Dr Heather Purdie

Award for Sustained Excellence in Tertiary Teaching

Senior lecturer – Department of Geography, University of Canterbury 

“To really care for our environment we not only need to understand it, but also feel connected to it. ‘Bringing the outside in’ is one way in which I foster that connection…”

Passionate about geography, fascinated by glaciers and inspired by her father’s footsteps, Heather’s teaching approach uses pūrākau or storytelling and experiential learning, bringing the outside in and connecting students to the environment. She embeds sound and innovative pedagogical practice into her teaching through her use of the real field and her reimagining of the field in the classroom – by bringing the outdoors in. Heather demonstrates a dynamic, engaging and student-centred approach to teaching. Her students testify to this, “You could really tell she is passionate about geography… it rubs off on you and pushes you to want to know more.”

Her commitment to integrating Te Reo Māori and Te Ao Māori in her teaching practice is particularly commendable. She has been recognised for her outstanding contribution to teaching over a number of years and she has sought opportunities to use her expertise to enhance the quality of teaching in her Faculty and beyond. A colleague describes her as “one of the most stimulating teaching partners that I encountered in 40 years of undergraduate teaching.”

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Dr Heather Purdie – Recipient of a 2019 Tertiary Teaching Excellence Award