Tag Archives: Erskine programme

Introducing Professor Jon Shaw, UC’s 2000th Visiting Erskine Fellow

Which university have you come from and what do you teach?
I’ve come from the University of Plymouth, in the UK, and I teach different aspects of human geography. My main area of expertise is transport geography, though, and I teach a full course on that at home. Here at UC, I’m teaching GEOG222 Transport, Urban Development and Wellbeing until the Easter break.

How did you learn about the Erskine Programme and why were you interested in it?
I first heard about the Erskine Programme years ago – I know a few really high profile British geographers who’ve come out on Erskine fellowships before and they speak very highly of it. When I got the chance to follow in such venerable footsteps myself, I jumped at the chance. I really value being able to meet new colleagues and also to teach in a different university environment: already I’m developing new material and ways of doing things that I’m going to take back home with me.

What have you been doing during your time at UC so far?
I’ve been developing new lectures – I did my first couple of lectures this week – and labs, which start in earnest at the beginning of March. I’m covering some familiar themes but I’m insistent on doing them from a New Zealand angle, so I’ve been reading lots of new literature and scouring the web for all sorts of Kiwi examples to demonstrate key ideas. I have allowed myself to keep a couple of British case studies in the sessions, but only when they stack up as legitimate against a host of other international examples!

 What are you plans for the remainder of your visit?
In addition to the course I’m teaching, I’m giving some seminars (at Otago, Vic and the Ministry of Transport) and I need to get a couple of papers written up. But I’m also looking forward to immersing myself in Christchurch life and seeing some more of the country! I was on holiday here a while ago but didn’t get around to seeing some places that I wanted to, so I’m planning on putting that right this time. I hear a good way to do that is to pick up a rental car or a camper van that needs relocating…

What are you enjoying about your time here at UC/in Christchurch?
The weather! It’s been raining relentlessly in Plymouth for months, it seems. Seriously, I’m enjoying everything about being here. Meeting new people, exploring new areas, learning more about the country and familiarising myself with NZ culture.

You’re an expert in transport, travel and mobility – do you have any thoughts on how these three things have been approached in Christchurch, post-earthquake?
I can’t even begin to imagine what people living here during and post-earthquakes have been through. I’ve been incredibly moved by what I’ve seen and heard so far about how people pulled together to rebuild and plan for the future.

In some ways, on first glance, it’s difficult to see how the transport system was affected, because now it all looks so normal to a visitor coming into town. But when I looked a bit closer it’s easy to see some really significant differences to other places, for example the cycle network. I’m a regular bike user and it’s great cycling into work every morning on a dedicated, segregated cycle route. I cycle into town as well, and it was a real thrill to go through Riccarton Bush and on to Hagley Park – and take a little detour to have a look at the Oval, where I’m going to go and watch the Black Caps play India very soon! Christchurch has the highest proportion of cyclists of the major cities in New Zealand, and I’m sure that’s a lot to do with the new cycling infrastructure.

In the paper this morning I read that patronage on public transport in Canterbury has fallen this year, due largely to a drop in ridership in Christchurch. I hope when the CBD is more fully rebuilt that trend will reverse: it’s such a good idea to have a sparkly, high-quality new bus station as an anchor development in the central city, as it sends out the message that travelling by public transport is a really important thing to do for the health and vitality of the city.

What does being the 2000th Visiting Erskine Fellow mean to you? A great deal! 2,000 visitors shows just how much the Programme has become enormously successful, and whichever way you look at it, bringing that number of visitors over to UC – not to mention how many UC staff members have gone elsewhere as part of the Programme – is a globally significant achievement. 2,000 visitors is the equivalent of bringing the entire teaching staff of about 4 medium-sized universities to teach here. In addition to the world-leading research work that’s done on and around campus, it enhances the reputation of UC in the worldwide academic community. I’m over the moon to be able to play a small part – which is actually quite a bit less than 1/2000th given all the magnificent work that goes on behind the scenes to make the Programme work – in fulfilling the (now expanded) vision of Jack Erskine to bring international scholars to UC.

