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

25 March

What if... Coaching cricket and other sports could get you a great job?

Professor Richard Light, Head of School: Sport and Physical Education, College of Education

Sport is a dominant practice in Canterbury that we all enjoy playing at whatever level and watching - especially at elite level. Children and young people can also learn great lessons about life and working with other people through participation in sport and particularly through the very social nature of team sport. Beyond the benefits for health and well-being regular participation in sport through childhood and adolescence, and with appropriate coaching and parental guidance, sport can teach valuable life lessons,. For the talented few playing at the most elite levels it can also provide a financially rewarding career and a great start to a financially secure life. For even fewer people a coaching career in some sports can also be financially attractive but what about the rest of us? Can learning to coach get us a good job beyond sport?

The notion of sport teaching valuable lessons for work and life originated in the 19th century schools of the English middle classes and despite the massive changes in societies around the globe since then there is strong belief in the capacity of sport to prepare us for life and for work. Given the complexity of the job of a coach of a team sport like rugby or netball and what s/he must do be successful it is easy to see the similarities with business leadership across the breadth of vocations and employment in New Zealand society. A successful coach invariably has the characteristics of a successful business leader an the qualities valued in most work places. You only have to look to the popular use of famous players or coaches to motivate or guide successful business people to see our belief in what sport can teach.

This presentation examines the ways in which coaching and learning to coach develops the characteristics and skills that are required for success in any vocation or enterprise. It draws on recent innovations in coaching to emphasize what learning to coach well can do too get you a great job anywhere.

Register now!

15 April

What if... Education included community participation alongside literacy and numeracy?

Associate Professor Billy O’Steen, Director, UC Community Engagement Hub, Deputy Head of the School of Educational Studies & Leadership

• What role and responsibility does the New Zealand educational system have in educating students to be active participants in their communities?
• What would happen if people stopped volunteering in New Zealand?
• What do we know about the positive benefits of volunteering and community participation?

The Greeks, founders of democracy and active citizenship, believed that everyone was born an idiot (“one consumed with one’s own affairs”) and it was only through education that one became a citizen (“one interested in public affairs”). If that’s the case, then what is currently happening with regard to educating the future citizens of New Zealand?

This question is particularly relevant for New Zealand because of the vital functions that this country relies upon to be done by volunteers:
• 4000 surf lifesaving patrol members
• 7000 of the 8500 firefighters
• 12,690 school Board of Trustee members

Consider those figures the next time you hear of someone being rescued from a house fire or pulled from a rip current in the ocean or successfully completing NCEA and recognize that it has all happened because of volunteers. In addition to providing those essential services to this country, over 30 years of research on kindy kids and primary, secondary, and tertiary students has proven that volunteering, when integrated with academics, yields better academic achievement, more engaged citizenship, and deeper personal growth.

Please join Associate Professor O’Steen in an interactive session that explores the value of and need for integrating volunteering and study and the work that is being done in this area at the University of Canterbury.

Prior to joining the University in 2005, Associate Professor O’Steen was a lecturer at North Carolina State University, served as a Peace Corps administrator, created and directed an intermediate school, taught English at a secondary school in Tennessee and two community colleges in California, guided white water raft trips in California, and facilitated multi-cultural education programs in Brazil and Tennessee.

His teaching and research focus on curriculum design, higher education, and professional development with a particular emphasis on experiential education and service-learning. My wife, Susan, two daughters, Lawson (15 years old) and Stewart (11 years old), and I moved from North Carolina in the US to New Zealand in 2005 and enjoy the outdoor activities that are immediately available in this beautiful country.

Register now!

29 April

What if... More people could understand the law?

Dr Chris Gallavin, Dean of the Faculty of Law and Head of School at the School of Law

There are two things that particularly fascinate New Zealanders; real estate and criminal justice. He suggests that these topics have more in common than you might think - discussion of each is often governed by emotion, presumption and gut feeling. Haig, Doherty, Bain, Tamihere, Ellis, Watson, October, and Teina Pora - how can these cases exist and what do their frailties say about our system? Rotten to the core or to be expected? In this lecture the basis of the adversarial system of criminal law will be discussed. How are criminal cases put together? What is a case theory and how are they devised? What is the basis of the rules that govern the giving of evidence? The admission of evidence and exclusion of evidence such as prior convictions appears to many to be entirely unjust, is that true or is there a method to the legal madness? This lecture will not be a defence of the criminal law but will seek to explore where we might profitably focus our attention for the future development of our criminal justice system - a focus governed by a better understanding of the criminal law and not merely by emotion and irrationality.

Dr Chris Gallavin is the Dean of the Faculty of Law and Head of School at the School of Law, University of Canterbury. His areas of academic expertise are criminal law (consent and culpable homicide) and the law of evidence. He has published extensively in the areas of domestic and international criminal justice and is consistently the University of Canterbury’s most media cited member of staff. Since becoming Dean and Head at Canterbury in August 2012 Chris has embarked upon a programme of reform that is shaping the Law School as the showcase of community engagement at the University of Canterbury. Currently the School of Law is rolling out New Zealand’s first compulsory clinical legal programme. For Chris, community engagement is more than just a marketing tool – it is a pedagogical imperative.

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20 May

What if... More volunteered to help communities after disasters?

Linda Cruse

27 May

What if... Christchurch became New Zealand capital of electric vehicles?

Dr Allan Miller

10 June

What if... a mathematician, a philosopher and a student walked into a bar?

Distinguished Professor Mike Steel

24 June

What if... Nutrition could treat mental illness?

Professor Julia Rucklidge

8 July

What if... the centralisation of services stifles innovation?

Tony Mortensen

22 July

What if... plastic was not used in facial scrubs?

Dr Sally Gaw

12 August

What if... arts only made us appreciate life more?

Professor Jonathan Le Cocq

26 August

What if... super computers saved lives?

Professor Tim David

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 best 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