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Engaged senior lecturer Paola Ardiles receives inaugural 2021 West Coast Distinguished Teaching Award
On April 19, 2022, Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS) senior lecturer Paola Ardiles was named as the inaugural recipient of the BC Teaching and Learning Council’s West Coast Distinguished Teaching Award.
Ardiles is a well-respected educator who exemplifies community-engaged scholarship and decolonial teaching practices along with evidence-based health promotion.
Vice-Provost Elizabeth Elle describes Ardiles as a transformative and passionate educational leader who exemplifies SFU’s commitment to community engagement and exceptional student learning experiences.
“Paola is one of our absolute shining stars, an innovator in experiential education, dedicated to inclusive teaching, active in research on teaching and learning, and widely respected for her leadership and generosity in supporting others.”
Ardiles accomplishments include co-creating the interdisciplinary Health Change Lab undergraduate course, in collaboration with RADIUS SFU, Beedie School of Business and community partners in Surrey, as well as co-leading research to support community engaged learning and teaching at SFU. Her students have described her role in their education as “transformational” and “life changing.”
“Paola’s class opened my eyes to the world of Indigenous health.” says Master of Public Health graduate Sadeem Fayed, who is currently pursuing a PhD in the field. “At the time, my ideas for change were not directly prompted by the mandate for Truth and Reconciliation. Instead, my ideas were driven by an emerging deep valuation of Indigenous, which was instigated by Paola’s approach to teaching Western and Indigenous knowledge systems while making visible the strengths of distinct ways of seeing and being in the world. I do not know that I would have taken this path if not for Paola’s class.”
Bachelor of Sciences candidate Selena Bains, who participated in the Health Change Lab, notes that Ardiles models the behaviours she teaches, creating learning spaces for her students that are inclusive, equitable and safe. “Knowing that Paola valued equity enough to implement it in her teaching allowed me to feel safe enough to disclose and focus on my learning, rather than being worried about not being supported due to ableist attitudes.”
Senior faculty look to Ardiles for leadership in the creation of inclusive, healthy classrooms. She is a trusted peer-mentor and facilitator for faculty discussions about anti-racism and equity, diversity and inclusion. She is deeply committed to the principles and practice of anti-racism and reconciliation, and actively integrates equity-centered design into all her work. Her expertise in this area is informed by both by both her scholarship, as well as her lived experiences as a racialized woman.
Ardiles’ research on equity centered design to promote community health and wellbeing has inspired others around the world to dig deep into the experiential education space. “I am honoured to be recognized by the BCTLC for work that I am passionate about and also very grateful to all the students, staff, faculty members and community partners that have supported my teaching and learning.”