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Interdisciplinary scholar’s work will continue

Earlier this month, human geographer Professor Eric Pawson retired after 41 years of teaching and research at UC.

Professor Pawson has been interviewed about his collaborative work for the next issue of Chronicle magazine due out in June, but there is much more to share about his career than would fit in the article.

eric pawson

Although he studied as a geographer and economic historian at Oxford University, Professor Pawson’s career has spanned the broad area of human-environment relationships in a variety of contexts.

Since the 2010/2011 Canterbury earthquakes, Professor Pawson has been at the sharp-end of group-based, community-based learning – enabling students to work in teams with community partners such as Project Lyttlelton, the Avon Otakaro Network and various residents associations.

It’s this collaborative, research-informed teaching that has been a highlight of his award-winning career at UC.

“When I studied at Oxford it was a tutorial-based university, whereas UC is lecture-based, so I have always looked for complementary forms of learning to supplement this,” explains Professor Pawson, who won the UC Teaching Award in 2008, a National Tertiary Teaching Excellence Award in 2009 and the UC Teaching Medal in 2013.

Professor Pawson will keep exploring the impact people have on their environments and vice versa through various community projects in Ōtautahi Christchurch – the place he has made his home since arriving in 1976 from the United Kingdom.

His research publications and key roles on academic bodies helped build an international reputation as an advisor, mentor, researcher and teacher – sentiments echoed in messages from UC colleagues and peers from the Universities of British Columbia, Exeter and Copenhagen at his standing-room only farewell celebration.

We share some photos and comments below.

My tribute to Professor Eric Pawson – Julie Cupples (Reader in Human Geography, University of Edinburgh)

Professor Paul Cloke (FBA, University of Exeter) wrote in a message read at the farewell:

“You have been a truly guiding light in the content and practice of academic scholarship; a guiding light that has brought many people to the heart and truth of geographic enquiry. The example you have set in mapping out understandings of environmental history in colonial and post-colonial New Zealand is an extraordinarily rich and hospitable mix of geography, history and sensitivity to Maori perspectives. Yours has not only been a cartography, but an archetype of multi-disciplinary hospitality and ground-breaking collaborative energy. 

“These have been precious moments. When I have needed to get home to the core values and excitements of geographical scholarship, you’ve been my guiding light. Your inspirational character is also very much in evidence in seemingly more humdrum encounters: in the way in which the world is naturally your classroom; in the way you draw out the best from people rather than filling their heads with your own brand of what’s best; in the way that you, almost magically, equip people to make sense of their own worlds for themselves. So many university-level teachers become – often unintentionally – accustomed to the art of self-aggrandisement. Not you. You are the arch recogniser of other peoples’ talents. You are the ethically astute and impishly funny catalyst for drawing out the individuality of others – your students, your colleagues and your friends.”

Some photos from the farewell celebration:

Eric P cake Eric P farewell EricP fareweel1

Some photos of Professor Pawson’s career, which were shown at the farewell are below.

EP 1978 EP 1983 EP 1987 EP 2000 EP 2002 EP 2005 EP 2007 Ep books EP hands EP music

You are welcome to share our own comments about Professor Pawson below.