Prof Gillian Calder awarded Terry J Wuester Teaching Award

At the November 12 convocation, Prof Gillian Calder was awarded the Terry Wuester Teaching Award.  This award is conferred by the graduating class on a member of faculty who exemplifies excellence in teaching. Here is an excerpt from the citation delivered at the ceremony:

 In her teaching, Prof Calder is talented, immensely bold, and dedicated. One could provide many examples. Let me share two, cited by the students in their nomination.

First, Prof Calder has introduced exercises drawn from the tradition of Theatre of the Oppressed into “Legal Process” – a course that all students must take in their first weeks of law school. In those exercises, pioneered by Brazilian theorist Augusto Boal, students deal with difficult situations – such as a person who makes a racist comment, or who is deeply upset by something that has occurred in the classroom – and they work through together how they might address the situation. The exercises are difficult and unpredictable, but when done with care and insight, as they are with Prof Calder, they are deeply, almost viscerally, illuminating.

Second, in spring 2013, Prof Calder’s class in Sexual Orientation and the Law staged a reading of the play “8”, about a legal challenge to California’s anti-same-sex marriage law. In the discussion period, two members of the public vigorously criticized the play’s commitment to the recognition of same-sex marriage. The students dealt with the criticisms with openness, respect and honesty. The result was a model of deliberation over fraught public issues.

It may seem surprising to praise the actions of students in the citation for a teaching award, but that is exactly the point. Prof Calder has, through her teaching, equipped her students with tools to address difficult and complex issues with skill and care. What could be better evidence of the talent and accomplishment of a teacher?