ERSKINE NEW ARRIVALS – FEBRUARY

The Erskine Programme would like to welcome the following Visiting Erskine and Oxford Fellows to the University:

  • Professor Jonathan Stewart from University of California Los Angeles, USA, arrived 9 January and is teaching in the Department of Civil and Natural Resources Engineering.
  • Professor Thomas O’Rourke from Cornell University, USA, arrived 22 January and is teaching in the School of Physical and Chemical Sciences.
  • Professor Patrick Heffernan from Royal Military College of Canada arrived 27 January and is teaching in the Department of Civil and Natural Resources Engineering.
  • Associate Professor William Amidon from Middlebury College, USA, arrived 1 February and is teaching in the School of Earth and Environment.
  • Associate Professor Paul Martin from Queens University, Canada, arrived 8 February and is teaching in the School of Biological Sciences.
  • Assistant Professor Sarah Karalunas from Oregon Health and Science University, USA, arrived 18 February and is teaching in the School of Psychology, Speech and Hearing.
  • Professor Clive Sabel from Aarhus University, Denmark, arrived 8 February and is teaching in the School of Earth and Environment.
  • Professor Torsten Berger from University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Austria, arrived 8 February and is teaching in the School of Physical and Chemical Sciences.
  • Professor Jon Shaw from University of Plymouth, UK, arrived 10 February and is teaching in the School of Earth and Environment.
  • Professor Joseph Silk from John Hopkins University, USA, arrived 9 February and is teaching in the School of Physical and Chemical Sciences.
  • Professor Stephen Harrison from University of Oxford, arrived 10 February and is teaching in the School of Humanities and Creative Arts.
  • Professor Jeanie Forray from Western New England University, arrived 10 February and is teaching in the Department of Management, Marketing and Entrepreneurship.
  • Professor Martin Castell from Oxford University, UK, arrived 10 February and is teaching in the School of Physical and Chemical Sciences.
  • Dr Daniel Schunk from Johannes Guttenberg University Mainz, Germany, arrived 10 February and is teaching in the Department of Economics and Finance.
  • Emeritus Professor Ilsa Schwarz from University of Tennessee Health Science Centre, USA, arrived 10 February and is teaching in the School of Health Sciences.
  • Professor Sophie-Grace Chappell from Open University, UK, arrived 10 February and is teaching in the Department of Philosophy.
  • Professor Katherine St John from City University of New York, arrived 10 February and is teaching in the School of Mathematics and Statistics.
  • Professor Stefan Frisch from Appalachian State University, USA, arrived 10 February and is teaching in the Department of Linguistics.
  • Dr Wey Yang Teoh  from University of New South Wales, Australia, arrived 10 February and is teaching in the Department of Chemical and Process Engineering
  • Professor Emeritus Charles Gooding from Clemson University USA, arrived 11 February and is teaching in the Department of Chemical and Process Engineering
  • Professor Gary Shiflet from University of Virginia, USA, arrived 12 February and is teaching in the Department of Mechanical Engineering.
  • Emeritus Professor Jaime Olavarria from University of Washington, USA, arrived 12 February and is teaching in the School of Psychology, Speech, and Hearing.

We wish all our visitors and their families a wonderful stay at UC!

ERSKINE VISITOR PROFILE: Jonathan Stewart

Where have you come from, and what do you teach?

I am a Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of California, Los Angeles. My research is in Earthquake Engineering and Engineering Seismology. At UCLA I teach courses in Soil Mechanics (graduate), Design of Foundation Engineering and Earth Structures (undergraduate), and Geotechnical Earthquake Engineering (graduate).  

What interested you in the Erskine Programme/why did you want to come to UC?

I enjoy sharing ideas and collaborating with colleagues around the world. Of particular interest to me in Christchurch is the work of Professor of Earthquake Engineering Brendon Bradley, and Professor of Civil & Natural Resources Engineering Misko Cubrinovski. We are collaborating on topics related to earthquake ground motion characterization and soil liquefaction during earthquakes.

What have you been doing at UC?

Much of my time is spent on projects that continue at UCLA, meeting over the web with students and collaborators there. I have also begun discussions on collaborations at UC, and I am delivering a number of seminars and lectures.

What have you most enjoyed about your time here at UC/Christchurch?

UC/Christchurch has made arriving and staying here very easy; they handled everything. My family and I couldn’t be more pleased with our accommodations, and the university has invited us to several newcomer meetings and events. We have enjoyed sightseeing in the Southern Alps and Stewart Island. We have received such a warm welcome here that it will be hard to leave.