Professor Marc Vachon has built quite the life for himself at the University of Winnipeg (U of W), and judging by the way he teaches classes, his story will probably be available on a tablet very shortly.
After completing his Ph.D. in Ottawa he came to the U of W in 2001 to begin work in the Department of Geography.
He says he had the chance to work on the planning of cities near Ottawa, but decided to continue working in academia. He chose the U of W because, at the time, they had around 6,000 students and he liked that the biggest classes would only consist of 68 students.
“I like the size of our university,” Vachon says. “I always find that a university is like a village, a community in itself, and when it’s too big, it’s hard to manage. But when it’s this size, it’s easy to work and socialize.”
Technology is something Vachon has introduced to his classrooms over the last few years in order to get students excited about the work.
He has been teaching students video editing workshops and this enables them to visually document their findings and share their work with future students or professionals, he says.
“I think it’s as hard to write an essay that it is to make a movie about an issue,” says Vachon.
“I try to use technology to enhance our sense of experience and sense of space and also in teaching.”
He knows students are all fairly “techy” and Vachon thinks it’s important for teachers to harness the balance of education and technology.
Vachon is an urban planner and it was the Institute of Urban Studies that first caught his interest.
He says Winnipeg has always been perceived as a laboratory for urban experience and things here are emulated in other cities, which is exciting for his career.
Although he was quick to talk to The Uniter in French when the interview was over, Dr. Vachon says he finds little ways to practice and maintain his French.
AREA OF RESEARCH: Urban study, focusing on micro condos.
NUMBER OF PEER-REVIEWED ARTICLES PUBLISHED: One book and more than 20 articles. He is also the editor of The Canadian Journal of Urban Research.
LOWEST GRADE IN UNIVERSITY: B+.
FAVOURITE THING ABOUT YOURSELF: “I was able to re-learn how to walk after a major car accident and I’m good at balancing my passion and common sense.”
WHAT’S YOUR SUPERPOWER: Ability to synthesize things.
BOOK RECOMMENDATION: The Human Stain by Philip Roth.