Dr Robbie Duschinsky, Fellow and Director of Studies at Sidney in Sociology, is one of the 2022 Pilkington Prize winners, the University’s highest teaching award.

The Pilkington Prize awards were endowed and inaugurated in 1994 by Sir Alastair Pilkington to acknowledge excellence in teaching. Robbie was nominated for the Prize by his department, with the department assembling statements by academics and students. In the citation for the Prize, Robbie is described as a passionate and inspiring multidisciplinary educator, with a particular talent for promoting and supporting learning communities through his infectious enthusiasm and the sincerity of his caring for students and teaching colleagues.

The Prize recognises Robbie’s contributions to teaching and leadership of curriculum development within the School of Clinical Medicine and the School of Biological Sciences, as well as his inspiring supervision of undergraduate and postgraduate students in Human, Social & Political Sciences.

His current and former postgraduate students at Sidney and other Colleges wrote in their nomination that “Robbie is an all-too-rare mentor: an elite researcher and an enthusiastic and compassionate teacher. He has pioneered a unique model for our research group, structured not only as a highly interdisciplinary and collaborative space but also as a community of support. It is telling that nearly every doctoral student who has graduated from the group has chosen to remain involved, joining Robbie as graduate co-supervisors and pursuing further research. It reflects the unmatched environment Robbie has created.”

Current and former undergraduate students from Sidney also wrote in support. Oliver Newnam, a former HSPS student, wrote that “As my Director of Studies, Robbie took me on as a nervous undergraduate who hated speaking in supervisions; over the course of my undergraduate studies, he gave me the confidence in my academic abilities that I never thought I would find.”

Students and colleagues in the Clinical School praised the transformation Robbie has led in the teaching of medical students, especially through his innovative “Social & Ethical Context of Health and Illness” course. They highlighted his ability to inspire and challenge both students and teaching colleagues, and to devise and implement improvements in teaching and assessment through consultation and collaboration. Stephen Barclay, Clinical Director of Studies at Emmanuel College wrote:

“Dr Duschinsky has transformed SECHI into a remarkable course with well-judged aims, innovative approaches and clear achievements for student learning. But perhaps the most distinctive aspect is that it is understood by staff and students as a genuine collaboration and opportunity for co-creation."

On hearing the news about the nomination and Prize, Robbie commented: “It has been a difficult, and at times bewildering, few years through the pandemic. I have been tremendously grateful to the Sidney Sussex College community of students and Fellows, supporting one another to persevere through all the turbulence and challenges. Likewise in my department. It impacts and improves every day in the job to have the chance to work with such lovely people in trying to sustain and cultivate a positive environment for undergraduate and postgraduate student learning.”

The Master, Prof Richard Penty, said “I’m delighted to hear the Robbie Duschinsky has been awarded this prestigious prize. He is an exceptional supervisor and director of studies for Sidney students, both undergraduate and postgraduate, particularly as his teaching spans disciplines across medicine and sociology. Everyone who is taught by him is inspired by his enthusiasm and dedication to their individual educational needs. He’s a thoroughly deserving recipient of a Pilkington Prize.”

Many congratulations to Robbie and the rest of the 2022 Prize Winners.

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