In true tradition, the result of the Lecturer of the Year 2017 election was announced during the Faculty’s own opening of the academic year on Wednesday 6 September. This year, it was Prof. George van Kooten’s turn to claim victory.
Rebecca van den Born made the announcement on behalf of the student committee during the opening of the academic year of the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies on 6 September 2017. Prof. George van Kooten was elected by students in the Faculty because of his relaxed, encouraging attitude to teaching, his infectious enthusiasm and his clear style of communicating. This isn’t the first time that Van Kooten has been honoured in this way. He first took the title in 2008, when he was not only chosen as the Faculty’s Lecturer of the Year, but a few months later also elected as UG Lecturer of the Year.
During the first round of voting, the lecturers Dr Andrew Irving, Prof. George van Kooten and Prof. Mladen Popović won the most votes from the students of Theology and Religious Studies. They were then interviewed by a committee of four students and if possible, observed during their lectures. The three candidates were assessed according to various criteria set by the UG. Geurt Henk van Kooten topped the tables in the second round.
George van Kooten started working in the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies in 2002, and was appointed Professor of New Testament & Early Christianity in 2006. He also worked as Dean from 2008 until 2013. The students elected Van Kooten as Faculty Lecturer of the Year because of his enthusiasm, creativity, relaxed attitude to teaching (inviting both discussion and questions), and his approachability and clear style of communicating. He is able to make students feel challenged and at home. According to the students, he is always receptive to questions and comments, taking time to answer them during and after lectures. He creates a relaxed atmosphere and takes every question seriously, encouraging students to develop a critical attitude and formulate their own points of view.
The students also praise the creativity of the examples George van Kooten uses in his lessons, which make difficult subjects easier to understand and sometimes even fun. The professor was praised for his enthusiasm, his expertise and his teaching, which serve as an inspiration to both current students and the prospective students he meets at open days or symposia. He even continues to enthuse alumni, encouraging them to put their knowledge and academic prowess into practice. Finally, his course units are well-organized, he communicates clearly about what he expects from his students and is very approachable, both in person and by email. All in all, the committee concludes that Van Kooten nurtures his students, enabling them to reap the benefits of his expertise throughout their academic careers.
But this award ceremony was not the only special event that took place during the opening of the academic year in the Doopsgezinde Kerk. The joint opening of the academic year for the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies and the Protestant Theological University (PThU) also signified the first official duty for the new Dean of Faculty, Mladen Popović, and the official farewell of the departing Dean, Kocku von Stuckrad. Prince Jaime de Bourbon de Parme, ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the Holy See (Vatican City State), also gave a special guest lecture.
As winner of the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies’ Lecturer of the Year elections 2017, Prof. Geurt Henk van Kooten will represent the Faculty at the eleventh election of the UG Lecturer of the Year in January 2018. As mentioned previously, Van Kooten won this election in 2008, and in 2012 Justin Kroesen also claimed victory on behalf of our Faculty!
Previous Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies Lecturer of the Year winners were:
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Ragnhild Bø, Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Religion and Heritage