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Distributed March 22, 2004
Contact Kristen Cole

Education faculty member receives Wriston Fellowship for 2004-05

Wilbur Johnson, lecturer and clinical professor of social studies and history in the Department of Education, recently received the Wriston Fellowship, one of the highest awards the University bestows upon its teaching faculty. Johnson will use the fellowship to create a new undergraduate seminar course that examines issues surrounding the concept of “white privilege.”

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Wilbur Johnson, lecturer and clinical professor of social studies and history in the Department of Education, has been awarded a Henry Merritt Wriston Fellowship for the 2004-2005 academic year. He will use the award to design a new undergraduate teaching seminar on the subject of “white privilege” – the idea that Caucasians receive unearned advantages because of their skin color.

The Wriston Fellowship is one of the highest awards Brown bestows upon its teaching faculty. Established in 1972 to encourage and reward excellence in teaching, the Wriston Fellowship is awarded annually to a junior member of the faculty to recognize significant accomplishments in teaching and to allow for scholarly research and preparation of new contributions to the undergraduate curriculum.

Since coming to Brown in 1994, Johnson has taught the introductory course “Education 101, The Craft of Teaching.” In that course, Johnson asks students to closely examine how aspects of race, class, gender, sexual orientation and disability affect teaching and learning in public schools.

“Students bring all kinds of knowledge into the classroom with them,” said Johnson. “The challenge of teaching is to provoke students to use their knowledge, to apply it, to provide opportunities for them to connect that knowledge with new information ... teaching is not telling.”

He will use the Wriston Fellowship to do research, conduct interviews and observations, and organize an undergraduate seminar that examines more deeply the fundamentals of teaching, issues of white privilege, and critical pedagogy. Johnson plans to structure the course to look at how and why or why not educators teach about “whiteness” in the United States.

Johnson received his bachelor’s degree from Yale University in 1971 and a master’s degree in teaching from Colgate University in 1973. He is a doctoral candidate at Columbia Teachers College. Faculty colleagues nominated him for the Wriston Fellowship.


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