Can we communicate ourselves to a better world?

By Professor Ekant Veer

The University of Florida’s Centre for Public Interest Communications seems to think so and they discussed this at their recent ‘frank’ gathering in Gainesville, Florida. The Centre’s Director, Prof. Ann Christiano, and Director of Programs, Ellen Nodine, visited Christchurch in October of 2019 to work with the city and UC on developing communications programs and practices that would benefit the city after the March 15 terror attacks.

During their short stay both Ann and Ellen gave a public lecture as well as held meetings with members of the UC faculty, students, mana whenua, local city officials, and practitioners all to discuss the role that public interest communications can improve social cohesion and well-being. On the back of this visit I was able to visit Gainesville and take part in the frank gathering as ‘The Curator of the Love Track’ (more on this weird title, later). Gabrielle Huria from Ngāi Tahu was also in attendance to speak on the role that she and her iwi were able to play in bringing people together after the shootings.

The frank gathering aims to bring together an equal proportion of practitioners, activists, academics and funders to all share their own ideas about how communications can improve society. So, while I would normally go to a conference and get excited about sitting next to a prominent professor in my field, here I was sitting next to the person who started the Arab Spring revolution in Egypt, then have dinner with a Muslim hip-hop activist, followed the next day having breakfast with a professor from Cambridge, then giving a talk alongside creator of The Daily Show. It was an experience that was completely out of my comfort zone, but showed how important it is for us, as academics, to engage with the full gamut of influencers out there.

The gathering is in its 7th year and this year all the talks were split into different tracks based on an emotion. We heard from people talking about anger, hope, pride, love etc. Each track had a curator that would coach the speakers and tie together each talk together with an opening. This is where I became the ‘Curator of the Love Track’ and was given the privilege to open the set of talks with some experiences of working in Christchurch after the shootings and what the role of love plays in driving action forward. In between all these very inspirational talks were breakout sessions where we were able to put some of the experiences into practice in a more hands-on fashion.

Both Gabrielle and I were there to see what we can do better back in Christchurch and whether a similar gathering could work here. Perhaps a local collective of people from all walks of life sharing their knowledge and experiences about public interest communications and what things we have learnt in our own journeys that others may benefit from. Watch this space as we develop plans in this area.

Many thanks should be extended to Bruce McTaggart and his whānau, whose passion and vision for seeing betterment in our society funded both Prof. Christiano and Dr. Nodine’s visit to Christchurch in 2019 as well as Gabrielle and my visit to frank last week.

Dr Ekant Veer is a professor in marketing in the UC Business School at the University of Canterbury. His area of expertise is in social marketing and social well-being. Follow Ekant on Twitter here>

First published on the UC Business School blog>

UC Herea tō Waka | Orientation Day (O Day)

Kia ora koutou,

UC Herea tō Waka | Orientation Day (O Day) will take place tomorrow (Friday 14 February) from 9.30am – 2pm.

For most students, family and whānau, O Day is their first true exposure to university life and their experience tomorrow will set the scene for their time here. We hope the day will lay the foundations for academic success and connections with the UC community.

O Day is a great opportunity to showcase UC at its best, get to know our new students and demonstrate the tools UC offers to help them succeed.

Feel free to join in the O Day experience – mark where you are from on the world map outside C Block, have a chat to a new student or buy lunch from one of the food trucks along the pathway – but please leave the giveaways for our new students.

Volunteers play essential roles in these events and we are enormously grateful to the staff who have generously donated their time to help. If you haven’t signed up and would like to volunteer, you can email Even if you can’t volunteer, please make our new students welcome with a smile and a ‘kia ora’.

Campus activity
O Day will bring a large number of people into the centre of campus throughout the day and there will be increased noise from activities, live music, food vendors and people moving about. This may affect people in nearby buildings, who might choose to locate themselves elsewhere for the day if they need a quiet workspace. We expect the busiest periods in the centre of campus will be between 9.30am – 1pm.

