Adam Arenson, Ph.D., to Receive 2020 Costello Excellence in Teaching Award

Photograph of Professor Adam Arenson smiling.Adam Arenson, Ph.D., professor of history and director of the Urban Studies program at Manhattan College, has been selected as the recipient of the 2020 Costello Award for Excellence in Teaching. 

Established in memory of Brother Casimir Gabriel Costello, FSC (1910-1992), a Manhattan College graduate who served as chair of the History department and dean of the College, the award recognizes a faculty member of the School of Liberal Arts who exemplifies the excellence in teaching that characterizes Manhattan College and is central to its mission and the mission of the Lasallian Christian Brothers. Nominations for the award are made by students who have studied with the faculty member.

“Dr. Arenson is a thoughtful and innovative teacher who both challenges his students and closely mentors them, particularly regarding their research and writing,” said Keith Brower, Ph.D., dean of the School of Liberal Arts. “He is ever mindful of the fact that he is both teaching history and urban studies and, at the same time, is also preparing his students to be deep, analytical readers, engagers of research, critical thinkers, and thoughtful communicators. 

Arenson teaches the history and memory of North America and the global 19th century. His work focuses on the cultural and political history of slavery, Civil War and Reconstruction, as well as the development of cities. Through his community-engaged learning course Slavery in the Bronx (HIST 100), the class works with community partners, including the Hunts Point Slave Burial Ground Project and the Kingsbridge Historical Society, to explore how the history of slavery continues to reverberate in the borough. 

“He is known for bringing a Digital Arts and Humanities (DAsH) approach to his courses, both in the classroom and regarding the digital tools that his students use in their research, just as he uses digital tools in his own research,” Brower added. “In this respect, and others, Dr. Arenson is on the front edge of the new wave in humanities pedagogy, research and student post-graduation preparation.”

Arenson earned his bachelor’s degree from Harvard and Radcliffe Colleges and his M.A., M.Phil. and Ph.D. degrees from Yale University. In addition to his extensive scholarly publications, his writing has appeared in The New York Times, Washington Post and The Atlantic, among others. 

“It is a great honor to be awarded the Costello teaching award,” Arenson said. “Having heard about Brother Cas Gabe from his former colleagues and his niece and her family — and teaching in the same department that Brother Cas Gabe once taught — I feel particularly proud of this recognition of the innovation and care I put into my teaching.”

Plans for an award ceremony honoring Arenson will be announced at a future date.

By Cecilia Donohoe