July 12, 2018 - 4:15pm
Vancouver Island University’s (VIU’s) dedication to a high standard of teaching and learning is gaining international recognition.
The University is a finalist for the Higher Education Academy’s 2018 Global Teaching Excellence Award (GTEA). The award is given to an institution in recognition of outstanding approaches to teaching excellence. VIU is one of the 17 finalists shortlisted from applicants from more than 40 countries and 300 applications, and one of just two universities in Canada to make that list.
“Our students and employees have long recognized that the way learning takes place here is special; this accolade lets the rest of the world in on the secret,” says Dr. David Witty, VIU Provost and Vice-President Academic.
VIU’s leadership in education is demonstrated through the personal successes of students who choose to learn here.
Maryam Salari, a VIU International alumna from Iran, completed her Master of Education in Educational Leadership in 2017. She now teaches English at the University of Toronto, and has obtained permanent residency in Canada.
“I wish everyone could have the same experience I had at VIU,” she says. “My professors believed in me. They saw the potential I had. They are great leaders who taught me everyone is capable of learning.”
During convocation, Salari’s family was unable to attend due to travel complications.
“My professor, Paige Fisher, told me that we are your family and we are all here for you,” she says.
VIU’s student body includes more than 2,000 international students from 90 different countries.
The university’s commitment to building international relationships is exhibited through the multitude of opportunities offered to local students to go on overseas exchanges, field schools, summer research programs, and internships with global partners.
For example, VIU has a longstanding relationship with the University of Belize, and is assisting their efforts to establish a writing centre at the main campus in Belmopan. Many different departments offer international field schools and student internships, including Biology, Global Studies, Geography, Tourism, Education, Physical Education and Psychology.
Faculty members create international teaching opportunities by building global partnerships. Currently, VIU is in the midst of a three-year partnership with a national polytechnic in western Kenya to provide knowledge and expertise to grow the school’s building technology programs. This $1.67 million partnership is part of a Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) initiative funded by Global Affairs Canada, and is the latest CICan-funded project VIU has become involved in recently.
“Our Kenyan partner is looking to increase the hands-on learning within their building technology programs and felt we had strong skills and expertise among our faculty to help,” says Darrell Harvey, International Projects coordinator.
These types of opportunities would not be possible without the passion of the faculty and instructors supporting them. VIU’s Dr. Pamela Shaw received the prestigious 3M Fellowship this year, awarded to just 10 Canadian educators annually. The 3M Fellowship is jointly sponsored by 3M Canada and the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education.
Shaw is the director of VIU’s Master of Community Planning, research director of the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region Research Institute (MABRRI), and a geography professor. She uses every class as an opportunity to engage students in projects that benefit the local community.
“Every day, I have the extraordinary opportunity to not only teach, but also help students find their path,” she says.
VIU’s dedication to teaching excellence is matched by its commitment to supporting students to achieve their goals.
“It is about more than just teaching excellence here at VIU,” says Dr. Liesel Knaack, Director of the University’s Centre for Innovation and Excellence in Learning. “It is about how we challenge and stretch students beyond the classroom to become independent thinkers. Being shortlisted for this award is a recognition of the diverse supports and rich opportunities available for VIU students across all our programs.”
The winner of the Global Teaching Excellence Award will be revealed at a gala event in Edinburgh, Scotland, on July 18.
Rae-Anne LaPlante, Communications Officer, Vancouver Island University
Tags: Teaching and Learning