Hugh McFaul, Senior Lecturer and Co-Director of The Open University’s Open Justice Centre, was highly commended in the Most Innovative Teacher of the Year category at The Times Higher Education (THE) Awards last week. The THE Awards recognised outstanding work and exceptional performance across the higher education sector for 2018-19.
Hugh is the chair of the OU’s ground-breaking distance learning Justice in Action module and Co-Director of the Open Justice Centre alongside Francine Ryan. The Centre pioneered the development of the OU’s Justice in Action module, which combines academic study of social justice and legal ethics, with the opportunity to participate in professional standard legal pro bono work.
It is not standard practice to highly commend participants in the THE Awards. But judges said that for this particular category they had “wrestled so much with their decision that they decided two others should be commended for their inspirational teaching” out of the eight shortlisted entrants.
Hugh said: “I was delighted to be highly commended. Really, I see it as a joint effort, because I simply could not do it without the brilliant team around me in the Open Justice Centre. It is also good news for the legal industry, because it recognises the positive impact that pro bono legal work can have on communities across the UK. It is also, of course, excellent news for the Open Justice Centre and reflective of our innovative, forward-thinking approach to education and social justice.”
Justice in Action makes high-quality experiential legal education accessible to distance learning students and empowers them to promote legal capabilities in their communities. Through the module, staff and students work collaboratively with more than 40 civil society partners from across the UK. The module also makes innovative use of technology such as virtual reality, to enable students to utilise their legal knowledge and skills to further the OU’s social justice mission by providing free legal advice, education and guidance to the public.
Following the virtual Awards night, Hugh tweeted: “Proud to have brought back a silver medal for the #OUfamily.”
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