Associate Professor Heather Roberts wins 2020 Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Education

Heather Roberts
Associate Professor Heather Roberts is an ARC DECRA Fellow, and director of ANU Law’s visiting judges program.

Learning to communicate technical legal principles for a variety of audiences is such an important skill for the future.

Congratulations to Associate Professor Heather Roberts who is the recipient of the Vice-Chancellor’s Citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning award in this year’s Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Education.

The Australian National University's (ANU) Vice-Chancellor Professor Brian Schmidt AC, FAA, FRS said: “Associate Professor Heather Roberts brings to her teaching a distinctive passion, and nationally recognised expertise in Australian legal and judicial biography.”

The award was given for the design and delivery of an innovative interdisciplinary law elective looking at the history and function of the High Court of Australia and the Supreme Court of the United States. “It was exciting to receive the award,” said Associate Professor Roberts.

“My research looks at legal biography, legal history and constitutional law, so this was actually a course I had been designing - in my head - for many years, and to co-teach it with Professor Heather Elliott of the University of Alabama was such a privilege. I was able to take ten students to the University of Alabama in January 2019 (when I was also able to visit Supreme Court of the United States and had the surreal experience of seeing Associate Justice Clarence Thomas ‘speak’’. You can read more about the experience here.

Professor Elliott, along with some of her students travelled to Canberra and joined Associate Professor Roberts to teach the Selected Topics in Australian-United States Comparative Law (LAWS4257) course at ANU. Students were encouraged to explore their passions and interests in apex courts and legal communication.

“Learning to communicate technical legal principles for a variety of audiences is such an important skill for the future, and I was so inspired by what our students created: podcasts, children’s’ books, magazines, and education websites,” said Associate Professor Roberts.

Associate Professor Roberts is building on her success by exploring ways legal scholars from Australia, United Kingdom, Canada and the United States can work collaboratively to encourage student creativity, and greater comparative and transnational teaching and learning opportunities.

Jennifer Darmody is the tutor of the ANU Law course Equity & Trusts and Corporations Law (LAWS8707).

We would also like to congratulate ANU Law tutor Jennifer Darmody, who was nominated for the Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Tutoring or Demonstrating.

“As a tutor or teacher, you have a unique opportunity to prepare students for the path to come. My approach to teaching is largely informed by this outlook. In each tutorial, I think it is important to have an open dialogue about how students are coping with the course and the course load,” said Ms Darmody.

The Equity & Trusts and Corporations Law (LAWS8707) course convenor also spoke highly of Ms Darmody’s teaching approach. “One of the particular gifts that Jennifer brings to the classroom is the ability to animate even the most technical and lifeless areas of the law, and to do so in a way that faithfully maintains the complexity of the frameworks that she is communicating.”

Well done to both Associate Professor Heather Roberts and Ms Jennifer Darmody.


A virtual exhibition of the students’ assessment from the Selected Topics in Australian-United States Comparative Law (LAWS4257) course is available here.

Dr Heather Roberts

Associate Professor

Updated:  10 August 2015/Responsible Officer:  College General Manager, ANU College of Law/Page Contact:  Law Marketing Team