Denison University honored an outstanding professor with the prestigious Charles A. Brickman Teaching Excellence Award at the college’s Academic Awards Convocation held on Friday, April 12, in Swasey Chapel. Karen Graves, professor of educational studies, was honored with the 2019 Brickman award, which is given to members of the faculty who are master craftsmen in the profession and models of dedication to students and to student learning. The recipient has demonstrated a vibrant interest in the learning process, as well as an understanding of teaching as a continuously evolving art form.
Speaking of Graves, Denison Provost Kim Coplin noted, “Karen Graves teaches across all levels of her discipline and integrates her scholarly life throughout her courses. In her advising and her classrooms, students are compelled to interrogate the nature of the liberal arts. Advisees are asked to study Denison’s mission statement and make a case for how it informs their education and vocation.
“Karen’s courses emphasize primary source analysis and examine gender issues in historical context, focusing on how ‘education, ideology, and political economy influence the contours of societies.’ Her teaching has expanded the domains of her field by integrating into her pedagogy the topics of law, LGBTQ history and identity, and archival investigation. Her courses are distinguished by careful attention to the classroom environment, establishing fair and open spaces in which students explore contentious issues such as ‘racism, sexism, class bias, and homophobia.’ Karen embraces a commitment to getting students to think critically ‘about an institution with which they have had much experience, but often little critical reflection.’ As her students explore the field of educational studies, they are challenged to develop their own philosophy of education as they ‘navigate through the complexities that characterize this most important public concern.’”
Graves joined Denison in 1993. She holds a B.S., M.Ed., and Ph.D., from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Graves is a professor and chair of the Department of Education. She teaches courses in history and philosophy of education, queer studies, and educational policy. Her research addresses twentieth-century schooling in the United States with a focus on gender and sexuality, and legal policies concerning education. Her most recent book, And They Were Wonderful Teachers: Florida’s Purge of Gay and Lesbian Teachers, was awarded a 2010 Critics Choice Book Award from the American Educational Studies Association. Other publications include Girls’ Schooling during the Progressive Era: From Female Scholar to Domesticated Citizen (Garland, 1998) and the co-edited volume, Inexcusable Omissions: Clarence Karier and the Critical Tradition in History of Education Scholarship (Peter Lang Publishing, 2001), with Timothy Glander and Christine Shea.
Graves is a past president of the History of Education Society and a former vice-president in the American Educational Research Association, Division F: History and Historiography. She was honored to hold the Charles and Nancy Brickman Distinguished Service Chair at Denison from 2010 to 2013. In 2013 Graves was recognized as a recipient of the Education Alumni Association Distinguished Alumni Award at the University of Illinois.