Celebrating the 2023 Humanities award winners

The Humanities staff and faculty awards recognize those who make outstanding contributions to the Faculty’s mission and community.

Recipients of these awards have distinguished themselves by advancing the Faculty’s mission to enrich human dignity, provoke critical inquiry, engage myriad voices and inspire innovative expression.

It is with great pleasure that we honour and celebrate Trevor Van Damme (Greek and Roman Studies), Audrey Yap (Philosophy), John Lutz (History), Laura Parisi (Gender Studies), Stewart Arneil (Humanities Computing and Media Centre), Lydia Toorenburgh (Tri-Faculty Indigenous Resurgence Coordinator), Mark Nugent (Greek and Roman Studies), and Li-Shih Huang (Linguistics) for enriching our community.

Early Career Excellence in Research: Trevor Van Damme (Greek and Roman Studies)

Trevor Van Damme (image provided)

The Early Career Excellence in Research Award recognizes and encourages research excellence among early career scholars in the Faculty of Humanities.

Trevor Van Damme's research situates study of ceramic production, exchange, and consumption within larger discussion of social, religious, and economic exchange and transformation. He has taught in Greek and Roman Studies since 2017 and is currently a limited term assistant teaching professor. Trevor is an outstanding early career researcher in early Greek economics and material culture. In the field of archaeology, he has already established an impressive international reputation for expertise in the production, trade and consumption of ceramics. In addition, he is one of the leading young scholars in the early history of the city-state of ancient Athens. He has international collaborators and co-authors from Poland, Australia, Greece, and the US. In 2022, he was awarded a multi-year SSHRC Insight Development Grant as principal investigator for the project, “The Urban Landscape of Ancient Eleon and Human-Environmental Interactions.” This project at ancient Eleon, especially under the auspices of Practicum in Archeology (GRS 495), provides research material and experiential learning opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students from UVic and top universities in North America. Overall, Trevor has an exceptional record of scholarly work, research funding success, knowledge mobilization, and research-engaged teaching. In short, he is a prolific scholar, a great teacher, and an indefatigable and innovative researcher who is fully committed to UVic Humanities’ initiatives in social justice, the environment, and equity. 

Engaged Research: Audrey Yap (Philosophy)


Audrey Yap (image provided)

 The Engaged Scholar award honours scholars who have best exemplified the Faculty of Humanities’ commitment to social engagement by using their knowledge, research and teaching to effect social change over the last three years.

As a scholar of feminist and social philosophy, feminist epistemology, and prison justice, Audrey Yap's research and teaching exemplify her engagement with community from her academic papers on the representation of women in combat sports (which arise from her own teaching and practice in martial arts) to her pathbreaking work on gendered violence and incarceration. Audrey’s innovative course, HUMA 495: Conceptions of Justice and Engaged Pedagogy, brings together undergraduate and incarcerated students in a learning environment. This innovative form of community-engaged pedagogy has justifiably won public recognition at the national level, with featured in the Globe and Mail. One student called it: “the most important course I have ever taken.” For Audrey, the mission of the university is not confined to teaching traditional students who attend the university. Instead, it extends to the community as a whole, and especially to those who have faced obstacles in accessing education. It is no surprise then to see that her engagement extends to Uni 101, where she is an active participant.Audrey’s research and teaching are linked, each growing out of the other. She has produced several essays that reflect on the ethical challenges of conducting research that draws on the experiences of oppressed people, and is coauthoring a book entitled Not Giving Up on People: Anticarceral Feminism, Moral Repair, and Criminal Justice that will soon be published by Rowman and Littlefield. She is not only a passionate intellectual critic of contemporary carceral practices, but also an agent of change within her own community. She works with marginalized people with a view to enriching their lives and helping them chart a positive path forward despite the daunting obstacles they face. In the committee’s view, Yap’s work epitomizes the use of humanities-based knowledge in the betterment of the community.

Outstanding Graduate Supervision and Mentorship: John Lutz (History)


John Lutz (image provided)

 The new award in Outstanding Graduate Supervision and Mentorship recognizes the intellectual and emotional labour of effective graduate supervision and mentorship as students try to find their place in the academy, in the work force, in society, and in their own journeys through this world.

