David KahaneDr David Kahane
2007 Vargo Teaching Chair
2006 3M Teaching Fellowship
Alan Blizzard Award
Rutherford Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching
Dr Kahane moved from the Department of Philosophy to the Department of Political Science, effective July 1, 2007. The Vargo Chair will support him in a number of projects around teaching and learning, including developing a program to collaboratively train and mentor graduate students in political science as they learn how to teach.
David Kahane took the lead in developing, implementing, and evaluating a distinctive style of large class team teaching in the Philosophy 101 Supersection. He has undertaken numerous original and demanding initiatives in his higher-level political philosophy classes. In particular, his interest in meditation has led him to experiment with contemplative pedagogies and techniques for writing and reflection in the classroom.
In 2006, Kahane was one of two professors at the University of Alberta to win a 2006 3M fellowship — Canada’s most prestigious national award for teaching in higher education. Kahane won the prize on his first try, and at an unusually early career stage (he’s been an Associate Professor since 2003).
Kahane's passion for conversations about teaching and learning, and his conviction that philosophy matters deeply, have helped students discover and deepen their own motivations to learn. His compelling conversations about team teaching in his Philosophy 101 Supersection have brought recognition to the University of Alberta. In 2003, the Philosophy Supersection teaching team won the University of Alberta's Unit Teaching Award and the Alan Blizzard Award for Collaborative Learning. Awarded by the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, the Alan Blizzard Award recognizes team teaching at the post-secondary level.
The supersection was devised as a means of turning a 280-person class of undergraduates and an abstract subject like philosophy into something students rave about and actually understand. Drs Cressida Heyes, David Kahane, and Jennifer Welchman, three professors in the philosophy department, spearheaded the project, along with help from eleven teaching assistants.
The project had a less-than-shining start; early experiments teaching philosophy in large classes had students complaining bitterly that they were "not prepared to be guinea pigs." The team seriously considered abandoning the project, but decided instead to rethink the course from scratch.
Almost six years later, the supersection now uses a combination of innovative techniques that have allowed unprecedented accessibility for students to their professors via web-boards and electronic wizardry, as well as small group discussions held once a week.
The website developed for Philosophy 101 contains material that connects philosophy with everyday issues and, more importantly, a discussion environment where students talk to each other about what they're learning, 24 hours a day.
All of this comes in addition to two professor-led lectures per week.
Kahane has also received the Faculty of Arts Undergraduate Teaching Award, the Rutherford Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, and an award for Graduate Supervision. He is committed to improving the dialogue about teaching around campus.