Brandy Faulkner, visiting assistant professor in the Department of Political Science in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, has received the university’s 2018 Diggs Teaching Scholar Award.

Sponsored by the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, 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.

Faulkner has taught classes ranging from the required undergraduate research methods course to public administration, constitutional and administrative law, and the politics of race, ethnicity, and gender. Her goal is to foster an atmosphere in which students see themselves as essential contributors to an engaging and interdependent learning environment.

She makes problem-solving projects a central part of each course by having students engage in role-play activities and simulations that allow them not only to draw from their experiences but also to become more comfortable processing and sharing those experiences with their peers. Students in her administrative and constitutional law classes participate in moot court teams that build cases throughout the semester by constructing arguments that they then apply to current constitutional problems.

Faulkner organized the first Teach-In on the African American Experience for students interested in reading and processing “Between the World and Me,” a book by Ta-Nehisi Coates that focuses on the racialized impact of public policy decisions. There were three semester-long teach-ins that focused on topics important to students in the African American community.

“Her strong anchoring in critical race theory, public policy inquiry, political philosophy, and legal reasoning helps assure that the efforts will be intellectually serious, while her exemplary capacity for teaching, listening, and caring promises important impact,” wrote Karen Hult, professor and chair of the Department of Political Science, in a letter of nomination.

Since her arrival at Virginia Tech, Faulkner has worked to promote an appreciation of diversity, inclusiveness, and collaboration on campus and in the wider New River Valley. She has served as an informal “navigator” assisting local community members in signing up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, and she holds open office hours in the Black Cultural Center for underrepresented students to talk about personal or academic issues.

Written by Lindsey Grooms, Class of 2019