Celebrating Fresh Thinking: Professorial Lecture Series
Staff and postgraduate students are invited to join me in celebrating the substantive contribution to academia made by Professor Rien Visser and Professor Michael Tarren-Sweeney in the first Professorial Lecture Series for 2018.
Date: Thursday, 8 March 2018, from 4.30 – 6.00 p.m.
Location: F3 Forestry Lecture Theatre
I encourage all staff and postgraduate students to attend these lectures, to actively support our new Professors, and take the opportunity to appreciate the fantastic research being undertaken in parts of the university we may be less familiar with.
“The rise of the autonomous machinery; are robots taking over timber harvesting?” – Presented by Professor Rien Visser, School of Forestry
Ever wondered what goes on when our plantation forests are being cut down? It is no longer brute force and grunty chainsaws. A small high-tech revolution is taking place. Without a doubt, forestry plays an important role both in our landscape as well as society. It provides employment for approximately 15,000 mainly rural New Zealanders, protects the environment, and is our third largest export earner. The last decade has seen some great New Zealand-based innovations in harvesting machines and systems. This means we are not just selling logs, but also high-tech equipment and expertise. However, while operating a million dollar high-tech machine in beautiful scenic settings miles away from the big city can be considered a great job, the geographical remoteness of many forests means contractors are struggling to attract or retain suitable employees.
Meanwhile, international competition for forest products requires ever improving efficiency and robotic machinery is a realistic near-future option. They are being developed right now. This presentation provides a visual overview of developments, showcases our UC contribution, but also encourages a robust discussion on the social ramifications of robots ‘taking over the hills’. Do we embrace it, or do we resist?
“Unnatural childhoods – growing up in impermanent, statutory care” – Presented by Professor Michael Tarren-Sweeney, School of Health Sciences
Children typically enter statutory care with compromised psychological development, as a result of chronic and severe maltreatment through their early years. In particular, many children enter care with impaired attachment systems, manifesting to others as relational difficulties – that is further compromised by developmental trauma.
This child population is thus uniquely primed for ‘felt insecurity’. Their developmental recovery hinges on them acquiring and maintaining felt security through the experience of unconditional love and care. And yet, statutory care systems evolved over the past century with another purpose in mind – to provide time-limited care and protection to children, with restoration to their parents being the final goal.
Despite this, increasing numbers of children throughout the developed world effectively grow up in legally impermanent alternative care. Therein lies a dilemma. In this lecture, I describe extraordinary developmental risks faced by children growing up in statutory care, involving complex interaction of child welfare practices, caregiver motivation, the child’s experience of impermanence, and children’s and caregivers’ felt security.
I conclude that the state can only meet its duty of care to these children if it addresses their need for relational permanence.
Professor Ian Wright
Deputy Vice-Chancellor | Tumu Tuarua