New era dawns at UC

Professor De la Rey - photo credit University of Canterbury

Professor De la Rey - photo credit University of Canterbury

The University of Canterbury’s 2018 results signal a new period of consolidation and growth, with a pleasing surplus, increased student numbers, newly opened learning facilities and buildings, and increased research revenue.

The University of Canterbury |Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha 2018 results signal a new period of consolidation and growth, with a pleasing surplus, increased student numbers, newly opened learning facilities and buildings, and increased research revenue.

The University’s audited result for the year ended 31 December 2018 coincides with the recent appointment of new Vice Chancellor | Tumu Whakarae Professor Cheryl de la Rey and Chancellor | Tumu Kaunihera Sue McCormack.

Professor De la Rey says she is pleased to see UC on a trajectory to success across all the areas of achievement expected from a world-class institution.

“We begin 2019 with vibrant student numbers, exciting new facilities for learning, internationally leading research and a pleasing balance sheet as well. It is very exciting to join the University at this time and to make my contribution to the wonderful work that has been done so far to deliver UC beyond recovery and very much into growth and further development.”

“The 2018 results are a credit to the University of Canterbury Council, Senior Management Team and every single staff member of our organisation,” Professor De la Rey says. “Thanks to my predecessor Dr Rod Carr and former Chancellor Dr John Wood for their effective leadership of the University.”

It was a year of highlights for the University. Prime Minister Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern opened Stage 1 of the $220 million Rutherford Regional Science and Innovation Centre – the Ernest Rutherford building, named for renowned UC alumnus Lord Rutherford. The building includes specialist teaching and research laboratories for Physics, Astronomy, Chemistry, Geology, Geography and Biological Sciences. Construction of Stage 2 is well under way, the innovative multi-storey timber-framed building named for UC alumna and renowned astronomer Beatrice Tinsley.

The blessing of the new Rehua building, which opened for teaching in January 2019, marked another special moment in UC’s recovery. Rehua houses the College of Education, Health and Human Development | Te Rāngai Ako me te Hauora, the Centre for Entrepreneurship | Te Pokapū Rakahinonga and the Executive Development Programme of the College of Business and Law | Te Rāngai Umanga me te Ture. 

In 2018 UC recovered student numbers with 14,070 EFTS* overall (an increase of 7.5% on 2017), with increases across domestic, international and postgraduate students.  

Financially, the University achieved a $9.6 million surplus, compared to the 2017 deficit of $5.3m, and a budgeted operating deficit for 2018 of $7.9m. The surplus was buoyed by a one-off insurance payment for earthquake damage. The University also received the final $50m of support from the Crown, having achieved the necessary milestones and targets required. This post-earthquake support of up to $260m of the University’s building programme concluded in 2018. The University remains grateful for the assistance from the Crown and, through that support, its acknowledgement of the role UC plays in the city of Christchurch and the economy, as one of the region’s largest employers.

*Equivalent Full-time Students

-University of Canterbury

Is ‘sex ed’ failing the #metoo generation?

Kathleen Quinlivan

Kathleen Quinlivan

Navigating contemporary gender issues is complicated for young people, and New Zealand’s traditional sexuality education is not keeping up, according to a Canterbury education expert.

Gender fluidity, consent, exposure to pornography, sexual violence, and the power dynamics behind the #metoo movement are some of the issues University of Canterbury Associate Professor Kathleen Quinlivan explores in her new book Exploring Contemporary Issues in Sexuality Education with Young People (Palgrave).

“One of the main issues is this huge slippage between what young people need and what they are getting. We are in the era of #metoo, sexual harassment, sex and gender politics and those are things that young people really want to know about, but they are often not areas that teachers and parents are comfortable going into,” Assoc Prof Quinlivan says.

The internationally recognised researcher of school-based sexuality education says a limited health and risk focus of sexuality education lingers. That the word “pleasure” was removed from the most recent (2015) Ministry of Education sexuality education guidelines is typical of a cautious official approach, she says.  

Meanwhile, young people are taking matters in to their own hands, Assoc Prof Quinlivan says.

“There are feminist groups in schools and there are queer-straight alliance groups in schools that have strong social justice orientations, combatting discrimination and talking about pleasure – there are a lot of informal things happening that are not visible in the formal arena.”

The gaps can be bridged, she says. Assoc Prof Quinlivan advocates for teachers to listen to young people’s lived experiences and venture beyond traditional boundaries.

