Jennifer Borda

Jennifer Borda
Excellence in Teaching, 2021

Jennifer Borda is never not thinking about her students, says one of her colleagues. A teacher and highly regarded scholar of rhetoric, feminist studies and democratic deliberation, she is constantly innovating in both her syllabi and the rhetoric curriculum. Assignments must be relevant and engaging, such as “Fake News,” an interactive virtual game she recently co-created to teach students to recognize the strategies in which fake news is propagated. She is tireless in challenging her students to realize their fullest potential – an effort deeply appreciated by them, including one undergraduate with whom she recently co-published an article in a prominent communication journal.

Professor Borda’s goal as a teacher is to “foster students’ education and progression as effective communicators, critical thinkers and life-long learners better prepared to engage the world as ethical, enlightened and thoughtful citizens.”

Perhaps nothing better demonstrates that goal than her work in the Civil Discourse Lab, which she co-founded and co-directs. The CDL, as it’s called, teaches students the theory and techniques of civil discourse and guides them as they put theory into practice in public dialogues on difficult topics. At a time when civil discourse is sorely needed nationally and globally, Professor Borda prepares students to make meaningful impacts in their careers and communities.

In a wonderfully symbiotic way, Professor Borda’s students give as good as they get, such as Cathy, a non-traditional student and mother of two adult daughters, who overcame her self-doubt to grow into an academic role model. When Cathy’s name was called at the graduation ceremony, her family jumped to their feet and erupted in cheers. Professor Borda recalls: “I had a difficult time keeping my composure on stage…It was one of the most fulfilling moments of my teaching career.”

About This Award

Each year, the University selects a small number of its outstanding faculty for special recognition of their achievements in teaching, scholarship, and service. Awards for Excellence in Teaching are given in each college and school, and University-wide awards recognize public service, research, teaching, and engagement.