Tuesday, December 01, 2015
Vice-Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence in Teaching
The news was made public today that I’ve gained a Flinders University 2015 Vice-Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence in Teaching. With over 1100 lecturers at Flinders University and only 5 Awards made each year, it is a very significant achievement. The Award was made in recognition of:
leading sustained innovation in theological pedagogy over six years, implementing quality improvements that ensure the embedded diversity of the student body is a resource in contextualising, personalising and deepening the overall teaching and learning experience.
Application is based on submitting a 10,000 word application that addresses 4 criteria:
- Approaches to teaching and the support of learning that influence, motivate and inspire students to learn.
- Development of curricula, resources or services that reflect a command of the field.
- Evaluation practices that bring about improvements in teaching and learning.
- Innovation, leadership or scholarship that has influenced and enhanced learning and teaching and/or the student experience.
In making my application, I focused on my teaching and academic leadership over the last 5 years. I wanted to think through what it means to teach in the particular context of the challenges and opportunities of teaching theology in a modern, pluralist, University context.
Teaching theology in a University setting provides a critical, academic and pluralist context. The environment is one in which those with faith and no-faith mingle. As a consequence, teaching theology involves the teacher creating a space in which students participate in ways that are neither pietistic nor dogmatic. This context has been impacted by the rise in recent years of religious intolerance. As a result, the University, in providing spaces in which critical conversations can occur, provides an important societal good. As a teacher, I see my role as cultivating, nurturing and protecting these spaces, growing in students the capacity to work confidently in diverse environments, able to deal with subject matter that they, their peers and diverse communities, remain potentially highly invested in.
It is a great thrill to have the theological context named and recognised by the University. I think I’m the first Award winner from the Department of Theology at Flinders University in 36 years, since it was set up in 1979. Recipients are recognised by the University to be leaders in their field and gain $5000 to spend on things teaching related. So that’s quite encouraging. My hope is to use the financial resources to continue to develop indigenous theological curricula – specifically to expand on the indigenous women’s Christology project.
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