Philosophy Associate Professor Toby Handfield awarded the 2018 Dean’s Award for Excellence in Graduate Research Supervision

Associate Professor Toby Handfield, School of Philosophical, Historical & International Studies, has been awarded the 2018 Dean’s Award for Excellence in Graduate Research Supervision.

Photo credit: Seth Lazar

Associate Professor Handfield, a Monash undergraduate teacher and graduate supervisor, has also recently secured an Australian Research Council Future Fellowships for his research project in Philosophy.

He was selected for the Dean’s award based on the success of his innovative supervision practices and his development of graduate research students as independent researchers.

Associate Professor Handfield attributed the award to the achievement and hard work of his students, and said that it is extremely rewarding to see students develop in confidence and abilities over the course of their graduate studies.

“Most of all, I value the opportunity to learn myself from supervision. I have been introduced to lots of fascinating debates and ideas through the ingenuity of my past students,” he said.

Associate Professor Handfield said he has established a successful approach to supervising by creating a shared understanding to ensure that daunting questions are less troubling, and productive habits are developed.

“I try wherever possible to increase students’ feelings of control. Academia involves a lot of luck,” Associate Professor Handfield said.

“And I think that there is a lot to be said for giving very blunt advice to students, and encouraging them to work on something that is likely to be both intellectually rewarding and relatively achievable.”

Current PhD student Jayani Nadarajalingam agreed that Associate Professor Handfield’s novel approach to supervising breeds success.

Ms. Nadarajalingam said Associate Professor Handfield has continually nurtured her as a philosopher from her undergraduate years up to now, her final year as a philosophy doctoral student.

“I particularly appreciate the highly inter-disciplinary nature of Toby's research and expertise, something which has had a significant impact on my own research, alongside the innovative approaches he brings to doctoral supervision,” Ms. Nadarajalingam said.

Monash Philosophy Professor Graham Oppy said Associate Professor Handfield is a model all-round academic.

“He is a superb graduate supervisor. He has sixteen dissertation completions in the past five years. His philosophical publications are exemplary for their clarity, imagination and depth of insight,” Professor Oppy said.

“He is an excellent academic leader, with the happy knack of cutting to the heart of thorny administrative and managerial issues. He is a great colleague who always puts his shoulder to the collective wheel.”

As the winner of the Arts Faculty Award, Associate Professor Handfield will be nominated for the 2018 Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Postgraduate Research Supervision.

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