Tag Archives: Academic Staff

Get your teaching spark back over winter

Re-invigorate your teaching approach this winter during UC Teaching Week, 7-10 June.

UC Teaching Week brings you new ideas and tools to give your teaching a booster shot over the colder months.

Come along to one or all of the interactive seminars offered through the week. Each workshop includes a short presentation and a chance for discussion among your peers.

We asked a snapshot of seminar presenters to tell us why you should attend their seminar (click here for a full list of sessions):

Teaching showcase
Tuesday, 1-2pm, Undercroft 101, Puaka James Hight
“From community-based research to service projects with community organisations – we look at how you might already be addressing or thinking about the “Engaged with the Community” attribute in the UC Graduate Profile.” – Associate Professor Billy O’Steen, Director, UC Community Engagement Hub

Culturally Responsive Pedagogy
Tuesday, 2.15-3.30pm, Undercroft 101, Puaka James Hight
“What does culturally responsive pedagogy look like, sound like, feel like? Find out!” – Dr Liz Brown, Office of the AVC Māori

Common Issues with Student Assessment
Wednesday, 12noon-1.15pm, Undercroft 101, Puaka James Hight
“We present the findings of a recent study looking at what the most common issues are that students are facing with assessments in first year, and workshop how we can use the results to better help student performance.” – Dr Dr Erik Brogt, Academic Developer

Engaging Large Classes
Thursday, 12noon-1.30pm, Undercroft 101, Puaka James Hight
“We will discuss teaching strategies and background on creating an interactive and learner-centred environment in high-enrolment courses.” – Dr Dr Erik Brogt, Academic Developer

Embedding Employability in our Classes
Thursday, 10-11.30am, Undercroft 101, Puaka James Hight
“‘Employable, Innovative and Enterprising’ is one of the key graduate attributes in the new UC graduate profile. This seminar will help you engage directly with industry on expectations of this, as providing practical ways of addressing this in our courses.” – Dr Ross James, Dean of Commerce

Please pass the word around your colleagues to encourage them to attend, remembering support staff and relevant postgraduate students too. Booking is not required.

Come along to the Teaching Awards Ceremony 7 June

Come along and show your support for colleagues who have won this year’s UC Teaching Awards.

Date: Tuesday, 7 June
Time: 10:30AM – 12:30PM
Venue: Undercroft 101, Puaka James Hight 


As the opening event of UC Teaching Week, the ceremony will include an introduction from Vice-Chancellor Dr Rod Carr, as well as a presentation from UCSA President James Addington on what students believe makes a great teacher.

You will find out the reason behind each winning award nomination and hear first-hand the teaching philosophy that motivates and drives each award winner.

Afterwards there will be an opportunity to network with other attendees.

The Awards Ceremony is open to all staff. If you would like to attend, please RSVP to Eleri Nugent, eleri.nugent@canterbury.ac.nz

Winners of the 2016 UC Teaching Awards:
– Phillipa Gourdie, Mathematics and Statistics
– Ben Kennedy, Geological Sciences
– Susanna Wilson, Teacher Education
– Sarah Wright, Management, Marketing and Entrepreneurship
Teaching Innovation award:
– Erik Brogt (Academic Services), Tara Ross (Journalism), Thomas Wilson (Geological Sciences)


All Staff are warmly invited to workshops in UC Teaching Week, held on campus from 7-10 June.

Colleagues from across all colleges will provide illustrations of effective teaching strategies, followed by a chance to ask questions to enable you to adapt their practices to your own needs. Each workshop will have a series of short presentations followed by informal conversations. Booking is not required.

Crafoord Days 2016 – symposium

Following is a post from Professor David Wiltshire, who recently attended Crafoord Days 2016 in Stockholm, including the symposium and Crafoord Prize ceremony.


Greetings from Stockholm.

The Symposium covered a diverse range of talks on all the aspects of rotating black holes. This included the history of the discovery by Roy Kerr, the astrophysics of accretion disks and jets by co-laureate Roger Blandford, simulations of accretion processes by Jonathan McKinney, simulations and visualisations of the geometrodynamics of strong field vorticity in colliding black holes by Kip Thorne, the LIGO discovery by Laura Cadonati, and more about its implications by Frans Pretorius.

Andy Fabian discussed observations of accretion disks, and Avery Broderick showed the sort of images of the central black hole in our galaxy, and the one in M87 that we might hope to have from the Event Horizon Telescope within the next several years. These are really going to nail down the Kerr solution in general relativity versus some other exotic theories. Gerard ‘t Hooft spoke about the black hole information paradox.

I covered outstanding theoretical issues, which we might hope to resolve in the next few decades. In particular, I highlighted the possibility that primordial black holes created in the quark-hadron transition at the GeV energy scale in the early universe form a significant part of the dark matter. This possibility is raised as a serious option if black holes of a mass similar to those discovered by LIGO are typical; an option which had not been thought about much prior to the LIGO discovery but which is the subject of a paper by Bird et al, in the latest Physical Review Letters.

