Easter – a time for reflection

We are all just about to head into an extended break to celebrate a religious festival I like to call “Easter”.

Now, for your average Kiwi it’s a time to gorge on novelty eggs over an extra long weekend. But for Christians, Easter is the most important religious festival in the annual calendar (It even trumps Christmas!) – and it’s the time when they remember the death (Good Friday) and resurrection (Easter Sunday) of a chap called Jesus Christ. The death bit is pretty much accepted by most historians as a historical fact, while the resurrection bit, understandably, is more hotly contested.

One of my favourite Easter artworks, by Italian painter Caravaggio in 1601 is called “The Incredulity of Saint Thomas” aka “Tom the Cynic”. Thomas is the disciple who famously wanted proof that Jesus was actually back from the dead, and demanded to stick his finger into Jesus’ wounds. He was the original “Doubting Thomas”. 

Caravaggio, The Incredulity of Saint Thomas, 1601-1602, Sanssouci Picture Gallery, Potsdam Germany.

I just love how gruesome the painting is. I imagine Thomas squishing his finger in Jesus’ wound – and I wonder if halfway through his finger test he feels that tinge of regret – like when we ask our friends to show us their mountain-bike wounds, and then wish we hadn’t. I also wonder if he washed his hands afterwards before eating dinner that night. And I guess this painting reminds me that when it comes to faith (be it religious, scientific, or economic) – no questions should be off limits, and no beliefs should escape the right to be prodded to see if they hold up to closer scrutiny.

But be you a saint or a cynic when it comes to the Easter story – their may be something new about Easter you’ve missed all this time! Because for thousands of years Easter has also been the season when people have reflected on what character flaws or habits of themselves that they wish could be “put to death” (like, say, the way I become enraged when a car doesn’t indicate before they turn), and what other aspects within themselves they hope might be “brought back to life” (like, say, the joy I used to get as a kid from painting or playing backyard cricket).

So, this Easter, be you a person of some faith or none, take this as my official Chaplain’s invitation to put aside time to consider what negative thing in your own life you’d like to die before you return for term 2, and what life-giving thing you’d like to create space for. UC will be a much better place for it, and so will you!

Happy Easter! 
Rev Spanky Moore

Sustainability Framework – UC’s approach

UC’s Senior Management Team recently developed and adopted a Sustainability Framework.

This document establishes the approach that the University will take to meet its environmental commitments and to incorporate sustainability concepts into decision making at all levels, while staying within the University’s resources.

The Framework covers approaches to teaching, learning and research, operations, and partnerships for sustainability.

AVC Māori and Acting Learning Resources Director Darryn Russell headed the Framework, and believes that “universities are uniquely poised to offer sustainable solutions to the problems of our day – notably climate change – something that is recognised throughout the higher education sector world-wide”. He added that “having this Framework in place will focus attention on this fact and makes a firm statement that these issues are viewed as important within the UC community”.

Key elements of the Framework include fostering research that will lead to a more sustainable world and offering opportunities for students to learn about and contribute to ways their disciplines can contribute to sustainability outcomes. It states a goal of being a “role model in our community for environmental leadership and sustainable practises”, and that UC will draw on the special significance of Te Tiriti o Waitangi and commit to being good stewards of our environment.

There are lots of ways to get involved now that this Framework is in place, acknowledging that we have been on a sustainability journey as a University community for nearly twenty years.

For an idea of how the University is performing in the areas covered by the Framework, have a look at the 2017 Sustainability Report

Get in touch with the Sustainability Office if you have any questions about how you can incorporate more sustainability practices and principles into what you do here at UC and in your everyday lives!

Erskine Programme – Visiting Fellow Profile: Guy Holburn from University of Western Ontario, Canada

Where you have come from and what do you teach?

I am a professor at the Ivey Business School, University of Western Ontario in Canada, where I teach business strategy and sustainability courses to undergraduates, graduates and executives. One of the favorite courses I teach, ‘Corporations and Society’, tackles fundamental issues about the evolving role that businesses play in modern society. I am also the Director of the Ivey Energy Policy and Management Centre, and much of my research focuses on the energy sector, which is a significant part of the Canadian economy.

What interested you in the Erskine Programme/Why did you want to come to UC?

One of my professors at Berkeley was David Teece, who is a UC alumnus, so I had heard a lot of positive things from him about New Zealand and Christchurch. Although he lives mainly in California, he still maintains strong connections with New Zealand and UC, and his accent is still unmistakably Kiwi. I actually learnt about the Erskine Programme from a faculty member in the science department at my university who had had an Erskine position several years ago, and he couldn’t praise it highly enough. The Business School at UC has world-class faculty in sustainability and management, so the prospect of visiting for an extended period was extremely appealing.

Guy with two of his children, Alexander and Georgina, enjoying the natural beauty of Riccarton Bush

What have you been doing at UC?

