Dr Megan Blake
|Telephone (UK):||0114 222 7978|
|Telephone (International):||+44 114 222 7978|
Megan will be teaching on a range of undergraduate undergraduate and postgraduate courses including:
GEO112 Introducing Social and Cultural Geographies
All staff also engage in personal supervision and tutoring of individual students at all three undergraduate levels in the following modules:
Previous teaching at Sheffield has included material at undergraduate level concerning Economic Geography, Identities, Governance, Labour and employment, and Local Economic Development. At masters level I have contributed to generic skills training with regard to research presentation, and to departmental master’s degrees in the area of research methods, social institutions, labour markets, and practices of research dissemination.
Megan is one of Five Academic Leads responsible for developing and delivering Level 2 Achieve More for the university. This is an initiative aiming to develop student’s abilities to work critically in an interdisciplinary manner with confidence. More on Achieve More can be found on the website.
I have also taught courses in the areas of Urban Geography, Economic Geography, Philosophical Approaches to Geography, and Gendered Geographies at a Universities elsewhere , including Dartmouth College (USA), Clark University (USA), Indiana University (USA), and Hong Kong University (Hong Kong SAR).
My career supporting student learning, primarily in Geography but also Women’s Studies and in Interdisciplinary teaching teams, extends over 35 years and has taken place in three international contexts (US, UK, and Hong Kong). I began supporting student learning as a peer tutor and workshop leader as an undergraduate. I taught modules independently as a master student at Indiana University, as a PhD student at Clark University and as a Visiting Instructor at Dartmouth College. I joined the University of Sheffield as a visiting Lecturer in 2000 becoming a lecturer in 2001 upon completion of my Geography PhD (FHEQ Level 8). I was appointed to Senior Lecturer in 2010. Between January 2011 and August 2013 while in Hong Kong on special leave from Sheffield, I was a Visiting Professor in Geography at Hong Kong University, received a CertTESOL, and supported development of interdisciplinary teaching and research at Hong Kong Baptist University.
I have taught on more than 40 modules (30+ at Sheffield), the majority I have either developed independently or in collaboration with peers. These modules were/are delivered across all levels of academic study (undergraduate, taught post-graduate, and PhD candidates). In 2014, I established the MA in Food Security and Food Justice, which recruits students both from the UK and internationally. I continue to act as the director of this master’s course, which recruits students from across the world. I was one of five academic leads responsible for creating the first iteration of Achieve More Level 2 (2015-16) and I delivered material for AML1-State of Sheffield in 2015.
I have held a number of key department teaching and learning roles including: Departmental Interim Director of Learning and Teaching (2014), Departmental Deputy Director of Learning and Teaching (2013), Departmental Director of Internationalisation in teaching and research (2014-15), and Department Director of Taught Post-Graduate Programmes (2008-10, a role I established and developed). I am currently also developing a new role focusing on enhancing and monitoring the way we incorporate employability into our PGT programmes in the department.
My approach to teaching:
The core themes of the Sheffield University learning and teaching strategy have been embedded in my pedagogy for some time. Key to all my teaching and learning delivery is an aim to create inclusive learning environments, provide exposure to contexts and practitioners with the lived experience of the material students are learning, and inspire students to develop an ethos of critical engagement and perpetual curiosity. My involvement in a range of academic contexts and exposure to learners who come to university with disparate skills, knowledge and needs (e.g., dyslexia, gender, race/nationality, language and culture, family history of university attendance) has enhanced my approach to teaching delivery. This exposure has taught me, for example, the importance of peer mentoring for developing student confidence and how the contribution of practical demonstration, a safe space to ask questions and opportunities to learn from failure are for student learning. I incorporate field visits, work placements and visiting speakers who often are external partners with whom I conduct research (both internationally and within the UK), student-led independent inquiry and public facing output, and reflective practice in my teaching and programme development. Where relevant I utilise learning technologies to support these activities and the student learning from them. I make changes to programmes and teaching for which I am responsible when student feedback, my own, team, and external reflections suggest improvements would enhance the student experience. While much of my practitioner knowledge has come through self-learning, from experimentation and my own reflections on my successes and failures, I have consistently made efforts to enable my colleagues (at Sheffield and in my wider community) and the research postgraduate students I supervise and mentor to benefit from the lessons I have learned and innovations I have introduced.
Megan actively develops public engagement activities as part of her research and teaching.
Public Engagements in 2015:
In May, Megan contributed to national debates through the publication of a commentary on the Conservative manifesto’s response to food poverty in the UK. The article, Why one of the wealthiest countries in the world is failing to feed its people, was initially published in The Conversation republished by The Independent as A nation of inequality: How the UK is failing to feed its most vulnerable people, 25 May 2015 . (49,191 readers)
Megan spoke to a group of students outlining the ways the main political parties propose to address food poverty should they win the UK general election as part of a panel of academics. The panel was organised by the Geography Society to inform students about UK the general election in May, 2015.
Megan spoke to a group of Sheffield University alumni in Hong Kong about her research on Food Insecurity and Supermarketisation in Hong Kong. March, 2015.
In January, Megan organised the hosting of an expert hearing on the environmental aspects of UK Food and Poverty. This is part of an independent, non-partisan Commission on Food and Poverty organised by the Fabian Society and sponsored by the Esmé Fariburn Foundation. The in collaboration with the Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures, Research Exchange for the Social Sciences (RESS), the Department of Geography, and the Fabian Society, the hearing will give evidence and solicit comment from academic and industry experts and the public, which will then be fed into reports to be published by the Fabian’s in the spring (interim report) and Summer (final report) of 2015.
Research focused engagements in 2014 included:
Teaching related public engagements in 2014
In collaboration with the Sheffield University Libraries, Megan helped develop and introduce the Mapping Sheffield exhibit, which involved also a number of first year students who analysed historical data and developed one of the displays. See more on the exhibit here.
From 2011-2013, while on special leave from the University of Sheffield, Megan spent time at the University of Hong Kong and at Hong Kong Baptist University. While there she developed and received funding (approx. £350,000) for the Da Tong (打通) Project. The primary aim of the Da Tong Project is to support culture change at HKBU, so as to enable interdisciplinary activity to flourish. The project is based on the principle that research and public engagement that is interdisciplinary first involves learning how to integrate knowledges and modes of thinking from multiple disciplines. To achieve this learning the project brings together in active engagement for a limited time (2 years), scholars, industry, and third sector organisations who are interested in a broad topic, but approach that topic from a range of perspectives. The initial collaborative topics funded through the Da Tong proposal are Food and Environment.