Knutson Wins 2020 Carlson Award for Distinguished Teaching

The award was presented at the Gustavus Class of 2020's commencement ceremony, which took place a year later than scheduled due to COVID-19.
Posted on June 18th, 2021 by

Dr. Kate Knutson

Political science professor Kate Knutson was named the winner of the 2020 Edgar M. Carlson Award for Distinguished Teaching at the Gustavus Adolphus College Class of 2020 commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 16.

Philosophy professor and 2004 Carlson Award winner Lisa Heldke ’82 introduced Knutson as the 2020 honoree by sharing a series of quotes from students:

  • “[Professor Knutson’s] classes are taught with enthusiasm and thoughtful insight that inspires majors. However, what is even more telling are the numerous non-majors that speak so highly about their experiences.”
  • “[Dr. Knutson’s] exceptional mentoring ability assisted me in the law school application process.”
  • “For me, as a first-year in the middle of a pandemic, [Dr. Knutson’s] kind words and support have made the beginning of my college experience better than I could have imagined.”

Knutson meets with students in the Jackson Campus Center.

“I’m honored and humbled to be recognized with the Carlson Award by my great students and dedicated colleagues,” Knutson said. “I love teaching at a residential liberal arts college because we focus on supporting the whole student—developing their intellectual gifts, discerning who they want to be and what they want to do in the world, and equipping them with the skills to be able to achieve those goals.”

“Kate asks her students to engage critically and thoughtfully with complex topics, and she does so with compassion and grace. She is incredibly knowledgeable and passionate about the subjects she teaches and it reflects in the depth and intentionality of her courses and assignments,” said Emma Nelson ’22, who served the student Peer MALT (Mentor, Academic Leader, and Teacher) in Knutson’s first-term seminar last fall. “She pushes all of her students to examine their opinions and back them up with evidence. Kate is one of the faculty members at Gustavus that makes me want to become a college professor.”

Knutson, who has led January Term study trips to Washington D.C. and Hawaii and was previously awarded the College’s Faculty Service Award, appreciates teaching political science courses because the topics covered intersect with so many different aspects of life.

“If you access news, there’s a connection to politics,” the professor said. “Every course I teach feels timely and relevant. The things students learn in political science will make them educated, informed, and active citizens who are prepared to engage in the world.”

The Edgar M. Carlson Award was established by the Gustavus Board of Trustees in 1971 to honor former President Edgar Carlson for his years of distinguished leadership and in recognition of his commitment to academic excellence. Gustavus faculty, staff, administrators, and students nominate professors for this award, and each year at commencement a faculty member, selected by the Provost based on the recommendations of previous award recipients, is honored for their exceptional skill and effectiveness as an instructor.

Recent Carlson Award Recipients

2021: Phil Bryant, English
2020: Kate Knutson, Political Science
2019: Margaret Bloch Qazi, Biology
2018: Greg Kaster, History
2017: Pamela Kittelson, Biology
2016: Eric Carlson, History
2015: David Obermiller, History
2014: Matt Panciera, Classics
2013: Rebecca Fremo, English
2012: Alisa Rosenthal, Political Science
2011: Barbara Zust, Nursing
2010: Leila Brammer, Communication Studies

A full list of past Carlson Award winners dating back to 1971 is available online.


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin


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