Safe environment, inclusive learning earns sociology professor Ann Travers SFU 2018 Excellence in Teaching Award
A profound impact on students, commitment to inclusivity and ability to link theory with practice has earned Ann Travers a 2018 SFU Excellence in Teaching Award, the highest award of recognition for faculty at Simon Fraser University.
Travers, Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, has advocated for social issues through their writing and research, having most recently published the award-winning The Trans Generation: How Trans Kids (and Their Parents) Are Creating a Gender Revolution.
They are also the principal investigator on a federal Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Insight Grant project that explores the use of virtual reality to showcase the challenges faced by transgender youth.
True to their life's work, Travers has consistently created a safe and inclusive learning environment for their students.
“As a student who comes from a marginalized community, it stands apart when classroom environments are intentionally structured within a framework of inclusivity,” says one of the student nominators.
“Dr. Travers has an exceptional ability to challenge dynamics of power, and elevate those who may go unseen or unheard.”
This sentiment is reflective in Travers’ conscious decision to design their curriculum around readings written by diverse scholars of colour.
One of the qualities of a great educator is the ability to translate complex concepts to a language easily understood by students — something that Travers fully embodies. They go beyond the textbook and open their students’ eyes to how the theories taught in the classroom are relevant to their everyday lives.
In addition to the extensive knowledge and infectious enthusiasm Travers brings to the classroom, they also impart critical thinking skills, pushing students to challenge themselves both academically and on a personal level.
“Travers’ lectures were poignant and personal, but also deeply informative and profoundly critical…they presented theory in a way that I was able to relate it to my own life, and begin to think critically and assess my options, my agency, and what I wanted out of life,” says a student who, after being inspired by Travers’ teachings, changed their degree path and is now pursuing a master’s degree in sociology.
The Excellence in Teaching Award is a testament to Travers’s positive influence on their students’ university experience at SFU and their personal lives. As one student puts it, “[They] changed the way I view the world, and helped me re-imagine new possibilities for myself.”