Christine Labuski, assistant professor of women’s and gender studies in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, has received the university’s 2017 Diggs Teaching Scholars Award.
Sponsored by the Center for Instructional Development and Educational Research, the Diggs Teaching Scholars Award was established in 1992 and is presented annually to up to three Virginia Tech faculty members to recognize exceptional contributions to the teaching program and learning environment. Diggs Teaching Scholars are invited to lead the Diggs Roundtable, a series of presentations and a discussion of their innovative teaching.
Labuski has developed two gender studies undergraduate courses and one graduate course, and currently teaches a total of seven courses at the university. She has consistently received high evaluations from students and peers while maintaining rigorous standards and emphasizing understanding and inclusion.
Dedicated to the idea that knowledge acquired outside the classroom is highly valuable, Labuski encourages her students to attend the annual Women and Gender Studies Student Conference as well as the Undergraduate Research Symposium on Diversity. Steadfast in her ambition to broaden students’ perspectives, Labuski has noted that the university is “filled with ways to expand the intellectual horizons.”
“Thinking creatively about teaching and learning — both inside and outside of the classroom — and caring deeply for students are, quite simply, at the core of who Christine Labuski is as an instructor, colleague, and a person,” wrote John Ryan, chair of the Department of Sociology, in a letter of nomination.
Labuski infuses her classes with the skills and lessons she learned while being a registered nurse and a nurse practictioner for nearly 20 years. In her proposed Teaching Enhancement Project, she draws on her time as a health care professional to formalize and disseminate a set of guidelines through which teachers have a better understanding of creating inclusivity in their classrooms.
To ensure that no student feels marginalized in her classrooms, Labuski employs an explicit policy of “universal precautions,” which assumes that anyone in the classroom can identify with any perspective and thus words like “us” and “them” are strictly avoided. As an associate faculty principal for the Residential College at West Ambler Johnston, she engages with more than 800 undergraduates to foster inclusion and provide opportunities for community members to learn from one another.
Labuski has organized two international conferences, often serves on numerous graduate and search committees, and has presented on the subject of teaching at several conferences. In 2014, she received the Claire Goldberg Moses Award for theoretical innovation in Feminist Studies, and in 2015, she received the William E. Snizek Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.