John Lutz has supervised a lot of students during his career. The number cited in the nomination is “close to 300!” This number is derived from a tapestry of direct supervisions, committee memberships, external examinations, post-doc and fellow supervision, research assistant supervisions, and student participation in the ethnohistory field school with Stó:lō Nation. One participant summarized their experience with John and the Stó:lō Nation in the following terms: “I cannot say enough positive things about this class! It was such an intense and wonderful experience that changed how I think about my role as a student, my research and the vibrancy of community. I’ve never experienced so much generosity of time, knowledge, and spirit within an academic context. It really was an experience in humanity.” And another participant reflected on their experience in the following way: “It was not a 'course,' it was nothing less than a foundational experience for me.”

Internationalization: Laura Parisi (Gender Studies)

Laura Parisi (image provided)

  The Internationalization Award is given to a member of the Humanities community who has most tangibly contributed to the advancement of the UVic International Plan by increasing student global mobility, enhancing international student experience, advancing international and intercultural curricula, or making a vital impact through the internationalization of their research.

A political scientist trained in feminist international relations, Laura Parisi’s feminist international/global political economy scholarship focuses on critically gendering international/transnational policies and institutional networks in place including development models, systems of global governance, foreign policy, and international human rights. Her work is a critical intervention aimed at exposing the systemic inequalities that the deep logics of neo-liberal capitalism, globalization, imperialism, and colonization produce in the world system. Laura is an outstanding scholar whose research is internationally oriented and engaged and includes a strong community-based and policy advocacy component. She also has a strong record as the recipient of external research funding, such as a SSHRC Partnership Grant with VIDEA, a Victoria based international development NGO. The research took place in Canada, Zambia, Uganda, and Tanzania and has made important theoretical and policy-oriented impacts on current debates on best practices in gender-based partnerships and strategies for advancing human-rights based work while decolonizing development policies and funding.Laura’s expanding international networks and growing reputation as an internationally recognized gender-focused development researcher resulted in her being invited to join a research team as gender advisor and collaborator. The project, led by World Fisheries Trust and scholars at Royal Roads University, explores how Bolivian women are integrated in small-scale pond aquaculture and the ways in which this integration potentially contributes to gender empowerment and economic advancement. In her teaching, Laura has significantly advanced the internationalization and transnationalization of curricula with a strong emphasis on experiential learning, including supporting student internships abroad and, more recently, working towards the development of a field school in Zambia and Tanzania which will focus on gender, development, and empowerment. Laura sat on the program committee that created UVic's Global Development Studies minor, and continues to sit on the program committee for the minor. Her courses on international development and human rights with their focus on skills-based learning are not only core to the Gender Studies program but also serve as key electives in the Global Development Studies and Social Justice minors. Currently, Laura serves as the President of the Canadian Association for the Study of International Development (CASID) (2021-2022), and a past section Chair of the Feminist Theory and Gender Studies Section of the International Studies Association (2014). She has also served as gender, human rights and development advisor/consultant to the federal government and a variety of NGOs/CSOs in the sector.

Staff Excellence: Stewart Arneil (Humanities Computing and Media Centre)

The Staff Excellence Award recognizes those who have demonstrated excellence in the performance of their administrative, support or service duties, displaying a commitment above and beyond the requirements of their position.

Stewart Arneil has supported digital scholarship innovation and excellence in the Faculty of Humanities for 25 years. UVic is an internationally-recognized hub of digital humanities expertise, and Stewart has not played a trivial role in building that capacity and reputation. As outlined in the nomination, “His work is creative, thorough, and technologically sophisticated; his willingness to talk through the broader intellectual issues at stake in the project is immensely helpful to the development of ECRs and PIs. Indeed, he facilitates scholarship not possible without his expertise, not just by creating the technologies required to do the work but also by opening our eyes to new ways of thinking about our work.” Stewart has also played a pivotal role in student training and mentorship. He treats students as researchers and expert collaborators, ensuring that they, like the Humanities Computing and Media Centre staff, are treated fairly and respectfully, develop a strong sense of team and purpose, and feel empowered to speak up and participate in decision-making processes. Every day, Stewart works to make UVic Humanities a better place, a sustainable place, an engaged place, an innovative place, and a socially- and intellectually accountable place.

Həuistəŋ: Lydia Toorenburgh (Tri-Faculty Indigenous Resurgence Coordinator)

Lydia Toorenburgh (image provided)

 Pronounced “who-ee-stun,” Həuistəŋ is a lək̓ʷəŋən word meaning “to honour or bring forward.” The Həuistəŋ Award honours members of the Faculty who have made the most significant contribution to further the UVic Indigenous Plan by increasing educational opportunities and success for Indigenous students or advancing education, research, outreach or engagement initiatives with an Indigenous focus.

