The Inaugural Professorial Lecture Series at the University of Waikato introduces our newest professors to the community. We invite the public to come along to find out what our people are doing and how their work is having a real impact on the world around us. We’ve got an exciting line up for the 2015 series, showcasing some of the latest research in Technology Education, Sports and Leisure, Management, History, and Science.

All lectures are free and open to the public and are held at the Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts on Tuesdays from 6-7pm, with the Opus Bar open from 5pm. Dates below.

Date Professor Faculty
  17 March Professor John Williams Faculty of Education

  No Inaugural Professorial Lecture in April due to Easter

  19 May Professor Kathryn Pavlovich Waikato Management School
  16 June Professor Cathy Coleborne Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
  21 July Professor Chad Hewitt Faculty of Science and Engineering

  No Inaugural Professorial Lecture in August due to the Winter Lecture Series

 22 September Professor Rich Masters Faculty of Education
 13 October Professor Bernhard Pfahringer Faculty of Computing and Mathematical Sciences
 17 November Professor Linda Nikora Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
 8 December Professor Priya Kurian Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences


2015 Lectures

8 December 2015

Reclaiming Sustainability: Centring Justice in Narratives of Science, Society, Culture, and the Environment

Professor Priya Kurian, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

Professor Priya Kurian says sustainability is too important an issue to dismiss or ignore. It might be complicated, but she says it cannot be abandoned.

“I’m talking about sustainability in its entirety, not just environmental protection, but social justice, cultural diversity, economic viability and democratic governance – a ‘total’ concept necessary for creating a good society,” she says.

When she was a journalist for the Times of India in Mumbai, Priya, fresh out of university, began to cover what was then a fledgling movement to protest against a mega-dam. “The government was proposing to build a dam that would flood a lot of villages and displace over 200,000 people. That opened my eyes to the impacts that government decisions can have in the name of development, particularly on the poor.”

From Mumbai, she went to the US and completed her Masters and PhD degrees at Purdue University in Indiana.

Her PhD thesis focused on a feminist gender analysis of the World Bank’s environmental and social policies and was published as a book. Since then her work in development studies has continued its focus on the role of women. “Women and culture are central to any conception of transformative social change,” she says.

Priya came to Waikato in 1996. “Dov Bing [Professor in Political Science] flew up to LAX, and I met him there. We had a chat, then later I did a phone interview with FASS and was subsequently offered a lecturer position.”

At the time Priya arrived in New Zealand, immigration was a hot political issue and there was a lot of media talk about a perceived “Asian Invasion”. Luckily that didn’t put her off and she’s remained at the University, climbing the ranks to professor.

Priya’s not just an academic, she’s actively involved in the community. She’s a founding member and trustee of Shama Hamilton Ethnic Women’s Centre Trust, an organisation set up to support ethnic women and their families.

Her Inaugural Professorial Lecture will weave the strands of environmental action, gender, and cultural diversity with the ideas of deliberative democracy and the governance of science to explore sustainability.

Priya’s lecture Reclaiming Sustainability: Centring Justice in Narratives of Science, Society, Culture, and the Environment takes place on Tuesday 8 December at 6pm.

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17 November 2015

Māori flourishing in a fast changing world

Professor Linda Nikora, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

“A strong sense of who one is and that one’s life matters is vital to health and wellbeing,” says Professor Linda Waimaire Nikora, who will deliver her Inaugural Professorial Lecture in November.

“Without meaning and belonging, many people, families and communities lie open to the risk of mental illness, addiction, transience, criminality, suicide and so on,” she says.

Surveying almost 30 years of research, Professor Nikora will examine some of these unwellness forces and the responses Māori make within the broader quest to remain indigenous and to flourish.

“In a rapidly changing social and technological environment, where being Māori is enacted in the face of a dominant Pakeha majority, and in an increasingly diverse Māori world, staying well is an important challenge that we cannot underestimate or take for granted,” says Professor Nikora.

“There are many unwellness forces upon Māori in this fast changing world. Some are obvious and readily felt others not so easy to apprehend or explain,” she says.

Of Tuhoe and Te Aitanga a Hauiti descent, Linda Waimarie Nikora is a Professor of Psychology at the University of Waikato. Her training is primarily in social, community, cross-cultural, ethno and indigenous psychology.

In 1996, she established the Māori & Psychology Research Unit for research which focuses on the psychological needs, aspirations, and priorities of Māori people. From a research unit supported primarily by student work, the unit has grown to host multidisciplinary and cross-institutional research teams of excellence. Her research interests are in the area of Māori flourishing and how psychology can contribute to Māori survival, Māori uniqueness, and an improved legacy for future generations.

Her recent research includes, Tangi: Māori ways of mourning; Moko: traditional body modification; ethnic status as a stressor; Māori identity development; cultural safety and competence; Māori mental health and recovery; social and economic determinants of health; homelessness; relational health; and social connectedness. She presently co-leads the multidisciplinary and inter-institutional Mauri Ora: Māori Flourishing research stream within Nga Pae o te Maramatanga, a National Centre for Research Excellence.

