The School of Architecture is thrilled to announce that Barbara Brown Wilson, Assistant Professor of Urban and Environmental Planning, is a recipient of one of this year’s UVA All-University Teaching Awards. Recognizing teaching excellence and sponsored by the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost, the honorees of this award stand out for their ability to transform the lives of their students. Barbara exemplifies this ability to be transformational as her work goes well beyond the classroom, significantly influencing the trajectories of her students’ lives.
Chair of the Urban and Environmental Planning Department, Ellen Bassett, describes, “Her impact upon her students is notable because it is not merely intellectual - exposure to new ideas, grappling with challenging topics, and fostering better critical thinking - it is also activist. She inspires her students to become change agents - to go out and engage with the world in a way that is self-critical, self-reflective, and humble. She sees the classroom as a place to engage with very difficult issues of difference and social inequality; students enrolled in her classes, in turn, meet with, listen to and work with some of our most vulnerable community members in order to make their voices heard in processes of growth, development and economic investment. The university is a better place for having her as a faculty member and Charlottesville is a better community for having such an engaged scholar in its midst, engaged with its very pressing issues.”
Students and colleagues alike commend Barbara for her passion and creativity as a teacher and her ability to serve as a role model for those around her. Professor Tim Beatley expands on Barbara’s character: “She is rare individual who brings immense intelligence, strong leadership qualities - including leading by example - and a strong sense of caring and connection to the students in her charge.”
Barbara’s considerable achievements as a scholar, securing nearly $400,000 research funding in the past three years, and completing her soon-to-be-released publication, Resilience for All: Striving for Equity Through Community-Driven Design (Island Press, 2018), to name a few, only further support her strengths in the classroom. Barbara’s research is fully connected to her teaching; her research funding supports course initiatives and expands on teaching methodologies centered on community engagement. Her exceptional scholarship has made her a thought leader in the field of community-engaged design. As a passionate educator, these successes have directly enhanced the student experience within her classes, which include a diverse student population. In her own teaching statement, Barbara writes, “I aim to empower students to use their critical thinking skills to become more reflective practitioners and to creatively solve problems by collaborating across disciplinary silos around shared interests. The elective seminars I teach often include students from up to 16 different degree programs, providing an opportunity for students to practice speaking in translatable and accessible language that inspires change.”
Barbara’s own students are among the strongest of her advocates and the most thankful for her commitment to their educations. PhD candidate, Julia Triman says, “Professor Wilson is an admirable mix of professional and personable; she exudes confidence and expertise, but at the same time is in touch with her students’ lives and experiences as individuals. She is clear in her expectations, expects and encourages excellence, and is flexible and creates unique opportunities to expand student learning.” Undergraduate Margaret Haltom (Political and Social Thought, ’18) describes simply and eloquently, “Regardless of whether they have any background in design or planning, [students] will be changed by her work…Barbara has inspired me….I am honored to have [her] as my mentor, role model and friend.”
The School of Architecture congratulates Barbara on this well-deserved award!
Read more about all of the 2018 teaching award recipients in UVA Today's article, Teaching Tips from 13 of UVA's Finest.