UM Today UM Today University of Manitoba UM Today UM Today UM Today
News from
UM Today Network
Woman with short dark brown hair, black glasses with a dark brown infinity scarf on, wearing a dark brown jacket with cream and red accents. She is standing outside in a park.

Dr. Sarah Cooper

Teaching Award Winner trains future city planners to be engaged, empathetic and inspired

Dr. Sarah Cooper of the Faculty of Architecture receives Olive B. Stanton Award

May 21, 2024 — 

Dr. Sarah Cooper, [BES(York), MCP(Manitoba), PhD(UIC)], has been named the recipient of the Olive Beatrice Stanton Award for Excellence in Teaching. This award recognizes an outstanding University of Manitoba educator who has demonstrated continuing teaching excellence and who made contributions to advancing teaching and learning at UM. She will receive the award at Spring Convocation on the morning of June 5. 

Cooper takes her role as teacher and mentor seriously as she helps train future city planners to be well-rounded, engaged, empathetic and inspired members of their communities and profession. She is committed to community-based practice and her teaching is deeply rooted in a respectful, place-based understanding of Indigenous cultures and methodologies.

Cooper joined the University of Manitoba in 2018 and has since made many contributions to the university and the Faculty of Architecture. She teaches the Indigenous Planning Studio, Planning Theory, and Indigenous Peoples and Community Planning in the Department of City Planning, where she draws on her substantial research and community work to ground her teaching in truth, relationships and Reconciliation.

Students have glowing reviews for Dr. Cooper. Her classes provide eye-opening opportunities to understand structural barriers that are a result of colonial policies and then help move beyond these policies. In the Indigenous Planning Studio, students work directly with Indigenous communities in Manitoba to inform the context within which they will be working in their future careers. They meet Elders and Indigenous Knowledge Keepers, tour the National Indigenous Residential School Museum of Canada and consult with Indigenous-led organizations and professional city planners. Critically, these classes allow students to work on practical projects in partnership with Indigenous communities.

Cooper’s colleagues in the Faculty of Architecture commend her for seizing every opportunity to inspire and be transformative, leading by example with her commitment to embedding social justice and Reconciliation into the culture of the faculty. She illustrates the path to Reconciliation through her innovative teaching approaches, actively contributing to the development of programs aimed at increasing the diversity of perspectives in the Planning program, such as leading efforts to attain funding for an Indigenous Practitioner-in-Residence in the Department of City Planning. Currently, she is also leading a department-wide mapping exercise to assess how Indigenous content is taught throughout the Master of City Planning program, building student capacity to work responsibly with Indigenous communities in Manitoba and beyond.

Cooper is known for her excellence in research supervision for her students, providing compassionate encouragement in major degree projects and graduate level research. Her research funding has supported 18 research assistants over the past six years, providing students with both enriching experiences to enhance their academic journeys at the university and a means to sustain themselves as they learn. She introduces students to her vast network of professionals to help both the community and the students learn together, grow the relationships and strengthen partnerships between the university and the community.

Cooper is a leader in her home faculty, while also helping other units and departments. She has worked with Community Engaged Learning and the Office of Experiential Learning to better integrate hands-on experiences for students. She centres teaching and learning about Indigenous peoples in respectful ways, and students gain valuable experiences outside the classroom in experiential learning environments.

The University of Manitoba is proud to honour Dr. Sarah Cooper with the Olive Beatrice Stanton Award for Excellence in Teaching.

, , , ,

© University of Manitoba • Winnipeg, Manitoba • Canada • R3T 2N2

Emergency: 204-474-9341