Dirk De Clercq doesn’t just want his students to learn from him. He wants them to learn from each other too.
The Brock University Professor of Management strives to create an environment where everyone feels comfortable contributing by structuring his lessons to encourage conversations.
His approach to teaching, which has garnered praise from students, saw De Clercq honoured with this year’s Goodman School of Business Award for Excellence in Teaching. The award was presented during Brock’s 113th Convocation ceremony on Tuesday, June 13.
The numerous student testimonials supporting his nomination for the award highlighted his humility, sense of humour and focus on critical thinking and student participation.
“I am very grateful to receive this award and for having had the opportunity to teach on a variety of topics which I am passionate about,” says De Clercq, who is also known for his prolific research record.
Since joining Brock in 2005, De Clercq has taught in the areas of entrepreneurship and research methodology.
De Clercq intentionally integrates his extensive research into his teaching, providing students with opportunities to combine academic rigour with practical knowledge.
“In the classroom, I am excited to share my expertise as well as to learn from students’ own experiences — and students appear to appreciate this approach,” he says. “What I enjoy most about teaching is making students more knowledgeable and watching them build confidence as they learn. When at the end of the semester students showcase how they have grown intellectually and personally, this tells me I may have made a small difference.”
As more students come to Brock from across Canada and around the world, De Clercq also embraces the chance to make connections by using relatable material and encouraging students to discuss successful companies in their home communities.
“In some instances, I will have students reflect on the type of company we are studying and if it would work where they are from. What might they change due to cultural or regulation differences to have an impact?” he says.
For De Clercq, helping students apply their learning to real-world contexts includes setting them up for success in the workplace.
“Tenacity is important in many circumstances in life,” says De Clercq. “By preparing our students to be tenacious, they learn to embrace important skills that will help them overcome difficulties in their future careers.”
Working with Brock colleagues, De Clercq has helped build a portfolio of entrepreneurship and research methodology courses for Goodman that prepare students for different career paths, from pursuing further education or research roles to starting their own ventures or taking on roles that may require them to find entrepreneurial solutions to day-to-day problems.
“The ability Dr. De Clercq has to combine the pursuit of new knowledge with the ability to inspire and transform lives through teaching at such a high level is an inspiring example for his peers,” says Barry Wright, Dean of the Goodman School of Business. “His passion is evident in the classroom, bridging the gap between theory and practice and equipping his students with the latest insights.”
Among his many accomplishments, De Clercq was recently awarded Brock University’s Award for Distinguished Research and Creative Activity. He is also a past recipient of the Brock University Chancellor’s Chair for Research Excellence Award, the Goodman School of Business Distinguished Scholar Award, the Departmental Researcher of the Year Award, the Faculty of Graduate Studies Graduate Mentorship Award and the student-voted Beta Gamma Sigma Professor of the Year Award.
De Clercq holds a PhD in business administration from the University of Minnesota, as well as a master’s degree in general management and bachelor’s and master’s degrees in engineering from Ghent University in Belgium.