2021 Excellence in Teaching award winner Sarah Walshaw watching Ally, Sabay, and Johnny try bucket flotation near the fifteenth century highland site of Ambohidahy, Madagascar. (Photo provided by Sarah Walshaw.)

Sarah Walshaw wins 2021 Excellence in Teaching Award

March 04, 2022
by Jonathan Gudlaugson

Sarah Walshaw, senior lecturer in the Department of History, has been named one of three winners of a prestigious 2021 SFU Excellence in Teaching Award. The award is a recognition of Walshaw’s enthusiastic and innovative teaching, her ability to stimulate students to think creatively and critically, and her demonstrated caring for student learning.

If you were to observe Sarah Walshaw in the classroom, one thing would be immediately clear – her teaching always comes from a place that centers the student.

“From my experience with Dr. Walshaw as my directed study supervisor,” says former student Olumoroti Sogi-George, “my agency and the importance of my research were heavily recognized by Dr. Walshaw. Dr. Walshaw supervised the directed study from the position of a student and made the effort to learn from my research. Dr. Walshaw constantly pushed me to bolster and refine my research skills, my writing skills, and my presentation skills, which has been extremely useful in my current graduate career.”

Walshaw’s attention to diversity and inclusion, decolonizing, reconciliation, and increasing the ways in which students can demonstrate their learning reflect her focus on the student in all of her work. She embodies her principles and values through a commitment to decolonial approaches and pedagogies; empathetic, interdisciplinary, and transparent teaching that models mutual respect; and by acknowledging the role of students as collaborators in the creation of knowledge. The result is a community of care that is evident in her teaching practice and in her connections with her students.

The range of Walshaw’s teaching is astounding. In addition to teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in History, she has led multiple field schools in Tanzania and Madagascar, acting as an ambassador for SFU and training students in Africa. In 2019-2020, Walshaw received an “Exploring Well-Being in Learning Environments” grant from the Institute for the Study of Teaching and Learning in the Disciplines (ISTLD), in which she examined food sharing as a course intervention designed to forge social connections among students. Walshaw is also an adjunct member in the Department of Archaeology, where she serves on several graduate supervisory committees and was part of an instructional team that led a recent field trip to the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre on Vancouver Island.

Congratulations to Walshaw on winning this well-deserved award!

You can read about this year's other award winners here.


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