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Distinguished Scholars Program

The MacPherson Institute Distinguished Scholars are eminent pedagogical researchers from McMaster and beyond, who work with the institute to advance our research mission. They encourage and mentor junior scholars, offer seminars and support for research, and collaborate on projects connected to our priority research areas. Our Distinguished Scholars are:

Expandable List

Louise McDonald is a condoled Bear Clan Mother for the Mohawk Nation Council. She is a trusted advisor for families and community youth, and works closely with them in their homes and schools. She bestows traditional names in the longhouse, and provides spiritual counsel for all those seeking support.

Through her work as a matrilineal leader and as a mother, she is a founding member of Konon:kwe Council, a circle of Mohawk women working to reconstruct the power of our origins through education, empowerment and trauma-informed approaches. Louise champions the philosophy of Kahnistensera, “Mother Law.” Kahnistensera is a natural law that binds our Onkwehon:we kinship society. She is also the lead conductor of the Moon Lodge Society, convening women and girls on a monthly basis in line with the full moon cycle. Louise is the principal organizer and leader of Ohero:kon (“Under the Husk”), a traditional Rite of Passage ceremony for Mohawk youth. Since 2005, she has guided hundreds of community families and volunteers through self-reflection and Haudenosaunee cultural instruction and ceremony. She has also presented at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, and lectures regularly at universities throughout Canada and the United States on Haudenosaunee philosophies and self-determination in regards to women.

Henry A. Giroux is currently a Chair for Scholarship in the Public Interest, a Professor in the Department of English and Cultural Studies, and the Director of the McMaster Centre for Scholarship in the Public Interest at McMaster University. He also holds a Distinguished Visiting Professorship at Ryerson University.

Over the past thirty years, Henry has been credited with pioneering the field of critical pedagogy, articulating throughout his archive a vision of education as a political, moral, and ethical practice. From groundbreaking texts including Theory and Resistance in Education (Bergin and Garvey, 1983) to Neoliberalism’s War Against Higher Education (Haymarket Press, 2014), Henry’s lifetime of work has continually asked educators to reconsider how they teach, under what conditions they teach, and for what purpose, emphasizing crucial intersections between the role of education in schools and universities with that of public life. In the field of critical pedagogy, his research advocates centrally for the need to mobilize learners and knowledge towards matters of democracy, social justice, agency, politics, power, culture, and community.

Torgny Roxa and Arshad Ahmad with award Torgny Roxå has been an academic developer for 27 years and as such supported academic teachers in their endeavour of improving student learning. He has established Lund University Faculty of engineering as a national and international example of how to enhance teaching strategically. He has done this together with colleagues who also believe that academic values should (and must) guide the improvement of academic teaching. This work has awarded him the title Excellent Teaching Practitioner within the Faculty of engineering and the Lund University award for distinguished pedagogical achievements.

His research aims at improving our understanding of higher education organizations so that initiatives to improve do not lead to unintended side effects with subsequent decrease in quality and possible destruction of vital values. His perspective focus on how academic teachers understand the day-to-day reality they live in. It takes a disciplinary approach, but also a cultural approach. Academic teaching will only improve if academic teachers decide to change something, and they will only do that if they find it more meaningful.

Torgny has a master degree from Griffith University in Australia and a PhD from Lund University. He has served as external examiner at Oxford University and is currently a visiting professor at Ulster University. He serves at advisory boards on academic development and has been the plenary speaker in many international events. He is a former vice president Europe in the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. His most current project deals with: Academic teachers experience of power and ‘bossy’ leaders.

Geoff Norman is a professor emeritus of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics here at McMaster and was previously the Canada Research Chair in Cognitive Dimensions of Clinical Expertise. He holds advanced degrees in physics, nuclear physics and educational psychology, but his primary research focus has been on expert diagnostic reasoning – maybe I’d better translate that! His research focus has been on how clinicians arrive at a diagnosis. His research has revealed that experts use two kinds of knowledge to reach a diagnosis – the formal analytical knowledge of signs, symptoms and physiological mechanisms, along with experiential knowledge based on all of the patients the clinicians have encountered. Geoff has built on this research to explore the various ways medical students learn.

