Abigail De Kosnik, SanSan Kwan receive American Cultures Excellence in Teaching Award

June 16, 2021

Abigail De Kosnik and SanSan Kwan, associate professors in TDPS, are recipients of this year's American Cultures Excellence in Teaching Award.

The award recognizes faculty for their sustained commitment to creating a learning space that is able to hold the multiple challenges and opportunities that teaching American Cultures content requires. This year's recipients will receive a $2,500 award and will be honored on November 16 at the 30th anniversary celebration of UC Berkeley's American Cultures curriculum.

Professor De Kosnik is being recognized for her New Media course, "Transforming Tech: Issues and Interventions in STEM and Silicon Valley." Professor Kwan is being recognized for her TDPS course, "Dance in American Cultures."

Read the full nomination statements from the American Cultures Center below.

Abigail De Kosnik, New Media 151AC, "Transforming Tech: Issues and Interventions in STEM and Silicon Valley"

Bringing to the fore massive surveillance networks, playful apps, police checkpoints, and social media campaigns, Transforming Tech takes a critical lens to a collection of high-profile issues within an industry of daunting influence, exposing the underpinnings of the power dynamics at play across issues including border enforcement, algorithmic bias, tech worker activism, misinformation, and more. It culminates in a call to action through creative digital assignments that raise the question of what possible interventions could be introduced to address these issues, the firms’ concentrated control over our futures, and how new media technologies might facilitate alternative collective imaginaries. Reflecting on their experience in 151AC, one student shared their advice for future students, "lean into this incredible learning opportunity. It will teach you to create and thrive in sustainable, inclusive futures."

SanSan Kwan, Theater 52AC, "Dance in American Cultures"

In the midst of frozen lives, students in Theater 52AC danced, studied dance, and created dance, connecting the meaning-making of dance to the everyday. Chiefly concerned with embodiment and how identity is seen and felt through the body, the dance pedagogies of 52AC have taken on even greater relevance in the past year, from understanding the choreography of street protest to analyses of how the AAPI body has recently been the object of harassment and violence - connections that students felt respected their experiences and interests inside and outside of the classroom—or in one student's words, "To be in the company of someone, right now in this difficult time, which is so knowledgeable, passionate, respectful... just plain awesome." For SanSan, the classroom is deeply linked to her scholarship and practice as an artist. She introduces students to the concept that dance is more than just steps, styles, and physical techniques—it is a window into culture and identity.

Prof. Abigail De Kosnik and Prof. SanSan Kwan