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Royal Roads faculty honoured for outstanding teaching

October 6, 2015
Stephanie Harrington

When Dr. Eva Malisius lived in Berlin, she crossed the fallen wall that once stood as a formidable symbol of the Cold War daily to get to work.

German-born Malisius was 11 years old, living in Brussels with her family, when the Berlin Wall came down. Her father was born in Berlin, and the cultural significance of its collapse played in her imagination, her professional and academic work.

Later, when she co-founded the non-governmental organization, CSSP Berlin Centre for Integrative Mediation, Malisius used pieces of the wall in meditation processes at the local level in the Western Balkans to highlight how to overcome conflict through non-violent means.

Come full circle to her time at Royal Roads, and School of Humanitarian Studies Assistant Prof. Malisius continues to draw on her experience as a scholar-practitioner. On the 25th anniversary of the wall’s collapse, Malisius recreated fragments of the famed wall to engage her students in discussion on conflict resolution.

“In a way, conflict is a lot like walls,” Malisius says. “We put up walls to protect ourselves, but at the same time we are shutting others out.  It can be both positive and negative.”

Malisius was recently honoured with a Kelly Outstanding Teaching Award for her positive contribution to teaching excellence at Royal Roads. She was commended for her ability to create a safe collaborative learning environment, willingness to empower learners to reach their full potential and efforts to extend her mentoring role beyond the classroom.

In the classroom, Malisius uses reflective practice, team-based learning, case studies and video assignments to create a close-knit teaching and learning environment, both online and during residencies. She also brings alumni into residencies to talk about life after graduating, helping students gain a fuller picture of the field of conflict management practice.

Malisius, who has ten years of experience working in international organizations, including the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) said Royal Roads’ focus on connecting theory and practice makes it an ideal university for her.

“What inspires me most about teaching is when I see students strive in their personal and professional lives,” Malisius says. “As an educator, I am merely one of the tour guides on their journey and it’s ultimately up to each of the students to find their path.”

Dr. Gerald Kelly presented the 2015 Kelly Outstanding Teaching Awards, which were established in recognition of Kelly, the first installed President of Royal Roads who helped guide the university’s learner-centred approach and focus on the importance of teaching excellence.

Kelly praised the award recipients at a recent ceremony for their dedication to life-long learning, simultaneously expanding on their professional practice while mastering the art of teaching.

“They have a love, a relish for interaction with learners. They see themselves not as omnipotent authority, but as facilitator of learning,” Kelly said.

“They all create a learning atmosphere where it is safe, challenging and exciting for learners to explore the unknown not only about the subject area but about themselves as well.”

Leadership educator and consultant Dr. Paul Mohapel was recognized as the first recipient of the Outstanding Workshop Facilitator Award for his work with Continuing Studies and as a School of Leadership Studies associate faculty member.

Mohapel, who started his career as a neuroscientist before enrolling in Leadership Studies at Royal Roads, later completing a PhD in psychology, said Royal Roads played a seminal role in his decision to teach.

“I remember sitting in the classroom and having a profound experience of realizing what education should be,” Mohapel said. “It was that moment I changed my career and went into facilitation and teaching.”

He said he was privileged to play a positive role in his students’ lives.

“Research shows the most important thing that influences people is not the content per se, but the passion of the person delivering the content,” Mohapel said.

Marjorie Busse, Carollyne Conlinn, Alison Hendren, and Scott Richardson were recipients of the inaugural Team Teaching Award, for their work in the Graduate Certificate in Executive Coaching program.

The team impressed the judging committee with their ability to create authentic learning experiences that recognize diversity and individuality, and for their ability to foster a trusting, and fun, classroom environment. Over 11 years, the team has graduated 38 cohorts from the certificate program, 30 of which the four recipients have taught together.

“The team is grateful to have our work honoured in this way,” Richardson said.

Nominations for the 2016 Kelly Outstanding Teaching Awards open in spring.