Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching
Ph.D. Candidate in Environmental Sciences and Policy
Edgar Virgüez is an energy systems engineer promoting a rapid and cost-efficient energy transition towards a decarbonized electric power system. He holds an M.Sc. in Environmental Engineering and a double major B.Sc. in Chemical Engineering and Environmental Engineering from Universidad de Los Andes, Colombia. Now at Duke, he is completing his Ph.D. program in Environmental Sciences and Policy.
At Duke, Virgüez reinforced his passion for helping students learn, teaching 16 courses, serving more than 560 students, and achieving high ratings by his students. He has served as the instructor of record for the Voices in the Environment course for four years. Working on a course redesign, he achieved a classroom setting with vibrant inclusiveness. His nominations noted his commitment to always improving and taking the recommendations from courses to enhance students’ learning opportunities. For his work as an educator, inclusive mentor, and university leader, Virgüez was named a 2021 K. Patricia Cross Future Leader Awardee by the Association of Colleges and Universities.
What do you enjoy about teaching?
Teaching is one of the activities that I feel more passionate about. Every time I teach, I feel an excitement that reminds me why I choose this professional path. I am interested in advancing the pedagogical practices of the field. We need to highlight distinctive experiences from members of underrepresented minority groups. By doing it, we could provide a vital perspective of the topics we share in classrooms.
What is something you have done as a teacher that you are really proud of?
Fostering a natural science community in which all members can flourish. Our responsibility as emerging teachers is to design our classes to promote an environment favoring the cross-pollination of ideas from all participants. I feel proud of supporting classroom environments where we (teacher and peers) acknowledge the value of everybody’s experiences, knowledge, networks, and perspectives.
What does a successful classroom look like? How do you go about creating such a setting?
A successful classroom is one where the teacher embraces the value of cultural wealth. Teachers should harness student's insights, especially those from members who find it more difficult to engage.
There are several pedagogical strategies to do this. I wrote a longer explanation of my approach to them in a book chapter exploring two promising strategies a) enabling engagement through authentic assessments, and b) introducing global learning that draws on students’ cultural heritage. If you are interested in learning about them contact me.
In Their Words
Excerpts from Virgüez’s nomination
“Students, faculty, and staff at the Nicholas School (and the university) recognize Edgar as someone very knowledgeable, extremely kind, and full of energy and desire to help others and the world. He exemplifies the values of dedication to rigorous research, generosity, collaboration, responsibility, and sense of purpose.”
“He was a passionate participant who interpreted the course content in novel ways and supported inclusive teaching strategies without hesitation. He always came to class prepared and he is among the most self-aware learners I have ever taught.”
“We need faculty who are champions of equity, who will hold themselves accountable for improving students’ learning, and who will use those efforts to advance the scholarship of teaching and learning. Edgar Andrés Virgüez is that educator.”