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University of California Santa Barbara
Academic Senate Awards

Prior Year Recipients

2017-18 Distinguished Teaching Award

John W. Mohr - Sociology

Professor John Mohr is a professor in the Sociology Department and his main research interest is in the empirical study of meaning systems. Students describe Prof. Mohr’s courses as “life changing,” “great and inspiring,” and movingly describe how he has profoundly touched their lives in a way that no other professor has --- how he is “kind” and a “gentlemen” and the “standard-bearer of the intellectual” that they aspired to be when applying to graduate school --- how they are where they are today, as scholar-practitioners or academics, because of his support and encouragement. Prof. Mohr’s students and peers commend his hands-on, innovative, and path-breaking approach to the classroom, where students learn cutting-edge techniques and actually engage in research, pursuing projects related to their interests and through group collaboration. In all of his courses, Prof. Mohr finds “ways of linking the substance of the course to students’ current experiences or contemporary events, developing innovative ways of connecting advanced course materials and cutting-edge research methods with students’ lives and experiences.” Prof. Mohr successfully integrates research and teaching in a way that few academics manage to do. This teaching style “empowers students to take risks in their learning and thus expands their knowledge of topics that otherwise may seem daunting” and “makes learning more meaningful.” He has also excelled at teaching a range of courses --- undergraduate and graduate, small and large, core theory and methods --- over his career, including some of the most challenging and labor-intensive ones in the major; developed a number of new courses (such as one on “big data” [computational sociology]); and has gone out of his way to involve his graduate students in his advanced research projects, such as his NSF-funded “Big Data” project. In sum, his excellence in all of the areas considered for the Distinguished Teaching Award, from innovativeness in the classroom to student mentorship, makes him a most deserving recipient of the award. Prof. Mohr is truly an inspiration to us all.