Lang Wins 2023 Edgar M. Carlson AwardThe associate professor in Communication Studies was cited for his work in and out of the classroom.
Posted on June 1st, 2023 by

Dr. Martin Lang '95, has been teaching at Gustavus since 2005.

Associate Professor Martin Lang ’95, was named the 2023 winner of the Edgar M. Carlson Award for Distinguished Teaching at the Gustavus Adolphus commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 27. The award is the College’s highest honor for teaching excellence.

Lang, who started teaching at Gustavus in 2005, works across the Communication Studies, Film and Media Studies, and Gender Women and Sexuality Studies departments. He called the award an “utter surprise” and said some of his colleagues at Commencement guessed it was for him before even he realized it. “I’m still a bit dazed, to be honest,” he said in an email. “The selection committee works very hard to keep it under wraps—faculty knows this, and it becomes a kind of game at Commencement to guess who the winner is based upon the facts that the presenter reveals. I had never guessed I would be nominated for, never mind be granted, the Carlson Award.”

Presenter Lauren Hecht, Psychological Science, and the 2022 winner described Lang as a teacher whose students arrive to class “prepared, excited, and motivated to learn something new because [they know] it will be presented in a way that is compelling,” she said, also citing Lang’s commitment lifelong learning he cultivated during his time as a Gustie undergrad and first-generation college student. “My colleagues and I have seen just how serious [Lang is] about improving his teaching ALL the time” by seeking out multiple perspectives on a pedagogical approach and carefully deliberating its impact on students before he selects and deploys it in his own classrooms.

Lang made a brief acceptance speech upon receiving the award, and after having a few days to reflect on the honor, he focused on the many winners who’ve preceded him. “I know nearly all of the faculty members who have been granted the Carlson Award over the past 30 years, and to a person, they are outstanding professors and outstanding people,” he said. “I am astonished and honored to be held in that company—people like John Kendall, after whom the Kendall Center for Engaged Learning is named, or even former professors of mine, [such as] Florence Amamoto, Ann Brady, Bob Moline, Eric Eliason, Robert Gardner, Larry Owen. These all are people I had the incredible privilege to learn from when I was a student here. It is humbling, and a little unbelievable, to think that my peers and students might see me in the same light that I saw those amazing teachers.”

He also expressed gratitude to those who nominated and chose him for the award. “I am acutely aware of the privileges I hold that might benefit me in this process, and that there are many professors working as hard as I do (or harder!), whose impact may go underappreciated for a variety of reasons beyond their control,” he said. “There are many outstanding profs here, working so hard every semester to support our students as they chart new courses in their lives. I will continue to try to bring recognition to the invaluable, but sometimes invisible, contributions made by my colleagues here at Gustavus, whether on the faculty, in the Admission office, or on our hard-working custodial crews.”

After graduating from Gustavus in 1995 with a double major in English and Speech Communication, Lang earned a Masters in Rhetorical Studies and a Ph.D. in Media Studies, Rhetorical Criticism from the University of Minnesota. His scholarly work has focused on the interaction between media, power dynamics, and social constructions of identity. Lang has collaborated with students to create the documentaries Farming Forward and (Mid)West of Somalia, shining examples of how, according to Hecht, Lang demonstrates how to be “an innovative, global citizen who … [is a] leader and an advocate in [his] interactions with others, in [his] professional lives, and in [his] communities.” Hecht concluded her presentation by highlighting multiple student nominations that cited Lang’s dedication to them, even after their days at Gustavus have ended. “Undoubtedly, many students would agree with the nominator who wrote that their ‘Gustavus career would not be nearly as fulfilling without the classes that [they] have taken with Martin.’”

The Edgar M. Carlson Award for Distinguished Teaching is selected from student, faculty, and staff nominations recognizing this person’s teaching excellence and their commitment to innovative and effective teaching strategies.



Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication Luc Hatlestad


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