I am co-teaching undergraduate and MBA courses on business sustainability topics along with my host, Professor Michaela Balzarova. We each bring our own perspectives to the material (mine being economics), so the courses are a real fusion of expertise. We are having fun teaching the classes together and I think (hope) the students are benefiting from our individual approaches and contributions.

I am also developing a joint paper on solar power in New Zealand, and am finishing up several papers on energy regulation. There are a lot of academic seminars and lectures happening around campus so I’ve taken the opportunity to explore outside my own discipline – the debate on “Tyranny and Crises of Democracy: What we can learn from Antiquity”, chaired by Peter Field, Dean of Arts, and the lecture by Dame Carol Robinson on “What’s Really Inside your Medicine Cabinet?” were both excellent events with high quality speakers.

What have you most enjoyed about your time here at UC/Christchurch?

It’s hard to know where to begin. Hanging out on Friday afternoons at the staff club – one of the most charming and congenial university clubs I have visited – chatting with other staff and Erskine visitors. Meeting so many welcoming new people on and off campus. Exploring Christchurch and the surrounding area with the family at weekends – the botanical gardens, Canterbury museum, Rollicking Gelato, Sumner beach, fireworks at Hagley Park, Akaroa. We have also enjoyed a day trip picnicking at Castle Hill and wading through Cave Spring. A highlight so far has been driving over the mountains and trekking in the rain up to Franz Joseph Glacier (though I think the kids would have preferred the Margaret Mahy playground). The kids are enjoying their time at school where they have been welcomed by students and teachers.

I have to thank the Erksine Program staff and my faculty host, Professor Balzarova, for being exceptionally helpful and hospitable, and making the transition to UC and Christchurch as smooth as possible. This has played a large part in making the experience so rewarding and enjoyable.

UC Child Well-being Research Institute – approach revealed

Professor Gail Gillon, Co-director of the new UC Child Well-being Research Institute and Pro-Vice- Chancellor for the UC College of Education Health and Human Development | Te Rāngai Ako me te Hauora, introduces the role and approach of the new institute which was launched last week.

We know in New Zealand we want to improve the wellbeing of our children.

High quality research to inform policy and practice is vital to a vision of sustainable child well-being.  Our research teams within the new UC Child Wellbeing Research Institute will actively contribute to positive growth of our children’s well-being.

This is the first research institute in New Zealand to bring together multiple disciplines, particularly across education and health, to focus on children’s well-being through a holistic, strengths based approach. The UC College of Education Health and Human Development| Te Rāngai Ako me te Hauora is proud to host the new UC Child Wellbeing Research Institute.

The Better Start National Science Challenge Successful Literacy and Learning Theme will be led through this new institute- with major projects already underway that are focused on:

  • improving early learning for children entering school at five years with lower levels of oral language ability,
  • understanding how Before School Check Health data may predict children’s early learning success and
  • projects investigating better ways to support children’s learning when they come into school as children who are emerging bilingual- English and their home language or English and Te Reo  Māori

Investing in children’s educational success and healthy well-being is critical to enable our children to fulfil their potential and contribute to society.

In addition to a focus on braiding health and education research disciplines our institute will have a strong focus on culturally responsive practices. Children who are strong in their cultural identity, connected with their whānau, have a sense of belonging – are more likely to have better education and health outcomes.

New and emerging models are focusing on the child’s sense of their own well-being and moving away from more traditional measures which have focused on deficits within children – the importance of developing community partnerships to well-being are also developing and Christchurch in post-earthquake recovery is providing wonderful examples of innovation in promoting community well-being.

We are embracing technologies and working together with researchers in different ways- our institute will be where ever we are-where-ever our banners are flying- we plan to host events in the new health precinct- in the Arts Centre UC space – in community venues.

We want our research to be connected with community and therefore we need to be in the community to co-construct research with partners and to share our research findings with community. We will have a strong online presence both through the UC webpages and through social media to connect with researchers, practitioners and families in an interactive way that embraces the digital world in which we live and work.


Volunteers needed for wellbeing research

Kia hiwa rā!

How would you like to be able to influence wellbeing offerings at UC? 

Are you interested in being involved in a project on Wellbeing initiatives at UC that may change the way the organisation views their current initiatives?  As part of my MBA Project I would like to understand your thoughts and preferences on UC’s wellbeing initiatives.

I am seeking volunteers that will give 30-60 minutes of their time to answer questions on wellbeing offerings at UC.  I am interested in what wellbeing means to you as there are many different definitions.  You don’t have to have any prior knowledge of wellbeing initiatives at UC or be an expert in what wellbeing is.  You will either be an Academic, General/Professional or Technical staff member that has worked at UC for more than one year (fixed term or continuing).

If you are interested in being a participant of my study or if you have any questions please contact tracey.hooper@canterbury.ac.nz or etxn 93258.