Andrea Davis, Associate Professor of Humanities in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS) and special advisor on LA&PS’ Anti-Black Racism Strategy, is one of the 10 recipients of a 2021 3M National Teaching Fellowship.
The fellowships were created in 1986 by the Society of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education to recognize “educators who show leadership in enhancing post-secondary education and a sustained dedication to undergraduate education.”
“I am deeply honoured by the award and the recognition it brings,” said Davis, who has received previous commendations, including the President’s University-wide Teaching Award. “I’m thrilled for York and my Faculty and encouraged that the kind of labour that often goes unseen has been acknowledged. This award is also a tremendous recognition for my students because it validates what is meaningful to them; they feel recognized and heard and it shows that the interventions I bring to the academy are meaningful. I believe that everything we do in the university—research, service or teaching—must positively impact the lives of students. I am pleased to see that when you pour love and care into your students, that can be rewarded.”
“Professor Davis’ devotion to education and critical thinking has, indeed, positively impacted and transformed the lives of thousands of LA&PS students,” said J.J. McMurtry, dean of LA&PS. “She inspires her students to challenge the status quo, to interrogate our histories and to recognize the inherent value of diversity.
“While this award recognizes Professor Davis’ outstanding teaching, it is amazing that she is also able to lead in every aspect of our work as a Faculty, including forthcoming publications and serving as special advisor on LA&PS’ Anti-Black Racism Strategy.”
Davis comes from a background in literature and literary studies, but her courses are interdisciplinary.
“I use diverse texts to help students think about the world and to use that knowledge to imagine a different kind of future,” said Davis, former chair of the Department of Humanities. “I encourage them to think about what different possibilities might exist.
“I think about how to use humanities to help bring Black ideas, thoughts and cultures into the centre of the academy so when we look at Black writers and ideas, we think of them the same way we would the work of Western European men. In my role as special advisor, too, I am working to move the university toward a more just version of itself.”
As part of her passion for justice and equity, Davis developed a Black Canadian Studies certificate at York and is working to create a pan-University Black Studies major. It is work that many other institutions are studying and seeking to emulate, looking to a professor and a university that seek positive change and a just future.
“It is terrific to see Dr. Davis recognized for her commitment and unique talent as a teacher,” said Provost Lisa Phillips. “From launching the Black Canadian Studies Certificate to her work on a pan-university interdisciplinary Black Studies Major, she extends her leadership in teaching across and far beyond the York community, in ways that value justice, equity, diversity and inclusion.”