC State Alumni Association’s Awards Reception in the Park Alumni Center on April 4.
Marina F. Bykova, professor of philosophy, received an Alumni Association Outstanding Teacher Award and at the same time became a member of the NC State Academy of Outstanding Teachers. Nine members of the department’s faculty now belong to this academy.
Bykova teaches courses on Nineteenth Century Philosophy and Existentialism for the philosophy program and a course on Kantian Ethics for the University Honors Program. In Fall 2019, she will be introducing a new course on Continental Philosophy After 1900. This will expand the range of options available to NC State students with an interest in Continental European thought.
“Excellence in teaching,” Bykova says, “means … nothing more or less than promoting the ability of students to think critically about any topic, broaden their intellectual horizons, and develop greater self-awareness and understanding of their place in the world. I strongly believe that university education should not only give students some specific skills that will help them earn a living, but also teach critical thinking.”
A dynamic and engaging teacher in the classroom, Bykova is also a champion of undergraduate research. She has supervised over 50 undergraduate research projects during the past ten years, including four research and writing projects by philosophy majors and three research projects funded by the Provost’s Professional Experience Program during the 2018/19 academic year.
Bykova’s students say that she is “unbelievably knowledgeable about the material and … knows how to make it accessible to students”; “very engaging”; “receptive to the questions and inputs of students”; “good at facilitating discussion”; “personally inspiring”; and “always willing to work with students.”
Karey A. Harwood, associate professor of religious studies, was awarded the title of Alumni Association Distinguished Undergraduate Professor. Only members of the NC State Academy of Outstanding Teachers can be nominated for this distinction. Harwood has been a member of the Academy since 2010.
All of Harwood’s teaching draws on interdisciplinary materials. Her courses include Introduction to the Study of Religion and Religion, Gender & Reproductive Technologies in Religious Studies, Theoretical Issues in Women’s and Gender Studies, the capstone course in Women’s and Gender Studies (WGS), and a seminar on The Ethics and Ideology of Choice in the M.A. in Liberal Studies.
“My approach to teaching,” Harwood says, “begins with high expectations, requires a considerable amount of writing and reading, and seeks to reinforce the idea that all people improve these skills with practice. … Most importantly, I prioritize helping students develop their own voices—their confidence to speak during class discussion and, again, their investment in the significance of the discussion.”
As Coordinator of WGS since 2015, Harwood has overseen the development of two new courses, including, most recently, a course on Black Feminist Theory. She also advises all 50 majors and minors in WGS and supervises the WGS internship. This is a highlight of the major, integrating WGS coursework with real world experience.
Harwood’s students say that she is “very good at explaining concepts,” “very receptive to students’ needs and concerns,” “incredibly helpful … and always encouraging” and “a great discussion facilitator”; that “her work straddles fascinating boundaries”; and that she “has an incredible teaching style that engages students despite each of us coming from different backgrounds.”