Prof. Sarah Lamb (ANTH) wins teaching and mentoring award, offers advice to students

Prof. Sarah Lamb (ANTH) wins teaching and mentoring award, offers advice to students

May 6, 2016

Anthropology Professor Sarah Lamb won the Lerman-Neubauer ’69 Prize for Excellence in Teaching and Mentoring.

The most common piece of advice Lamb gives her students is “to trust their own insights,” because she thinks students should “feel bothered by something they don’t understand in readings or in class” and learn from the experience.

“If something is bothering you or you don’t get it, you are probably having a creative insight and you should pursue it, develop it, think of it a little more carefully, think about why it is bothering you and maybe turn that into your thesis,” said Lamb.

Lamb has been teaching at Brandeis since 1995. She is honored and humbled to be the recipient of this award. She loves teaching and feels it is rewarding to have an impact on her students. She said the comments from her students nominating her for this award were “really moving.” In their course evaluations, students mentioned that their writing skills have improved throughout the semester.

“It’s worth it to spend time working on your writing because it helps you with your thinking and communication, with almost any path you are following,” said Lamb.

Lamb has helped her students develop an interest in Anthropology. “I had Prof. Lamb for ANTH 1a and it’s clear that she truly loves her work. Her lectures were always engaging and informative, and many students find a passion in anthropology due to her teaching,” said Saumya Datta ’19.

Lamb tries to do field work in India every winter, where she focuses on aging and gender. She decided to do work in India because one of her professors at Brown University, where she completed her undergraduate degree, specialized in India, which inspired her. Lamb was also interested in India because she “wanted a place very different from the United States, but that was also super fascinating.”

“India has a rich history, interesting gender politics, and there is both thriving village life, which is different from the U.S., but also really booming, cosmopolitan, urban life,” she said.

Lamb’s main areas of focus are “aging, gender, the body, family and nation,” according to the Brandeis University website, which also states she is researching “unmarried women in India in the context of class mobilities and gendered personhoods.”

She has also published multiple books and articles, including her book, “Aging and the Indian Diaspora: Cosmopolitan Families in India and Abroad.”

Lamb said anthropology is “an endlessly fascinating topic,” and one thing she loves about it is that “it helps people understand themselves better. Not only does the perspective of anthropology help people respect and understand others around the world, which helps us live as better global citizens, but also to turn it around and learn about other ways of life help you see and recognize your own assumptions better—your taken for granted assumptions that are sometimes hard to recognize, unless you contrast them to other perspectives,” she said.

Lamb’s favorite aspect about working at Brandeis is that she finds students to be “sincerely really interested in learning in their classes, sharing their ideas with their professors and generally being interested in the material and wanting to learn.” She encourages students to take classes that excite them and study things they are “curious or passionate about.”

“It is really fun to learn with students,” said Lamb, who does not feel like she is just teaching. She learns a lot from her students, which also helps her research and writing.

Lamb was previously the recipient of the Walzer ’56 Award for Teaching in 1997, which is an award for tenure-track faculty.


The Hoot interviewed three professors who won teaching awards this year. Read about Jasmine Johnson (AAAS/WMGS) and Claudia Novack (CHEM).

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