During their years as the Indigenous Resurgence Coordinator (December 2020 - August 2023), Lydia made major contributions to the work of Indigenization and decolonization in the Tri-Faculty. Lydia initiated, co-authored, and helped to implement the Humanities' very first Indigenous plan, the Humanities’ Indigenous Implementation Strategy (IIS). The IIS sets realistic, achievable goals for the Faculty over a five-year period, laying out action steps under the UVic Indigenous Plan as well as identifying steps to meeting the faculty’s obligations under the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. As Lydia observed: “The IIS aims to help increase the success and wellness of the Indigenous community in the Faculty while supporting non-Indigenous community members to better understand settler-colonialism and their individual role in decolonization . . . We hope this strategy will assist the growth of the Faculty as we examine our culture, values and practices together.” During their time as the Tri-faculty Indigenous Resurgence Coordinator, Lydia assured members of Faculty that they would meet with anyone undertaking Indigenization and decolonization measures. Lydia kept this promise, meeting with the Dean’s office team to suggest reading and discussions on key documents, meeting with faculty to discuss research and pedagogical initiatives, reviewing syllabi for classes, giving guest lectures in classes, and providing the Faculty with a comprehensive resource list.Other accomplishments include (not an exhaustive list) supporting the development of a course on Indigenous spirituality in Religion, Culture, and Society; supporting the development of UVic’s first Indigenous-only section of ATWP 135; supporting Humanities student recruitment and New Student Welcome; having a major impact on Humanities and Tri-Faculty communications; and fostering collaboration in the Tri-Faculty, sharing resources and strategies, co-sponsoring events, and sharing successes and challenges. The word həuistəŋ means “to honour or bring forward.” Lydia has worked tirelessly and effectively to set the Faculty of Humanities on the right path in the right way towards Indigenization and they have made the Faculty a better place for Indigenous and non-Indigenous students, staff, and faculty. Thanks to Lydia’s dedicated work, we are all better teachers, scholars, and administrators.

Teaching Excellence: Mark Nugent (Greek and Roman Studies)


Mark Nugent (image provided)

The Teaching Excellence Award recognizes faculty members who have gone over and above their required duties to motivate and support students on their quest for knowledge and growth.

Mark Nugent's exceptional pedagogy, principles of equity, diversity and inclusion and universal design make his classrooms welcoming for all students, who describe him as the “epitome of tolerance, respect, and equality; he values higher education for all, and assumes responsibility for difficult situations for the benefit of learning with the utmost integrity and care.” Mark teaches in Greek and Roman Studies, where he specializes in language instruction in ancient Greek and Latin and in culture courses, especially those focusing on sex and gender, Classics in popular culture, and film. Mark's work is defined by his inspirational teaching, his impeccably detailed and constantly updated course materials, and especially his encouragement of students to develop their own critical perspectives. As one student wrote: “The beauty of his pedagogy was that he did not give the answers away or try to indoctrinate, but instead allowed me to explore, seek answers, and build conclusions from my own perspective and understanding of the content.” Mark is deeply involved in departmental student events, for openness to students, and his advocacy for students with disabilities beyond the institution at national events.“Everything [he does]”  writes one student, “is a gift.”

Research Excellence: Li-Shih Huang (Linguistics)


Li-Shih Huang (image provided)

 The Research Excellence Award acknowledges those who have made a substantial contribution to their field(s) of expertise over the last five years, making a profound and unmistakable impact through their research.

Li-Shih Huang is a scholar with a prolific record of publications, of grants, of highly qualified personnel training, and of awards and recognitions. She is exceedingly well respected by her colleagues, both here and afar, and has been ranked by an external assessor as being within the top 2% in her research area. Li-Shih’s research, which has focused on key concerns for immigrants who speak English as an additional language, has recently considered such weighty concerns as the urgent language-learning needs and practical circumstances of Syrian refugees in Canada and the role of standardized language testing, used outside its intended purpose, as a barrier to opportunity and to equity. Her engaged scholarship connects theory and practice, transcending the boundaries that exist in the academy, and connecting the university to communities near and far, working in partnership with them for positive, real-world impact as she advances a social justice imperative. She has never sought to put the spotlight on herself. She has consistently striven to put it on community and how her work can serve. So, it’s no surprise that Li-Shih’s work is recognized as exemplars in community-engaged research to be admired and emulated, to make a difference in the lives of the members of the community.In other words, Li-Shih’s work is the embodiment of doing and showing, and not simply telling.