Congratulations to Christopher Hulshof and Kurt Kuehne, who were awarded in recognition of their outstanding teaching this year! Both Chris and Kurt are graduates of the MA program in Southeast Asian Studies, going on to pursue PhDs in their respective fields of History and Sociology. Chris received the Exceptional Service Award, which recognizes TAs who, in addition to their regular duties, perform exceptional service related to the educational mission of their department and our university (volunteerism, committee work, mentoring, etc.). Kurt received the Capstone PhD Teaching Award, which recognizes TAs who have performed as outstanding teachers throughout their UW–Madison tenure. This category honors TAs who are dissertators at the end of their graduate program and planning to defend their dissertations by the end of the academic year.
Christopher is a student of history primarily interested in the proliferation of imperial power during the 20th and 21st centuries. In particular, Christopher finds the reassertion of peripheral agency and diminishment of Western exceptionalism in transnational contexts quite compelling. Christopher’s current research focuses on the mechanisms of power simmering below official policies in Saigon-Washington-Paris tensions of the early 1950s and the Central Java-Washington-London axis of the 1960s.
“But ultimately,” Christopher explained, “I just like history. And it likes me.”
Christopher has taught multiple classes at UW, including History 246: Southeast Asian Refugees of the Cold War, History 319: The Wars in Vietnam, and History 375: The Cold Wars.
“The crux of my teaching philosophy revolves around the conscious effort to break down the hierarchical structures of academic relationships that risk stifling students’ educational experience,” explained Christopher. “As an instructor, I focus on relaying to students that I am in the instructor position because I have read more on a given subject and have more experience in academia, and thus I am in a position to help them. However, in no way am I more intelligent, more important, or better than them in any way — both teachers and students share in the same human experience and face the same challenges in their academic pursuits. By dismantling rigid hierarchies, students feel more comfortable to be honest with me and form personalized relationships. In doing so, the homogeneity of a classroom transforms into a bevy of individual students, each with their own skillsets, unique perspectives, personal goals for the course, and circumstances outside of the classroom which affect their educations. As such, I can tailor my instruction and feedback to the individual needs of each student to provide a more robust educational experience.”
Kurt W. Kuehne
Kurt is a PhD student in the Department of Sociology, focusing on transnational migration, precarious labor, and urban sociology. His primary research project examines migration and labor policies in Southeast Asia.
While at UW, Kurt has taught courses within the Department of Sociology on topics such as American Society as well as for the Letters & Science Career Initiative in courses that prepare students to enter the workforce with confidence. He also loves teaching teachers; he has trained new TAs and has helped TAs prepare for the transition to remote instruction.
“Each day I engage with students who are hungry to make a positive difference in this world,” said Kurt. “My goal is to help each student chart an individual path to do exactly that. As a philosophy, I embrace pedagogical transparency and flexibility. Whenever possible, I seek student input and affirmation for our classroom objectives. When undergraduates have a voice in their own learning, and feel that they too are responsible for the quality of the classroom community, they rise to that challenge in remarkable ways. I always strive to foster a democratic, engaged, and collaborative learning environment that connects directly to students’ personal and professional goals.”
To read the full article on the campus-wide 2021 TA Awards, click here.