Andrea M. Berlin— 2009 Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award

Award Citation:

The Archaeological Institute of America is delighted to recognize Dr. Andrea M. Berlin as the recipient of the 2009 Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award. Dr. Berlin received her BA degree in Classical and Near Eastern Studies from the University of Michigan, an MA in Syro-Palestinian Archaeology from the University of Chicago, and a Ph.D. in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. She joined the faculty of the University of Minnesota in 1997, where she is currently the Morse-Alumni Distinguished Teaching Professor of Archaeology in the Department of Classical and Near Eastern Studies. Her department chair praises the energy she has brought to the department’s undergraduate curriculum, noting that the undergraduate major in archaeology was her creation and that she has been the driving force behind its curriculum. A younger colleague highlights Prof. Berlin’s constant willingness to help other faculty with course design and implementation; she has worked across departmental and even college boundaries to collaborate with faculty from other disciplines in creating new courses.

Dr. Berlin teaches a variety of undergraduate archaeology courses at the University of Minnesota, including ones on Greek, Roman, and Near Eastern topics, especially the archaeology of Israel. Her colleagues applaud her effectiveness in the classroom, observing that she transmits her own enthusiasm to the students and regularly is rated as the best teacher in the department. She exhibits an outstanding ability to engage students in the practice of archaeological interpretation by beginning with relatively simple problems and gradually leading them into increasingly sophisticated analyses.  Recommendation letters from students stress that Dr. Berlin does not simply lecture: her carefully constructed classroom exercises make learning archaeology an active and mutual enterprise, not a passive reception of facts. She regularly incorporates articles from professional journals and discussions about them even into introductory classes, displaying a confidence in her students’ ability to grapple with difficult issues. A former student, now pursuing graduate studies, observes that Prof. Berlin carefully tailors not only her classes, but even her speaking style, to the needs of different audiences. Her students warmly praise her kindness, approachability, patience, and willingness to put in long hours working with students and advisees. Nearly all use the same word to summarize their personal experiences with her: “inspiring.”

Prof. Berlin is an active field archaeologist who has worked at numerous sites over the course of her career as a ceramicist and occasional director. The range of her fieldwork is exceptional: Caesarea Maritima and Tel Kedesh in Israel, Coptos in Egypt, Troy in Turkey, Pylos in Greece, and Idalion on Cyprus are only some of the projects on which she has worked. She has authored or edited several books and numerous articles concerning her research. Her students and colleagues emphasize that she actively translates her wide experience and research into her classes. Letters from students who have worked with her in the field point out that she is always teaching, and that she is willing to make time for them in the midst of a hectic excavation season. One says, “Dr. Berlin has the remarkable ability to perceive and create opportunities to contribute to her students in literally every situation that arises, while still accomplishing tasks efficiently and effectively.”

Her service to the discipline and the public is exemplary, ranging from presentations for elementary schoolchildren, to lectures in churches and synagogues throughout the Twin Cities, to national engagements as a speaker for the AIA. Dr. Berlin has served on the editorial boards of a number of professional journals and as an academic trustee of the American Schools of Oriental Research. She has held leadership positions in her own local chapter of the AIA and has been an academic trustee of our organization.

In recognition of her dedication to her students and her outstanding performance as an undergraduate teacher, the Archaeological Institute of America is pleased to name Dr. Andrea M. Berlin the 2009 recipient of the Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award. 


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