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

12 August

What if... studying Arts were the best thing for the economy?

Professor Jonathan le Cocq, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, College of Arts.  

  • What is a university education for?
  • What value does it deliver?

These questions apply to all degrees which link education to research. But, in recent years, they have been most strongly directed at the creative and performing arts, social sciences and humanities that go under the collective title of ‘Arts’. They are often posed in economic terms: how does an arts education relate to income and wealth? What is its return on investment? In the UK especially, where the discussion has been amplified by a government retreat from arts funding following the global financial crisis, responses have ranged from highlighting the economic value of transferrable skills to a return to the more traditional emphasis on personal growth, good citizenship, and the creation of a good society.
The notion that any one thing is ‘best for the economy’ is problematic at best, but mooting and unpicking it will be a way of asking what it is we should want or expect from an arts education, of exploring the evidence for what it delivers, and understanding why arguments in support of the arts have so far failed to gain political traction.

Register now!

26 August

What if... computers could save lives?

Professor Tim David, Director of UC HPC supercomputing centre.

  • How has health data changed over the past 10 years?
  • What can computers tell us or how can they help us make decisions about our health?
  • Do computers really save lives?

The IBM Watson supercomputer, in winning the TV game Jeopardy, set a new standard for the use of computers in data analytics. Today, the generation of data about our own health is growing exponentially. But can we really leave the decisions about health to a computer that can play Jeopardy, or do we need something else? Professor Tim David will look at the current state of the use of computational resource in the health arena. Some important social and philosophical questions will be asked. Maybe we get to play Jeopardy ? Who knows and do we care? 

Professor David has a BSc and a PhD in mathematics from the University of Leeds in the UK. He is currently Director of the UC HPC supercomputing centre, a high performance computing service facility based at the University of Canterbury which facilitates research that depends on access to high performance computational resources.

Register now!

9 September

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

Tim Nees

23 September

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

Dr Malcolm Campbell

7 October

What if... we could predict ground shaking in future major earthquakes?

Associate Professor Brendon Bradley

21 October

What if... we could detect breast cancer without xrays or pain?

Professor Geoff Chase