The Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies has won the UG’s brand new Best Practice in Teaching & Learning Award . The Faculty received this prestigious award for their blended learning curriculum with preparatory podcasts and real-life discussions that are part of the bachelor’s course Climate Change, End Times, and Sustainable Futures.
The Best Practice Award is the successor of the former annual Lecturer of the Year Award. On 8 April, the last day of the UG’s Education Festival 2022 , the winner was announced. ‘I'm just so proud of this award,’ says Dr Erin Wilson , lecturer and coordinator of this course. ‘The course The End of the World as We Know It? Climate Change, End Times, and Sustainable Futures was a real passion project for me. I knew our students appreciated it from the reactions we got from them in course evaluations. And also at the end of the course, our students gave all of us a note (see picture) and a box of vegan chocolates! But to have the course recognised by a jury of peers, educators and students is just the icing on the cake.’
‘We are very surprised and honoured with the award,’ PhD-candidate Linde Draaisma comments. As Erin Wilson’s research and teaching assistant she has been closely involved in the development of the course and she co-produced the podcast: ‘In the first year we offered this course (2020/2021) we could only provide online teaching, and we noticed that only about one-third of the students were participating in the live online lectures, but many would listen to or watch the recordings afterwards. For the second run of the course, Erin came up with the idea of creating a podcast series, so that we could continue working with guest lecturers and students would get a break from sitting behind their computers. We interviewed anthropologists, archaeologists, sociologists, political scientists, historians, philosophers and religious studies scholars, so that students would be able to study the themes from all kinds of perspectives. We wanted students to be inspired by the lectures, but also to have a space where students (and we!) could talk about their anxieties, frustrations and hopes about climate change.’
In order to compete for the Best Practice Award, each faculty of the University of Groningen was invited to send in one of their best practices. The Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies won the prestigious award for their combination of preparatory podcasts and face-to-face discussion groups at the Faculty that are part of the 3rd-year bachelor’s course on climate change. Draaisma: ‘This new award is all about sharing experience and knowledge and celebrates the whole team. Erin developed this course in 2020 together with Prof. Dr. Susanne Luther. This year, Dr Tina Otten was part of the lecturer’s team – without her we would not have been able to run small-group tutorials for so many students: more than 120! – and Henk van Putten (IT, Web, and Education Coordinator) took care of the lesson schedules and made it logistically possible for us to facilitate six small student groups, twice a week.’
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Dr. Erin Wilson is proud and happy that the course proved to be such a success: ‘I wanted to create a course where students could voice and explore the anxieties they have around climate change; learn about different religious, philosophical and political worldviews that shape how people and communities around the world understand the relationship between humanity and nature and how that ,in turn, shapes their responses to climate change; apply that knowledge to challenges like climate conflicts, refugees, loss of indigenous lands and heritage and how we generate hope and mobilise action, in ourselves and others. Honestly, these students give me hope. What an inspirational group of people. I’m looking forward to teaching this course again, for the third time, this September!’
>> Read more about the Best Practice in Teaching & Learning Award 2022 and the jury report.
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