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13 October 2015

Dawn of the Age of Data: a Lecture to look at the data revolution

Professor Bernhard Pfahringer, Faculty of Computing and Mathematical Sciences

We’re living in a revolution, but most people are unaware of it, says Bernhard Pfahringer who will deliver his Inaugural Professorial Lecture on this subject on 13 October.

“The revolution is slow enough and incremental enough that most people don’t even notice it’s happening. Nearly everything we do has a digital element to it now, from cameras to phones to the GPS in the cars we drive.

“Every time we upload information to Facebook or Flickr or Instagram, it ceases to be private. It’s in the cloud or stored with a large service provider. It’s possible now for our activities to be tracked pretty much 24/7 as people generate a huge digital footprint every day and don’t even realise it.”

Professor Pfahringer says the information gathered from devices such as Smart Metres installed to measure our electricity consumption, and fitness trackers that record exercise and even track sleep patterns is what data collectors look at. From this information, it’s possible to identify patterns that can be useful to predict future trends or preferences.

And while there is a slightly sinister aspect to it, Professor Pfahringer says there are also positive implications for data mining.

“For example if you have a mobile banking app on your phone and activity starts being generated on your credit card from a location that isn’t near your phone, it can be an indication that the card has been stolen.”

Professor Pfahringer first came to the University as a post-doctoral research fellow in 1996 to work for a year in the Machine Learning Group in the Computer Science Department. He enjoyed it so much that in 1999 when a job came up in the same department, he applied for it and began work as a Senior Lecturer in 2000, bringing his family with him from Austria.

Professor Pfahringer completed his undergraduate study in 1985 and PhD in 1995, both at the Vienna University of Technology. Once at Waikato, he become an Associate Professor in 2007. His area of expertise is in machine learning and data mining, developing tools to analyse large amounts of data for patterns that help explain the data and to predict future trends.

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22 September 2015

The trick about learning

Professor Rich Masters, Te Kura Toi Tangata Faculty of Education

The trick, Rich Masters says, is getting people to learn to move without knowing that they’re learning.

How people learn to move and how that can be applied not only to sport but also to other domains in which movement matters - such as surgery, rehabilitation or ageing - will be the subject of Professor Masters’ Inaugural Professorial Lecture, being held on 22 September.

“I’ll tell the ‘story’ of my research,” he says.

He will outline his journey from a First Class Honours degree and a Masters degree in Psychology at the University of Otago, to completing a D.Phil. in Experimental Psychology at the University of York.

“I’ll talk about how I went to the UK in the late 1980s to study. About the events that captured my imagination and focused my research for the next 30 years.”

Professor Masters is interested in psychological markers of the way in which people learn and perform skills. His research into implicit motor learning shows that it is possible to acquire real-life movement skills implicitly - without conscious access to, or awareness of, the knowledge that underlies performance of those skills.

The work crosses discipline boundaries into rehabilitation, surgery, speech sciences, movement disorders, ageing, sports sciences, psychology and developmental disorders and disabilities.

Professor Masters says he uses psychological principles to inform his research and that has led to fascinating insights into the way in which humans perform skills.

“I put those principles into a movement context.”

He will discuss how people consciously overthink situations, often to their detriment, and how the unconscious can be used to much greater effect than the conscious.

Professor Masters is a professor in Te Oranga School of Human Development and Movement Studies. Prior to joining the University of Waikato, he held director and assistant director roles in the Institute of Human Performance at the University of Hong Kong and before that, he lectured in the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences at the University of Birmingham, England.


21 July 2015

Enemy at my port: Lecture to look at marine biological invasions

Professor Chad Hewitt, Faculty of Science and Engineering

Humans have greatly influenced the distribution of marine species worldwide which has had significant effects.

Marine biological invasions are at the centre of University of Waikato biologist Professor Chad Hewitt’s Inaugural Professorial Lecture this month.

During the lecture Professor Hewitt will consider and discuss how we can prevent further human-mediated re-distribution of marine species and what controls can be put in place.

"I’ll discuss the global context of marine introductions, including our understanding of how species arrive in new locations, the scale of introductions, and the biosecurity frameworks we can put in place to prevent new invasions," says Professor Hewitt.

“Fundamentally it’s about understanding the biology and ecology of species, the mechanisms of movement - vector ecology, and which interventions work.”

“Embedded within that is good governance; in New Zealand and Australia we operate under a risk management framework. Risk management critically relies on good science with feedback: how the science feeds into policy, and how the policy informs what science is needed.”

Professor Hewitt’s research portfolio revolves around the role humans play in changing the natural world, particularly in marine systems, and how natural science can influence management and policy. His research has primarily focused on how humans have transferred species around the globe, the consequences of those movements in ecological and evolutionary contexts, and the ways that we can predict, prevent and/or mitigate the impacts of these novel species.

Professor Hewitt is the Head of the School of Science at the University of Waikato, responsible for the academic leadership in bringing together the disciplines of Biology, Chemistry and Earth & Ocean Sciences into a single academic unit within the Faculty of Science and Engineering. Building on the existing teaching and research strengths of the three departments he will lead the further development of a world class research and teaching portfolio.

