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Faculty Teaching Excellence

As an SOSS student, you benefit from learning from the great minds of our highly qualified faculty. They will guide and engage you in lively dialogues and discussions that stimulate your thinking and get you to challenge the status-quo. Besides recruiting some of the best academics, we also engage successful industry practitioners for their specific expertise and skills to combine academic vigour with their hands-on business knowledge.

At SOSS, you get more than a teaching professor – you get a facilitator, a mentor and a friend.

Over the past few years, several of our faculty members have won or been nominated for SMU teaching excellence awards. These awards recognize the dedication that our faculty members have towards enhancing the quality of classroom experience for our students.


Jacob Ricks
Assistant Professor of Political Science
Most Promising Teacher Award 2016 (Winner)

“Teaching is among my favorite activities, and I constantly strive to improve the value-added of my courses. I want students to leave my classroom with simultaneously improved critical thinking and writing skills, as I believe one’s knowledge has limited impact without the ability to succinctly communicate one’s ideas. Practice makes perfect, so my courses are full of opportunities to share and engage in both verbal and written form. And crossword puzzles. Everyone loves crossword puzzles.”


Christie Scollon
Associate Professor of Psychology
Innovative Teacher Award 2016 (Winner)

“My philosophy of teaching, plain and simple: Students deserve a class that is stimulating, stretches their thinking, is challenging, and above all, is interesting. I am not afraid to say (at the risk of appearing frivolous) that a class should be fun and have substance, just as good food should taste delicious and be healthy. A healthy diet that tastes bland is ultimately not sustainable. Importantly, I do not sacrifice rigor or challenge in order to make a class fun.”


Ijlal Naqvi
Assistant Professor of Sociology
Excellent Teacher Award 2016 (Nominee)

“Following the Socratic injunction to live an examined life, it is a core goal of my teaching for students to reflect on the course materials in the context of their own experiences and aspirations. The values underlying this pedagogy include courage, imagination, empathy, and humility. Critical thinking skills are empty without these values.”


William Tov
Associate Professor of Psychology
Innovative Teacher Award 2015 (Nominee)

“To the student sitting in the seats, it is a terrible feeling when you do not comprehend something you are told is obvious and self-explanatory. When I began teaching—especially statistical methods—I never forgot that experience as a struggling, confused student. I follow three principles when I teach: (1) Assume nothing is obvious, (2) Be as visual and interactive as possible, and (3) Maintain a humble rapport with the class.”


Ann Florini
Professor of Public Policy
Director, Master of Tri-Sector Collaboration Programme
Innovative Teacher Award 2013 (Nominee)

“To achieve the dual goals of empowering my students to master both knowledge content as well as communication skills, I transform my classrooms into student-led environments.  I start off by providing a baseline of knowledge and then guide students to teach one another in a challenging, in-depth process of peer learning.”


Evelyn Au
Assistant Professor of Psychology
Excellent Teacher Award 2012 (Nominee)

“There are so many rewarding aspects of teaching.  It can be as simple as seeing students’ “eureka!” moments, when a previously confusing concept now makes sense to them. Or as thoughtful as getting e-mails from students, telling you how your course has changed the way they see the world.  Or as transformative as hearing a former student tell me that my course has changed his life – he is now pursuing graduate studies in psychology because of the interest that was sparked in my class.  All of these moments are what makes teaching so worthwhile.”


Nicholas Harrigan
Assistant Professor of Sociology
Innovative Teacher Award 2012 (Winner)

“My primary innovation in the classroom is to adapt the latest scientific insights of the 'expert-like thinking' research to the context of SMU. This approach is based on the work of Nobel Prize winning physicist Carl Wieman which aims to address the failure of universities to teach two of the three key components of expert thinking. While current pedagogical methods are good at teaching facts, they fail to adequately teach concepts, and the monitoring of one's own thinking.”

Last updated on 25 Oct 2016 .