Teaching Awards Recognise Inspiring Postgraduate Educators

7 July 2016

The Dermot McAleese Teaching Awards were presented recently to teaching assistants in the School of Social Sciences and Philosophy in recognition of their outstanding commitment to achieving excellence in teaching and learning.

The recipients from the School's four disciplines were Alan Walsh of the Economics Department, Michael Lyons of the Philosophy Department, David Barrett of the Political Science Department and David Dunne of the Sociology Department.

Photographed at the awards ceremony (L – R): Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, Professor Darryl Jones, Award winner from Political Science, David Barrett, Professor Dermot McAleese, Head of the School of Social Sciences and Philosophy, Professor Gail McElroy, Award winner from Sociology, David Dunne, and Director of Undergraduate Teaching and Learning, Professor Elaine Moriarty.

Now in their fifth year, the awards were presented by Professor Darryl Jones, Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Science. They are in honour of former Whately Professor of Political Economy Dermot McAleese and were established thanks to the generosity of graduates of the School who donated to Trinity in recent years. Professor McAleese provided further generous financial support to sustain these awards for the decades to come.

Congratulating the recipients at the awards ceremony, Professor McAleese said “It is heartening to see that Trinity continues to place emphasis on the quality of teaching and I deeply appreciate the contribution they are making to Trinity as a marvellous place for undergraduate study.  I’m sure I speak for all donors to these Teaching Awards in expressing gratitude to the Trinity staff who devote so much time and effort to judging the candidates and encouraging applications.”

Head of the School of Social Sciences and Philosophy, Professor Gail McElroy, added “These talented and inspiring educators have had a hugely positive impact on our undergraduate students. They have not only demonstrated a professional and innovative approach to teaching but also a tremendous commitment to their students.”

The winners were selected through a nomination process which involved assessing their creativity in delivering tutorials; the role of their tutorials in stimulating critical thinking amongst the students; their responsiveness and engagement with students; good organisation and problem solving; and the contribution of tutorials to the overall delivery of the course.

2016 Dermot McAleese Award Winners:

  • Alan Walsh (Economics) – Alan is teaching assistant (TA) for the module on the Economy of Ireland and his research relates to the 'Synergies from Geographic Clustering of Creative Workers'. Alan was awarded one of the School’s prestigious Grattan Scholarships which aim to advancing high-quality social science research and teaching in Trinity. He also received a Dermot McAleese Teaching Award in 2014.  
  • Michael Lyons (Philosophy) – Michael is a TA for Central Problems in Philosophy. The title of his research is ‘A Kantian Reconciliation of Moral Realism and Moral Supervenience’. The aim of the research is use Kant's moral theory to defend the claim that there are literally speaking objective moral truths by explaining how they are necessarily connected to non-moral truths.
  • David Barrett (Political Science) – David is a TA for the Irish Politics module. The title of David’s thesis is 'The effect of observable party cohesion on voter choice in liberal democracies'. It aims to determine, what if any, is the impact of internal party infighting on the support that party receives from the public.
  • David Dunne (Sociology) – David is a TA for the Introduction to Sociology module. The title of David’s thesis is 'Going Native: culture, identity and counterinsurgency in Iraq.'  The research examines the influence of academic discourses upon what has been termed the 'cultural turn' in U.S. military policy in Iraq. In particular, it explores the role of primitivistic and essentialist representations of Iraqi identity in these discourses, and seeks to understand how ideas of identity are used instrumentally as a tool of intervention.

The selection committee was very impressed with the overall standard of nominations this year and was pleased to also present certificates of achievement to the following nominees who demonstrated a great commitment to their teaching assistant duties: Lisa Keenan, Purnima Kanther, Christina Kinghan, Shasha Li, Rogelio Mercado and Conor Parle.   

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