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University of Basel

23 May 2017

Great Teaching: Teaching Excellence Awards 2017 presented

Teaching Excellence Awards 2017: moderator Karin Salm with Philippe Chresta and Elisabeth Maeder, the prize winners of the category Service to Teaching. (Image: University of Basel, Peter Schnetz)
Teaching Excellence Awards 2017: moderator Karin Salm with Philippe Chresta and Elisabeth Maeder, the prize winners of the category Service to Teaching. (Image: University of Basel, Peter Schnetz)

Yesterday, the University of Basel awarded this year's Teaching Excellence Awards to honor lecturers and staff for their contribution to teaching.

The committee chose six award winners out of over 800 nominations by lecturers, staff and students. During the official ceremony on May 22, 2017, the awards were handed out in five different categories:

Strong Foundations

Once again, the category “Starke Fundamente” has proven to be the most popular among students. 200 nominations were received for this category alone. The award honors lecturers, whose basic courses create a solid basis for the students’ further studies. With Prof. Dr. med. Andreas Bircher, this year's award went to a lecturer from the Faculty of Medicine for the first time since 2007. With his clearly structured lectures and learning materials, he helps students to prepare for the requirements of the clinical practice as doctors. By using original teaching formats such as Science Slams, he introduces his students to the basics of Allergology and Anatomy in a fun and memorable way. 

Modern Scholarship

The award for Modern Scholarship went to Prof. Dr. Caroline Arni for her extraordinary teaching performance in the History Department. She is able to position her field in the broader context of society and inspires her students to employ methodical and theoretical reflection. Arni convinced the committee that she does not only transfer knowledge, but that she lets students actively participate in theoretical, interdisciplinary and historiographical argumentation. The prize money for this category comes from the Credit Suisse Award for Best Teaching, which has been awarded at different Swiss higher education institutions since 2006.


This year, the Department of History can take home another Teaching Excellence Awards with Prof. Frithjof Benjamin Schenk as the winner of the category "Top aktuell". This award honors lecturers that enable their students to come into contact with state-of-the-art research. Schenk succeeded especially in doing so with his lecture series on the 100 anniversary of the Russian Revolution, which he held together with other researchers and the Swiss National Museum. The lecture brought together different research perspectives. As a Lecturer in Eastern European History, Schenk invites his students to always critically question events and circumstances

Breaking New Ground

The category “Beschreiten neuer Wege” honors lecturers who facilitate studies at societal and interdisciplinary interfaces. This year's winner Judith Tonner convinced her students and the committee especially with her seminar "Psychology im Dienste der Nachhaltigkeit." The seminar offered participants an extended academic focus and brought together students from different disciplines. Through the collaboration with different partners and institutions, the students had the opportunity to leave their common university framework and gain insight into possible job fields outside of the University.

Service to Teaching 

The award for “Dienst an der Lehre” honors those whose coordinated or technical support guarantees a smooth and enjoyable teaching and learning environment. The awardees Elisabeth Maeder and Philippe Chresta are representative of both areas.  Elisabeth Maeder, a research assistant in the student administration and the library, has been holding together the strings at the Slavistics Department for decades. With her competent and likable personality, she has shaped the character of the Department. Philippe Chresta from the Faculty of Psychology's IT department has convinced both staff and students that his work – from putting together online surveys to leading the Neuroscience Userlab – is indispensable for the entire Faculty.

Further Information

The complete shortlist as well as more information on the committee, impressions of the ceremony and an overview of last year's awardees can be found here: www.unibas.ch/tea

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