Spotlight on Rosalind Duhs

18 June 2014

Rosalind Duhs

This week the spotlight is on Rosalind Duhs, Principal Teaching Fellow and Associate Director (Staff Development), UCL Centre for the Advancement of Learning and Teaching (CALT).

What is your role and what does it involve?

I promote the development of teaching and learning at UCL. The work is a rich mosaic of interaction with UCL staff, and I'm lucky to meet such a wide range of people, from postgraduates teaching for the first time to influential professors. 

People come to CALT to explore options for new approaches to learning and assessment, and it’s gratifying to see good outcomes for students as a result. 

I also lead UCL Arena, our new scheme for UCL staff who have a role teaching and/or supporting learning. Applicants gain recognition – a UCL Arena fellowship and a parallel Higher Education Academy award – through case studies of their teaching . 

It’s a privilege to be involved with UCL Arena, as the difference it makes is palpable. Individuals have a rare opportunity to consider their achievements in education, write about them and meet others to debate areas of academic practice. 

Three pathways are available depending on experience. Please email us for information.

How long have you been at UCL and what was your previous role?

I can hardly believe I’ve been at UCL for six years.

Before that I worked in Swedish higher education, at Stockholm University, where I helped to set up the first equivalent of CALT and designed courses on university teaching for staff – Swedish versions first, then English for international staff.

What working achievement or initiative are you most proud of?

Under the umbrella of UCL Arena, I recently joined a group of UCL and Moorfields ophthalmologists on a trip to Abuja, Nigeria

The aim was to design courses for West African eye surgeons. There are millions of blind people in the region who have treatable conditions, but there are too few doctors to offer the care they need. We hope to blaze a trail for setting up expert local provision. 

The experience of working with this group to develop curricula was unforgettable. They were totally focused, and the amount of work they did in three days was incredible. We're launching our first courses in 2014–15.

Tell us about a project you are working on now which is top of your to-do list?

Following up on the 3 April launch of UCL Arena at the UCL Teaching and Learning Conference 2014 is definitely at the top of my to-do list. I’m also planning a range of UCL Arena seminars in the summer. 

UCL Arena provides a forum for discussion and debate about research-based learning. UCL President & Provost Michael Arthur would like all UCL students to be involved in research from day one. 

This is a worthwhile goal because it will motivate students to achieve the best they can. UCL Arena has the potential to make this vision a reality.

Staff can work towards gaining a fellowship by coming to UCL Arena sessions and developing their teaching, building on an exchange of ideas. 

UCL Arena has already had a great response from staff. A total of 24 new fellows gained recognition in March ahead of the launch. 

It’s a pleasure to read their applications, which reflect their enthusiasm for education.

What is your favourite album, film and novel?

Verdi’s Requiem, Michael Haneke’s Amour and J. M. Coetzee’s Disgrace.

What is your favourite joke (pre-watershed)?

I never remember jokes but I heard one recently on the BBC:

Do you want a larger footprint? Buy bigger shoes.

Who would be your dream dinner guests?

Can I resurrect some of them? I'm curious about aspects of the past that don't get into the history books. Nelson Mandela, Edward Said, Derek Walcott, Dylan Thomas, Emmeline Pankhurst, Florence Nightingale, Elizabeth I and Queen Victoria. 

But I’m not sure they’d get on, so I’d have to invite my parents, who organised the best parties ever and made sure everyone enjoyed themselves.

What advice would you give your younger self?

My younger self would never have believed I would end up working on projects that make a difference at a university such as UCL. 

I would tell my younger self to be confident and take more space.

What would it surprise people to know about you?

My childish side. I like silly films like Naked Gun with Leslie Nielsen. 

The books I wrote for Scandinavian children learning English are still popular 12 years after publication. 

Writing them while at Stockholm University was a delight. Perhaps I’ll go back to writing for children one day. I have lots of ideas for stories.

What is your favourite place?

Such a difficult question! There have been so many places. 

Libraries with their special book aroma, the sense of wonder in national libraries, the desert at night, the multicoloured fish in the Red Sea, the still lake in the Swedish village where we spend our holidays – such a contrast to the buzz of London and UCL.

But most of all, you need someone special with you to enjoy your favourite place.