Issue Date: May 31, 2002
By Pam Orel
The political science department on the New Brunswick campus has received the Rutgers Award for Programmatic Excellence in Undergraduate Education. The annual award, which includes a plaque and a check for $10,000, is presented each year by President Francis L. Lawrence and Susan G. Forman, vice president for undergraduate education.
"The political science department can take great pride in the initiative and success of its students, and in its contributions toward educating more knowledgeable, thoughtful and responsible participants in politics and self-government," Forman said.
"This department has wonderful faculty who are very devoted to teaching," said Milton Heumann, department chair. "We also offer our students who are majoring in political science excellent seminar opportunities. We have found that you don't have to purchase research excellence at the price of a quality undergraduate education."
The award funds may be spent on any facet of undergraduate education. Heumann said a faculty committee will recommend how the funds should be used.
The department was chosen from among nine entries for the award, said Gregory Herzog, chair of the committee that evaluated the nominations.
"The committee was very impressed with the comprehensive and careful revisions to the undergraduate curriculum, as well as the substantial commitment of faculty time and other resources for the benefit of undergraduate students," said Herzog, a professor of chemistry with the Faculty of Arts and Sciences–New Brunswick.
The political science department, part of FAS–New Brunswick, gives students a broad understanding of the basis of individual, social and institutional political behavior and offers those majoring in the discipline a wide range of advanced-level courses that focus on specific aspects of the political experience.
Among the innovations, the department includes biweekly, writing-intensive classes, led by graduate students, in its introductory-level courses. There are also small-group research seminars for juniors and seniors from all majors, allowing close collaboration between students and faculty members. The upper-level seminars focus on such topics as war, globalization, the European Union, citizens' groups, and women and citizenship.
The department was also cited for a seminar series, "The Art of Teaching," that brings together teaching assistants, part-time lecturers and senior faculty to discuss educational issues. The programs allow educators from different backgrounds to share experiences on a range of classroom topics, from ways to make lectures more effective to tips on spotting cheating on exams. Over the past five years, two-thirds of all full-time department faculty have participated in the program.
This article was published in the May 31, 2002 edition of the Rutgers Focus and is available online at http://urwebsrv.rutgers.edu/focus/article/link/959/