Matthew Braham, professor of political philosophy at the University of Bayreuth in Germany, was nominated by an unnamed guest professor at the institution for the European Award for Excellence in Teaching in the Social Sciences and Humanities.
The guest professor had noticed a striking difference between different groups of Professor Braham’s students.
The academic said those taking a class with Professor Braham “were able to discuss and challenge the presented course material with astonishing clarity. Those who had not yet benefited from his teaching lacked some of these qualities.”
The award, which comes with a €5,000 (£4,200) prize funded by an anonymous donor, is the first and only pan-European award for teaching excellence.
It was established in 2011 by the Central European University as part of its 20th anniversary celebrations. Professor Braham received his award from CEU president and rector John Shattuck at the university’s 2013 opening ceremony on 13 September.
In the personal statement submitted when he was told that he was a finalist, Professor Braham says that his “somewhat traditional” teaching methods made “only sparing use of modern presentation and instead focus on ‘chalk and talk’”.
“Lecturing and leading seminars is, for me, an act of thinking and intellectual engagement with my students and audience. I have no special techniques on offer except commitment to the educative process. My classes are, as far as possible, a Socratic exercise.”