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Sussex lecturer wins teaching ‘Oscar’

* 29 June 2004 *

Sussex lecturer wins teaching ‘Oscar’

A University of Sussex lecturer who teaches creative writing as a tool for self-development has been awarded the teachers' 'Oscar' - a National Teaching Fellowship worth £50,000.

Dr Celia Hunt is a Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at the Centre for Continuing Education at the University, and is the only award-winner from Sussex. The Higher Education Academy, which selected Dr Hunt from 91 nominees in the Experienced Staff category, said the award was in recognition of her "outstanding contribution to teaching and learning" and "a remarkable career, throughout which she has established creative writing as a powerful tool for improvement".

Dr Hunt runs and teaches the MA in Creative Writing and Personal Development. This is aimed both at people who want to develop their own writing skills and at those who want to learn how to use creative writing in working with others. The course can also help people learn more about themselves and sometimes work through life changes. "It's not a 'writing therapy' but there is a strong therapeutic dimension to the work," says Dr Hunt.

Occupational therapists, psychotherapists, social workers, teachers and people from the business world are among those who have taken the MA to learn how to use creative writing to help others. "Writers have also found the MA invaluable in their work with older people, people recovering from drug and alcohol abuse and people with mental health problems," says Dr Hunt. Next academic year will see 32 new students from all walks of life and aged from 20 to 70 starting the programme.

A teacher at Sussex since 1991, Dr Hunt was one of the founders of the Association for the Literary Arts in Personal Development (Lapidus), and is now part of a working group set up to consider how best to accredit writers wishing to work in health and social care. She has recently completed research on creative writing as an educational tool, aimed at helping students develop creativity in their essay-writing. She is now working on a book, Creative Writing and the Writer, aimed at students and teachers.

A late entrant to academic life with no first degree, Dr Hunt began her studies aged 40, following the death of her husband. Her interest in creative writing helped her to shape a successful career in higher education, first as an MA student at the University's School of Education, then as a lecturer.

Dr Hunt is planning to use her award to fund further research on creative writing as an educational tool, a conference and a book. She says: "I am deeply honoured by this award and excited by the opportunities it creates for me. I'm excited too for the people I work with, as this will help us to consolidate some important thinking about teaching and learning."

Dr Hunt is the second Teaching Fellow at the University. Professor Imogen Taylor, Head of the Department of Social Work and Care, was similarly honoured last year.

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