College awards Bushnell prize for writing, teaching to three professors

November 4, 2015 by Neena Patel, Staff Writer

COURTESY OF CECILIA CHAN, RONADH COX AND EIKO MARUKO SINIAWER (L–R): Professors Chang, Cox and Siniawer won the Bushnell prize. Photos courtesy of Cecilia Chan, Ronadh Cox and Eiko Maruko Siniawer

(L–R): Professors Chang, Cox and Siniawer won the Bushnell prize. Photos courtesy of Cecilia Chan, Ronadh Cox and Eiko Maruko Siniawer

On Oct. 26, the College announced the three recipients of the Nelson Bushnell ’20 Prize. The College has given this award annually since 1995 to faculty members for their excellence in teaching and writing.

The recipients this year are Professor of Chinese Cecilia Chang,  Professor of Geosciences Ronadh Cox, and Professor of History Eiko Maruko Siniawer ’97.

Chang, who has been at the College since 1989 and holds an Ed.D. in language, literacy and culture from University of Massachusetts at Amherst, an M.A. in applied linguistics from University of California at Los Angeles and a B.A. in Chinese literature from Fu-Jen University, was noted for her attention and research in the practice of teaching. “It was an honor to be selected,” Chang said.

Her most recent research project, an extension of her dissertation, was a look into how students learn and become comfortable with reading comprehension in the upper levels of the Chinese curriculum. Her focus was on the progression of the learning process in second- through fourth-level Chinese students. As a co-chair of the College Board’s Advanced Placement Chinese Language and Culture Development Committee and a faculty member in the master’s degree program at the Middlebury Summer Chinese School, Chang hopes to continue to study the progression of elementary Chinese learning within immersion schools across the United States through high school programs and graduate school programs, in order to see how they will influence and change the learning of this language in the future.

“The ultimate goal of learning a language is to make a connection between two countries,” Chang said. “It’s gratifying to see students doing that, and using language in very meaningful ways.”

Siniawer, who is in her 13th year at the College, holds a Ph.D. in history and an M.A. in East Asian studies both from Harvard, as well as a B.A in history from the College. She has written a book entitled Ruffians, Yakuza, Nationalists, which studies the interaction of professional violence such as the mafia on political life in Japan. Siniawer is currently working on a book and research project about the shift in concepts of waste and wastefulness.

“This book is fundamentally about the ways in which people have attempted to find value, meaning, and happiness in a post-industrial, capitalist, consumerist and affluent Japan,” said Siniawer in a statement. Siniawer teaches one of the only classes at the College about Korean history, an introductory-level tutorial. In this class, the history of the peninsula is studied in the time period from its division until the present day.

“In a 100-level history tutorial in particular, students are introduced to what it means to think historically and to the idea that history is an interpretive and subjective discipline – this, for many students, as it was for me, is a very different kind of history than the one familiar to us from high school,” Siniawer said. She finds that the course challenges previous beliefs about North and South Korea.

“It also delves deeply into what we think we know about North Korea, going well beyond media headlines,” she said. While on sabbatical this year, Siniawer is devoting all of her time to research and writing for her next book.

Cox, a professor and chair of the department of geosciences, received her B.S. from the University College Dublin and her Ph.D. in geology from Stanford. As a member of the geosciences department since 1996, she studies storm erosion of coasts and the formation of gullies in the highlands of Madagascar, as well as involving herself in the analysis of the moons of Jupiter. While her research is not related to the maritime studies program, she works hard to get students involved in it in order to allow them to see the world in different ways. The award noted Cox’s involvement of undergraduate students in all areas of her research.

“I love the natural world and trying to understand how things happen in it. I love engaging students in solving these puzzles, bringing them to places they’ve never been, in landscapes actual and intellectual,” she said. The geosciences department involves students in research that ranges from understanding interactions between soil and the atmosphere, to coastal erosion, to how mountains are built on moons in the outer solar system.

“Most people don’t realize how central the geosciences are in modern society,” said Cox. “The work that geoscientists do is fundamental to things ranging from understanding climate change to building bridges that don’t fall down.”

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