Campus Life

Archaeology professor, Dr. Shawn Bubel, recognized as 2020 Distinguished Teaching Award winner

Employing a philosophy of teaching students on their terms, Dr. Shawn Bubel (BSc ’96) has found a way to bring out the best in her students, igniting a passion for archaeology and an even broader desire for lifelong learning.

Dr. Shawn Bubel’s career path is testament to the University’s liberal education focus.

An archaeology professor in the University of Lethbridge’s Department of Geography and Environment, Bubel is the winner of the 2020 Distinguished Teaching Award. She is being honoured as part of this year’s Fall 2020 Convocation celebration.

Bubel’s career path is testament to the University’s liberal education focus because it was during her undergraduate years at the U of L where Bubel, initially a chemistry major, changed her degree path to explore archaeology through an individualized multidisciplinary major. Her master’s and PhD studies took her to Belgium and the experiences from which she flourished have been incorporated into her teaching today.

A believer in a well-rounded method of course delivery, Bubel employs traditional in-class techniques of lecture, assignments, papers, presentations and peer-to-peer learning, and enhances the student experience with a keen focus on experiential learning. Having lived it through her own educational journey, she understands that students who are fully immersed in the methods or material being taught embark on their own path of discovery.

The highlight of her classes are field schools at archaeological dig sites, her ultimate experiential learning opportunity. There, Bubel allows her students to fully immerse themselves in field and laboratory research. And while they learn every aspect of the archaeological experience, from the mundane to the extraordinary, they also learn about themselves.

Bubel understands her students learn in different ways and bring different sensibilities to her class, which she strives to meet by creating a safe, inclusive and supportive classroom environment. She respects and values their participation in classroom discussions and uses these opportunities to both teach her students and learn from their questions and comments.

By creating a safe place for expression, she invokes a greater understanding of the liberal arts philosophy and the multidisciplinary nature of archaeology. In the end, it enhances her ability to help students find their voice as critical thinkers who are able to problem solve, explore new ideas and push boundaries. She sees learning as a lifelong pursuit, and in addition to teaching discipline specific material, gives students the tools to navigate and succeed regardless of the career path they choose.

Bubel’s infectious enthusiasm for her craft extends to the greater community, where she frequently engages in outreach initiatives. She is equally comfortable introducing the concepts of archaeology, paleontology and geology to K-12 students as she is in a broader public forum — always eager to inspire and promote curiosity.

The Distinguished Teaching Award was established in 1987 to recognize the importance of teaching to the philosophy and goals of the University.