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Widener Professor honored for innovation in higher education

Dr. Stephen R. Madigosky has received the Khaladjan International Award for Innovation in Higher Education, presented by the American Association of University Administrators. The award was given at the AAUA's 2017 Leadership Seminar in New Orleans.

The honor recognizes work that is both innovative and has wide potential for application or impact on the international dimensions of post-secondary education. In selecting a recipient, award sponsors look for a recipient who demonstrates innovative teaching methods; methods that widen access to education; the extension of, or more efficient use of, teaching resources; wide use of or development of learning technology; and efforts that accelerate or deepen student learning. The award is named for the founder and former president of the Moscow External University of the Humanities.

Madigosky holds joint appointment in the university's Department of Biology and its Department of Environmental Science and Sustainability, which he chairs. The award recognized his work with a Widener sustainable development course that involves travel to Costa Rica. It combines experiential learning with scientific inquiry to solve real world problems. The "Cultivation to Cup" program he initiated in Costa Rica has created a unique association between faculty, students, rural Costa Rican coffee farmers, coffee roasters and food service providers, all in the name of a greener environment. The project entices conventional coffee farmers to convert their operations to environmentally friendly shade-grown organic conditions by paying them a higher living wage.

"It is a tremendous honor to be selected for such a prestigious award," Madigosky said. "It is particularly rewarding because this honor shines a spotlight on a course that was designed to engage students, so they can become part of a solution to directing conservation efforts in Latin American and the United States.

"Land modification and habitat destruction is occurring very rapidly throughout the developing world, and especially in Latin America. Consumer decisions made in North America have a tremendous influence across the globe. If we are concerned about preserving our biological heritage, we need to think differently about how our decisions impact operations in other parts of the world. I hope this academic experience is eye-opening and life changing for my students, and I am grateful to receive recognition that views it as innovative."

Madigosky holds a bachelor's degree in natural resources conservation from the University of Connecticut. He has a master's degree in natural resources and a doctorate in biology from Ball State University. He resides in West Chester, Pa.

Widener University is a private, metropolitan university that connects curricula to social issues through civic engagement. Dynamic teaching, active scholarship, personal attention, leadership development and experiential learning are key components of the Widener experience. A comprehensive doctorate-granting university, Widener comprises eight schools and colleges that offer liberal arts and sciences, professional and pre-professional curricula leading to associate, baccalaureate, master's and doctoral degrees. Visit the university website,