‘Each of you is a gift to the world,’ award-winning teacher Bourgeois tells grads

There are few things that Robyn Bourgeois loves more in this world than teaching. And it shows.

Bourgeois, Assistant Professor in the Centre for Women and Gender Studies, was presented with the 2019 Faculty of Social Sciences Award for Excellence in Teaching during Tuesday morning’s Spring Convocation ceremony.

Bourgeois, Assistant Professor in the Centre for Women and Gender Studies.

While introducing Bourgeois, Social Sciences Dean Ingrid Makus called her an accomplished researcher, author, scholar and gifted teacher.

“She has made an outstanding contribution to teaching and learning at Brock University through the development of unique courses that combine feminist pedagogy and Indigenous content,” said Makus.

Bourgeois, whose Cree name means Laughing Otter Caring Woman, began her Convocation address by urging graduates to take time for gratitude every day as “an important way to honour the folks who have been part of your academic journey.”

She acknowledged the hard work that graduates had done to get to this stage of their academic careers — years of studying, taking anxiety-inducing exams, navigating group assignments, deciphering professors’ demands — and reminded them that, for marginalized students, that hard work is amplified.

“I see you, and I am so proud of you,” Bourgeois said, giving a shout-out to first-generation, immigrant and refugee students, those with disabilities or mental health issues, and students marginalized for their racial identity or sexual orientation.

But, she said, “knowledge is useless unless it leads to direct action.” She challenged all new graduates to join her in moving from activism to ‘actionism.’

In the face of unprecedented environmental threats, Bourgeois said today’s graduates will need to become the leaders. She urged them to take the knowledge and skills they learned at Brock to “go out into the world and take action.”

Associate Professor Chris Fullerton from the Department of Geography and Tourism Studies delivered the afternoon Convocation address.

Bourgeois shares the Faculty of Social Sciences Award for Excellence in Teaching with her co-recipient, Associate Professor Chris Fullerton from the Department of Geography and Tourism Studies, who delivered the afternoon Convocation address Tuesday.

The award selection committee made the rare decision to recognize two nominees this year whose teaching excellence uniquely contributes to the transformative student experience offered by the Faculty, Makus explained.

Makus called Fullerton an experienced teacher, mentor and supervisor whose novel courses provide flexibility and experiential opportunities that exemplify “Brock’s commitment to a kind of teaching that takes students out into the wider community.”

Fullerton has taught courses at all levels, including a large first-year course, and mentored a number of graduate students. He is committed to helping his students “build the strongest skill sets possible as they move through their studies, especially by sharing with them my passion for Geography and Tourism and by providing them with ample opportunities to engage in experiential learning,” he said.

New graduate Glen MacFarlane, who earned his BA in Geography this year, described Fullerton as “a dedicated mentor.”

“In addition to his interactive and practical teaching style inside the classroom, he makes it easy for students to build working relationships with him outside the classroom. His work beyond the lecture hall is what drives student success and what makes Chris so special.”

Both Bourgeois and Fullerton acknowledged the importance of the special teachers and students they’ve encountered throughout their lives for inspiring their own love of teaching.

“I’m very flattered and excited to have won this award as it confirms for me that I’m on the right track as I continue to evolve professionally as a university teacher,” he said.

Fullerton shared two pieces of advice with this year’s graduates: “Discover and follow your passion,” he said, and “Use your skills and knowledge to help make the world a better place.”

REPLAY: Faculty of Social Sciences, 10 a.m. Ceremony

REPLAY: Faculty of Social Sciences, 2:30 p.m. Ceremony

Brock’s 105th Convocation continues in Ian Beddis Gymnasium each day this week. The remaining schedule includes:

Faculty of Education, Wednesday, 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.

Goodman School of Business, Thursday, 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.

Faculty of Mathematics and Science, Friday, 10 a.m.

Faculty of Humanities, Friday, 10 a.m.

All of the Convocation ceremonies are free to attend and no tickets are required. Parking is free for guests throughout the week. Free Wi-Fi is also being provided to guests throughout Convocation week. The BrockEvents Wi-fi network can be accessed using the username: BROCKGRAD and password: welcome2brock!

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