Larry Sawchuk received his BA and MA from the University of Manitoba. In 1974, while completing his PhD in Anthropology at the University of Toronto, Larry began his teaching career in Department of Social Sciences (Anthropology) at what was then Scarborough College at the University of Toronto. As an Associate Professor for 31 years, Larry’s relentless commitment to the improvement of the undergraduate learning experience from the macro level (program) down to the micro level of learning (individual) has and continues to be evident, especially through his use of experiential learning and development of new courses and curricula.
The current curriculum design of the Biological/Evolutionary Anthropology program at the University of Toronto, Scarborough campus is in large part attributable to Larry during his years as Program supervisor, Supervisor of Studies, and Associate Chair for Anthropology, and currently as Associate Chair for the Department of Anthropology. Larry has proposed and designed all of the seven courses that he has taught over the last five years; likewise, he introduced three courses to the graduate program (Quantitative Methods in Anthropology, Medical Anthropology, and Anthropological Demography). Whether or not Larry was serving as an administrator for the department, he has always welcomed the opportunity to assist fellow colleagues with advice on problem resolutions for the classroom, and improvements on teaching methodology.
Larry has orchestrated faculty complement planning and program direction in both Anthropology and Health Studies. In response to the student demand to diversify and broaden the courses in the area of the study of bio-cultural health issues, Larry created and launched the Health Studies Program at the University of Toronto, Scarborough Campus in 2001. Over the years, the Health Studies program has flourished, having the highest enrollment in the Department of Social Sciences and the third largest program at UofT, Scarborough. Once again, to cope with the increasing popularity of the Health Studies program, in spring 2012 Larry was appointed as the Dean’s designate to the Health Studies Program in which he has assisted with the redesigning and re-launching of the program into a department with two new streams: Health Policy and Population Health.
Beginning in the 1990s, Larry directed his attention towards the creation of technologically innovative teaching materials, such as the Fairport Conspiracy, a computer based CD-ROM game that explored Forensic Anthropology methodology used to identify human remains. His desire to create innovative teaching tools was generated out of his interests to reach students at another level, providing them with the flexibility to learn at their own pace, and clarify complex mathematical problems, making them more accessible to students. It is uncommon for undergraduate students to be involved with the development and implementation of teaching tools but Larry has regularly included them in this process. These tools have been employed to aid in the teaching of demography, osteology, and epidemiology in the classroom by Anthropology faculty on all three campuses at UofT; today, many of these tools are accessible to the general public.
In the classroom, Larry employs experiential learning methods by introducing students to new and exciting material, using data from the field in Gibraltar on historical demography, disease and epidemics. He often uses audio and video media from his research and employs real data to illustrate basic concepts and explore complications in data that are not discussed in textbooks. Larry also has numerous undergraduate volunteers involved in his research.
A testament to Larry’s drive to improving the undergraduate learning experience includes his being awarded the Scarborough Campus Teaching Award in 1990. His achievements garnered student attention, when he was awarded the Scarborough Campus Students’ Union (SCSU) Teaching Award for 2005/06. Beyond the classroom setting, Larry is actively involved in promoting the discipline of Anthropology and presents annually at University open houses as well as representing the Department of Anthropology at the provincial university and college fairs. He also has given public and invited lectures for Canadian, Gibraltarian and Maltese organizations and associations on his research on Gibraltar.