Celebrating staff: Sammia Poveda

Sammia

What do you do?

I am a female Latin American living in Sheffield. I am a lecturer teaching international development and methods, both at undergrad and master’s level. I’m also the ethics officer of the department. I like engaging with the PhD students, so I work a lot with the GTAs and their teaching. Outside the office I am involved in the leadership of two different academic associations – I am a committee member of the Digital Geographers Research Group at the RGS-IBG and I’m an executive committee member of the Human Development and Capability Association. I’m also a trustee on a UK based NGO called Coda International.

What is your research on?

I am interested in psychosocial wellbeing, empowerment and self-transformation. I focus on how we can support people to empower themselves, paying attention to both the body and the mind. Research tends to focus on housing, income, education, etc but we don’t pay attention to behaviours, attitudes, motivations, which are vital for people’s emancipation and social change.

What have you done recently in your job that you’ve found rewarding?

I am very creative in my personal life. My artistic self is there. I am trying also to bring that creativity and interactivity into my teaching. I decided to use video for one of my lectures as I wanted to really engage the students into thinking about ethics and positionality in a way that would encourage them to really take that seriously. Preparing to the Galapagos fieldclass, the students had to share their knowledge about the country in a two or three minute video produce during the lecture. Some did roleplay, some did interviewing each other; others just told the story and making it more fun. Then we saw the videos together and we discussed it a bit further. This was about sharing the information and doing something more creative. It challenged the students to condense the information and to work in teams and to think how they were portraying the information. Then during the fieldclass the students did video logs to record themselves in the morning (what they were supposed to be doing that day), during the day (an example of their activities) and in the evening (a reflection of what went well, what went wrong and why). It was very useful for them, they told me then, because it forced them to stop, discuss and reflect as teams. This process allowed us to have a very rich conversation about the challenges of doing research in the field and helped students to share different but similar problems.

What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning (and come to work)?

I like doing research and immediately putting it out there to the students, which are people that are going to be implementing that knowledge in practice. I come from South America where our teaching (when I was a student) was not research-led most of the time. We used to get books and t information that was published I don’t know how long ago. For that cutting edge knowledge to trickle down took a long time. While here that’s what we do. That’s what I like about this job that we can do both, and we can be at the edge of knowledge and immediately pass it on.

What are you looking forward to in your job?

The more I learn about teaching the more I see potential of doing things. Like for instance, using video has enormous potential. Instead of being one lecture, it could be integrated in the module, becoming a new way to engage the students. I am also looking forward to continuing my relationship with my partners in terms of research. I have a relatively small project that I consider very impactful, because it actually started because the partner asked to me come and work with them. I really like seeing changes in my partner’s work as the result of something that I’m doing, it is very rewarding.

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