While college professors of certain disciplines have inhabited both laboratories and classrooms for ages, there is a common concern that professors’ focus on one of these areas deprives them of time for and attention to the other.
That concern suggests that teaching assistants will deliver lectures while research professors pursue publication in journals and demote undergraduate students to a secondary interest. Though perhaps these worries could in some cases be valid, they overlook the enormous benefits gained from interaction between research and teaching.
Not all professors balance their research priorities equally with their classroom responsibilities, but many bridge this gap by encouraging students to participate in their projects. When a professor engages students in research, it furthers the academic pursuits of both.
Besides serving as a nice resume addition, a research position allows students to garner in-depth knowledge of a specific subject and develop more personal relationships with Georgetown professors. It also provides useful instruction in the complexities of research protocol and ethics.
The President’s Award for Distinguished Scholar Teachers, which is currently accepting nominations, is an important recognition of the work that Georgetown professors do to integrate teaching and personal scholarship. The administration has done well by allowing students and other community members to nominate professors for this honor. Strengthened by its roots in student input, the award will provide three Georgetown professors with three annual grants of $10,000 each.
The best professors create fluidity between their research and their roles as educators, both in the classroom and through collaboration on research projects. Student input on this award reinforces the value of facilitating these connections.