Godley Receives 2013 BUSPH ‘Educational Innovation Award’
Presented at the John C. McCahan Education Day, the award honors the clinical assistant professor of community health sciences for her creative approach to teaching.
Sure, there are the compelling, information-packed lectures. But students in Sophie Godley’s classes also may find themselves interviewing an author in London via Skype; watching a clip of Whoopi Goldberg slamming a New York City campaign to promote breastfeeding; or playing the role of an HIV physician in Kenya, in a group discussion of male circumcision.
Godley’s “uncanny ability to weave together a mix of lectures, interactive activities and discussions into each of her classes,” in the words of one colleague, earned her the BU School of Public Health’s 2013 Educational Innovation Award, which recognizes a faculty member for creative approaches to teaching. Godley, a clinical assistant professor of community health sciences, received the award this week at the John C. McCahan Education Day on the BU Medical Campus.
In nominating Godley, who has taught at BUSPH since 2003 and became a clinical assistant professor in 2010, Dr. Wayne LaMorte, professor of epidemiology and assistant dean for education, praised her for exploring “non-traditional ways of invigorating her students in ways that stimulate interest, accentuate relevance and promote thoughtful reflection and professionalism.” He and William DeJong, professor of community health sciences, cited Godley’s leadership in “practice-based learning” and her efforts to disseminate teaching innovations to BU faculty and other audiences.
Godley, who teaches three courses – Introduction to Public Health; Safer Sex in the City: From Science to Policy; and Women, Children and Adolescents: A Public Health Approach – has won a number of teaching awards, including the Pfizer Early Career Teaching Award from the Association of Schools of Public Health in 2011. Students who have taken her courses say she has a unique ability to take a classroom packed with 100 or more students and make it feel like a seminar.
“She knew the names of all 150 students by the second class,” said Eric Levine, who first met Godley when he took her Introduction to Public Health class. Last fall, he said, he sought Godley’s advice on whether to continue in his early medical school program at BU or switch paths to public health.
“She was able to listen to my reasoning and provide me with great insight that really helped me feel confident to make the switch,” said Levine, who graduated last week from Sargent College with a B.S. in human physiology and plans to pursue his MPH at Columbia University. “Sophie is not only an amazing teacher, but an encouraging mentor. . . People who have the privilege to meet her are changed for the better.”
Godley is known for making her students delve into topics that might make them uncomfortable – from pornography to religion – and reflect on their implications for public health, both individually and in group discussions. She also reaches out to students in simpler ways.
“There are very few professors who willingly hand out their cell phone numbers to students, find time to offer meaningful advice and guidance, (and) bake snacks during difficult times” such as finals, said Hannah Nichols, a 2013 BUSPH graduate.
Nichols said the intent of the award – to reward faculty “who are prepared to challenge the traditional ways of doing things, to try out new approaches and to seek improvements in the way teaching is delivered and learning is achieved” – sums up what Godley represents.
“Sophie truly cares about her students and encourages them to be better learners, better public health practitioners, and better citizens of the world,” Nichols said. “I cannot think of anyone more deserving of this award.”
Submitted by: Lisa Chedekel firstname.lastname@example.org