Parking and road closures 
Some car parks will be unavailable for a set period of time to cater for our new students and their whānau. There will be more vehicles parking on campus and there will be road closures in place from 8am tomorrow to allow for students and whānau to walk the O Day trails.

The Psychology and Te Ao Marama car parks will be affected by a road closure. These will be accessible before 8am and vehicles can remain parked there, but will not be able to leave until after 12pm.

  • Arts Road will be closed from the Clyde Road car park west
  • There will be no access to Arts Road from Forestry Road past Rehua
  • Attendees will be encouraged to park in the Clyde Road car park, but we expect that all car parks will be affected in some way.

Your cooperation and understanding on these during this time are greatly appreciated.

New student initiatives
Two initiatives are being introduced this year to help transition new students into UC and ensure they stay on track to succeed in their studies.

Orientation+ induction modules
All first-year undergraduate students will be required to complete five online induction modules. The modules are designed to ensure new students have the essential information they need for a successful first year of study, understand their responsibilities as part of the UC community and know how to access support services and facilities available on campus. Topics covered include wellbeing, belonging/inclusiveness, the student code of conduct, safety/security, and alcohol/drugs.  UC will follow-up with students who do not complete the online induction modules.

Analytics for Course Engagement (ACE)
Analytics for Course Engagement (ACE) is a new online dashboard platform that will provide students and staff with a real-time view of engagement with learning systems like LEARN and Echo360 data. It will help to flag decreased student engagement, as well as sudden changes in engagement compared to their peers, and connect the student with institutional support resources.

The tool will be visible on LEARN from Monday 17 February, with work identifying students at risk of disengagement starting from week three. ACE will initially be rolled out to first-year (100-level) undergraduate students, with further developments to come over the year. More information about ACE will be available from the start of next week on the UC website – keep an eye out in Intercom for more information.

We’re looking forward to welcoming our students back on campus.

Ngā mihi,

Lynn McClelland and Catherine Moran

Upcoming Robotic Process Automation Bootcamp

The Intelligent Automation team at UC are happy to announce  that the first five-day Robotic Process Automation (RPA) bootcamp will be held from 4 to 8 May.

Price Waterhouse Cooper will be offering this training to enhance RPA developer capability beyond the foundational training. The course covers three to four hours of theory each day, and then two to three hours of Practical exercises. On the fifth day, attendees will complete a case study and present back. After the training, attendees will be able to create robust automation solutions, and run automation scripts using UiPath.

This training is designed to equip staff with the necessary skills to participate in Robotic Process Automation in a variety of capacities such as:

  • Enthusiast / Change leader within teams
  • Developer
  • Implementation Manager

The best candidates for the bootcamp are IT developers, business analysts across the university, process owners, but really anyone who has logical workflow thinking and is interested in become an “RPA Enthusiast”.

If you are interested in attending, please discuss this with your manager and then notify us of your interest.

For more information, please see the  L&D page.

UC Pasifika Welcome Day 2020

Warmest Pasifika Greetings,

The University of Canterbury would like to invite you to join us for our UC Pasifika Welcome Day 2020. Pasifika Welcome Day is for all Pasifika students, family, friends and community. It is a great opportunity for our UC staff to meet our Pasifika community and celebrate the start of the New Year.

What                     UC Pasifika Welcome Day

Date                      Saturday 22 February 2020

Time                      11.00am-2.00pm

Where                  UC Central Lecture Theatres

“Developing the Next Generation of Researchers”

We are members of the Association of Commonwealth Universities. This gives us access to a number of exciting and varied events and opportunities. An upcoming event is “Developing the Next Generation of Researchers” in March, in Ghana.

This event will provide an opportunity for senior academic staff and emerging researchers to explore innovative approaches to professional development and collaboration.  The workshop will be split into two halves: the first two days will be for early career researchers, the last two days for senior staff, and a cross-over day in the middle. Sessions will consist of panel presentations, group activities and discussion.

Please see the ACU website for more information.

ACU also offer Early Career Conference funding grants. These open sometime this month.

Keeping UC staff informed