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The Prize of Honour for Pedagogics 2021

Associate Professor Lars Bo Gundersen receives The Prize of Honour for Pedagogics 2021 at the annual celebration at Aarhus University

Lars Bo Gundersen, an associate professor of philosophy at the Department of Philosophy and History of Ideas, is acutely aware that many students of logic find the subject both difficult and a bit dry. Put simply, logic, a branch of philosophy that was first formalised by Aristotle, is the study of reasoning, particularly as it involves drawing inferences. When you study logic, you learn to apply the so-called three laws of thought - the law of excluded middle, the law of noncontradiction and the law of identity- to evaluate the validity of arguments. When asked how he felt about logic when he first encountered it as a university student, Gundersen said: “I loved it. But I couldn’t figure it out at first.” 

But ultimately, Gundersen did figure it out – and he has had enormous success in passing on his love of logic to new generations of students. In fact, the subject has become extremely popular, to a large degree due to his ability to inspire and motivate his students. Examples of Gundersen’s innovative approach to teaching include animated lecture notes in the form of fourteen short videos, as well as an innovative logic learning app that provides students with feedback on logic assignments. Most recently, he has received a grant for a project to develop software to support digital assessment and automated formative feedback in connection with logic and argumentation theory classes.

“I’m deeply fascinated by the potential of digitisation in terms of developing teaching tools. Not least in relation to individually tailored and automated formative feedback. But there are serious dangers associated with the potential of digitisation. For example, there’s a widespread misconception that digitisation can replace in-person teaching, either completely or in part. But digitisation is precisely a teaching tool - not a substitute for teaching,” explained Gundersen.

An intellectually generous educator and colleague

Gundersen is widely acknowledged as a world-class scholar who also involves his students in the practice of philosophy and makes space for their contributions and academic development in his own projects. For example, he has invited students to participate in writing academic articles, and he has co-authored articles with students. 

According to his colleagues, Gundersen’s approach to his teaching is similarly generous. And the same applies to his attitude to knowledge-sharing with colleagues; his willingness to share his expertise and experience is legendary.

Focus on the real world

Gundersen is also known for his emphasis on inviting the real world into his teaching practice. He has had great success with inviting business leaders into the lecture hall, which also helps pave the way for student internships. He often bases his classes on current debates in the media, and he attempts to hone his students’ critical thinking and ability to detect ‘fake news’ in the media, for example by giving them assignments on faulty logic in news articles.

When asked how he felt about being this year’s winner of the Aarhus University Anniversary Foundation Prize of Honour for Pedagogics, Gundersen’s responded with modesty:

“Of course, recognition is always nice. But I also feel a certain amount of humility about receiving this honour. There are a lot of educators here at the university who are (at least) as good at teaching and developing teaching tools as I am. And to a high degree, any success that I have as an educator is also the students’ due.” 

Associate Professor Lars Bo Gundersen
Department of Philosophy and History of Ideas
School of Culture and Society
Mail: fillg@cas.au.dk

Tel.: 8716 2274