University's 2014-2015 Coffman chair values storytelling, technology in lecture classes
Wednesday, June 18, 2014
MANHATTAN — It takes a passionate storyteller to engage students in subjects that may be considered monotonous.
Mick Charney, associate professor of architecture in Kansas State University's College of Architecture, Planning & Design, is such a storyteller. He is the university's 2014-2015 Coffman chair for distinguished teaching scholars.
"I have an opportunity to open students' eyes to worlds of wisdom and an infinite cosmos of possibilities," Charney said. "I claim a moment in time that can impact the rest of their lives — personally and professionally."
The Coffman chair for distinguished teaching scholars was created in 1995 to highlight Kansas State University's commitment to excellence in undergraduate teaching and learning. A faculty member acknowledged as a leading teaching scholar is appointed to the chair for one academic year, but all who are selected retain the title of university distinguished teaching scholar throughout their careers.
Through storytelling, Charney enjoys watching students develop a true appreciation for history.
"I have been granted permission to teach introductory architectural history classes to large groups of first-year students," Charney said. "How can anyone go wrong teaching a subject that is so intrinsically bound with all the diversity, drama and delight that is the story of the human condition?"
Charney embraces digital technology and social media in the classroom without abandoning traditional methods of instruction. As Coffman chair, he will investigate methods to rehabilitate and resuscitate the large lecture course format so that it continues to be an effective and meaningful educational experience.
In addition to dozens of teaching conference presentations, Charney recently was invited by Lilly Conferences to author several short articles for its upcoming blog. The titles of the essays hint at the range of activities that he regularly incorporates into his large lecture classes: "Embracing students' digital devices," "Music as a mechanism to engage students" and "Using word clouds to reveal (and break through) cognitive barriers."
Charney's previous awards and honors include the Lorrie Ryan Memorial Award for Outstanding Poster from the National Lilly Conference in 2013, Honorary Walt Disney Imagineer in 2010, the university's Presidential Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching in 2005 and the university's Conoco Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award in 1994.
He has a bachelor's degree in architectural studies with highest honors from the University of Illinois, a Master of Architecture with honors from the University of Illinois and a doctorate in art history from Northwestern University. He joined Kansas State University as an assistant professor in 1987 and became an associate professor in 1989.