Patrick Maher (2014)

Maher-webAffiliation at the time of the award: Cape Breton University, Community Studies.

Citation: “The Fraser River is an amazing connector…from small streams in the Robson Valley to the delta with the Salish Sea.” Literally and metaphorically, rivers have shaped the teaching landscape for Dr. Patrick Maher. This “teacher-scholar-learner” wants his graduating students to continue to quench their own thirst for knowledge and nourish the social and ecological communities around them.

Patrick has designed and developed field schools—vibrant learning communities in which students connect with each other as they push boundaries and confront challenge. Yet, whether in the Arctic, Haida Gwaii, or closer to home, Patrick strives to create authentic learning experiences where students make real connections and so develop a sense of “trust and wonder” to touch their hearts and open their minds, aided by the reflective learning journals that are hallmarks of his approach.

Just as water is the essence of life, Patrick Maher’s teaching philosophy channels reverence for the environment, respect for the miracle of continuous curiosity, and unrestrained affection for his students. His dossier overflows with their gratitude: “My perspective shifted. My education was no longer external to me; it was personal, internal, and finally real.”