Nina Windgätter

Excellence in Teaching, 2022

Nina Windgätter

What if there were a surgical procedure that made you hyper intelligent, but you’d have to lose your eyesight? That’s just one of many thought experiments that Nina Windgätter poses in her Introduction to Philosophy course, which she structures around science fiction topics to give students room to wonder and be creative. Through such questions, the class learns about the role of technology in evolution, Just War Theory, the ethics of colonialism and more.

Whether she is teaching an introductory course, or Business Ethics, required of all Paul College students, or one of the several other courses she’s developed, Windgätter’s teaching philosophy is to get students actively engaged in their education and with each other by using morally intriguing yet accessible examples to apply theories. Her classrooms are exemplary models of student-centered learning, deploying an array of creative group assignments, case studies, role playing and more — all putting the “active” in activities.

Her students do philosophy in every class, and they leave her classes more capable of breaking down abstract ideas, asking good questions and detecting holes in arguments. Even when talking about complex, multilayered subjects like artificial intelligence, they understand how what they’re doing applies to their lives and has a host of ramifications for all aspects of interpersonal and social life. 

One of the hundreds of business ethics students she teaches every year captures a common refrain, saying: “I still think about the lessons she taught and many of them have shaped the way I think and see the world.”

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.