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BILT Academic Fellow Dr Norman named National Teaching Fellow

4 August 2020

Dr James Norman, Associate Professor in Sustainable Design, has been named a National Teaching Fellow by Advance HE.

Dr James Norman, Associate Professor in Sustainable Design, has been named a National Teaching Fellow. The awards, announced on 6 August by Advance HE, are the most prestigious available to teachers in UK higher education and recognise individuals who have made an outstanding impact on student outcomes and the teaching profession.

Following an award-winning career as an engineer and building designer, Dr Norman joined Bristol in 2015. He is a dynamic and innovative teacher whose students comment on his ‘incredibly inspiring teaching’ and say that he ‘makes us much more engaged’. His enthusiasm is infectious and it is no wonder that his students awarded him a University of Bristol Teaching Award for Outstanding Teaching.

Dr Norman's focus is on putting environmental sustainability at the heart of the civil engineering degree and challenging students to think about creative solutions to the climate emergency. He is an innovative teacher whose approach combines practice with learning so that students work on complex, real-world issues and problems.

His pedagogical research and design experiences have culminated in the creation of ‘The Office’: instead of using lectures or tutorials, students come to work in an authentic office environment for a fictional timber engineering company. This pioneering development in his teaching has resulted in a series of resources and blogs where his motivations, difficulties and successes have been made available for the inspiration of other colleagues.

Dr Norman said: “I am delighted to receive this award. I am incredibly grateful for all the support I have received over the last five years as I have transitioned from a practising engineer to a full-time academic. I would particularly like to thank Jane Pritchard, my mentor as part of the Bristol Institute for Learning and Teaching, who challenged me to explore pedagogy in new ways and integrate it with my own professional experience. Looking forward there is still much to do in educating engineers about the climate emergency and the incredible potential for positive change that they can bring. I hope this award will enable me to increase the impact of my work in this area.”

Professor Tansy Jessop, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Education, said: “James is an extraordinary teacher whose imagination and sense of fun give his teaching a distinctive flavour. He keeps students at the heart of his practice, being prepared to take risks and do things a bit differently for their benefit. James richly deserves this prestigious national award: he exemplifies outstanding teaching and is a role model for us all, at the University of Bristol and beyond.”

Professor Simon Neild, Head of the School of Civil, Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering, said: “I am delighted that James has received this prestigious award and the national recognition he deserves. James's emphasis of the student experience and their needs has led to major new initiatives across the School, and his enthusiasm for innovative teaching methods is inspiring. ”

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