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Becoming a Golden Hawk means more than just cheering on our (really good) varsity teams – it means being a student who cares about your community, who works hard in the classroom, and who takes advantage of all the learning opportunities that can happen outside the classroom, too.

Sept. 16, 2015

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At Laurier, we put a strong emphasis on the student experience.

Carol B. Duncan, professor and chair of the Department of Religion and Culture, exemplifies our commitment to creating an outstanding learning environment that engages students in their studies.

Duncan was awarded a 2014 3M National Teaching Fellowship to honour her dedication, engagement and passion for teaching. The fellowship recognizes both teaching excellence and educational leadership, an achievement awarded to only 10 faculty members across the country each year.

“These are the teachers who open windows and change lives… champions we want to learn from,” says 3M fellow and society president, Arshad Ahmad.

Students are learning far more than subject matter from Duncan. Teaching about the African diaspora, religion, post-colonial thought, and social change, Duncan presents controversial issues that go beyond course content to challenge personal beliefs and societal assumptions. Rather than shy away from a difficult conversation, Duncan encourages her students to fully engage in the dialogue. By doing so, Duncan’s students develop stronger communication skills – something that is just as important as understanding the course content.

“The course topics are the fuel that drives this focus on engaged students as listeners, speakers, writers and researchers,” Duncan says. “In my courses, students are required to apply thoughtful analysis to controversy. These skills are applicable to a variety of situations in the classroom and beyond.”

Duncan celebrates the "personal narrative" as a genre to further learning on religion and culture. Regular guest speakers from various faiths and disciplines can be found in her classes, providing students with the opportunity to listen critically and ask difficult questions.

“What I aim to teach students are the valuable skills of self-learning, research, collaboration and effective communication, in addition to the subject matter of the course,” she says. “There is a need to for students to learn how to ask and engage in the ‘tough’ questions.”

Duncan has been widely recognized for her teaching excellence. In addition to her 3M fellowship, she has been named a Laurier Faculty of Arts Teaching Scholar (2004). She has also received a Laurier Faculty Award for Teaching Excellence (2004) and an Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) Teaching Award (2006). 


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