VERMILLION, S.D. – David Burrow, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of History at the University of South Dakota, is the 2015 recipient of the Monsignor James Doyle Humanities Teaching Award, presented by the College of Arts & Sciences.
Burrow will receive the award on April 20 at the 2015 Phi Beta Kappa initiation and Lifto Amundson Lecture.
Burrow, who joined USD in 2006, teaches courses on Russian History, the Holocaust, Nazi Germany and the Enlightenment. In all of his classes, Burrow said he emphasizes the importance of researching and interpreting primary sources, such as letters and diaries, when attempting to understand a historical period.
“By reading primary sources, students can work on interpretation and get at the complexities of a topic,” Burrow said. “They’re not just absorbing my view.”
This spring, students in Burrow’s upper-division Holocaust class are working with primary sources not available to the general public. As part of a Holocaust digital education project that Burrow helped develop with the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., history students are researching translated diaries and oral histories in which survivors documented their experience.
While the Holocaust class offers rewarding teaching experiences, Burrow said his favorite courses are those that focus on Imperial Russia, which is his area of research. “Students who take that class say I don’t need notes to remember what to say. I need notes to remember to stop talking,” Burrow said.
Kurt Hackemer, professor and chair of the Department of History, said students see only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Burrow’s classroom activities. “Our students know that Professor Burrow is a great teacher, but they have no idea how much time and energy he invests in preparing and delivering his courses,” Hackemer said. “He creates interactive and innovative experiences for them every semester, and it is a privilege to have him in our department.”
The Doyle award is made possible thanks to a gift from Monsignor James Michael Doyle, former chair of religious studies at USD and a prominent theologian inducted into the South Dakota Hall of Fame. The award is presented annually to an outstanding teacher in the Humanities Division of the College of Arts & Sciences.