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University of California Santa Barbara
Academic Senate Awards

Prior Year Recipients

2017-18 Distinguished Teaching Award

Joseph McFadden - Geography

Joseph McFadden is an associate professor in the Geography Department where his research focuses on biogeosciences. Professor McFadden has demonstrated excellence in teaching across the curriculum: teaching large enrollment undergraduate courses, smaller upper-division courses, and graduate courses, performing exceptionally at all levels. One of many the things that distinguishes Professor McFadden’s teaching is his commitment to pedagogical innovation, especially in his lecture course addressing Remote Sensing of the Environment and his upper-division course on The Urban Environment. Whether he is employing “artist Abelardo Morell’s camera obscura photographs,” his son’s Lego’s blocks, or the empirical data his students gather at visits to field sites, Professor McFadden finds creative ways to teach his students what it means to see differently, to assess evidence rigorously, and to pose and answer critical questions concerning the “ecology and climatology” of the environments in which they and others live. Professor McFadden’s teaching is also distinguished by the care and attention he gives to his students. As one might imagine, students’ insights weigh heavily in the conferring of such awards. And it is clear that Professor McFadden’s students love him. Words that came up with some frequency in student letters written on his behalf were passion, enthusiasm, creativity, and care. As one student writes: “Prof. McFadden is fantastic - he genuinely cares about his students.” Another writes that Professor McFadden’s “teaching capabilities are a prime example of what university professors should strive towards.” And finally: “I cannot think of any other professor who is more deserving of this honor.” The Teaching Award committee thanks Professor McFadden for his distinguished service.