Associate Professor Ruth Fitzgerald

Award for Sustained Excellence in Tertiary Teaching

Department of Anthropology and Archaeology, University of Otago

"My teaching approach is to forge academic knowledge into tools for successful living (rather than merely facilitating good grades)." 

Ruth has been teaching all of her adult life – with the last 16 years teaching Anthropology at the University of Otago.  She shows students how to appreciate and celebrate human diversity and shows them that the future really is in their hands and they can shape it!  Her students go on to do just that by becoming diplomats and caring mental health workers, aid workers and policy analysts, teachers and doctors.    

“Dynamic, engaging, supportive, interesting, intelligent and inspiring” are some words students use to describe her.  Ruth’s engaging teaching approach and ‘life changing learning spaces’ creates an environment for students to thrive, challenge themselves and develop critical thinking skills.  “She does not molly-coddle; she is excellent at affirming ability, instilling confidence and encouraging students to take flight themselves.” 

A peer encapsulates her teaching simply, “I model much of my own teaching on the outstanding example she has set for me across the years; I can think of no better benchmark of excellence.

Video Gallery

Professor Ruth Fitzgerald - Recipient of a 2017 Ako Aotearoa Tertiary Teaching Excellence Award