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Ninth Annual Core Awards Presented to Kathy Eden and David Johnston

By Jason Hollander

Kathy Eden, center, accepts the 2001 Core Award from David H. Cohen, right, vice president of arts and sciences, while Wm. Theodore de Bary, John Mitchell Mason Professor Emeritus, looks on.

Professors Kathy Eden and David Johnston were presented the ninth annual Award for Distinguished Service to the Core Curriculum on Nov. 27. The distinction is given annually to teachers who display a special commitment to Columbia's Core, the nation's oldest Core Curriculum, and one of the most renowned.

The Core, says Eden, is a "very exciting and seminal part of the Columbia education. I find it to be among the most challenging and rewarding teaching I've ever done."

Eden, the Mark Van Doren professor of the Humanities, joined the department of English and Comparative Literature in 1980 and has been jointly appointed in the department of classics since 1999. Currently serving her second term as chair of Literature Humanities, Eden previously taught Contemporary Civilization (CC). She was a winner of the 1998 Great Teacher Award from the Society of Columbia Graduates and the 2001 Mark Van Doren Award from distinguished teaching from Columbia College.

As an instructor of the curriculum, Eden says, "One becomes part of a real reading community, which is very unusual in academic life." She notes that this sense of community creates unique relationships among faculty, students and graduate teaching assistants who are all familiar with the same material.

Eden has authored three books during her career: "Poetic and Legal Fiction in the Aristotelian Tradition" (Princeton, 1986), "Hermeneutics and the Rhetorical Tradition: Chapters in the Ancient Legacy and its Humanist Reception" (New Haven, 1997), and "Friends Hold All Things in Common: Tradition, Intellectual Property and the Adages of Erasmus" (New Haven, 2001).

David Johnston, professor of political science and the Nell and Herbert M. Singer Professor of Contemporary Civilization, joined the Columbia faculty in 1986, when he began teaching CC and continued every year until the late 1990s. During that time, he served as chairman for the course for three years, developing a year-long course to train first-time CC instructors.

David Johnston, center, accepts the award from Columbia College Dean Austin Quigley with de Bary at right.

Recently, Johnston has focused on the development of general education courses that build on Columbia's traditional core, including his own general education course on justice.

"I'm really a strong advocate of general education, and we have one of the best models," says Johnston.

Johnston has served on a select committee on the future of the department of political science and is an active member of the governing board of the Center for Law and Philosophy as well as a member of the executive committee of the Society of fellows in the Humanities.

While Johnston says he does not devote time to the curriculum with the goal of winning awards, he does believe that the annual honor is "a very good thing for those who have a close relationship to the Core. It gives them the sense that what they're doing is valued."

Among Johnston's published works are "The Rhetoric of Leviathan: Thomas Hobbes and the Politics of Cultural Transformation" (1986) and "The Idea of a Liberal theory" (1994).

Published: Dec 17, 2001
Last modified: Sep 18, 2002

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