The Georgetown University College Academic Council recognized Professor Erin Cline with the College Honors for her meaningful impact on students.
Each year, undergraduate students in the College can vote for up to three professors for the award, selecting those who have most influenced their academic experience at Georgetown. This is the 16th iteration of the award.
Cline, a professor of philosophy and theology who specializes in Chinese philosophy, received the most votes in this year’s award cycle.
Cline said she is grateful to her students for nominating her for the award.
“I am deeply honored by this award especially because it comes from the students. One of my colleagues told me he thinks it is the most important award Georgetown gives, for that reason. I have a deep affection for my past, present and future students and so it means the world to me,” Cline wrote to The Hoya.
Cline said she shares the honor with her fellow colleagues in the theology department.
“I am also grateful to teach alongside so many other excellent teachers in Theology & Religious Studies who inspire me and from whom I have learned much, and so I share this award with my department,” Cline wrote.
Kate Chaillet (COL ’23), was a student in Cline’s Ignatius seminar, “Human Flourishing: East and West,” which focused on what it means to live a deep and fulfilling life, as well as what it takes for the spirit to flourish amid challenges like poverty, grief and disability.
Chaillet said she is grateful for how Cline and the course gave her the tools to make the most of her time at Georgetown.
“This class afforded me a place to slow down, reflect, and think deeply about how I wanted to live my life and the person I wanted to be over the next four years and beyond,” Chaillet wrote to The Hoya. “The thing that struck me most about Professor Cline’s teaching style was her incredible ability to listen. She listened carefully to each and every student. And, rather than respond right away to a student’s comments, she often allowed for silence.”
The course specifically drew on lessons from a variety of Buddhist, Confucian, ancient Greek and Jewish traditions.
Cline hopes that through her courses her students can derive life lessons from the classroom.
“My pedagogy is deeply Ignatian. I aim to teach the whole person, and to practice cura personalis in my classes,” Cline wrote. “I also aim to get students to take seriously the idea that there is a spiritual dimension of human life, and that the spirit, like the body, needs exercise, as Ignatius of Loyola argued.”
Lin Henke (COL ’23) took an Ignatius seminar, “Introduction to Chinese Philosophy and Advanced Readings in Chinese Philosophy,” with Cline. Cline will also serve as Henke’s thesis advisor next year.
Henke, who voted for Cline to win the award, admires her personal approach to teaching, which helped to engage students in the coursework.
“Professor Cline is a very warm and expressive teacher. She brings in examples from her personal life and checks in with us about our own lives,” Henke wrote to The Hoya.
Lucy Doyle (COL ’22), president of the College Academic Council, said the award is meant to strengthen ties between professors and students.
“College Honors is a perfect example of what we aim to do: showcase the reciprocal relationship between students and the college, and celebrate how professors and students contribute to and improve each other’s academic experiences at Georgetown,” Doyle wrote to The Hoya.
Cline hopes she can continue to foster close relationships with her students to facilitate insightful learning.
“I strive for students to find me approachable partly by sharing of myself openly in my teaching,” Cline wrote. “I find that they respond in kind, and all of us learn more deeply when we feel that we have a safe space to share our experiences openly—and in order to best interrogate the truth, beauty and goodness in different texts, we need that kind of openness.”
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