“It is not easy teaching these things. The Ministry of Education is risk averse and doesn’t provide support for professional development, plus the Sexuality Education guidelines are not compulsory – in fact schools didn’t even receive a hard copy of them,” she says. 

“Policies aside, the relationship with students is the most important thing for teachers to develop and that takes time. You have to be someone who is really interested in exploring the issues that young people are dealing with.”

The possibilities for change are exciting, she says.

“The rise of the #metoo movement has been huge – there has been a tidal shift. There is a new feminism where younger women are starting to stand up and talk about the things they experience. Through popular culture, in response to gender-based harassment, sexual diversity and the rise of #metoo, there is a renewed interest in gender activism – it is a bit of moment really!”

The book was launched in New Zealand on 20 February to coincide with a symposium for academics and teachers at UC’s College of Education, Health and Human Development, titled Coming In Slantways: Sexuality Education Otherwise. Presentations and workshops enabled participants to explore and expand their practice, bringing the fruits of research to both educators and their students.

Exploring Contemporary Issues in Sexuality Education with Young People  , by Kathleen Quinlivan, Palgrave Macmillan UK, ISBN 978-1-137-50104-2

Exploring Contemporary Issues in Sexuality Education with Young People, by Kathleen Quinlivan, Palgrave Macmillan UK, ISBN 978-1-137-50104-2

The book was launched in New Zealand on 20 February to coincide with a symposium for academics and teachers at UC’s College of Education, Health and Human Development, titled Coming In Slantways: Sexuality Education Otherwise. Presentations and workshops enabled participants to explore and expand their practice, bringing the fruits of research to both educators and their students.

-University of Canterbury

Physical activity environment and obesity risk

Dr Matthew Hobbs’ research could help policymakers consider the impact environmental interventions have on preventing obesity.

Dr Matthew Hobbs’ research could help policymakers consider the impact environmental interventions have on preventing obesity.

A new study from University of Canterbury (UC) shows a link between recreational physical activity spaces in a neighbourhood and obesity risk in adults.  

Dr Matthew Hobbs, a researcher at the University of Canterbury’s GeoHealth Laboratory, has published one of the first longitudinal studies, research about an individual or group gathered over a long period of time, which suggests age may be a determining factor when analysing the relationship between an individual’s recreational physical activity environment and obesity. A recreational physical activity environment included parks, gyms, swimming pools, even ice rinks.  

The study was conducted in Yorkshire, United Kingdom, and tracked 8,864 people over three years. At its conclusion, it illustrated that if a young adult’s recreational physical activity environment provided opportunities to be physically active, risk of obesity was lower, however this relationship did not exist for older adults.  

“It is difficult to envisage a future where obesity prevalence decreases in environments that actively promote it,” Dr Hobbs says.  

“Our study showed that the recreational physical activity environments was related to obesity risk, but only in younger adults. An individual’s mobility varies with age and older adults are generally less mobile. While many factors affect mobility, it is plausible that the immediate residential neighbourhood environment may play a more important role in an individual’s daily life who remains closer to home.”  

According to Dr Hobbs, age has not previously been identified as a determining factor in this type of research.  

“The research is especially important for policymakers, as it offers tentative evidence that supports previous research which suggests that the environment may matter more for certain populations. This suggests that policymakers in Public Health and Planning need to consider the impact that environmental interventions have across the life course,” he says. 

“Obesity is associated with a range of diseases, such as Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, arthritis and some cancers, so finding ways to stop people becoming obese is important for public health and for the public purse.”

-University of Canterbury

Canterbury students engineering better health in Africa

(Pictured left to right) From the University of Canterbury’s College of Engineering, student Grace Elliot, Mechanical Engineering Senior Lecturer Dr Debbie Munro, and student Ella Guy aim to use their engineering skills to improve global health.

(Pictured left to right) From the University of Canterbury’s College of Engineering, student Grace Elliot, Mechanical Engineering Senior Lecturer Dr Debbie Munro, and student Ella Guy aim to use their engineering skills to improve global health.

While others are at the beach this summer, two University of Canterbury (UC) engineering students will be working on improving health in Africa.

UC Mechanical Engineering students Grace Elliot and Ella Guy are departing for Uganda in mid-December as part of an Engineering World Health (EWH) programme.

Mechanical Engineering Senior Lecturer Dr Debbie Munro, who joined UC this year from Portland in the United States, is establishing medical engineering within UC’s mechanical engineering department.

