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Activists and academics intersect at UC Sustainability Awards

03 October 2019

Globally, locally, through their research and via community platforms, academics are leading climate change action, and none more so than University of Canterbury (UC)’s Associate Professor Bronwyn Hayward.


(from left) Pro-Vice-Chancellor Engineering Professor Jan Evans-Freeman, UC Sustainability Supreme Award winner Associate Professor Bronwyn Hayward and Vice-Chancellor Professor Cheryl de la Rey

Globally, locally, through their research and via community platforms, academics are leading climate change action, and none more so than University of Canterbury (UC)’s Associate Professor Bronwyn Hayward.

Associate Professor Hayward’s contributions were recognised again today when she was awarded the Supreme Award at UC’s Sustainability Awards by UC Vice-Chancellor Professor Cheryl de la Rey.

A talented researcher and communicator, Associate Professor Hayward inspires action at all levels - from serving on one of the highest international science forums to writing books and articles, hosting community events and even maintaining a lively Twitter feed. Her commitment to sustainability and democracy engages   undergraduate and postgraduate students who are fortunate enough to study with her in the classroom, “civics lab” and in-field teaching.

Some of the world’s brightest scientific minds serve on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) where Associate Professor Hayward is a Coordinating Lead Author for the IPCC report (Cities & infrastructure) – and she was also a lead author for the 2018 Special Report on 1.5 (Sustainable development & poverty eradication).

These IPCC reports have helped change our global understanding of interrelated topics including land use, food production, global poverty, obesity issues and carbon emissions.  

At a community level, Associate Professor Hayward has conducted an exceptional level of outreach on sustainability, including engaging with Mana Whenua, school students, teachers and academics from a range of disciplines. She has facilitated media debates, town hall meetings and even a pop-up science fair in association with the Christchurch City Council and IPCC. She works across disciplines, including supporting a poetry reading event and permanent Poetry Wall featuring work from young people about climate change, curated by UC student Samantha Jory-Smart, a workshop for journalists and teachers about how to communicate climate change issues, and a 2018 hui with Associate Professor Te Marie Tau and Ngāi Tūāhuriri to discuss climate change and the importance of indigenous knowledge with scientists and chairs of the IPCC.

Her work has had huge impact, according to UC Sustainability Advisor Dr Matt Morris.

“She has the unique ability to understand the complexity of climate change and to then communicate that to different audiences, focusing on very practical actions and through a positive lens. She inspires her students here at UC, however she is determined to reach out to wider communities and audiences where meaningful change on the ground can also happen,” he says.

“We are seeing a groundswell of action globally, particularly amongst young people, and I think you can trace some of that awareness back to the IPCC reports and experienced sustainability champions such as Bronwyn who prioritise youth and community engagement alongside research.” 

Researching and teaching in UC’s Department of Political Science and International Relations, Associate Professor Hayward’s research focuses on the intersection of sustainable development, youth, climate change and citizenship. Among other achievements, she is co-primary investigator with the University of Surrey's Centre for Understanding Sustainable Prosperity, where she leads a study that aims to understand the sustainability experiences of children growing up in seven world cities, the Children and Youth in Cities Lifestyle Evaluation.

The 2019 UC Sustainability Award judges were Sustainability Advisor at the Christchurch City Council Tony Moore, Lincoln University’s Lin Roberts, and Sustainability Manager at Christchurch International Airport Brodie Akacich.

The awards recognised student and staff excellence in sustainability research and practice.

The 2019 UC Sustainability Award winners:

Winner Academic Staff – Individual: Susan Krumdieck for Transition Engineering, Building a Sustainable Future

  • Winner Academic Staff – Team: Environmental Science staff team
  • Winner: Student Research: Helena Ruffell for Wastewater treatment plants as a source of microplastics to the environment
  • Winner Student-Led Project Team: Amelia Dewhurst, Rose Bayldon, Florence Ferguson, Josh Watson for the Christchurch Climate Challenge
  • Winner Student-Led Project Individual: Courtney Wright-Watson for Envirosoc
  • Winner General Staff – Individual: Linda Morris for a lifetime of reusing, repurposing and recycling
  • Winner General Staff – Team: Haere-roa/UCSA Building Project Team for Wellbeing Precinct Low Carbon Energy Scheme

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