Distinguished Teaching Award to Julie Shayne

By Lisa Craze
Julie Shayne’s teaching philosophy is shaped by her commitment to social justice and deep care for her students. She puts that philosophy into practice both inside and outside the classroom. In recognition of this work, Shayne has been named the recipient of the University of Washington Bothell’s 2019 UW Distinguished Teaching Award.

Created in 1995, the award — which includes a $5,000 honorarium — is based on numerous criteria, including the ability to engage students, leading students to academic and personal success, deepening multicultural understanding, an enthusiasm for and mastery of her subject matters, and innovation in the teaching and learning process.

“Since joining the UW Bothell faculty, Julie has consistently proven herself to be an outstanding and successful teacher, mentor and colleague,” said Chancellor Wolf Yeigh. “In 2016 she was one of the first two recipients of the new Distinguished Undergraduate Research & Creative Practice Mentor Award, demonstrating her exemplary work not only in the classroom but also in the field.”

Student-centered approach

A senior lecturer in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences, Shayne began teaching at UW Bothell in 2007. She also currently serves as faculty coordinator for Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies.

When the chancellor told Shayne she was chosen for the award, she was thrilled. “My teaching means so much to me,” she said. “Years ago, when I found out this award existed, it’s been my aspiration ever since to receive it.”

She also said she was truly honored to win because there are so many “amazing teachers at UW Bothell. “I love working in a place where teaching is so creative and innovative.”

In making their recommendation for the award, the selection committee members cited a number of nominations, including this one from a former student: “Professor Shayne has been a main contributor to my success on campus and a continued source of inspiration and support. I partially credit her for motivating me to stay enrolled throughout my undergraduate program during two instances where I seriously contemplated dropping out.”

The committee found that such a profoundly student-centered approach is characteristic of Shayne and that she has a sustained record of fostering the learning and growth of all her students.

Shayne believes her students appreciate that she structures her classes around discussions. They discuss the material in class and then write about it outside of class.

“I believe that articulating their thoughts out loud helps them see if they understand the material, builds their confidence and ideally helps them become stronger writers,” she said.

Freedom to innovate

“One of the things I tell new faculty is be careful,” she said. “You’re going to have an idea that is really fun, and nobody will stop you. They’ll let you run with it. On the down side, new ideas are really time consuming.”

One idea Shayne ran with is the Feminist Community Archive of Washington, which she co-founded with several UW Bothell colleagues: Dave Ellenwood and Denise Hattwig, both librarians; and Kara Adams, director of community engagement. The collection documents and preserves the history and work of feminist social justice organizations in the Puget Sound region. Students contributed to the project by collecting documents and compiling interviews, oral histories, photos and other materials that make up the archive.

Another idea she had was inspiration for a new class she teaches titled “Rad Womxn in the Global South.” It features current and contemporary writings that examine the ways women experience and rise above misogyny in Latin America, Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

In the class, Shayne’s students explore topics such as how women have advanced human rights movements and other types of activism by challenging and manipulating gender norms. Students study everything from mothers who have protested dictatorships and war in Argentina and Liberia to women engaged in climate justice in South Asia to the global SlutWalk campaign.

They also study and write about the #MeToo movement riding a new wave of feminism in India and how women in India are working to claim public space through the #whyloiter campaign.

Real-world experiences

For the first time, Shayne is also experimenting with her students to create a zine — a small circulation publication — titled “Bad Ass Womxn, Femmes, and Enbies in the Pacific Northwest.”

The idea, she says, is for students to learn to research and document the history of an unsung shero/theyro.

Shayne says she gets excited by the freedom she has to explore new ideas and possibilities in education.

“When I hear what my colleagues are teaching, I wish I could take all their classes,” she said. “It’s really fun to be in a place that’s so interdisciplinary, where you are constantly learning new things.”

The Distinguished Teaching Award is among 15 awards of excellence presented by the University of Washington. Recipients of all awards will be honored at a ceremony on June 13 at Meany Hall on the Seattle campus. In addition, Shayne will be recognized at the UW Bothell commencement ceremony on June 16 at T-Mobile Park.

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