This year’s 1822 University Prize goes to a physicist, a linguist and a biochemist

Physicist Prof. Laura Sagunski, linguist Dr. Mariam Kamarauli and biochemist PD. Dr. Rupert Abele are this year’s recipients of the coveted 1822 University Prize for Excellence in Teaching, which Goethe University Frankfurt is awarding for the 23rd time together with Frankfurter Sparkasse Foundation. 

The 1822 University Prize for Excellence in Teaching was awarded for the 23rd time on June 11, 2024: (from left)  Dr. Ingo Wiedemeier, Chairman of the Board of Frankfurter Sparkasse, linguist Dr. Mariam Kamarauli (2nd prize), Prof. Laura Sagunski (1st prize), PD Dr. Rupert Abele (3rd prize), keynote speaker Saba-Nur Cheema, and Prof. Viera Pirker, Goethe University Vice President Studies and Teaching.(Photo: Uwe Dettmar)

“Teaching stands at the heart of our university,” Professor Viera Pirker said during the award ceremony, held on Westend Campus on June 11, 2024. Goethe University’s Vice President for Studies and Teaching referred to the recently adopted mission statement “Teaching and Study”, which is deliberately oriented towards Humboldt’s ideal of the unity of research and teaching in the sense of “education through science”.  

“University teaching is an essential part of our democratic culture and contributes to carrying over into the future the values of the Enlightenment – reason, freedom and humanity. It takes enthusiastic teachers to make ‘education for science’ a basis for action. Those who are passionate about their field or their subject can also ignite this passion in others. This enthusiasm unites all our nominees – something I am extremely pleased about. ” Pirker also recalled the outstanding commitment of Prof. David Käbisch, last year’s award winner. The Protestant religious educator, who recently passed away, was particularly committed to fostering religious education as the basis for interreligious dialog in democracy.

Dr. Ingo Wiedemeier, Chairman of Frankfurter Sparkasse’s Management Board, said: “Frankfurter Sparkasse Foundation’s desire to highlight the importance of university teaching dates back 23 years, and is the reason why we launched the 1822 Prize for Excellent Teaching together with Goethe University. Anyone particularly committed to the education of young people, who inspires them to contribute to a knowledge-based society, deserves the highest recognition – even more so in today’s day and age. It fills me with great joy each year to see the list of nominees and the potential that exists at Goethe University Frankfurt. I am proud that we are able to bestow this award, thereby recognizing this unique commitment.”  

Goethe University and Frankfurter Sparkasse Foundation awarded the 1822 University Prize for Excellent Teaching for the first time in 2001. The aim: to raise awareness of the importance of innovative university teaching and showcase the commitment of outstanding teachers. While Frankfurter Sparkasse sponsors the first and third prizes, worth a total of €20,000, Goethe University finances the second prize – worth €10,000.

Faculty students are the only ones allowed to hand in nominations for the 1822 University Prize for Excellent Teaching. The winners are chosen by a specially formed committee, which consists of Goethe University students, academic staff and professors, as well as Frankfurter Sparkasse Foundation’s management. The criteria for the award are innovation in teaching, outstanding course quality and exceptional commitment to student support. Aspects such as research orientation, the linking of theory and practice, a special dedication during the introductory phase of studies, as well as interdisciplinarity or diversity also play a role.

Saba-Nur Cheema delivered a keynote speech at the award ceremony, which highlighted the importance of knowledge transfer for democracy – and, by implication, that of academic teaching for the socio-political climate. Born in Frankfurt to Pakistani refugees, she studied political science, history and economics at Goethe University, and served as educational director of the Anne Frank Educational Center in Frankfurt from 2015 to 2021. In addition, she has been a member of the German government’s Independent Expert Group on Hostility Towards Muslims since 2020. Saba-Nur Cheema is a research associate at Goethe University’s Institute for General Educational Sciences and researches anti-Semitism in childhood. Her column “Muslim-Jewish Supper”, which she pens together with Meron Mendel, appears monthly in the feature section of Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

Moderators Jana Jehle and Can Payasli led through the evening, with Cat Woywod providing the sonic framework. Using intermedial and multi-sensory sound, light and performance works, Cat Woywod questions the audience’s habits of perception. Cat received the Wolfgang Zippel Foundation for Intermedia Art’s “Kassel Art Prize” in 2023.

