Acadia faculty focused on excellence in education

Acadia University recently hosted its inaugural Festival of Teaching and Learning, focusing on reimagining the classroom and fostering excellence in education.  

Dr. Laura Robinson, Interim Vice-Provost, Teaching and Learning Excellence, highlighted the importance of educators always learning to achieve excellence for their students.  

"The Festival is an important touchpoint to create communities of practice, with award-winning professors and instructors sharing their expertise, ideas, and experiences with our community, said Robinson. "It is crucial for educators to remain dedicated to continuous improvement as we strive to provide the best possible learning experience for our students.” 


Festival of Teaching and Learning 2023

The conference opened in the morning with a land acknowledgement, followed by a welcome from Dr. Anna Redden, Interim Provost and Vice-President, Academic and Associate Vice-President, Research, Innovation and Graduate Studies, and introductions to the Centre for Teaching and Learning by Laura Robinson, as well as to Virtual Maple League Teaching and Learning Centre by its new Director, Dr. Juan Carlos López.

The event highlighted the innovations and teaching expertise of Acadia faculty members with sessions on topics including reimagining the classroom, engaging students as co-creators, information literacy, and future directions for teaching and learning. 

Participants had the pleasure of hearing from two guest presenters. 

The morning keynote, given by Kelly Anne Butler, Interim Director of Indigenous Engagement and Reconciliation at Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador, focused on teaching and unlearning for reconciliation in higher education. Her speech emphasized everyone's responsibility in fostering relationships within academia that contribute towards reconciliation 

The afternoon keynote address was presented by Neil Silcox, a theatre educator and former Faculty Excellence Developer in the Maple League. Silcox spoke about nurturing failure for joy, ease, and play in the classroom. During his session, Silcox provided insights into how educators can embrace trial and error in their teaching methods to enhance student learning outcomes. 

In addition to keynote presentations, Acadia professors from various fields shared their expertise on topics such as experiential learning with athletic therapy programs, incorporating student-led learning in political science courses, creating open educational resources, enhancing case-based instruction in business education, science communication using storytelling techniques, AI (Artificial Intelligence) in learning, among many others.  

Here is a complete list of the Acadia award-winning faculty members who shared their exceptional teaching activities: 

  • Britanie Wentzell, Academic Librarian 
  • Colin King, School of Kinesiology 
  • Conor Vibert, School of Business 
  • Cynthia Alexander, Department of Politics 
  • Darcy Benoit, Director of the School of Computer Science 
  • Erin Crandall, Department of Politics 
  • Ian Spooner, Director of Research, K.C. Irving Environmental Science Centre 
  • Jennifer MacDonald, Department of History and Classics 
  • Jodi L. Porter, Director of Education for Ministry Innovation, Acadia Divinity College 
  • Juan Carlos López, Department of Biology and Director, Virtual Maple League Teaching and Learning Centre 
  • Michelle Boyd, School of Music 
  • Ryan MacNeil, Rath Professor of Entrepreneurship 

The conference concluded with a roundtable discussion about future directions for Teaching and Learning at Acadia, facilitated by Vice-Provost, Teaching and Learning Excellence Dr. Lauren Finniss and featuring panelists from various disciplines.  

Participant and presenter Dr. Juan Carlos López teaches in Acadia's biology department and serves as the Director of the Teaching and Learning Centre for the Maple League of Universities.

"I am both humbled and inspired by the commitment, dedication and excitement with which teaching and learning take place at Acadia. Regardless of the discipline, our colleagues are continuously innovating and creating ways to improve the academic experience of our students," López said. "The keynote speakers also moved me. Kelly Anne Butler invited us to reflect on our role in teaching and (un)learning for reconciliation; she compelled us to not only listen, but rather act.  Neil Silcox, in turn, invited us -quite literally- to move, take risks, and fail better in our classrooms. A real festival we’ve had!"

Finniss thanked Robinson for her outstanding contribution to teaching and learning this past year, and she highlighted how this inaugural Festival of Teaching and Learning has truly showcased the exceptional teaching and faculty of Acadia. 

She added that attendees benefitted from engaging presentations and collaborative discussions among peers, embodying Robinson's words about the importance of continual learning for educators in pursuing excellence for their students. 


Acadia University takes great pride in its commitment to quality teaching and fostering student learning. Under the guidance of the Vice-Provost for Teaching and Learning Excellence, the Centre for Teaching and Learning assists faculty members in improving and expanding their courses, regardless of the format or location. The centre facilitates and recognizes faculty achievements in teaching innovation and excellence while promoting professional growth through various programs and workshops. Services offered include assistance in assignment or quiz revision, course redesign, crafting a teaching philosophy, developing a teaching dossier, implementing universal design for learning, utilizing Moodle effectively, and much more - all to provide comprehensive support for faculty members.


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