Board of Governors Appalachian State University School/College Award Recipients: Alecia Jackson and Peter Nelsen

Two Reich College of Education (RCOE) faculty members have been selected for the Board of Governors Appalachian State University School/College Award: Dr. Alecia Jackson and Dr. Peter Nelsen. Award recipients will be honored at the spring commencement ceremony, May 10, 2019.

Alecia Jackson

Alecia JacksonDr. Alecia Jackson, Professor in the Department of Leadership and Educational Studies, has been awarded a Board of Governor’s Appalachian State University Teaching Excellence Award for the RCOE.

Jackson joined the faculty in 2003. She teaches graduate level research methods and critical/feminist theory courses to students who are pursuing master’s, specialist, and doctoral degrees in various program areas, both within and outside the RCOE. Jackson has directly and closely mentored over 40 graduate students in doctoral dissertation and master’s thesis work; five doctoral students she has taught and/or mentored have won the Naylor Award for Outstanding Dissertation.

Because she primarily teaches critical theories and research methodologies to graduate students who are also practitioners, Jackson's goal for students is to leave her classes with the skills to conduct critical social inquiry in their classrooms, schools, and communities. Students emerge from her courses with shifts in their thinking about socio-cultural problems, and they take on the very hard work of deconstructing normalizing practices so that they can “talk back” to common-sense ideologies that infuse educational spaces and that further disenfranchise marginalized people.

About her teaching, she stated, "I push students to examine the assumptions of their knowledge and experiences and to work the edges of those most cherished attachments to see how they limit us and protect us from engaging what and who is different from us. Intellectual comfort is not the goal of my teaching. With students, I enact a pedagogy of deconstruction to analyze the ways in which structures of knowing and being are unstable and can fall apart at any time. This pedagogy, I hope, keeps students who take my courses in a stance of critical questioning that will benefit them not only in their daily lives but also as educators and educational leaders."

In addition to the BOG teaching excellence award, Jackson is the winner of the 2019 100 Scholars Research Award (Cratis D. Williams Graduate School) and the 2019 Outstanding Mentoring Award (Reich College of Education).

Jackson's research interests bring feminist, poststructural, and posthuman theories of power/knowledge, language, materiality, and subjectivity to bear on a range of overlapping topics: deconstructions of voice and method; conceptual analyses of resistance, freedom, and agency in girls’ and women’s lives; and qualitative analysis in the “posts.” Her work seeks to animate philosophical frameworks in the production of the new, and her current projects are focused on the ontological turn, qualitative inquiry, and thought. She has publications in The International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, Qualitative Inquiry, The International Review of Qualitative Research, Qualitative Research, Gender and Education, and numerous book chapters, and has presented her methodological scholarship at U.S. university campuses as well as internationally (Australia, Norway, and the UK).

Peter Nelsen

Dr. Peter Nelsen, an Associate Professor in the Department of Leadership and Educational Studies, has been awarded a Board of Governor’s Appalachian State University Teaching Excellence Award for the Reich College of Education (RCOE).

“I’m honored and humbled to co-receive the award with Dr. Alecia Jackson, one of the colleagues I respect and trust the most at App State,” said Nelsen. “I love teaching Appalachian students. My relationships with them sustain me, and I find that teaching is synonymous with learning: I may learn from them more than they do from me. For that, I am grateful.”

Nelsen joined the RCOE faculty in 2007. A former high school English teacher and adventure educator who led wilderness expeditions and taught outdoor education skills, he earned a doctorate in philosophy of education with a focus on understanding issues of social justice through the lens of pragmatism. At Appalachian he primarily teaches courses on issues of social justice and public schooling. He grounds his teaching and research in the philosophy and practice of nonviolence, social justice, and democratic education. He also co-edits the interdisciplinary academic journal, Democracy & Education.

“I strive to create educational spaces where students engage with challenging ideas, and I want them to be called to do so within an empathetic community of inquiry,” said Nelsen. “I want my students to be understood and to seek to understand each other with empathy, not the sort of feel-good conversation that avoids difference, but understanding that comes from asking the most difficult questions of ourselves and each other. Moreover, I seek to join them by modeling my own self-reflection, the asking of difficult questions, and seeking to understand them even when I disagree.”

Nelson continued, “To foster this sort of engagement, over the last several years I have been explicitly grounding my teaching within the philosophy and practices of nonviolence to help students develop the skills to engage each other over the deepest of political and emotional divisions. What’s more, throughout our work together, I want my students to feel, think, and interact substantively with our course topics, and as a result, I use experiential education techniques and activities that invite and help deepen their engagement with our discussions of philosophical topics like those associated with power, privilege, and difference.”

About the Appalachian State University Campus Teaching Excellence Awards

Campus teaching excellence awards are in addition to the system-wide awards, and winners at each UNC campus are determined by a selection committee. Awards of $1,000 awards are presented to faculty members have demonstrated excellence in, and commitment to, teaching over a period of time.

The granting of the awards is an annual process that stems from a 1993 decision by the University of North Carolina Board of Governors and the General Administration of the University of North Carolina system calling for a review of mission statements, tenure policies and criteria for making personnel decisions at its campus institutions. The review asked that each institution recognize "teaching as a core function" on each campus. Awards are granted each year by a selection committee.

For more information on the awards, visit

Published: Apr 26, 2019 8:41pm