back to news March 22, 2022

2021 Ratner Distinguished Teaching Award winners

Four arts and humanities faculty members in the College of Arts and Sciences have been selected to receive a 2021 Ronald and Deborah Ratner Distinguished Teaching Award:

  • Scott Lloyd Dewitt, Associate Professor, Department of English
  • Elizabeth Hewitt, Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies, Department of English
  • Ousman Kobo, Associate Professor, Department of History
  • Norah Zuniga Shaw, Professor, Department of Dance

The Ratner Awards recognize faculty who demonstrate creative teaching and extraordinary records of engaging, motivating and inspiring students. Each Ratner Award winner receives a $10,000 cash prize, as well as a $15,000 teaching account to fund future projects.

In 2014, Ronald and Deborah Ratner gave $1 million to establish the Ronald and Deborah Ratner Distinguished Teaching Awards. Ronald Ratner, of RMS Investment Group, is also the former director and executive vice president of development for Forest City Realty Trust Inc. He served on the Ohio State Board of Trustees from 2007 to 2015, having been appointed by former Gov. Ted Strickland. Deborah B. Ratner founded ArtWorks, a Cleveland-based arts apprenticeship program, and Reel Women Direct, an award for women film directors.

Scott Lloyd Dewitt

Scott Lloyd DewittScott Lloyd DeWitt conducts writing studies research in digital media, writing analytics, teaching writing at scale and the study of public communication to imagine new methods for teaching college writing.

An Ohio State Alumni Association Distinguished Teaching Award recipient for his pioneering teaching approaches with technology, DeWitt has served as the director of The Digital Media Project, the Department of English’s digital media production and teaching studio. DeWitt is the author of Writing Inventions: Identities, Technologies, Pedagogies, which offers instructional stories, histories and classroom applications and connects the theoretical aspirations of the field with the craft of innovative computer-enhanced composition instruction. He is currently working on a large-data project that examines a corpus of 5000+ pieces of student writing collected when he was the director of Ohio State’s First-Year Writing Program. He is currently working on a text analytics project studying public writing about pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, for HIV prevention with researchers at Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center and One Community Health in Sacramento, California.

Elizabeth Hewitt

Elizabeth HewittElizabeth Hewitt’s work concentrates on pre-1900 American and African American literature. Her most recent book, Speculative Fictions: Explaining the Economy in the Early United States, studies the fiscal debates between the federalist and democratic-republican parties, arguing that the key to the dispute is not found in economic policy but explanatory style. She is the editor of two volumes in the Collected Writings of Charles Brockden Brown series. She has also published essays on Emily Dickinson, Herman Melville, Charles Chesnutt, Judith Sergeant Murray, Pamela Zoline and antebellum business periodicals.

Hewitt is currently researching the long history of science fiction, especially the utopian fictions and experiments in the 19th-century U.S.

Ousman Kobo

Ousman KoboOusman Kobo served as visiting assistant professor of African history at Marquette University and Gettysburg College before joining Ohio State’s Department of History in 2006. Kobo's research and teaching interests include 20th-century West African social and religious history; contemporary Islamic history; Sufism; Islam under French and British colonialism in Africa; and the social history of West African migrants in the United States. Kobo has received prestigious awards and grants to support his scholarly work, including the MacArthur Fellowship for International Peace and the Boren Fellowship. He was also the co-recipient of the Distinguished Service Award awarded to two City College of New York alumni during the institution’s centennial celebration in 1997. During 2012-2013 academic year, he was appointed a visiting scholar at the Center for Islamic Studies at the University of Oxford.

Kobo is currently working on his second book manuscript tentatively titled, The Gun and the Rosary: Subtle Relations of Co-existence between Charismatic Muslim Leaders and French Colonial Administration in Burkina Faso, 1920-1946.

Norah Zuniga Shaw

Norah Zuniga ShawNorah Zuniga Shaw is an artist, writer and creative director. Her artistic research centers on choreographic knowledge as a locus for interdisciplinary and intercultural creativity. She is internationally recognized for her digital projects and award-winning interdisciplinary collaborations, including “Synchronous Objects” with William Forsythe and “TWO” with Bebe Miller. Her work has been presented around the world at various venues.

Zuniga Shaw presents frequently on 21st-century livability and humane technologies and is currently touring the Livable Futures project including transmedia performance rituals on climate change, radio ballets and creative public dialogs.

Zuniga Shaw is a published author on numerous dance and technology topics and was funded by the Battelle Endowment to complete a book/catalog about “Synchronous Objects” and the new methods in interdisciplinary practice-based research it required. Since 2004, Zniga Shaw has been director for dance and technology in theDepartment of Dance and Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design (ACCAD), where she is a professor and teaches courses in interdisciplinary research and composition, intermedia theater, critical theories of the body, embodied digital literacy and dance improvisation. She co-founded the Motion Lab at ACCAD and frequently consults with other universities and arts organizations on development of interdisciplinary research and facilities for multimedia performance.