Top 10 lessons from Christchurch on making a difference

UC environmental geographer and changemaker Dr Ann Brower shares some inspiring lessons on driving positive change in the world.

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Associate Professor Ann Brower

In an inspiring talk on International Women’s Day 2020, University of Canterbury (UC) Associate Professor Ann Brower shared some lessons she’s learnt on driving positive change in the world.

Dr Brower shared statistics from a groundbreaking recent study she co-authored with UC Associate Professor Alex James, which revealed a significant gender pay gap for female academics at NZ universities – a gap that UC is investigating in a very constructive way. As an advocate for change, Dr Brower is an inspiration, not just to women, but for anyone wanting to make a difference.

These 10 tips stem from her work in political and economic geography, research in high country land reform, and earthquake experience. Often driving change involves dealing with a political climate, people and established systems. This is a practical guide:

1. Politics is an exercise in strategic hypocrisy.

2. Choose your battles.

3. The Little Guy can make a change, sometimes.

4. What happens after the change is up to the public. If we revert to apathy, old patterns re-emerge.

5. Write your point clearly, and share it. Early and often.

6. To make a change, carefully seek and forcefully proclaim the truth as you see it.

7. And never, ever, ever give up.

8. Politics is a team sport.

9. Catalysts do achieve change.

10. But almost never alone.

(Adapted from Brower 2008, 2017)

Dr Brower was awarded the 2017 Critic and Conscience of Society Award, for her work in building safety reform following the 2011 Christchurch earthquake, and her outspoken stand on South Island high country land reform.