Destin, Cohen Honored With University Teaching Awards

Destin, Cohen Honored With University Teaching Awards

mesmin destinMesmin Destin

School of Education and Social Policy professor Mesmin Destin and instructor Danny M. Cohen (PhD11) will be honored with 2019 University Teaching Awards for their outstanding efforts and dedication to undergraduate education at Northwestern University.

Destin, along with Kevin Boyle of the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and Mitra J. Hartmann of McCormick School of Engineering, will receive a Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence Award.

Cohen and Sara Owsley Sood of McCormick will each receive the Charles Deering McCormick Distinguished Professor of Instruction Award.

The five winners will be recognized at a ceremony from 4 to 5:30 p.m. on May 14 in the Guild Lounge of Scott Hall. All members of the Northwestern community are invited to attend the ceremony and following reception.

Provost Jonathan Holloway applauded the recipients’ passion for sharing their ideas with undergraduates. “They are setting the standard by which our very best teachers should be judged,” he said.

Previous SESP winners of The Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence Award include David Rapp (2015) and Dan McAdams (1995).

Mesmin Destin

An associate professor of human development and social policy and of psychology, and a fellow of Northwestern’s Institute for Policy Research, Destin has made his mark studying how environments shape identities and how this impacts a student’s motivation, behavior, and trajectory in life.

His work, which was recently recognized by the American Psychological Association with an early career award, suggests that college students who are the first in their family to attend can suffer academically and psychologically on campus, surrounded by “continuing-generation” peers and faculty who often don’t understand their situation.

But when individuals and institutions consider psychological factors, it can help set students on a path to success. Encouraging positive interactions with faculty, for example, can help low-income students, especially women, to effectively pursue their goals, Destin’s research suggests.

Destin, who received his bachelor’s degree in social psychology from Northwestern and his doctorate from the University of Michigan, is jointly appointed in SESP and the department of psychology in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences.

As a teacher, Destin helps students learn how to use social psychological methods and perspectives to investigate social issues and helps those from diverse backgrounds find and take advantage of opportunities to further their education and career.

The Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence Award has a three-year term and includes $7,000 to the recipient as a salary supplement, $3,000 for professional development and a one-time $3,000 award to the recipient's home department to support activities that enhance undergraduate education.

Danny Cohen

Danny CohenCohen (PhD11) is the founder of Unsilence, a nonprofit based on his research that uses the hidden stories of human rights abuses and the sharing of experiences to confront and ultimately repair some of our most vexing social problems.

Unsilence started in 2014 with a handful of participants. Today, some 8,300 students, educators and ordinary citizens have participated in the initiative, ranging from Chicago Public Schools to Yad Vashem in Israel.

As an instructor, his popular course “Designing for Social Change,” asks students to design possible interventions to solve social injustices and human rights issues. His classes draw on different media, including empirical research, documentary films, comedy writing, popular music, fiction, feature films, serious games, and atrocity survivor testimonies.

“I want to engage all students at every level,” Cohen said.

Cohen earned his doctorate in learning sciences at Northwestern and is a governor-appointed member of the Illinois Holocaust and Genocide Commission. He was a Faculty Fellow of the Auschwitz Jewish Center, and he sits on the editorial advisory board of the journal The Holocaust in History and Memory.

Cohen is also a writer of young adult human rights fiction, including the historical novel Train and the short stories The 19th Window and Dead Ends.

By Julie Deardorff
Last Modified: 5/15/19