What if Wednesdays - Free public lectures, twice monthly

The University of Canterbury holds free public lectures on campus, twice a month on Wednesdays from 7.00pm.

The What if Wednesdays (WIW) public lecture series is returning for 2015. This year the series will be held twice a month with interesting topics and speakers from the University of Canterbury. You can register your interest by entering your details here..

Should you wish to revisit any of the WIW lectures from 2015, 2014 or 2013, you can view them via our YouTube channel.

Upcoming Lectures

9 September

What if... buying a house became more affordable?

Tim Nees, Architect in Residence, Department of Civil and Natural Resources Engineering.

  • What if housing was more affordable?
  • What if housing solutions were more achievable?
  • What if architects and engineers could contribute creatively to the supply of housing, and at the same time, improve the environment?

The affordability of housing has featured in news headlines consistently throughout the year. But, despite the high media profile, few satisfactory answers have been offered and the dream of owning a home has, for many New Zealanders, been pushed further and further beyond reach.

But is owning a single family unit on a single piece of land the appropriate goal for all New Zealanders to aspire to at this point in the 21st century? Is this crisis really an opportunity to rethink the nation’s goals not just in terms of housing but in terms of all the environmental and social factors that are present alongside housing? With an unprecedented demand to develop new homes in the Auckland region, and the complex housing requirements of Christchurch’s rebuild, surely this point in time can be seen as not a crisis but a strategic opportunity for New Zealanders to address the way we design, build and invest in houses.

This lecture will examine the crisis as portrayed in the media and investigate ways architects have responded to this urgent need, drawing on local and overseas examples.

Register now!

23 September

What if... we could make Christchurch the smartest city in the world?

Dr Malcolm Campbell, Senior Lecturer in Human Geography and Director of GeoHealth Laboratory

• What is a smart city?
• Is the smart city a threat or an opportunity?
• Could a smarter city improve your health?

Imagine we had the possibility of rebuilding a city. Imagine the possibility of obtaining continuous flows of data about traffic or air pollution from technology built into the city. Then, think about linking those numbers to your health conditions. This is the idea behind a health pilot project based on a smart city network here in Christchurch.
The story that will be told will focus on how we join seemingly disparate sets of numbers together. In this instance the data are location based environmental measurements, including particulate (PM10), ambient temperature and humidity, usage of medication and other health data.
The key question is, does all this smart technology benefit our health?

Register now!

7 October

What if... you couldn't eat your dinner tonight?

Dr Phoebe Macrae, Department of Communication Disorders

• What is a disorder of swallowing?
• Who has disordered swallowing?
• How do you fix swallowing when it’s broken?

Many people look perplexed when I tell them that my job involves swallowing research. A swallowing problem is something you’ve probably never considered, unless you’ve had personal experience with one, or watched a loved one deal with the frustration and isolation of not being able to eat and drink. Swallowing is one of the most complex acts we perform as humans. We do it most often without any conscious control over the process. So what happens when disease or injury prevents us from swallowing without thought? What happens when we can no longer maintain our nutrition and hydration through eating and drinking? Swallowing disorders can affect people throughout the lifespan, and complicate the recovery of many hospital patients, by increasing the length of stay, decreasing health outcomes, and increasing mortality rates.

This lecture will introduce you to the complexities of normal swallowing and what happens in the case of impairment. It will talk about the various treatment approaches for rehabilitation of swallowing. It will also provide an overview of the research and clinical activity happening at the newly opened University of Canterbury Rose Centre for Stroke Recovery and Research.

Register now!