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16 June 2015

Social history of medicine under the microscope at inaugural lecture

Professor Cathy Coleborne, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

How do you explain your symptoms to your doctor? How much do you trust the advice and medicine you receive? How do you treat people with mental illness? And is depression the pandemic of the 21st century? These are some of the questions raised by the social history of medicine, the topic of a free public lecture at the University of Waikato in June.

Professor Cathy Coleborne, from the History Programme in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, has researched the social and cultural histories of medicine, health and institutions in New Zealand and Australia, with a particular focus on mental health, and how history has the potential to challenge and reshape medicine today.

In her Inaugural Professorial Lecture on 16 June, Cathy will talk about how past generations of people understood illness in their own historical context; what language they gave to their symptoms, and how it was understood by doctors. She’ll also explore the idea that a disease or illness is often bound by its time and place in history.

Cathy says it’s important for society to have a healthy criticism of the medical industry. “Using an historical lens helps give us perspective and enables us to measure the influence of the social and cultural power of medicine.”

She says that in the context of our modern understanding of mental health for example, people often have a wholly negative view of historical treatment of mentally ill patients. “But some research shows that in the second half of the 20th century a more open dialogue was starting to occur between doctors and the families of a patient, and care was often shared between an institution and the home.”

Cathy came from Melbourne to the University of Waikato as a lecturer in 1999, appointed to teach the social history of medicine, world history (now global history) and Australian history. She was promoted to professor last year and says the focus of her academic career has been a combination of three things: research, teaching and community outreach, and she has developed a network of relationships with local DHBs and healthcare practitioners.

Cathy also has an interest in digital history, and will have one of her students live tweeting from the lecture on 16 June, using the hashtag #medicalsubjects. Cathy’s twitter handle is @CathyColeborne

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19 May 2015

Management from different perspectives

Professor Kathryn Pavlovich, Waikato Management School

Professor Kathryn Pavlovich believes that businesses should be doing more than making a profit and will talk about transforming management at her upcoming inaugural professorial lecture. As a Professor of Strategic Management at Waikato Management School, Kathryn Pavlovich is an advocate for people and businesses working collaboratively to make a positive difference to society through leadership and management practices.

“I want my students to leave university as socially conscious graduates, guided by a purpose higher than just making money,” she says. 

At her lecture, Professor Pavlovich will talk about her research and give examples of profitable businesses that have made it their purpose to improve the lives of others.

She believes that to some extent most business have the capacity to enhance social wellbeing. She researches and teaches Noetic wisdom, which is about knowing and understanding self, about developing inner technologies that can transform, she says.

“Spirituality, reflection, mindfulness and conscious leadership - they particularly interest me. They may be soft skills, but they’re much more difficult to learn than hard skills. Things like self-awareness, how you critically evaluate how you act; how you make more ethical, sustainable and transforming decisions.”

Professor Pavlovich grew up around her family business – Pavlovich Coachlines – and her doctorate, completed many years ago now, studied the collaboration and co-operation of businesses centred around Waitomo Caves tourism.

Alongside her teaching and research, Professor Pavlovich is currently chair-elect of the Academy of Management, a US-based global network of management scholars.  The Academy has about 20,000 members from 100 countries. The Management, Spirituality and Religion Interest Group has been one of the fastest growing in the Academy, she says.

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17 March 2015

Practice versus theory and the value of Technology Education

Professor John Williams, Faculty of Education

Are the chairs you want to buy designed well? Do you have an opinion on government surveillance of personal data? What do you think about windfarm development? Creating technologically savvy members of society who are properly informed is an area educators need to be concerned about, according to Professor John Williams, Director of TEMS (Technology, Environmental, Mathematics and Science) Educational Research Centre within the Faculty of Education.

Technology Education is a core element of the New Zealand Curriculum and technological literacy is its goal says Professor Williams. However, he adds sometimes the subject is misunderstood or side-lined by subjects which are perceived as more ‘academic’ – for example English and maths.

At his Inaugural Professorial Lecture, Professor Williams will argue theoretical and practical skills are not mutually exclusive. Furthermore, technology education while practical, does require the application of cognitive skills. “It is one of the few areas of the curriculum where children learn through making and doing. The cognitive demands of making practical decisions are significant.”

He adds there are challenges for educators of technology education. “It is an expensive subject, capital-intensive, difficult to assess and the question for educators is - how to keep pace with developing technology. However, the opportunities presented by the informal nature of the technology education classroom enables teachers to develop relationships with students, which they might not achieve in a more formal setting.”

Professor Williams says technology needs to be recognised as a broad subject, which encompasses a lot more than just woodwork or digital technology. Furthermore, educators need to challenge negative assumptions towards subjects or career pathways perceived as ‘practical’ rather than ‘academic’ in nature.

At his Inaugural Professorial Lecture Professor Williams will describe his research, which aims to validly and reliably assess practice, and in so doing, help overcome the false dichotomy between theory and practice. He will also share his passion for technology education.

Professor Williams came to the University as an Associate Professor in 2010 from Edith Cowan University in Perth where he was the Director of Secondary Programmes in their School of Education.

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