Urban Education Graduate Student Karim Gangji Receives Queens College Excellence in Teaching Award

March 14, 2013 | CUNY Graduate Center

Al-Karim Gangji, a GC doctoral student in urban education, received the 2012 President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching by Adjunct Faculty at Queens College, “in recognition of his commitment and dedication to the education of Queens College students.”

Gangji serves as an adjunct lecturer of physics at Queens College, where he teaches science education. He was enrolled as a doctoral student in physics when he noticed that prospective elementary-school teachers had a phobia about science in general and physics in particular. He was greatly concerned about this and as his experience as an adjunct at Queens College expanded over time he decided to switch his Ph.D. degree to urban education. According to Kenneth Tobin, a member of the doctoral faculty in urban education and Gangji’s mentor, “As an urban educator, Karim teaches high-school physics and, in his role as an adjunct, he has influenced hundreds and possibly thousands of prospective elementary-school teachers by focusing on increasing their competence in physics and their confidence in teaching science. Not surprisingly,” added Tobin, “the focus of his Ph.D. in urban education is on improving the teaching and learning of college-level physics for elementary-school science teachers.”

Gangji is the second doctoral student in urban education to receive this type of recognition. Joseph Nelson, a doctoral candidate due to defend his dissertation in April, received a similar award at Hunter College several years ago.

The Graduate Center, CUNY, Ph.D. Program in Urban Education, founded in 2001, has more than one hundred students enrolled, including thirty Enhanced Chancellors Fellows. The program seeks to develop the research, scholarship, and teaching skills of its students in all aspects of urban education. Graduates of this program typically teach in schools of education that focus on the foundations and history of education, pedagogical practice, and policy analysis. While taking doctoral courses, thirty to forty students serve as adjunct teachers at CUNY colleges at any given time. Of the programs seventy graduates to date, fifty-five are working in academia—fifteen are currently teaching in CUNY colleges in tenure-bearing positions, others are serving on the faculty at Columbia Teachers College, McGill University, the University of Pennsylvania, New York University, Long Island University, and in the State University of New York, the University of Massachusetts, and State University of New Jersey systems; the remaining alumni are employed in K–12 school districts, education policy organizations, museums, and foundations. Read more about the Ph.D. Program in Urban Education.