Category Archives: Learning & Development

2021 Women of Influence

The search for 2021 Women of Influence continues! We would like to encourage everyone to nominate an incredible wāhine they know who helps making Aotearoa a better place, especially as we have so many here at UC. 

There are ten award categories that can be entered into, and you have until 16 August to make your nomination. 

The Women of Influence programme is also hosting its annual Speaker Series in July and early August, with breakfast events in Tauranga, Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. Please find details for the Christchurch Speaker Series here>

These events provide great networking opportunities for your work teams, colleagues and friends with a stellar lineup of speakers and hosts that make for an engaging and thought-provoking morning –  a great way to get out of the office for a couple of hours and come away feeling inspired!

For more about the speaker lineup and to book tickets, as well as more about nominations, visit

Student Success: PALS recap & new Kia Angitu webpage

Last week at Staff Forum Tumu Tuarua Akoranga | Deputy Vice-Chancellor Academic Professor Catherine Moran talked about UC’s Student Success programme, Kia Angitu – an ecosystem of interconnected initiatives designed to help all students transition into their first year of uni and make the most of their studies. She introduced PALS Coordinator, Katie Mills who told us all about PALS (Peer Assisted Learning Sessions), one of the Kia Angitu initiatives. In case you missed it – here’s a quick recap on PALS.  

Peer Assisted Learning Sessions 

PALS is a peer-to-peer programme that involves regular study sessions, aligned with a course. These study sessions are facilitated by leaders who are also students and have already successfully completed the course.  

Rather than a focus on “re-teaching” or “tutoring,” the sessions are centred around study skills and supporting students to revise and problem solve amongst themselves. The sessions offer an opportunity for students to: 

  • make connections with their classmates 
  • revise through group study 
  • learn study tips and tricks from students who have already aced the course 
  • learn how to navigate university life more generally in a safe, student-only environment.  

The peer-to-peer environment is the greatest strength of PALS. The leaders who facilitate the sessions attend classes with the new students and are seen to be “on the same level”. New students feel that PALS leaders truly understand the challenges of the course and feel comfortable asking them questions. 

You can watch the video below to see what students are saying about PALS and another Kia Angitu initiative – Analytics for Course Engagement (ACE).  

Want to know more about Kia Angitu? We’ve launched a new webpage 
Check out the new Kia Angitu webpage here to find out more about the programme and our vision. You can also learn more about each of the initiatives (like PALS and ACE) within the programme, and how these fit together to support students. The webpage is a work in progress, we’ll be adding more information as more initiatives are developed and implemented.  

Ngā mihi,
Kaylene Sampson
Kaihautū Angitu Ako | Programme Director – Learner Success

Free online workshop series for researchers

KiwiNet and SfTi are hosting Rewa Ake, a free online workshop series for researchers starting early August.

Date: 4 and 5 August, and 2 September 2021
Venue: Online
Format: Three half-day sessions with homework

Rewa Ake focuses on end user/customer engagement and discovery to help entrepreneurial researchers elevate their ideas and get out there to find the market.

Places are limited, so register now via the KiwiNet website:

Nuggets of wellbeing wisdom – introduction from the Mentemia launch – blog 1#

We launched Mentemia last month with an online webinar by Mentemia’s psychologist Dr Fiona Crichton. You were invited, but you may have been to busy to  join, which is exactly why you need to make the most of Mentemia’s wellbeing resources!

Just for you, I’ll summarise the Mentemia launch and each of the six pillars of wellbeing in a series of blogs to help you access wellbeing as simply and quickly as possible.

Or you can watch the webinar (45mins) here: University of Canterbury – Mentemia Staff Launch (

What is Mentemia?
• A workplace wellbeing platform/phone-based app
• Evidence-based, effective resources in bite-sized activities that everyone can add into their day
• Proactive tools based on the ‘six pillars of wellbeing’ to help you not just cope with stress, but thrive.

With a background in science and academia, Dr Crichton understands the unique university environment and the pressures on staff.

“You can’t look after others unless you are looking after yourself,” she reminded us.

She recommended that we integrate good habits and actions into our daily routines; not wait until we feel sad, stressed or overwhelmed. Just do one small thing from each pillar every day. It only takes a minute – literally.

Here’s a handy acronym:
Look after you – prioritise your own wellbeing
Experiment – find out what works for you
Adapt – change it up when needed
Develop habits – build small actions into your day

Dr Crichton recapped the physiology of stress, starting with the brain. As many of you will well know, but it’s worth remembering, the amygdala keeps us safe, and constantly scans the environment for danger. However, it has no context so it can’t differentiate between a thought, a memory or a new thing in the environment – they can all be perceived as threats.

The amygdala tells the hypothalamus to send out stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol, and we all know how that goes – muscles tense for flight, fight or freeze, digestion shuts down, immunity is compromised, etc. All this happens before the pre-frontal cortex (PFC) has a chance to assess the situation and tell the amygdala to stand down.

Good stress/bad stress – some stress enhances performance; chronic stress impairs health and happiness.

What to do?

Dr Crichton says we want to encourage good connections between the PFC and the amygdala. We can train our body to relax following flight or fight, we can soothe an overactive amygdala and we adopt habits that help us stay calm in the first place – techniques that are all covered in the six pillars of wellbeing on the app.

In the next blog, I’ll look at Pillar 1 – Chill. For now, you can check out some ideas for a DOSE of feel good brain chemicals below.

Got something to add? Comments are welcome!

Download Mentemia now

Mentemia is also available to UC students – you might like to point your students towards the 6 Pillar videos on Vimeo.

Stay well,

Breeze from the Communications team. 

Latest from the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU)

UC is a member of the ACU. Their latest news (summarised below) is available on their website.

Each month, an individual at a different ACU member institution is invited to write the introduction for this newsletter, providing an opportunity to highlight different perspectives. This month, Philip McGowan, from Newcastle University, UK and Pamela Dube from the University of the Western Cape, South Africa, writes for us about higher education and the SDGs.

It’s been nearly six years since the world’s governments agreed the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals, and these 17 goals increasingly feature in our universities, in businesses and in local government. This increasing familiarity with the SDGs is critical if we are to make good progress by the 2030 deadline for meeting these environmental, social and development goals…  (see the website for the rest of the article)

Opportunities for members:

  • Martha Farrell Memorial Fellowships – applications now open
  • Register for Going Global 2021
  • Request for proposals: Market analysis of the higher education sector in Bangladesh
  • Request for proposals: Supporting research study
  • ACU Fellowships – deadline extended
  • Speak at the NMIMS-ACU International Conference on STEM Education-2021
  • Attend the Digital University Africa webinar series
  • Research and innovation for climate action – academic and university events in support of COP26
  • Blue Charter Knowledge Exchange Training Programme
  • Routledge/Round Table Commonwealth Studentships
  • Call for papers | Conversations about the journey of change: A ‘new normal’
  • Save the date: ‘Universities of the Future’ event


  • Taking international collaboration online: Virtual mobility projects
  • Climate Resilience Challenge Grants: advancing climate action in the Commonwealth
  • Tackling the taboo of sexual harassment

Noho ora mai

Karen Mather  (she/her)

Pūmanawa Tangata | People and Culture