It was recently announced that Teaching and Learning Sciences Clinical Professor Dr. Paul Michalec will be the recipient of the University of Denver’s (DU) 2015 Distinguished Teacher Award. This prestigious award is given to one exemplary faculty member a year and recognizes excellence in teaching. Nominations should emphasize the degree to which a nominee’s teaching has constructively influenced his/her students. The award will be presented to Dr. Michalec at DU’s Fall Convocation.

Dr. Michalec received his Ph.D. (Social, Multicultural, and Bilingual Foundations of Education) from the University of Colorado-Boulder. He is the former director of student teaching at Skidmore College and Director of Teacher Education at the Morgridge College of Education, serves on editorial boards for the newsletter EnCouragement and the journal Democracy and Education, leads professional development for religious communities, and is a founding member of Colorado Courage and Renewal. His research interests include teacher education, effective instruction in higher education, spiritual dimensions of teaching, and teacher renewal/formation.  Dr. Michalec enjoys biking, baking, drawing, nature study, and reading in the areas of theology, poetry, philosophy, identity, and educational-spiritual reform.

Dr. MichaleC’s Teaching Philosophy

I believe that the purpose of education is to transform the emotional, intellectual, and spiritual life of the learner.  I believe, consistent with the root meaning of education, that transformation is the process of drawing out the inner wisdom of the learner.  My responsibility as an educator is to create an engaged and rigorous learning environment where learners are invited into deep relationship with the content we are studying as well as each other as members of a classroom community. Academic success is premised more on change and transformation of the learner rather than the capacity to present back to me specific forms of information.”

The Anderson Academic Commons (AAC), DU’s state of the art library complex, provides “hands-on” experiential learning opportunities for Library Information Science (LIS) students at the Morgridge College of Education (MCE). The LIS program has partnered with AAC to increase those opportunities.

Opened on March 25, 2013, The AAC is a 154,223-square-foot building designed for collaborative, inclusive, and technologically advanced teaching and learning. The library gives students access to an impressive collection of resources including nearly eight miles of books, 98,000 online journals, special collections and archives, individual and group study spaces, and more than a hundred computers. Students can also engage with cutting-edge media editing technology in the Digital Media Center, receive academic assistance in the Math Center, or visit the Shopneck Family Writing Center.

Current LIS students can gain relevant experience by working in The AACs’ Reference Center as Reference Assistants or at the Lending Desk as Circulation Assistants. Second-year LIS students can teach workshops such as Library 101 and Intro to RefWorks or conduct research consultations with students and faculty.

Selected second-year students gain the opportunity to complete a classroom study of academic libraries complemented by a three-quarter, 100-hour internship.  During the internship, students will rotate through a number of departments in the library in order to experience and understand the variety of positions that exist in an academic library. Other class connections will introduce first-year students to the work of an academic library in public service, archives, and technology.

Inspired by  Dan Savage’s YouTube sensation; the It Gets Better Tour is a nationally renowned collaboration between the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles, Speak Theater Arts, and the It Gets Better Project. The Morgridge College of Education (MCE) invited the tour to our college to hold several events for MCE community Members, Local Elementary School Students, and the Greater Denver Community.

The week’s events included a morning session with students from the Ricks Center for Gifted Education and MCE Community members. In true Ricks’ spirit, students engaged in an array of difficult discussions about their own experiences with bullying. Discussions were interspersed with musical performances that livened the experience and had many participants clapping along.

Educators from across Denver participated in an evening session which included a panel discussion. Tour members presented counter-bullying techniques like their signature The It Gets Better World Cafe. World Cafés are developed in local, intimate venues, to facilitate  community dialogue which examines the LBGT experience.  Audience members were invited to attend the next Denver Café.

Two big themes included standing up for your peers when you see bullying and the impact that a single teacher can have on a student who is being bullied. MCE and the It Gets Better Tour are united in empowering educators to support children involved in these difficult encounters.

Dr. Shimelis Assefa exemplifies Inclusive Excellence through his scholarly work in global knowledge production. His research focus on knowledge production and knowledge diffusion highlights a new form of social-class division, which is commonly known as the north-south divide, which he frames as the knowledge divide. For Dr. Assefa, knowledge divide between a developed and a developing country is based on human capital. As the key element to the wealth of nations and globalization, human capital facilitates the free flow of ideas, information, best-practices, know-how, and knowledge on a global scale. He investigates how Africa’s limited access and non-recognized contribution to the global knowledge base creates a challenge for Africa, hindering it from playing an active role in today’s knowledge-based economy. In his book chapter Unfulfilled Promises of Globalization: Global Knowledge Production and Africa, he argues that global knowledge production is critical for a speedier, wider, and deeper interconnectedness that is inclusive and benefits all nations involved. Dr. Assefa is an Associate Professor in the Library and Information Science program.

Dr. Shimelis Assefa talks with students

In 2012, Dr. Assefa organized a panel discussion at the Association for Information Science and Technology annual meeting on the topic of Content Divide: Africa and the Global Knowledge Footprint. Taking research outputs and patent applications across all regions of the world, he analyzed the volume of production as a barometer for the well-being of nations’ scientific and innovation impact. Last year, at the same conference in Seattle, WA, he organized and led another panel on the topic of Open Access: The Global Scene, with the goal of reviewing global open access practices and suggesting ideas for the implementation of an international infrastructure that supports and sustains the future of open scholarly communication. In his recent interview with Janet Lee, Dean of Libraries at Regis University, he discussed challenges and opportunities of library collaboration from an international perspective. One key theme he discussed in the interview is exemplified through the practices of PubMed Central (PMC), the world’s largest free full-text database of bio-medical and life sciences  that archives more than 3.3 million journal articles and scientific papers. Hosted by the National Library of Medicine and the National Institute of Health, so far PMC International (PMCI) supports only Europe (Europe PMC) and Canada (PMC Canada).

In his recent publication Diffusion of scientific knowledge in agriculture: The case for Africa, he developed a knowledge diffusion model that enhances the existing extension service that is slow and hierarchical. Borrowing from the method of translational research, Dr. Shimelis investigates methods on how scientific research findings reach farmers, in a format and language that is easy to use and provides timely access, thereby narrowing the gap from knowledge to action/decision-making. Dr. Assefa also organized and led a workshop for agricultural scientists at the International Association of Agricultural Information Specialists titled Using Moodle as an Online Learning Management System to offer Professional Development Courses to Agricultural Extension Workers in Africa. He has played leadership roles in the Association for Information Science and Technology, where he served as co-chair (2011-2012) and chair (2014-2015) of the Special Interest Group in International Information Issues. We look forward to his continued dedication to Inclusive Excellence.


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