Best & Brightests  
 



UW AWARDS 2008 HOMEPAGE

UWEEK.ORG HOMEPAGE

DISTINGUISHED TEACHING AWARD
Ben Kerr, Biology
Gowri Shankar, Business Administration
Jaime Olavarria, Psychology
Jamie Walker, Ceramics
Julia Parrish, Aquatic and Fishery Sciences / Biology
Rebecca Aanerud, Women Studies
Richard Knuth, Education Administration

EXCELLENCE IN TEACHING AWARD
Fernanda Oyarzun & Chris Himes , Biology
Rachel Goldberg, English

DISTINGUISHED LIBRARIAN AWARD
Theresa Mudrock, UW Libraries

DISTINGUISHED STAFF AWARD
Hendrik Simons, Nuclear Physics Laboratory
Mona Pitre-Collins, Undergraduate Scholarship Office
Philip Mote, Climate Impacts Group
Robin Bennett, Medical Genetics
Sue Park, Facilities Services

DISTINGUISHED CONTRIBUTIONS TO LIFELONG LEARNING AWARD
John Schaufelberger, Construction Management

OUTSTANDING PUBLIC SERVICE AWARD
Nancy Amidei, Social Work

JAMES D. CLOWES AWARD FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF LEARNING COMMUNITIES
Lance Bennett, Political Science / Communication

S. STERLING MUNRO PUBLIC SERVICE TEACHING AWARD
Denise Wilson, Electrical Engineering

DAVID B. THORUD LEADERSHIP AWARD
Judy Mahoney, College of Engineering
Kathleen Woodward, Simpson Center for the Humanities

MARSHA L. LANDOLT DISTINGUISHED GRADUATE MENTOR AWARD
Tom Quinn, Aquatic and Fishery Sciences

ALUMNUS SUMMA LAUDE DIGNATA
Beverly Cleary, Children's Author

ALUMNI ASSOCIATION DISTINGUISHED SERVICE AWARD
Robb Weller, Television Producer and Host

PRESIDENT'S MEDAL
June Shujun Peng and Royce Anderson

"Once boundaries dissolve, magical things happen. I am passionately concerned about filling civic spaces with diverse people, and learning from the results."


Lance Bennett


Lance Bennett specializes in getting rid of barriers, and the UW is giving him an award for doing so. Bennett is this year's winner of the James D. Clowes Award for the Advancement of Learning Communities. It's named for the late Jim Clowes, who was an associate director of the Comparative History of Ideas Program.

"Once boundaries dissolve, magical things happen," said Bennett, who's taught at the UW since 1982. "I am passionately concerned about filling civic spaces with diverse people, and learning from the results."

The umbrella for Bennett's work is the Center for Communication and Civic Engagement, which he founded in 2000 (http://depts.washington.edu/ccce/Home.htm). It brings together civic-minded people both inside and outside the UW who research their views and act upon them.

Bennett and the center have helped start such things as the Citizen Roundtable, a 130-member group that meets once every other month to hear a speaker and discuss a civic issue. In early May, for example, the group heard David Cay Johnston, a New York Times reporter and Pulitzer Prize winner, talk about inequities in government support and tax breaks that benefit corporations and the wealthy.

Bennett and the Roundtable also created What's the Economy For, Anyway?, a research project whose members include two professors, more than a dozen graduate and undergraduate students and two PBS filmmakers. They educate the public about the U.S. economy compared to others in terms of sustainability, social justice and quality of life.

One of Bennett's best-known projects, however, is Becoming Citizens, which grew out of Media, Society and Political Identity, a class for undergraduates. Becoming Citizens combines sessions on academic readings with internships in community venues such as the Metrocenter YMCA in downtown Seattle. Interns help high school students define civic issues they care about, then share opinions and organize action. They use tools familiar to the young and hip -- e-mail plus Web sites such as Facebook and YouTube. Most recently, student interns have worked with partners such as the YMCA and the City of Seattle to create Puget Sound Off, a digital commons for students interested in civic affairs (http://dev.pugetsoundoff.org/).

UW graduate Bretta Fogerty was a 2007 student in Becoming Citizens. It kindled her passion to help young students become active citizens; indeed, she said, Becoming Citizens was one of the most important classes she took at the University.

The key to drawing young people into civic affairs, said Bennett, lies in bringing civic thought to blogging, networking and digital storytelling. "Every kid has something he or she cares about. It's a matter of helping draw it out, and finding others who are interested in ways that are fun, effective and create public space for kids."

Holder of a doctorate in political science from Yale University, 60-year-old Bennett has studied civic engagement for years. His research has led to half a dozen books, including When the Press Fails: Political Power and the New Media from Iraq to Katrina (2007).

However, many of his day-to-day projects grow out of work with students. "Teaching has always been a very important part of my life, but bumping up against the limits of the classroom invited me to create other environments," he said.

Kirsten Foot, a fellow professor in the communication department, helped nominate Bennett for the Clowes Award. She said he not only initiates and invests in research-driven learning communities, "he seems to thrive on them."

Bennett himself regards barrier removal a good gig: "I've learned the most of everyone -- that it's quite possible to have students quickly rise from a lecture course to writing an article with you, that it's possible to get tremendous amounts of work done because the community pitches in."