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Breen Earns Systemwide Teaching Honor

Sheri Breen
Author: 
Jenna Ray
Publication date: 
March 21, 2018
  • The associate professor of political science now has been recognized by the UMM and UMN alumni associations.
  • Breen stands out for internationalizing the curriculum, in her field and more broadly.
  • She brings practical experience to an otherwise abstract area of political science.

Associate Professor of Political Science Sheri Breen earned the Horace T. Morse - University of Minnesota Alumni Association Award for Outstanding Contributions to Undergraduate Education The honor acknowledges her contributions to student learning at the University of Minnesota.

The So-What

Political theory can be perceived as out of touch, says Breen of her field. At first glance, it can seem abstract and removed from the realities of daily life. But scratch the surface of any policy debate, she argues, and there you'll find it: at the heart of an idea with the power to shape our shared experiences.

"As a political theorist, I'm in one of the fields that is the least experiential," says Breen. "And yet, what I do in my classes is make connections between the policy and the ways in which we live our lives, which are deeply tied to political theory."

How She Does It

That's why Breen brings practical experiences like role-playing simulations to her classes. She's also worked hard to internationalize the curriculum by revamping curriculum and teaching new courses like Islamic Political Thought. These concepts, she argues, aren't niceties, but vital to shaping the ways in which students see, know, and move through the world.

"Trying to see things in different ways can shift fundamentally who you are as a citizen of the world," says Breen. "These four years are an essential point at which to expose young people to these kinds of ideas and experiences. And our students are so eager and willing to learn."

The Next Step for Students

Internationalized curriculum also has an effect on students' futures through its impact on career paths and options. Breen has seen study abroad and exposure to international ideas carry over into students' post-graduation lives and careers, which is what she's in the business of shaping.

"The internationalization students get in the classroom and abroad can have direct effects on their careers and what they want to do with it," she says. It's why she's so passionate about "taking students abroad and getting them involved in international questions in the classrooms."

Breen is one of two Morse recipients from the Morris campus this year. She and Tracy Otten, professor of studio art, will join the University of Minnesota's Academy of Distinguished Teachers.

About Breen

Breen has taught political science at Morris since 2007. She holds a PhD and a bachelor of arts from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. She earned the UMM Alumni Association Teaching Award in 2014.

About the Morse Alumni Award

Each year since 1965, the Horace T. Morse - University of Minnesota Alumni Association Award for Outstanding Contributions to Undergraduate Education (Morse-Alumni Award) has been given to a select group of teachers who reflect the University's emphasis on the importance of high quality undergraduate education. Learn more at scholarswalk.umn.edu