‘I aim to cultivate critical minds’
Inviting a navy officer to talk about piracy, inspiring critical thinking and offering to help with finding internships. Students appreciate that and therefore nominated Anita van Dissel, who teaches Maritime History, for the Lecturer of the Year Award.
Just three candidates remaining
Out of the more than twenty nominated lecturers, Leiden University’s Student Platform selected the three candidates who will be vying for the coveted Lecturer of the Year Award. The Platform will announce the winner during the dies natalis celebrations on the 9th of February. This week, we’ll be interviewing Anita van Dissel, while the other two candidates Harmen Jousma (lecturer of Science Based Business at the Institute of Physics) and Jan van der Ploeg (lecturer of Biodiversity for Anthropology) will follow in the coming weeks.
We asked Dr Anita van Dissel, who teaches Maritime History, the following question: Why do you think you’ve been nominated?
‘I’m very happily surprised and very curious about why I’ve been nominated too. Presumably, its due to a combination of factors. I’m trying to inspire students to look beyond the confines of the university. I trying to stimulate them to do internships and also teach a seminar in collaboration with a museum. For it, students write an article based on the museum’s collection and on a number of primary sources.’
What makes your lectures so appealing?
‘I often try to take current affairs, such as modern piracy, and place them in a historical context. To do so, I often invite guest lecturers. For instance, a naval officer once visited to describe how his crew rescued a ship from the hands of Somalian pirates. This approach teaches students that the real world doesn’t always correspond to their written sources. It encourages critical thinking.’
What characterizes your teaching style
‘I try to be involved and enthusiastic, and aim to cultivate critical minds. And as it happens, that’s not easy. A proper lecture demands a lot of preparation. But I’m also always trying to add enough variety, as it’s important to continuously motivate your students.’
How does the nomination rapport describe this candidate?
‘Anita van Dissel is very clear about what she expects from students, while also asking her audience what they expect to gain from their studies. She does all she can to help her students achieve their goals. Van Dissel is continuously asking questions to encourage critical thinking in her students. Her lecturers, featuring many guests with practical experience, are very inspiring. This lecturer also often collaborates with archives and museums, and encourages students to do internships. She’s also very interested in what students want to do upon graduating, and uses references and her extensive network to try to help them achieve those goals.’
(13 January 2015)
The nomination process
Throughout the year, groups of students (of four and up) and study unions nominated over twenty candidates for the Lecturer of the Year Award. Leiden University’s Student Platform (LUS) is the jury. Aside from listening to the nominations made by the students, this jury will also decide on a winner by attending their lectures and contacting the colleagues of the candidate, as well as the coordinator of their programmes.