2020 Golden Apple Award Recipients

Associate Professor Sylvanna Falcón (Latin American and Latino Studies), and Professor Ron Glass (Education) are the 2020 Golden Apple Award recipients.

In 1991 the Division of Social Sciences established the Golden Apple Award to recognize outstanding teaching in the division. A faculty committee reviews all nominations submitted by department chairs and makes the award recommendation to the Dean of Social Sciences. 

Associate Professor Sylvanna Falcón’s teaching record reflects her phenomenal engagement with our students, both in the classroom and beyond. Students regularly note that her courses are “awesome,” that they are “eternally grateful for what they learned,” and that she is “the best professor” that they have ever had at UCSC. Student evaluations of Professor Falcón’s courses are consistently excellent across undergraduate and graduate levels. Her excellence as a teacher and her outstanding pedagogical innovation have contributed to the LALS department’s decision to make her courses foundational to their new concentration in Human Rights and Social Justice. Her openness to innovation and sensitivity to students informs her Academic Senate service as well, targeting explicitly her efforts to the Committee on Teaching. Through her work on COT she has been integral to the new Student Experience of Teaching assessments, many of which she has piloted in her own courses. In addition to her formal course assignments, Professor Falcón supervises and mentors graduate students, which includes chairing and sitting on several QE or dissertation committees and mentoring independent studies connected to a syndicated social justice radio show she writes and produces on KZSC. Professor Falcón has a strong profile as a public scholar, both through her radio show and through numerous public talks she has given throughout the region. Notably she has made an explicit point of including and integrating undergraduate and graduate students in these fora. She even trains students and volunteers her time to mentor high school students in Watsonville through the Digital Nest.

Professor Ron Glass is an extraordinary pedagogue whose student evaluations reflect his commitment, care, and wonderful gifts as a teacher, with both graduate and undergraduate students commenting on how profoundly they were changed by his classes. He is able to deeply engage students in reading and discussion of difficult theorists and topics (e.g., oppression, morality). He engages in teaching practices that allow students to delve into texts in small groups that provide students with dialogic spaces to ask questions and test out interpretations. The lectures and large group work provide opportunities for students to pull together and extend the work from their small groups. Dr. Glass’s facilitation of small and large group activities is remarkable. He is able to engage students in deep learning that occurs as students critique the texts, raise questions for classmates, and push their own thinking. Throughout, Dr. Glass positions himself and his students in mutual relationships of teaching and learning; he skillfully creates a collaborative classroom, and positions students as knowledge producers. Significantly, Dr. Glass has remarkable interdisciplinary breadth in his teaching that attracts students from across the university. Students from departments such as sociology, anthropology, critical race and ethnic studies, and psychology regularly enroll in his courses. Across all fields, students give testament to their experience of the democratic community that he creates, pointing out, for example, his ability to “build connections across disparate ideas.” and expand their thinking with insightful questions. Much of his teaching is directly related to serving first generation students of color as he teaches students about educational inequities and the potential for real transformation. As one student stated in their evaluation, “taking Professor Ron’s courses has demonstrated what education as activism looks like.”

The 2020 the selection committee was chaired by Steven McKay (SOCY), Cam Leaper (Psyc), and Andrew Mathews (ANTH).

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