European Teaching Award: Academic Year 2020-2021: Maria Kaika

September 30, 2021

Central European University (CEU) is pleased to announce the winner of the tenth annual European Award for Excellence in Teaching in the Social Sciences and Humanities as Prof. Dr. Maria Kaika of the University of Amsterdam. The prestigious European award is accompanied by the €5,000 Diener Prize, and will be presented at CEU’s Opening Ceremony in September 2021.


According to Marvin Lazerson, Professor of Higher Education Policy at CEU and chair of the judging panel, “the breadth and depth of Maria Kaika’s work as a teacher, scholar and mentor are remarkable. They reveal what talent and passion can accomplish. Her achievements are stunning.”

“The ability to offer young people the tools to achieve freedom and a better life is what attracted me to academia,” says Kaika, Professor of Urban, Regional and Environmental Planning at the Department of Human Geography, Planning and International Development (GPIO). “I come from a family of refugees and working-class people who could never access higher education themselves; but they instilled in me the love of learning. I could go to university only thanks to publicly-funded education, and I owe everything I achieved professionally to my inspiring teachers at all educational levels. My teaching practice and philosophy is guided by bell hooks’ call for 'Teaching to Transgress against racial, sexual, and class boundaries, in order to achieve the gift of freedom.' I see interaction with students more as learning, rather than teaching; a two-way process, where both teacher and student contribute ideas. As a scholar-teacher, I aim to challenge existing knowledge, unsettle received ways of thinking, and inspire further learning and research. Research-led teaching is what creates inspiring university teaching.”

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Meet Maria Kaika - Video interview