Chantal Gibson with one of her artworks—the Braided Book— a mixed media, altered history of Canada, published in 1936. The art piece marks the inclusion of the Black Loyalists who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1783.

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Chantal Gibson’s teaching a ‘breath of fresh air’

March 22, 2017
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By Marianne Meadahl

Chantal Gibson, a founding faculty member in the School of Interactive Arts and Technology (SIAT), is considered by colleagues to be “a breath of fresh air” in her approach to teaching. Her passion for the classroom and quest to deepen the quality of teaching are being recognized with an 2016 SFU Excellence in Teaching Award.

Gibson, part of the SFU Surrey campus community since its opening in 2002, is cited for her commitment to the student experience, and for consistently exploring new ways to engage with students.

"Chantal lives, breathes and exudes principled knowledge creation,” says SIAT director Thecla Schiphorst. “She has a unique ability to stimulate her students to think creatively and critically.”

Gibson teaches written and visual communication courses in SIAT and occasionally “moonlights” as a sessional lecturer for the Beedie School of Business.

With a background in English and art history, her teaching philosophy—described as “design for everyone”—has been influenced by her interactions with SIAT colleagues and mentors, including artists, designers, engineers, and computer scientists, as well as her many collaborations with SFU’s teaching and learning community.

“Through my teaching, I try to adapt to the evolving needs of our diverse, tech-savvy students,” says Gibson, who believes a course should be “challenging, but with room for fun."

"Ultimately, I hope the courses I teach reflect my own core values as a teacher and a citizen of SFU—a pedagogy of kindness and inclusion.”

Says one student nominator: “Chantal is a charismatic, innovative and dedicated teacher who cares deeply about the academic and professional success of her students. She collaborates with others to create better learning experiences. She is always looking for opportunities to make lessons more engaging and meaningful.”

As a researcher, Gibson is interested in such teaching-related areas as composition pedagogy and assignment evaluation and assessment. A key focus is reader feedback and response—the interaction between students and instructors “in the margins or white space of student work.” Her papers, course materials and workshops have been presented at local and international teaching conferences.  

Gibson is also a visual artist with research interests in history, anthropology and African-Canadian women’s history. Her artwork questions the cultural production of knowledge and is exemplified in her recent art exhibition. A collection of physically altered histories and redacted texts, the pieces explore “the role of blackness in the writing of historical narratives.”

Her work has been exhibited across Canada and the U.S., including a recent show at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana.