Benjamin Berger wins Faculty of Graduate Studies’ Teaching Award

gold and red stars

The 2023-24 Faculty of Graduate Studies’ (FGS) Teaching Award recipient is Osgoode Hall Law School Professor Benjamin Berger, who teaches in the graduate programs in law and socio-legal studies and has been recognized for his unwavering support for students and commitment to his local graduate community.

Benjamin Berger
Benjamin Berger

The Faculty Teaching Award is bestowed annually to a member of the Faculty of Graduate Studies who has displayed sustained excellence, commitment and enthusiasm to the multifaceted work of teaching at the graduate level at York University. The award recognizes teaching and supervisory excellence and considers scholarly, professional and teaching development, along with initiative involving graduate program and curriculum development. The nominator may be any member of the Faculty of Graduate Studies, including regular or adjunct faculty, graduate students or staff.

“Dr. Berger’s record of supervision is notable not simply due to the large number of students successfully supported through to degree completion under his guidance but for the quality and care to which those relationships were cultivated,” said Alice MacLachlan, vice-provost and dean of graduate studies, when she presented the award to Berger at the Faculty Council meeting on April 4. “Former graduate students spoke admirably on the generosity of time Dr. Berger provided to them, and the capacity by which feedback and direction was delivered in an understanding but supportive manner.”

Also in attendance was Lisa Philipps, provost and vice-president academic, who equally praised Berger: “It is so great to see you here today, Benjamin, and I would like to express my sincere gratitude for all that you have done to support the personal and intellectual growth of your graduate students here at York.”

A researcher in the areas of law and religion, criminal and constitutional law and theory as well as the law of evidence, Berger shares his expertise through lectures, class readings and one-on-one support developing students’ thesis and dissertation projects. His graduate students underscored his ability to carefully design his courses, balancing attentive learning, active discussion and expert guest speakers.

The nomination letters spoke widely of Berger’s commitment to his students. One such example was shared by an international student who began their studies in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic: “Prof. Berger took active steps to ease my adjustment into my new life, including putting me in touch with other graduate students that could offer support and advice, checking in regularly to gauge my emotional experience of the transition, and offering resources to support the practical cost of settling into the graduate program.”

Berger’s commitment to his local graduate community was also a key factor. He dedicates his time to support both the research and professional development focuses of Osgoode Hall Law School through academic leadership for master of laws specializations, colloquium organization, and contributions to workshops for students applying to major scholarships and awards.

Throughout his career, Berger has received other teaching accolades, including the Terry J. Wuester Teaching Award twice and the First Year Class Teaching Award, all while at the University of Victoria Law School. Additionally, he received the Osgoode Hall Law School Teaching Award in 2013.

“Graduate supervision and teaching are among the great joys of my career,” said Berger in his award acceptance speech. “This award reflects that joy and the inspiration that I have drawn from two sets of relationships: with my own supervisors, who patiently, caringly shaped my approach to scholarly inquiry; and with my brilliant, sincere and committed students, in whose growth and insights I continually delight.”

For more information, visit the Faculty of Graduate Studies’ Teaching Award website.