UC Santa Cruz anthropologist receives social sciences teaching award

Melissa L. Caldwell, an assistant professor of anthropology at the University of California, Santa Cruz, received the 2006 Distinguished Teaching Award today (Thursday, September 28) from the Division of Social Sciences.

The award, known as the "Golden Apple Award," was presented during the dean's annual fall convocation. The award recognizes outstanding undergraduate teaching in the social sciences and carries with it a $2,500 cash prize.

Caldwell, who specializes in issues of economics, hunger, poverty, and social welfare in postsocialist Europe, joined the faculty just two years ago. She has taught at all levels of the curriculum and received consistently superb evaluations, said politics professor Daniel Wirls, chair of the committee that considered nominations.

"The buzz in the department is that Caldwell is the best teacher in anthropology, and evidence from the course evaluations backs up the buzz," said Wirls.

One student wrote that Caldwell's lectures "were some of the best I have attended at UCSC." Another called her an "awesome professor." Students described Caldwell's courses as challenging but accessible, and they praised her responsiveness and thoughtful feedback on their work.

The Golden Apple Award, established in 1991, is presented annually to as many as three faculty members. Recipients are selected by the dean from a list of recommendations compiled by a faculty committee based on nominations put forth by department chairs. In addition to Wirls, the committee consisted of environmental studies professor Daniel Press and sociology professor Andrew Szasz.