This year, the University of Bremen together with the unifreunde association has once again awarded the Berninghausen Prize for Excellence in Teaching. Not only current students profit from great, contemporary teaching. Outstanding teaching is also the hallmark of a university that appeals to the students of tomorrow and attracts them to the University of Bremen. The competition this year was very strong: 127 proposals were submitted in the Excellence in Teaching category and 95 in the Student Prize category. The selection committee consisted of teaching staff, other university employees, and students.
Professor Maren Petersen, Vice President for Teaching and Studies commented: “The University of Bremen attaches great importance to high-quality teaching. I warmly congratulate our laureates on this award. Our teaching staff members and the enthusiasm and motivation they inspire in students are a great asset to the University of Bremen. This involves not only passing on knowledge but also fostering students to think for themselves – these are important skills that benefit our entire society.”
Kathrin Moosdorf, Senator for Environment, Climate, and Science: “The large number of candidates nominated demonstrates to me: The quality of teaching at the University of Bremen is outstanding. For many professors, teaching is not just a job. For them, teaching is a calling. They are role models for the next generation of academics. I would therefore like to thank the laureates for their commitment. I would also like to thank the unifreunde association, the University of Bremen, the Constructor University and, of course, the Berninghausen family for honoring this commitment in a worthy setting.”
Excellent Team Teaching: Cornelius Torp and Andrew Torget
Professor Cornelius Torp and Professor Andrew Torget received an award as a team in the Excellence in Teaching category for their English-language “American History since 1865” seminar. The seminar not only provided students with a comprehensive knowledge of the history of the United States since the American Civil War, students also worked independently on specific subject areas, reviewed the current state of research, and presented their findings. The students praised the excellent teaching and the fact that the special cooperation with a professor who lives and researches in the USA allowed them to gain an insight into the inner workings of American history and to broaden their knowledge horizons in terms of both content and historical methodology. The two teaching staff members always supported their students with further literature, sources, and assistance.
Jennifer Reiske: Contemporary Learning for Classroom Practice
Jennifer Reiske received the Berninghausen Prize in the Student Prize category. She convinced the jury with her teaching concept, which focuses on combining theory and practice as well as developing students’ ability to conduct their own research on subject-specific teaching methodology and allowed them to participate in research projects. The jury was impressed to see how she gave students the opportunity in her courses to study subject-specific teaching methods, reflect critically on them, and relate them to teaching practice in the classroom. The direct relation of theory to practice proves to be particularly helpful for the students’ learning process, as it highlights the relevance for their future professional field. Furthermore, the jury was impressed by the fact that the students were able to participate in determining the course content by contributing their own topics, as well as jointly testing key topics and materials. As the students emphasized, Jennifer Reiske also attaches great importance to co-designing the examinations and seminars. The students also praised the use of digital media and the opportunity to hold discussions virtually.
Lars Viellechner: Vibrant and an Extraordinary Commitment
Another Student Prize was awarded to Professor Lars Viellechner from the Faculty of Law, who mainly teaches courses on the rather inaccessible subject of constitutional law. According to his students, however, Lars Viellechner's courses are very engaging and he is exceptionally committed. He manages to inspire great enthusiasm in students of all semesters. Thanks to his relaxed, but at the same time structured way of lecturing using illustrative examples, he is able to explain even difficult and complicated topics in a clear and comprehensible way establishing links to other areas of law. The jury was also impressed by the fact that Professor Viellechner used excursions on current legal topics and new case law to convey the relevance of the respective field of law to the students. The jury was equally impressed by the fact that Professor Viellechner actively encourages his students to participate and works with them to develop solutions.
About the Berninghausen Prize
Every year, the University of Bremen and the unifreunde association (friends of the University of Bremen and Constructor University) award the Berninghausen Prize. The prize, which was established by the family Berninghausen in 1991, honors special achievements in university teaching. Endowed with 6,000 euros, the prize can be awarded in several categories. All members of the university can nominate members of the teaching faculty for the prize, whereby in the Student Prize category, only the students are allowed to do so.