Media Advisory December 13

NEW OPTIONS FOR WRITING AT WAIKATO

Waikato University has developed a new programme for writers of many kinds. From next year the university will offer a writing studies major in its Bachelor of Arts degree, with papers in creative, technical and professional writing. “We’ve decided to offer a comprehensive writing programme to meet the growing student demand for applied writing,” says course co-ordinator Dr Sarah Shieff from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS). “It comes from a desire to provide an academic structure that will allow excellent writing to flourish across campus. It’s not a creative writing programme as such, but there will be creative writing papers, including Summer School opportunities with authors Tracey Slaughter and Stuart Hoar.” Papers across three levels will be offered by FASS, the Faculty of Education and Waikato Management School. “We envisage students wanting careers in journalism, advertising and marketing, PR, teaching, business communication and writing for digital media will be interested in the papers on offer. Good writing skills are essential in so many careers and we’re providing many options.” The creative writing component will include poetry, creative non-fiction and historical fiction. Food writing, travel writing and life writing will also be covered, along with more academic offerings such as critical reasoning, language and communication, and sociolinguistics.

WAIKATO GRADUATE AMONG UK’S BEST AND BRIGHTEST PR STARS

A 28-year-old Waikato Management School graduate has become the first New Zealander to be listed as one of the most promising young PR professionals in the UK. Matt Lambert is one of 29 PR stars under the age of 29 named by industry magazine PR Week in its annual rankings for 2010 – quite an achievement for the Whangarei man who initially set out to be an airforce pilot. “With the 29 under 29 you’re up against some of the best brains in the business,” says Lambert. “They look for people doing the most adventurous things in PR, someone who’s taken the communications industry by the scruff of the neck and flipped it on its head.” Lambert, who graduated with a Bachelor of Communication Studies in 2003, is currently head of technology and innovation at PR firm Bite Communications in London.

NEW READERS, WILDLIFE TRACKERS TO BENEFIT FROM IMAGINE CUP PROJECTS

Software applications developed by Waikato computer science students to help new readers and to aid wildlife tracking are among the top 20 technology projects selected to compete in the Microsoft New Zealand Imagine Cup 2011 finals, to be held in April next year. Now in its ninth year, the Microsoft Imagine Cup is a global competition designed to challenge students to develop technology to solve some of the world's toughest problems. The two Waikato teams in the competition are Team BookieMonster, which has developed a reading practice application for young children, and Team Taiao, whose software is designed to help with small mammal tracking by remotely photographing tracking cards in the field and analysing the image to determine how many animals have contributed to footprints on the cards. The teams were selected from a record 280 entries to the annual competition. The winning team will go on to represent New Zealand in the Imagine Cup worldwide finals in New York in July 2011.

WAIKATO STUDENT WINS TOP PRIZE AT FRESHWATER SCIENCES CONFERENCE

Earth and Ocean Sciences masters student James Blyth received the top prize at the New Zealand Freshwater Sciences Society Conference held late last month in Christchurch. The award was the SIL Trust Prize for the best student oral presentation at the conference, which included competition with PhD students. Blyth's presentation covered his Master of Science research on the Eco-hydrology of Whangamarino Wetland. Three Waikato Biological Sciences students, Jennifer Blair, Rebecca Eivers and Courtney Kellock also attended the five-day conference, collecting two poster awards and one presentation award. The conference looked at the science behind a range of freshwater issues challenging New Zealanders.

SCHOOLS BENEFIT FROM UNIVERSITY COMPUTER UPGRADES

Nine schools and early childhood centres are the latest places to benefit from computer upgrades at the University of Waikato. The university’s Computer Donations Programme sees retired university computers in good condition donated to schools and early childhood centres in the greater Waikato region. The scheme began in the Faculty of Education and is now a university-wide policy.

This month, a total of 123 computers have been given to the Dinsdale Early Learning Centre, Hamilton West School, Citylimits Childcare Company, Insoll Avenue School, Upper Atiamuri School, Cambridge Primary School, Tamahere Model Country School, Whitikahu School, and Kaipaki School. Waikato University upgrades its 4500 PCs on a rolling basis about every four years. Schools and early childhood centres can approach the university with requests for computing equipment by visiting the university’s computer donations webpage.

NZ GEOLOGY GOES GLOBAL WITH HELP FROM WAIKATO EXPERT

Waikato University’s Professor David Lowe was one of two New Zealand earth and ocean science experts to take part in a documentary series which broadcasted in Canada recently. Professor Lowe, together with Dr Hamish Campbell of GNS Science in Wellington, worked with Professor Nick Eyles of the University of Toronto to develop an episode for the Canadian Broadcasting Company’s documentary series Geologic Journey II. Professor Lowe was filmed explaining the history and impact of volcanic eruptions from Mt Tarawera as part of an hour long episode focusing on volcanism and the plate tectonics in New Zealand and Japan. He spoke on the Kaharoa event in 1314 AD and the catastrophic 1886 Tarawera eruption. The series, which is made up of five one-hour episodes, will broadcast worldwide on the National Geographic Channel in the near future.

UNI STAFF MEMBER ANALYSES MEIJI RESTORATION IN NEW BOOK

Waikato University’s Dr Alistair Swale recently launched a book re-evaluating the Meiji restoration of 1868. The book, titled The Meiji Restoration: Monarchism, Mass Communication and Conservative Revolution, highlights the first conservative responses to the threat of Western encroachments on East Asia in the 1840s and how Japan evolved into a distinctly modern political force. The Meiji restoration is characterised as one stage in the protracted struggle to redefine the polity and the nature of public space with the primary aim of national preservation rather than 'Westernisation'. Within this context the indigenous expressions of reaction and conservatism are analysed in their evolution into mass-media oriented ideological movements and are highlighted as being by far the most substantial and decisive forces in the development of Japan's modern political culture.

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