- Lieber Memorial Teaching Associate Award (1999)
Some time ago, while teaching a course introduction to Hispanic culture, Cindy Brantmeier discovered something significant to her own formation as an instructor: Students were questioning the injustices that were embedded in their text readings, which in turn invited them to think critically about the injustices within society itself.
Following this discovery, Brantmeier conducted a study of cultural representations present in the readings typically used in such courses and of students' reactions to these representations. She concluded that foreign culture study should refute derogatory stereotypes, but in doing so, should not solely "put emphasis on the great 'masters' of the countries." She believed foreign culture study should, "instead, try to incorporate the common features of everyday life of the target culture."
Brantmeier presented her research and her pedagogical recommendations for applying it to culture courses in a paper at the 1997 North Central Conference of Latin Americanists (NCCLA), where the work won that year's Professional Teaching Award for its contribution to improving teaching of Latin American studies. Last year, she was the recipient of an NCCLA Graduate Student Research Award.
Her students often cite Brantmeier's extensive foreign living and teaching experiences as one of the advantages of taking her courses. In 1993, for example, she participated in the founding of an English/Spanish language center in Estelí, Nicaragua. Brantmeier was the center's first director and a full-time teacher there. She critically analyzed the creation of the center in an article for the Bilingual Research Journal's winter 1998 issue. She also worked at the U.S. Information Agency's Bi-National Language Center in San José, Costa Rica.