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Victoria recognised in tertiary teaching awards


27 June 2006

Victoria recognised in tertiary teaching awards

Victoria University has been recognised for the seventh time in the fifth annual Tertiary Teaching Excellence Awards.

Dr Warwick Murray, Senior Lecturer in the School of Geography, Environment & Earth Sciences, received the award, worth $20,000, from the Minister for Tertiary Education, the Hon Dr Michael Cullen, at a ceremony at Parliament last night. Dr Murray is a lively Victoria academic who is renowned for singing to students to help them understand development issues.

This is the fifth year in a row that the University has featured in the awards, following wins by Dr Nick Ashill from the School of Marketing & International Business in 2002, Dr Sydney Shep from the School of Information Management in 2003, Professor John Davidson, from the School of Art History, Classics & Religious Studies, and Associate Professor Judy Brown, from the School of Accounting & Commercial Law, in 2004, and Daniel Brown, Reader in Design in the School of Design and Associate Professor Andrew Charleson, from the School of Architecture, in 2005.

Acting Vice-Chancellor, Professor David Mackay, praised Dr Murray on his success in winning the award.

“That Warwick won this award reflects the high praise he receives from students in his teaching evaluations and his reputation as a lively and stimulating teacher. His achievement was recognised in 2003 when he was awarded a Victoria University Teaching Award. He’s also a highly regarded researcher in development geography and has played a major role in the growing relationship between New Zealand and Chile, organising a significant conference about the relationship that was held at Victoria last year.

Professor Mackay said Victoria’s continued success in the awards reflected the emphasis it placed on being a University where both undergraduate and postgraduate students learnt directly from leading researchers.

“While we were ranked as one of New Zealand’s top three research-led universities in the Performance-Based Research Fund, research-led learning and teaching is just as important because it is how new knowledge is imparted to our students. It is these students who, in future years, will be New Zealand’s next generation of researchers.”

Dr Murray, who co-ordinates three courses in the School and contributes to many others, said he was overwhelmed at receiving the award.

“My view of good teaching is to respect my students, inspire them to want to learn and to provide them with the space to make their own discoveries. My approach to teaching may be somewhat different from a traditional approach, for example, I often sing to my students to get a message across, but I believe it has the effect of ‘transporting them to the field.’“

Dr Murray’s original songs usually have a Latin American feel and are used to illustrate development and geographical issues.

Dr Murray’s research centres on the social, political and economic geography of development, the globalisation of agriculture and rural development, with a particular focus on Latin America and the Pacific Islands.

Current research projects he is involved with include examining neo-liberalism and small farmers in Chile, globalisation and contract farming in Sarawak (Malaysia), and an analysis of the recent Tongan agro-export boom using grower surveys.

Since 1997, he was written or co-edited two books and co-edited two special journal editions as well as writing more than 20 journal articles and 10 book chapters and a host of working papers, monographs, referred conference proceedings and reviews. He is also editor-in-chief of Asia Pacific Viewpoint journal, published by Blackwell Publishers.

Dr Murray, who holds a PhD in Development Geography and a Bachelor of Social Sciences with first class honours in geography and economics from the University of Birmingham, joined Victoria University in 2001 from Brunel University in Britain.


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