HDCS Director Sarah A. Lichtman named recipient of the 2015 Distinguished Teaching Award

Tell us a little bit about your history as a teacher. How long have you been teaching?

I started teaching at Parsons 10 years ago as a teaching fellow while I was still a graduate student. I taught a section of David Brody’s Intro to Design Studies course and absolutely loved it. David’s class was such an important learning experience for me, and a terrific introduction to the Parsons students and ADHT faculty.

Do you remember the first class you ever taught? Have you noticed any changes in your teaching style over the years?

The first class of my own at Parsons was a course on the history of industrial design. I remember being so nervous of the first day! I was worried that I wouldn’t have enough material to fill the time. Of course, I could have taught two entire classes based on my (over) preparation. One thing I have learned to do as a teacher is to teach less, and listen more. I now know that classes work so much better when I don’t plan every moment. Oftentimes the best learning happens in open and spontaneous spaces.

What is your favorite class to teach and why?

I really enjoy teaching all of my classes, but I still love to teach the History of Design survey. I feel so strongly that all designers need to learn the history of the discipline and be able to situate their own work in a broader social and historical context.

Where do you find inspiration to create and develop the courses that you teach?  

I am always working on my research and constantly reading new scholarship, attending conference, looking at exhibitions, and traveling. My courses grow out of these experiences and build on my earlier work in design history, gender studies, and youth culture.

What was your initial reaction when you found out you had received a Distinguished Teaching Award? 

I was completely surprised and incredibly flattered and honored. I had always admired my fellow New School colleagues who had won the award and I felt so proud to now be numbered among them.

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