Sara Moller, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of International Security.
Each year, Seton Hall University awards the title of Teacher of the Year to outstanding awardees from each school. This year, a faculty committee has named Sara Moller, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of International Security, awardee for 2021 Teacher of the Year. After an extensive review of nominations and submitted materials, Dr. Sara Moller was awarded this honor due to her continuous student engagement both inside and outside the classroom, experiential teaching techniques, and her prioritization of student success.
Professor Moller, who directs the International Security specialization, largely credits this honor to her new course Nuclear Weapons and International Security. In recent years, Dr. Moller said she heard from students a desire to learn more about contemporary nuclear security topics. In response to this feedback, Moller applied for a grant from the Stanton Foundation to support the development of a new undergraduate course on nuclear security issues to add to the School's security course offerings. The new course launched this past fall and received high praise from her students.
"Nuclear Weapons and International Security gives students an in-depth understanding of technical and policy issues relating to nuclear weapons. Her expertise on its own would make for an excellent course, but she elevated the course through guest lecturers, ranging from an expert in the science behind nuclear weapons to a former Deputy Secretary General of NATO," said Megan Gawron, who was part of the first cohort of students to take the course.
Moller regularly teaches classes that are at full capacity. This does not surprise her former students who praise her ability to combine theory and practice through her use of practical assignments and guest speakers. Nandina Jani, a former student said, "Professor Moller goes above and beyond to ensure that her students are developing the necessary skills not only to study diplomacy but to practice it as well." In addition to guest lectures by practitioners and historians, Jani added, "Professor Moller also incorporated a novel and films into her syllabus to enhance the study of international security [through] varied perspectives."
"I am constantly searching for ways to help my students understand the course material. At the end of each semester, I tweak my syllabi in response to what worked (or didn't) that year. Although it's a very time intensive approach to teaching, I think students benefit from my effort to provide the best material on changing security trends," said Moller. "Doing so has other advantages as well," added Moller, "since it helps me stay abreast of new developments in the field. It also helps me maintain my own enthusiasm for the topic."
Students also praised Dr. Moller for using an online meeting format to provide extensive feedback and guidance throughout the semester. This increased effort by Dr. Moller was especially important for students during the Covid-19 pandemic. "Dr. Moller also shows a keen interest in student success. Even during the pandemic, she offers an abundance of office hours and she frequently checks in with her students to confirm they are doing well both academically and mentally. I'm glad she's getting the recognition she deserves," said Gawron.
The new course, DIPL 3120: Nuclear Weapons and International Security, will be offered again in Spring 2022. In addition, Moller plans to teach a graduate version of the course as well.
Having held fellowships at the NATO Defense College (NDC) in Rome, Modern War Institute at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Security Studies Program at MIT, Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University, and Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, Dr. Moller has been a vital source of professional knowledge for her students. Moller is currently completing a book manuscript on alliances in wartime.
"We know Diplomacy faculty are great at what they do in the classroom. I'm proud of how Professor Moller has taught with empathy as well as addressed the links between theory and practice in her courses," said Dr. Martin Edwards, Associate Professor and Department Chair.
"I am heartened by the recognition, particularly in light of all that has happened in the past year. As I tell my students, watching them succeed and go from strength to strength is truly the best part of the job," said Moller. Both undergrad and graduate students alike confirm Moller's continuous engagement to ensure their success inside and outside of the classroom.
Dr. Moller is joined by her colleague Margarita Balmaceda Ph.D. who has been awarded 2021 School of Diplomacy Researcher of the Year, marking the first time women have won both awards in the same year.
Learn more about Dr. Sara Moller's work by visiting here.