He has contributed to the theoretical foundation of problem-based learning, McMaster’s signature learning style, and he is currently working on high-fidelity simulations in clinical learning. He has also been involved in student assessment, and has developed and validated a number in innovative assessment methods. These advances in particular align perfectly with our mission here today at the symposium. Geoff has won a bag full of awards and deservedly so. He has received the Hubbard Award from the National Board of Medical Examiners, the Award of Excellence of the Canadian Association for Medical Education, the Distinguished Scholar Award of the American Educational Research Association, and the Award for Outstanding Achievement of the Medical Council of Canada. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and received the prestigious Karolinska Prize for lifetime achievement in medical education research. Geoff’s latest honour is The Campbell Distinguished Scholar in Cognitive Science and Education. This title of Distinguished Scholar is a position Geoff assumes in formally working with the MacPherson Institute.

Mick is a Higher Education Consultant and Researcher. He is an Emeritus Professor from the University of Gloucestershire, UK. He holds several other appointments including Visiting Professor at University College London; Adjunct Professor at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia; International Teaching Fellow at University College Cork in Ireland; and Visiting Fellow at University of Queensland, Australia; as well as an Accreditor and Consultant for the Higher Education Academy in the UK.

Mick is a geographer by training and until 2010 was Professor of Geography at the University of Gloucestershire. He has written and edited over 180 papers, chapters, books and guides on various aspects of teaching and learning in higher education. His particular interests include research-based learning, scholarship of teaching, developing an inclusive curriculum and students as partners and change agents. Mick is an experienced presenter. Since 1995 he has given over 500 educational workshops, seminars, keynotes and conference presentations in twenty different countries. He has visited McMaster seven times in the last decade.

In 2000 he was awarded a UK National Teaching Fellowship in the first round. He has twice been awarded the Journal of Geography in Higher Education Biennial Award for Promoting Excellence in Teaching and Learning (2003 and 2007). In 2004 the Council of the Royal Geographical Society conferred on him the Taylor and Francis Award for ‘contributions to the promotion of learning and teaching in higher education’. In 2012 he was one of the first 10 people to be awarded a Principal Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy and in 2013 he was awarded a SEDA@20 Legacy Award for Disciplinary Development.
Mick’s latest honour recognizes him as one of MacPherson Institute’s four Distinguished Scholars with the title ‘The Humboldt Distinguished Scholar in Research-Based Learning. He has been instrumental in conceptualizing and guiding our Student Partnership Program that today has over 50 mostly undergraduate students partnering with faculty as student scholars and partners in various research based teaching and learning activities.

Dr. Barbara Oakley is a Professor of Engineering at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan; a Visiting Scholar at the University of California, San Diego; and Coursera’s inaugural “Innovation Instructor.” Her work focuses on the complex relationship between neuroscience and social behavior. Dr. Oakley’s research has been described as “revolutionary” in the Wall Street Journal—she has published in outlets as varied as the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times. She has won numerous teaching awards, including the American Society of Engineering Education’s Chester F. Carlson Award for technical innovation in engineering education. Together with Terrence Sejnowski, the Francis Crick Professor at the Salk Institute, she co-teaches Coursera – UC San Diego’s “Learning How to Learn,” the world’s most popular massive open online course. Her book A Mind for Numbers: How to Excel at Math and Science (Even If You Flunked Algebra), (Penguin, 2014) is a New York Times best-selling science book.

Dr. Oakley has adventured widely through her lifetime. She rose from the ranks of Private to Captain in the U.S. Army, during which time she was recognized as a Distinguished Military Scholar. She also worked as a communications expert at the South Pole Station in Antarctica, and has served as a Russian translator on board Soviet trawlers on the Bering Sea. Dr. Oakley is an elected Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering.