Thirteen inspirational academics have been honoured for the outstanding quality and approach to their teaching.
The 22nd annual Pilkington Prizes, which honour excellence in teaching across the collegiate University, were held at Corpus Christi College last night. The prizes are awarded annually to academic staff, with candidates nominated by Schools within the University. The Pilkington Prizes were initiated by Sir Alastair Pilkington, the first Chairman of the Cambridge Foundation, who believed passionately that the quality of teaching was crucial to Cambridge’s success.
Over many years Mary Ann Steane has made an enormous contribution to the Department of Architecture as coordinator of Tripos teaching and lecturer in environmental design. She became a Lecturer in in 2000 and has been Senior Lecturer since 2012. These official titles do not sufficiently convey her deep understanding of and commitment to the problem of how architecture students learn to design. To successfully learn such a personal and subjective discipline requires both a teacher and an enabler: as well as conveying knowledge and experience, one must ensure that the student is in a position to be able to learn creatively.
Ms Steane does a superb job of balancing these different aspects of teaching. By interacting with students and coordinating the Department’s design teaching fellows, she has devised undergraduate programmes that promote students’ imaginations yet serve to establish them as responsible young designers in the profession.
Her first year lectures in environmental design focus on introducing the complex problem of human ecology in architecture. Students have praised the direct encounters in her field trips, in the UK and beyond, for ‘looking at light in real buildings....’ and her lectures for ‘allow[ing] me to see what we should be constantly thinking’. Her influence also extends to more mature students, with a recent MPhil supervisee having won the 2014 Royal Institute of British Architects President’s prize for his dissertation.