James S. Cutsinger, Michael J. Mungo Distinguished Professor of the Year, attributes much of his success in the classroom to his use of the Socratic Method and his presentation focuses on this topic. His main aim in teaching is to exhibit and promote a method of intellectual inquiry. Questions are asked, proportions suggested, ideas plotted on spectrums in order to stimulate a specific manner of thinking, one that will persist when the details of a given course are forgotten. Dr. Cutsinger finds that this pedagogy generates a certain intensity: students quickly sense that they are contributors to a larger dialogue, whose significance transcends deadlines and grades.
About the Facilitator
James S. Cutsinger is the 2011 awardee of the Michael J. Mungo Distinguished Professor of the Year Award. Considered the highest honor for teaching, the Mungo Distinguished Professor is given annually to a truly exceptional educator. He is a graduate of Harvard University and, since 1980, a member of USC’s Religious Studies faculty, where he currently serves as Chairman.
A scholar of theology, contemplative spiritualities, and the comparative philosophy of religion, he has published thirteen books and is a past recipient of both the South Carolina Honors College Distinguished Professor of the Year Award and the Michael J. Mungo Undergraduate Teaching Award. These awards reflect his students’ respect for his commitment to undergraduate teaching at the highest level. As one student puts it, “Professor Cutsinger does an incredible job of bringing complicated material to life in a way that engages our minds. He makes us think critically about our opinions and beliefs and truly evaluate them in depth. He adroitly handles the material he teaches, with equal amounts of information and wit, one of the best ways to keep us engaged.”