I have learned more about engaging, empathetic, and effective pedagogy from Dr. Denial than from anyone else in my 20 years of college teaching. Her work has transformed my classes.
- Associate Professor Jennifer Sessions, Director of Graduate Studies, Department of History, University of Iowa.
Professor Denial takes pedagogy more seriously than any professor I’ve had. She is creative in creating classroom exercises that engage students in learning and leave a deeply lasting impression–I still talk about things we did in her class, years and years later. She is so careful and deliberate in making sure her students are being represented in her curriculums, and she is open always about learning new things and incorporating them into her teaching. Her deep knowledge and understanding of how historians do their (our?) work means she can expertly shift between a number of skill levels, and manages to make all her students feel that they learned something new and deeply valuable to their lives. I would not be the historian, scholar, or teacher I am today without her influence, and I cannot strongly urge you enough to reach out to her as a resource that will fundamentally change the way you understand your teaching.
- Ai Miller ’16, graduate student, University of Minnesota History Department.
I’ve had the privilege of knowing Cate for well over a decade, and she still astonishes me regularly with her commitment to her students and to improving pedagogy as a whole. Cate taught me the intricacies of crafting excellent research papers and how to use primary sources, but perhaps more importantly, she taught me the value in finding voices that are often sadly overlooked in traditional scholarship. This lens has served me through my entire career. Although Cate is a historian, she has been one of the strongest influences in my education as a scientist. As a public health professional, I regularly work with data from vulnerable populations. Because of Cate, I am firmly committed to answering the questions that people from those populations find most important and to involving community members in every step of the research process. Cate’s commitment to diversity is significantly deeper than simply incorporating it into classroom activities; she shows her students that rich scholarship is the product of the inclusion of many points of view. We don’t do this simply for the sake of obtaining many perspectives – our world is truly diverse, and by understanding that fact, we ensure that our research represents the rich reality we live in. Her commitment to lifelong learning and deeper understanding makes her one of the best educators I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with, and I cannot overstate the profound impact she has had on me and many others as a mentor, teacher, and friend.
- Madison Schaeffer, MS, MPH.
Professor Denial was one of the strongest, most positive influences on my life at Knox and beyond. She is the kind of professor that Knox prides itself on having because of its emphasis as a teaching college. She is passionate about her subject, makes it fully accessible, meets her students where they are, and always provides a safe space for them to learn about history, their world, and their place in it. I can confidently say that I would not be the museum educator, or person, I am today without her mentorship and, later, friendship. She teaches how to be compassionate and recognize the humanity of historic players. Her classes ensure multiple voices are represented both in the classroom discussion and in the historic discourse. It was thanks to her guidance that I learned how to “interpret the silences” left in the historic record and value those players the “winners” in history sought to eradicate. Cate is without a doubt one of the best educators I’ve had the pleasure of working with and learning from.
- Margaret Spiegel ’10, Director at the Nelson Pioneer Farm Museum, Iowa.
Professor Denial not only shaped my learning in her classroom, but she shaped how I see the world outside of it. I find myself constantly thinking back to aspects of her classes that actually made a change to the way I thought about myself and myself within the context of today’s world through history. On top of that, not only did I learn how to think outside the box, but I learned how to do it in countless ways; every single day in her classroom is different, yet always smoothly transitioned to the next. I would not be successful in my post college-life without this ability to think deeply and critically about how the past has shaped our present and our future. Her teaching fueled my passion for history and has led me to incorporate it into all aspects of my life. She is a genuine example of how to teach both effectively and creatively, not to mention an amazing resource in how to incorporate both empathy and compassion in the classroom. Even those who did not choose to embark on a career in history can benefit from her talents.
- Shannon Caveny ‘17, Assigned Recruiter at Aerotek Commercial Services