The 1st prize, endowed with €15,000, was awarded to Prof. Laura Sagunski from the Faculty of Physics. Sagunski was nominated for her innovative teaching formats in astroparticle physics, including the “EXPLORE” project enabling international research collaborations for students. Within EXPLORE, students work in small teams on current topics and make international contacts. To facilitate personal exchange, Sagunski – whose students praise her interpersonal skills – organizes an annual summer school and workshops. She takes feedback seriously and works continuously on further developing her teaching practice. As a woman professor, she actively promotes equality and diversity, for example through the “WOW Physics!” conference and participation in Girls Day.

Dr. Mariam Kamarauli from the Faculty of Linguistics, Cultures, and Arts was awarded the 2nd prize, endowed with €10,000. Students highlighted her innovative teaching methods, which combine digital humanities with traditional approaches, adding that her teaching content is not only topical and controversial, but her courses are also clearly structured. She is always available to answer questions and encourages independent learning. In addition to the actual courses, she also supports students in finding internships or applying for stays abroad. It is this type of commitment that promotes enthusiasm for linguistics.

The 3rd prize, endowed with €5,000, went to PD Dr. Rupert Abele from the Faculty of Biochemistry, Chemistry and Pharmacy. Abele was nominated for his innovative teaching methods and his commitment to the practical training of biochemistry students enrolled in Bachelor’s and Master’s courses. He integrates current research into his courses and is constantly working on optimizing the practical courses he offers. To offer more learning opportunities, he makes available practical training videos. Abele attaches great importance to personal attendance, not only to obtain feedback, but also to offer support. He supports students in the transition from Bachelor’s to Master’s degree courses and opens up career prospects by inviting guests from the business world to his seminars.  

All 2024 nominees

  • PD Dr. Rupert Abele – Faculty of Biochemistry, Chemistry and Pharmacy
  • Prof. Dr. Harry Harun Behr – Faculty of Educational Sciences
  • Dr. Johannes F. Diehl – Faculty of Protestant Theology
  • Prof. Dr. Andreas Karl Otto Fahrmeir – Faculty of Philosophy and History
  • Prof. Dr. Frederike Felcht – Faculty of Modern Languages
  • Dr. Karen Genschow – Faculty of Modern Languages
  • Dr. Rainer Hegger – Faculty of Biochemistry, Chemistry and Pharmacy
  • Prof. Dr. Elisabeth Hollender – Faculty of Linguistics, Cultures, and Arts
  • Prof. Dr. Roland Ißler – Faculty of Modern Languages
  • Dr. Elodie Kalb – Faculty of Linguistics, Cultures, and Arts / Faculty of Modern Languages
  • Dr. Mariam Kamarauli – Faculty of Linguistics, Cultures, and Arts
  • Prof. Dr. Bettina Kleiner – Faculty of Educational Sciences
  • Prof. Dr. Antje Krause-Wahl – Faculty of Linguistics, Cultures, and Arts
  • Nicole Kreckel – Faculty of Linguistics, Cultures, and Arts
  • Profin. Dr. Annette Langner-Pitschmann – Faculty of Roman Catholic Theology
  • Stefanie Niepceron – Faculty of Modern Languages
  • Dr. Joanna Olchawa – Faculty of Linguistics, Cultures, and Arts
  • Prof. Dr. Meike Piepenbring – Faculty of Biological Sciences
  • Johannes Preissner – Faculty of Modern Languages
  • Prof. Dr. Laura Sagunski – Faculty of Physics
  • Prof. Leunora Salihu – Faculty of Linguistics, Cultures, and Arts
  • Marvin Schröder – Faculty of Psychology and Sports Sciences
  • Dr. rer. nat. Bernd Sorg – Faculty of Biochemistry, Chemistry and Pharmacy
  • PD Dr. med. habil. Jasmina Sterz – Faculty of Medicine
  • Prof. Dr. Claudius Wagemann – Faculty of Social Sciences
  • Dr. Nadine Weber – Faculty of Educational Sciences
  • Dr. Dr. Johanna Wilmes & Dr. Tatjana Dietz – Faculty of Educational Sciences
  • Prof. Dr. Markus Wriedt – Faculty of Protestant Theology

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