The University of Canterbury holds free public lectures on campus every Wednesday night from 6.30pm.
What if… We couldn’t drink the water? Find out more...
Presenter: Professor Jenny Webster-Brown
The availability of clean, disease-free drinking water is arguably the biggest environmental issue facing the world. As humans, we can only survive three days without water. The United Nations predicts dire shortages for over 60 per cent of the world's population within the next 15 years. In New Zealand we are lucky. We have relatively high rainfall and high rates of runoff into rivers, lakes, dams and groundwaters that provide our drinking water supply. However, quality issues continue to plague us and have been evident in small town drinking water supplies in Canterbury recently. We will investigate the factors affecting, or likely to affect, the quality of Christchurch, Canterbury and New Zealand drinking water, and look at how we could secure high quality drinking water for the future.
What if... Becoming a teenage parent saved your life? Find out more...
Presenter: Dr Jenny Hindin Miller
Becoming a teenage parent is widely regarded as a personal and social disaster. Recent research challenges this negative view. Interviews with teenage mothers show that they regard their own pregnancies as positive and life-changing. Despite dropping out of school, many teenage mums decide to re-engage with education to ensure a better life for themselves and their children. New Zealand is at the forefront of innovative educational responses to the needs of this special group of young people. This lecture will look at one school which has had noted success in supporting teenage mums and their children to succeed. You will hear the views of a number of young mothers about life, being a parent and how education and support has helped transform their lives.
What if... America hadn’t declared itself independent? Find out more...
Presenter: Associate Professor Peter Field
The United States celebrates its 237th anniversary on 4 July. There are few more profound questions than “what if the United States had not become independent?” If it had not won its revolutionary war against Britain, the world would not have had its first anti-colonial movement, nor a declaration of “All men created equal”. The world’s oldest ongoing written constitution would not be. Closer to our own time: no Great Alliance against Hitler; no Cold War; perhaps no liberal capitalist democracy at all? Come here UC’s Professor of American History explore America’s place in the world by considering the impact if it had never existed.
What if… Our cities vanished? Find out more...
Presenter: Professor Edward Glaeser, Harvard University
Cities are often seen as the source of social problems such as poverty and crime, while we retain romantic notions of idyllic rural life. The truth is very different. In this lecture, Professor Edward Glaeser, the world’s leading expert in the economics of cities, will discuss why cities are crucial to economic development, why proximity has become ever more valuable as the cost of connecting across long distances has fallen and why, contrary to popular myths, dense urban areas are the true friends of the environment, not suburbia.
What if... Rugby were New Zealand's religion? Find out more...
Presenter: Associate Professor Mike Grimshaw
The oft-quoted phrase “rugby is New Zealand’s religion” does, in fact, express a variety of experiences, at both a societal and an individual level, that can be included under the broad heading of “religion”. It occurs against a background of scholarly silence, for as the celebrated historian James Belich noted: “New Zealand rugby union ranks in socio-cultural resonance with soccer in Latin America and cockfights in Bali New Zealand should be a world capital of the historical study of sport. But it is not – almost as though sport is a religion too important for scholars to tamper with.” This lecture is what happens when a scholar tampers with the sport and religion of rugby. Questions include: When, where and how did the phrase arise? What did - and does - it mean? What could a religion of rugby tell us about ourselves for we have a situation where a widespread claim of national identity has received little attention by scholars because it involves sport, religion and national mythologies. How and why this claim continues is the central focus of this lecture.
What if… Marketing could actually make society better? Find out more...
Presenter: Associate Professor Ekant Veer
Marketing has long been thought of as part of the problem, rather than the solution to consumer welfare. However, there are increasing ways in which marketers are being used to improve society and consumers' lives beyond the usually ineffectual health advertising we see on TV. This lecture looks at the multiple ways in which marketing is being used to impact society and improve the lives of consumers. By drawing on Dr Veer's work in health, mental illness, not-for-profit marketing and consumer resilience we look at the ways in which marketing techniques can be used to understand consumers' needs better and lead to an improvement in their lives. Specifically, this lecture looks at the role of social media, community engagement projects and Transformative Consumer Research techniques that can be used to understand consumers' needs more effectively and impact their lives in a practical way. This lecture is open to all and will have a strong practical focus to aid those currently working in or hoping to work in the area of consumer welfare and marketing.
What if… Farmers and business could help save New Zealand’s unique biodiversity? Find out more...
Presenter: Professor David Norton
Despite over 100-years of conservation management, New Zealand’s native biodiversity continues to decline. This decline occurs irrespective of whether the land is part of the public conservation estate or not. In this lecture I examine the reasons for this decline and outline what might be realistic goals for New Zealand biodiversity conservation and suggest some new approaches that could be used to assist in achieving these goals.
What if… The world really did go green? Find out more...
Presenter: Presenter: Peter Newman, Erskine Fellow and Professor of Sustainability at Curtin University, Australia
The Green Economy is rapidly emerging and new data will be provided that shows global peaks in:
These trends suggest that the era of demonstrating green things is ending and mainstreaming is well under way. The next steps in embedding the green economy are challenging governments and companies globally, with leaders and laggards as in all innovation waves. But we can now begin to imagine what a green future could look like…
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We aim to make all lectures available online subject to receiving permission from the speaker/s to do this, and subject to no technical problems with the recording of the event. Videos are normally available 10 working days after the event.
View videos from the 2012 and 2013 What if Wednesdays lecture series on the University of Canterbury What if Wednesdays You Tube channel. The most recent videos are at the bottom of the page.
Venue and Parking
The Undercroft is located at basement level of the James Hight Library in the centre of campus.
Map Details. The closest parking area is the Clyde Car Park (corner Clyde Road & Arts Road). Map Details.
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