Sara Harris—a 2015 3M National Teaching Fellow and professor of teaching at UBC—has been appointed Associate Dean Academic, effective September 1, 2017.
"Sara is one of Canada's very best teachers, and has been an outstanding educational leader at UBC," said Dean Simon Peacock in making the announcement. "She’s been deeply involved in leading the Faculty’s large-scale, evidence-based education initiatives. I'm very pleased to have her joining the dean's office leadership team, and to maintaining the momentum we’ve built in transforming science education at UBC."
Harris has played a pivotal role in improving undergraduate science education in UBC's department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, where more than 40 courses are now taught using research-based, effective teaching methods. For the past decade, she has chaired the department’s teaching initiatives committee and has served as the department’s associate head for undergraduate affairs for the past year.
"The Dean’s office has been very supportive of improving student learning in science," said Harris. "I’m excited to have this opportunity to connect with people across the Faculty and university to continue that work."
Much of Harris' educational research focuses on how people evaluate evidence and learn about climate science. In 2015, she was honored with a 3M National Teaching Fellowship for her work with the Carl Wieman Science Education Initiative, and for developing an online course looking at the science behind climate change, and potential policy responses to the global issue.
Together with UBC colleague Sarah Burch (now with the University of Waterloo), Harris designed and taught Climate Literacy: Navigating Climate Change Conversations, one of four Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) the university piloted in 2013. She now offers the science part of the MOOC as Climate Change: The Science on edX.org (UBCx). Harris joined UBC in 2005, was recognized with a UBC Killam Teaching award in 2011, and was appointed a professor of teaching in 2015.
She served as a chief scientist at Sea Education Association, in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, and earned a PhD in geological oceanography in 1998 at Oregon State University. Harris will transition into the role of AD Academic through January 2018. Ian Cavers—UBC Science’s Associate Dean Academic since 2001—will assume the role of Associate Dean, Students portfolio in January 2018.