February 21, 2018 - 3:30pm
Passion for teaching matched only by helping students discover their own path
Vancouver Island University’s (VIU) Dr. Pamela Shaw has received the prestigious 3M Fellowship, which is awarded to only 10 educators annually. It is given for exceptional teaching in a Canadian post-secondary institution.
“I am so grateful to receive such an honour,” says Shaw. “I couldn’t believe it when I heard. I love teaching, and I know there are so many truly great post-secondary instructors in Canada – to be included in this group is hard to describe.”
As the director of VIU’s Master of Community Planning, research director of the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region Research Institute (MABRRI) and a geography professor, Shaw’s impact on students’ education at VIU extends far beyond the people in her classroom.
In every class, Shaw and her students take on applied research or engagement projects that benefit a local community or agency. Her 20 years of community planning experience informs the teaching methods she uses in her classes, which take place mostly in the community, both locally and internationally. The projects they take on are in collaboration with the people who live there.
“In the work world, any project you undertake has to have a purpose. It can’t just be because it’s interesting and fun, so I try to bring that practice into my classes,” Shaw says. “I’m always looking for interesting, practical, and useful engagement opportunities.”
Her unique approach makes Shaw’s classes sought after because students know they will get tangible experience, which will also be fun.
Shaw credits strong mentors and remarkable professors with helping her take early steps down her career path, and hopes to do the same for her students. “Every day, I have the extraordinary opportunity to not only teach, but also help students find their path.”
Dr. David Witty, VIU Provost and Vice President Academic credits Shaw with much of the success of VIU’s Master of Community Planning program.
“Students apply from across the country because of the exceptional coursework,” says Witty. “VIU is a teaching focused institution, so Dr. Shaw’s contribution, and the difference she makes in the lives of our students cannot be understated. She manages to be this kind of educator while conducting leading-edge research as well. This fellowship is very well-deserved.”
The 3M Fellowship is jointly sponsored by 3M Canada and the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. Recipients are inducted into the teaching fellowship for life, and encouraged to share in discussion and learning with their peers. Shaw and the other nine new Fellows will attend a four-day retreat at the Chateau Montebello, in Montebello, Que. Shaw is one of just 320 Canadians who have received this honour since it began in 1986.
Learn more about VIU’s Master of Community Planning program.
Aly Winks, Communications Officer, Vancouver Island University