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Published: 2021-02-15

Architect receives pedagogical award

NEWS James Benedict Brown, associate professor at Umeå School of Architecture, UMA, Umeå University, is awarded the Faculty of Science and Technology’s pedagogical award for 2021. The prize money is SEK 30,000.

Text: Anna-Lena Lindskog

“I’m really honored to receive this recognition for the teaching I’ve delivered at UMA” says James Benedict Brown. “I was shoveling snow off the roof my house when the call came, so it was a very good moment to be grateful for the balance between work and home that I have found in Västerbotten! I bought a house deep in the countryside at the start of the pandemic.”[JB1] 

He has worked as an Associate Professor at Umeå School of Architecture since 2019. James studied Architecture at the University of Sheffield and received his doctorate at Queen's University Belfast, Northern Ireland, in 2012. He has held academic positions at De Montfort University, Norwich University of the Arts, the Royal College of Art and the University of Nottingham, England.

At Umeå School of Architecture, he is responsible for five courses in Architectural History and has in the past year been strongly committed to developing the courses, both in terms of content and how they are taught. James also embraced the challenges posed by the corona pandemic in adapting teaching for distance learning.

Rather than just moving his lectures online, he has structured the course content into two categories, pre-recorded video content that students can take part of via the UmU Play platform, as well as live seminars and live tutorials via Zoom. He has recorded his lectures in short sections, where he has often been outdoors and used local buildings as examples in teaching.

During the corona pandemic, James Benedict has also worked hard to share positive examples of new pedagogy with his colleagues at Umeå School of Architecture. He has also been involved internationally in these issues, for example through participation in webinars and group discussions.

“At the start of the pandemic, our first reaction was to move everything online without any changes. What I learned through this teaching is that neither teachers nor students appreciate two-hour lectures on Zoom! You have to break up and re-arrange your content so that students can watch, pause and re-watch shorter videos in their own time, and then come together for live sessions.”

“It inspires me to think about how we can use this technology in the future. Some of my lectures have been recorded using a phone and a selfie-stick, so why not record history lectures out in the world, in front of the buildings I’m talking about” says James Benedict Brown.

In the award motivation, the faculty says the following about the choice of James Benedict Brown:

“James Benedict Brown receives the award for his dedicated work in developing the courses in architectural history. He inspires colleagues to work with digital methods and tools in new creative ways, which is much appreciated by teachers and students.”

The faculty's pedagogical award is awarded every year. The purpose is to make visible and encourage teachers' commitment and efforts in higher education pedagogical development. The prize money is SEK 30,000.


For more information, please contact:

James Brown
Associate professor