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Outdoor educator wins national award

24 Feb 2022

A University of the Sunshine Coast academic’s mission to transform the way people interact with the natural environment has earned him a prestigious national teaching award.

Dr Glyn Thomas, a Senior Lecturer in Outdoor and Environmental Education at USC Moreton Bay, yesterday won an Australian Award for University Teaching 2021.

The awards are announced annually by peak body Universities Australia, with 39 member universities across the nation.

Dr Thomas is a researcher and teacher of 22 years whose USC students have gone on to work at all levels of the outdoor education sector.

“There has never been a stronger need for educators who can transform the way we live on our planet, as environmental issues increase worldwide,” he said. “This award validates my focus on this challenge.

“My goal is to develop participants’ understanding of themselves, others and the natural world by facilitating authentic, positive learning experiences in the outdoors.”

He received a Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning, for “excellence in scholarship that informs the design of innovative outdoor education curriculum and the facilitation of engaging, experiential pedagogies that promote authentic student learning”.

USC Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) Professor Tim Wess commended the commitment and excellence of teaching staff such as Dr Thomas.

“USC’s consistent five-star rating for teaching quality from the independent Good Universities Guide is attributed to the dedication of staff who are providing innovative, learning-centred experiences for students,” he said.

It comes three months after Dr Thomas received an inaugural Fellowship of Outdoor Education Australia (OEA) – the organisation’s highest honour.

The former physical education teacher became an academic after seeing the impact that outdoor education could have on people.

“I saw teaching at university level as a way of maximising my impact,” he said. “I’m now preparing outdoor educators who can go on to teach much larger numbers of students.”

The Petrie-based academic has published more than 40 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters and served in volunteer leadership roles with organisations in the sector.

USC offers a Bachelor of Recreation and Outdoor Environmental Studies, which can also be studied as a double degree with a Bachelor of Education (Secondary). Information is available on how to study at USC.

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