Sarah Richardson

2020 UTM Teaching Excellence Award Winner for Sessional Instructors - Dr. Sarah Richardson!

Heather Thornton

Congratulations to Dr. Sarah Richardson for winning the UTM Teaching Excellence Award for Sessional Instructors. After teaching in the departments of Historical Studies and Visual Studies for the last five years, Dr. Richardson was recognized with this award, created to recognize excellence in undergraduate teaching at the University of Toronto Mississauga. For this award, teaching effectiveness is demonstrated by the degree to which the faculty member is able to stimulate and challenge the intellectual ability of students, to communicate academic material effectively, and to maintain a mastery of his/her subject areas. It also involves maintaining accessibility to students and demonstrating the ability to influence the intellectual and scholarly development of students.  

Dr. Richardson was recognized as an innovative teacher for the ways she has incorporated scaffolded learning, experiential learning, and trauma-informed pedagogy across a range of courses, connecting deeply with students and serving as an example of what it is to be a teacher.  Her approach to teaching can be described as very creative. Both students and colleagues commended Dr. Richardson's efforts to make classes that are built around forming community (often getting students to work together); to cultivate opportunities for students to learn actively through doing things (she regularly takes students to museums and temples); and making sure that everyone is also having fun (she has organized art-making workshops and even an Odissi dance workshop). Dr. Richardson also works to develop discipline-specific conversations around teaching through her work with the Ho Centre for Buddhist Studies at the University of Toronto, where she is the host for a new teaching related podcast, called The Circled Square.  For this podcast she interviews colleagues from other Universities, Colleges and disciplines, about their Buddhism related teaching (

“It is such an honour to receive this award from my students and colleagues. So much of what I have been doing in these past few years has been built around making the classroom as dynamic and welcoming place as possible to help us all learn. During this pandemic time, when we have all shifted online so quickly, I am missing the class a lot! Still, I am excited about learning from this great experiment we are all in: and trying to develop from “emergency remote” to effective online teaching. I believe that there are maybe some things we can do even better. Still, I also really look forward to painting or dancing in class again. One day.” - Dr. Sarah Richardson