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2021 UCL Education Awards go to Geography staff

Outstanding responses during the pandemic

2021 UCL Education Awards go to Geography staff

In the 2021 UCL Students’ Union Education Awards, UCL Geography’s Professor Carl Sayer has received a Provost Education Award for his outstanding response to teaching during the pandemic. This included, “innovative video-based field class learning that enabled him to teach students locked down all over the world about flora and fauna of Norfolk and Dorset”.

The citation notes that Carl is renowned in the department for his commitment to students, demonstrated during his recent period as Departmental Undergraduate Tutor and in responding to the challenges faced during the pandemic. It explains:

When confronted by the reality of Connected Learning and the ongoing rolling lockdowns, Carl turned despair into productive innovation that not only salvaged the year for students but also was an inspiration to others in the department who replicated his model.

Not only does he deserve credit for the original ideas, but the style is so distinctively Carl. Who else would go camp for three days to record videos? Who else would go further and take the time and energy to insert all the jokes and field class hijinks into an asynchronous educational experience?

It is on the back of efforts like this that the Geography Department has managed its transition to Connected Learning and largely maintained its students’ goodwill during a year of Covid-19 anxiety and lockdowns”.

The award is a powerful boost for Carl and the department who have worked so imaginatively in their teaching practices over the past year.

In the Outstanding Research Supervision category, Dr David Thornalley was also runner up in the Student Choice Awards. This was the third recent year in which David has been nominated for an award, including 2015 when he received an Outstanding Teacher Award.

David studies climate change and ocean circulation during the geological past and more recently. He teaches at all levels, but is most involved in MSc courses, and is Deputy Director of the London NERC Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP).

He loves being able to share his enthusiasm for research and aims to convey to students the excitement of making new discoveries as a collaborative process. As explained by a postgraduate in the award citation: “From the moment David and I started working together as a supervisor/supervisee team, he has always treated and spoke to me like a peer.”

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Professor Carl Sayer


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