“We are sending two students to Uganda this summer as part of a nine-week volunteer opportunity where students learn how to repair hospital equipment and then work at regional hospitals teaching the technical staff how to repair and maintain the equipment going forward,” Dr Munro says.

“Many developing nations receive donated hospital equipment, but it rarely arrives with any support for training personnel on how to use, calibrate, clean or repair the equipment and thus ends up stored in a warehouse for ‘someday’,” she says.

“The goal of EWH is to improve healthcare around the world by using this resource that already exists. Students gain a real-world understanding of the health challenges abroad and hands-on technical skills. They are also immersed in a cultural experience where they can learn the language and relate to people in an environment unique from their own. As the world becomes more global, these kinds of opportunities are essential for our future engineering leaders.”

The students will depart 16 December for the Uganda Summer Institute. They will spend four weeks in Kampala at the University of Makerere and nearby Mulago Hospital completing training on medical equipment repair, working with local biomedical engineering students, learning Swahili, and studying design.

“Grace Elliot and Ella Guy are UC ambassadors. We plan to develop our own EWH programme, which will allow 30 or more of UC’s engineering students to participate in this opportunity each year, starting in summer 2020,” Dr Munro says.

The students will take classes alongside Ugandan students, learning how to repair hospital equipment. The UC students will be part of a 35-student cohort of Australian students in an established programme that has been running for three years. They will return to Christchurch on 17 February 2019, just before the new UC academic year begins.

“There is a strong interest among UC engineering students to have international experiences, and this is a new one that we’re developing. It complements our Diploma of Humanitarian Engineering and our Engineers Without Borders programmes, which are more focused on civil engineering and water safety projects. EWH is in the medical device field and a better fit for our mechanical and mechatronics students with an interest in medical applications of engineering,” Dr Munro says.

This summer programme was established by the University of New South Wales through Engineering World Health (www.ewh.org). EWH educates and empowers young engineers, scientists and medical professionals from more developed parts of the world to use their engineering skills to improve global health and enables them immediately to provide meaningful service to patients in the developing world.

UC Commerce student chosen as Blake Trust Antarctic Ambassador

Harry Seagar

Harry Seagar

University of Canterbury Commerce student Harry Seagar is heading to Antarctica this summer after being awarded a Blake Antarctic Ambassadorship by the Sir Peter Blake Trust and Antarctica New Zealand.

The UC undergraduate heads to Antarctica on 4 February 2019 to live and work on the ice for two weeks. Harry, 21, says he feels incredibly humbled to represent the Trust and is excited to visit Antarctica. The Blake Antarctic Ambassador role will see him produce an ambitious environmental media project showcasing the scientific work carried out in the region and to give insight into day-to-day life in Antarctica.

“I can’t wait to get down there. My passion for pushing the boundaries while promoting the importance of our beautiful planet is what has driven me to pursue environmental projects like this one.”

Harry, whose BCom major is Strategy and Entrepreneurship, was selected from more than 100 applicants as part of an experiential learning programme led by Antarctica New Zealand.

Harry says promoting the unique environment is critical to gaining an understanding of how the world works and the impact humans have on it.

“Antarctica is the largest and most unique natural laboratory in the world for scientists. My project aims to promote not only this fact, but also the continent’s important past, present and future.

“Due to its connection with the rest of the planet via oceanic and atmospheric circulations, the Antarctic has a profound effect on the Earth’s climate and its future. The continent’s global significance really cannot be overstated.”

The uncertain future of Antarctica’s ice poses a serious threat to Earth if global temperatures continue to increase. In the new IPCC report, limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society.

“The importance of Antarctica is by no means limited to the pressing issue of climate change,” Harry says.

“Antarctica has a rich history, a diverse global governance model and an array of people associated with this great continent, while having a unique and challenging physical climate. I plan to explore and discuss this in my project.”

Harry describes his time at the University of Canterbury as life-changing.

“The versatility of my Commerce degree has given me a broad skillset to pursue numerous creative projects in production, creative media, environmental and social change, business and entrepreneurship. Plus, I was determined to study at a university that allowed me to remain close to the mountains.”

As part of his degree, Harry created a limited edition wine label, Pride by Cliff Edge Wines, a venture that doubled as an experiment to test social entrepreneurship theories. Harry partnered the label with two environmental charities. He also played an integral role in Team Kea’s Bird of the Year campaign victory in 2017, as well as encouraging UC campus food outlets to become more sustainable, with the introduction of takeaway wooden cutlery last year.