Philosopher Matt Whitt Wins Excellence in Teaching Writing Award
First-year students come to Duke filled with ideas. The Thompson Writing Program is designed to help them express those ideas. Program director Kristen Neuschel says few instructors do it as well as philosopher Matthew Whitt.
His most recent first-year course used discussions of mass incarceration to explore tensions between American ideals and practices. In all Thompson courses, students share ideas and discuss readings, but Neuschel said Whitt found extra ways for student engagement.
Whitt received a Humanities Writ Large grant to organize a lecture series in which legal and prison researchers discussed their work with the students, allowing the students to “try out their research ideas with recognized experts in the field,” Neuschel said.
“Effective writing,” he reminds students, “demands that we clarify our thoughts, evaluate our commitments and genuinely consider opposing views,” Neuschel said. “The course requires students to tackle contentious problems with rigorous disciplinary thinking through writing.”