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History of the Innovative Course Design Competition


In 1985, the ASECS Executive Board instituted a competition to encourage inquiry and exchange in promoting excellent undergraduate teaching of the eighteenth century.

For the competition, candidates prepared a proposal describing the course or course unit that they had developed, and discussing such issues as thematic approaches, modes of analysis, and what made the course innovative: whether it proposed new areas of inquiry, new techniques, new teaching strategies or new technologies.

Initially, all candidates gave presentations at the Annual Meeting and three winners were selected immediately. In 1987, the competition shifted to two stages: applications were reviewed by a committee consisting of the previous competition winners and a member of the Executive Board; six semi-finalists were invited to present at the ASECS Annual Meeting; and up to three finalists were chosen by the committee.  


After 2002, three winners were selected based on their written proposals and then invited to give presentations on a panel at the Annual Meeting. Finally, the competition was renamed the Innovative Course Design competition.

Winners of the competition receive $500 teaching development grants. The awards are funded by the Shirley Bill Endowed Fund, which honors outstanding teachers of eighteenth-century studies.

Publication of Winning Course Proposals

A principal goal of the Innovative Course Design competition is to make successful pedagogy available to ASECS members and other teachers of eighteenth-century studies. Winners were required to submit a written version of their presentation, along with supplementary materials, for publication, and through 2001, these essays were published by ASECS in a biannual booklet entitled Teaching the Eighteenth Century, which was distributed to members.


Unfortunately, a planned shift to online publication did not take place. Thus, while the competition has continued and ASECS continued to honor members for their innovative pedagogy, only with members who attended the presentations at the Annual Meeting learned about the exciting pedagogy being practiced by their peers.


This situation is now being remedied. Papers authored by competition winners are being published to the new ASECS Teaching the Eighteenth-Century website, beginning with the winners of the 2020 Innovative Course Design competition. A keyword system is being developed to facilitate searching, and thanks to web-based format, winners will be able to share a wider diversity of supplemental and illustrative materials. Post-scripts updating or otherwise reflecting on changes made to their courses since creating the course are also invited.


The material published on this website may be reproduced without charge for teaching purposes, provided due credit is given.

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