The physics needed to make such an option viable turns out to naturally tie in with the direction of my own current research plans, which involve the treatment of back reaction in the primordial plasma – i.e., treating general relativity differently from traditional approaches in the first few fractions of a second after the Big Bang. A typical reaction to my talk was that of Roger Blandford who said he enjoyed the talk, and “it would be fun if the heretics won”.

In the evening the laureates – including also the Mathematics Crafoord laureate Yakov Eliashberg – symposium speakers, partners and invited fellows of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences – dined in their private club, looked on by portraits of Carl Linnaeus, Alfred Nobel and other less familiar characters. This was a time both to catch up with old friends – such as Andy Fabian who is a fellow at Darwin College where my wife Anneke and I met – and meet new faces, some of whom turned out to be collaborators of other people we know well, such as Gerry Gilmore. A very memorable evening indeed.

Presentation of the Crafoord Prize

The University of Canterbury’s only New Zealand Canterbury Distinguished Professor, Roy Kerr has been presented the prestigious Crafoord Prize in Sweden by HM King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden.

Emeritus Professor Kerr retired as Professor of Mathematics at the University of Canterbury in 1993 after 22 years, including a decade as the head of UC’s Mathematics department. At its December 2015 graduation ceremonies, the University conferred a Doctor of Science (honoris causa) on Professor Kerr.

Roy Kerr (centre) and Roger Blandford receiving the Crafoord Prize from HM King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden (right) in Stockholm yesterday.

Roy Kerr (centre) and Roger Blandford receiving the Crafoord Prize from HM King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden (right) in Stockholm.

.  Roy Kerr and Roger Blandford attend the Symposium in their honour.

 Roy Kerr and Roger Blandford attend the Symposium in their honour.

Photos by Laura Pishief.

Retiring Emeritus Professor ‘illuminated young minds’

Emeritus Professor Patrick Evans has officially retired from his role at UC following a significant career spanning over four decades.

Professor Patrick Evans specialised in New Zealand Literature and also Creative Composition, and was instrumental in legitimising New Zealand literature. During his career he published over 37 scholarly and creative works, including four novels and a number of plays that have been performed in New Zealand and Australia.

Pat teaching crop

He joined UC as an English tutor at the start of 1970, gaining a tenured position in 1973. His initial research represented a life-long interest in New Zealand writer Janet Frame (An Inward Sun, Wellington 1971), with additional works on the writer following, including the first biography of the writer Janet Frame (Boston, 1977), which examined her fiction to date. He also wrote The Penguin History of New Zealand Literature (1990), which was the first history of fiction and poetry to be published in New Zealand.

While short fiction The Back of His Head (Wellington, 2013) was a finalist in the 2016 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards, and in 2002 his essay on Allen Curnow won the Landfall essay prize, it is his novel Gifted (Wellington, 2011) – about an imagined flatting relationship between Janet Frame and Frank Sargeson – that he is most proud of.

Generations of students have benefitted from his sense of humour and his ability to engage with students and connect them with their studies. “The reason I teach is because of what I call ‘the romance of the classroom’ – that moment when the penny drops. It’s magic,” says Professor Evans.

Head of the School of Humanities and Creative Arts Professor Paul Millar, says Emeritus Professor Evans’  teaching has been characterised by deep knowledge, meticulous preparation, passion for his subject, irreverent humour and a mind always questioning received wisdom.

“He has applied these same qualities to his research, in particular a number of important books and articles on aspects of New Zealand literature from a perspective that challenges many of the assumptions of New Zealand’s dominant literary culture. What gives Patrick’s alternative perspective great weight is that he has never been an academic who says ‘Do as I say, not as I do’. His teaching and scholarship about writing has been complemented and augmented by a successful career as a creative writer of plays and novels. In over four decades as an academic Professor Patrick Evans has taught English Literature to tens of thousands of students.

“As a researcher, teacher, writer, colleague, mentor, friend—and the academic leader with the distinction of having sent the most hilarious “All Staff” emails—Patrick Evans will be greatly missed. Fortunately the University has honoured him with the title Emeritus Professor, meaning he will remain a close member of our academic family, and we’ll continue to enjoy his wisdom, support and his friendship.”

UC College of Arts Pro-Vice-Chancellor Dr Jonathan LeCocq says that Professor Evans retirement was the end of an era not just for the University’s English department but also for New Zealand literature.

“Patrick is gifted with the rare ability to both light up the page with his writing and illuminate young minds with his academic teaching. His influence on generations of UC students, championship of New Zealand fiction and impact on the New Zealand literary world over the last four decades is immeasurable and long-lasting.”

Newly retired Patrick Evans, English, photographed in the department lounge 6th floor Karl Popper for a Chronicle article, 20.5.16 Client Kirsten Wick, Communications, SSAC.