‘Dynamic, inspiring’ professor wins OCUFA Award

The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) has announced that York faculty member Linda Briskin is a recipient of one of six 2003 OCUFA Teaching Awards.

Right: Linda Briskin 

A professor in York’s School of Women’s Studies and Division of Social Science in the Faculty of Arts, Briskin will receive the award at a prestigious ceremony on Friday June 11, at the Renaissance Toronto Hotel. She is one of six “outstanding” university professors to be named for the award this year. Attending the ceremony will be Mary Anne Chambers, Ontario minister of training, colleges and universities, who will also be speaking at the event.

OCUFA described Briskin as someone with a genuine passion for teaching that many of her colleagues have described as “contagious, dynamic and inspiring”. She is keenly attuned to the social dimensions of learning, teaching and research and has surmounted the artificial boundaries that have often separated theory from practice, said the confederation. Her courses in women’s studies have deployed an activist-based pedagogy that has successfully repositioned activism from the margins of academia to the mainstream.

Left: Mary Anne Chambers

Through many of Briskin’s innovative classroom projects, students have come to understand the inseparable links between collectivism and personal growth, and knowledge and agency. Many students have acknowledged the mentorship role she has played in their education, and how she has built a bridge for them between scholarly research and application.

As one student put it, “She is one of the single strongest influences in my professional career as an academic and as an activist…. She taught me the possibilities of using theoretical concepts to practical applications for social change.”

As he announced the award recipients, OCUFA President Michael Doucet said, “Each year OCUFA is proud to honour individual faculty members at Ontario universities who have demonstrated outstanding achievement in their respective disciplines. The teaching awards are presented to professors who inspire and inform through their teaching, course development and research. They make a difference both to their academic discipline and to the lives of their students, by offering the best they can professionally.” 

The OCUFA Teaching Awards were established in 1973 and are presented annually. OCUFA represents the province’s 12,000 university professors and academic librarians. Read about last year’s York OCUFA Award recipient, Casey Sokol, in YFile.

More about Briskin

Not only do Briskin’s students appreciate her bold leadership, but her colleagues at York University also recognize her progressiveness and her unparalleled mastery of course design, said OCUFA. Her seminal work on “Feminist Pedagogy” and “Negotiating Power in the Classroom” has inspired many instructors to become pedagogical risk takers, critically examining their own teaching methods and challenging existing practices.

Briskin’s colleagues speak of her commitment to improving university teaching and generosity in sharing her insights with other instructors across disciplines, faculties and institutions. Internationally recognized as a pioneer in collaborative teaching and learning, she has worked with many faculty members and policy makers in transforming the university curriculum.

In 1998, Briskin received the Dean’s Award for Outstanding Teaching in York University’s Faculty of Arts and in 1999 she was awarded the prestigious 3M Teaching Fellowship by 3M Canada.