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The University of Southampton
Geography and Environmental Science

This summer Geography academics recognised for teaching achievements

Published: 30 September 2015

Two Geography and Environment academics have been recognised for their teaching achievements with two special awards.

Professor John Dearing, Professor in Physical Geography has been granted the Mike Clark teaching award and Dr James Dyke, Lecturer of Complex Systems Simulation, has been awarded a Vice-Chancellor (VC) award.

The Mike Clark award is given annually to a member of staff in Geography and Environment and recognises innovation in the field of teaching. John received the award in recognition of his final year module in Complex Social-Ecological Systems.

He has developed the module for an undergraduate audience over the past seven years integrating a global research agenda, new systems thinking and aspects of his personal research. It explores the growing awareness that is needed to address a range of global environmental problems requiring a complex systems perspective such as food security and water management.

John has shown how these concepts may be applied to real world situations and be presented to students with little or no mathematical experience and comments: “Receiving this award means a great deal to me. It validates my goal and approach for bringing new and difficult research material to a student audience. This module challenges students to fulfil their potential.”

James was recognised for his excellent, inspirational and innovative teaching with a VC teaching award. He received the award for his innovative use of multimedia to support creative teaching methods in the development of the Global Challenges modules – the most popular Curriculum Innovation module that is offered to students across the University.

The module typically attracts 130 students from across nine academic units and delivers innovative teaching using video lectures hosted on YouTube to enable students to catch-up and pace their learning in their own time.

James, who has also developed a new MSc Sustainability programme, underway this month, said: “This award is a recognition of interdisciplinary teaching and the motivation and appetite that students have for such learning. The series of global challenges we explore in the module includes issues such as climate change, biodiversity loss and global poverty.

“If we seek to help our students become informed global citizens, then awareness and effective engagement with such topics is essential. I’m continually surprised and deeply impressed by the content produced by the students.”

James was also runner-up in the Southampton University Students’ Union (SUSU) Excellence in Teaching Awards for Innovative Teaching. The awards are nominated and voted for by the students to recognise and reward academic staff who have made a real impression on their academic experience.

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