More than 60 UC Berkeley School of Public Health educators who received high student evaluation marks for their instruction during the Fall 2016 semester were honored recently with the School’s Committee on Teaching Excellence (CoTE) award.
Among the recipients of the Fall 2016 semester’s Committee on Teaching Excellence (CoTE) awards are Lia Fernald, for Nutrition in Developing Countries (PH118), and Robin Flagg, for Introduction to Health Policy and Management (PH150D). The classes are distinct—Flagg’s Intro to HPM is a required core class, while Fernald’s Nutrition in Developing Countries is a specialized elective.
Although the classes represent different aspects of public health, both teachers demonstrate teaching excellence.
As a child, Fernald saw pictures of a famine in Ethiopia and developed a passion for global nutrition. After completing a BA in Biological Anthropology, a PhD in International Health, an MBA in Health Care Management, a Fulbright scholarship, and more than a decade of teaching at the School, Fernald’s passion has deepened.
“Not only is she a great professor of the content, but she is someone who really cares about her students' futures, passions, and dreams,” says Marie Salem, a student in PH118. “She is a very achieved public health professor and researcher, and as aspiring health professionals, we can all learn a lot from her.”
Flagg took a less direct route to the front of the lecture hall.
In 2009, Flagg began teaching undergraduates at Berkeley, taking over Intro to HPM from Emeritus Professor Helen Halpin. At the time, Flagg had an accomplished real-world career in the health policy field, which included time in the Peace Corps, a stint in the White House under the Clinton Administration, and service as director of policy at the California Medical Association (Medi-Cal).
Joe Lee, one of Flagg’s former students, says he appreciated her professional experience and expertise in health care.
“Her style of teaching is engaging, and I found her academic curriculum to be practical and empowering,” Lee said, remarking specifically on how Flagg has her students adopt nuanced perspectives, often different from their own, for class exercises and debates.
Flagg was a student herself while settling into her role as a lecturer. She received her PhD from Berkeley in Spring 2014.
“That year, I was studying for exams while I was giving exams,” Flagg said. “At the commencement ceremony, I had 200 students getting their BA, and they all screamed for me when I received my PhD.”
Because of that connection, Flagg says she sees something in common between undergrads and PhD students—a commitment to curiosity and willingness to explore theory.
“I see my students get inspired when they discover how and where they want to make a difference,” Fernald said.
To receive a CoTE award, both instructor and course must receive a median score of 6 or higher on a 7-point scale on evaluations and have five or more enrolled students. The course must also include formal evaluation of student performance and have at least 70 percent of evaluations returned. Courses must be formally recognized by the Educational Policy and Curriculum Committee (all courses) and the Senate Committee on Curriculum and Instruction (permanent courses).
The following professors were also honored with the CoTE award:
Mark J. van der Laan
Community Health Sciences
Environmental Health Sciences
Sadie Cash Costello
Health Policy and Management
Zeba Iman Nazeeri-Simmons
Infectious Disease and Vaccinology
Joint Medical Program