Michel Desjardins (2001)

desjardinsAffiliation at the time of the award: Wilfred Laurier University, Religion and Culture.

Citation: According to the President of his university, “Professor Desjardins is a brilliant teacher with a cross-campus reputation for outstanding performance in the classroom and beyond. His teaching evaluation scores are consistently among the highest in the university. Student feedback is universally and intensely positive.”

Michel Desjardins is an innovative, startlingly successful classroom teacher and student mentor. He has played an important role in the development of pedagogy in his field, and has a reputation throughout North America as an authority on post-secondary teaching practices in Religious Studies. A colleague at another university declares that he has that “rare combination of natural scholarly gifts and immense human sensitivity, which accounts, I suspect, for his being so widely recognized as a teacher of impeccable honesty who verges on the brilliant in the classroom.”

He has fostered linkages amongst scholars and has raised awareness of teaching in national and international venues. He was the co-organizer and coordinator of the American Academy of Religion syllabi project which has been described as “one of the most significant endeavors that the American Academy of Religion has done in regards to teaching in the last five years.” Within Canada he has filled important positions in the Canadian Corporation for the Study of Religion, the Canadian Society for Biblical Studies, and the Canadian Society for Patristic Studies.

In his teaching, Michel strives for his students to have “ownership” of the classes. As one of his students writes “… one does not simply take one of his courses, or the sense of passively sitting in lectures; rather one participates fully (or at least has every opportunity to do so).” Michel excels in his teaching by challenging students to take positive and creative hold of their own education. It is not a great surprise then that Dr. Desjardins has won well deserved teaching awards at two Canadian universities!