Symposium set to spark ideas for gender health and wellbeing

27 September 2022

Professor Holly Thorpe says tomorrows symposium could be the impetus for a new research network.

A symposium this week will bring together interrelated disciplines for the first time, and host Professor Holly Thorpe, from Te Huataki Waiora School of Health at Waikato University, hopes it will lead to sparks and growth.

The Gender, Health and Wellbeing Symposium is part of Professor Thorpe’s Royal Society Te Apārangi James Cook Fellowship and is planned as a supportive environment for sharing ideas, establishing networks and making plans for the future.

“It’s the first time for New Zealand academics working with this group of theories to come together to intersect in a meaningful way, so there’s a lot of excitement,” Professor Thorpe says.

Keynote speaker for the event is Dr Julia Coffey from University of Newcastle, Australia. Professor Thorpe says with so much happening so quickly around theoretical and methodological developments in new materialisms, Dr Coffey’s input will be invaluable.

“Julia’s expertise in the sociological understanding of body image, health, youth and wellbeing will be a launchpad for a day of discovery,” says Professor Thorpe.

The symposium brings together senior academics, early career and postgraduate students, and health professionals from across the country, and two international guests (Dr Coffey and her colleague, Associate Professor Steven Thredgold).

“With presentations around diet, digital and tech health innovations, motherhood, eating disorders, menstrual health, sport, fitness, and the impact of the pandemic on women’s wellbeing, we have a range of concepts and theories coming together for the first time. We will also have workshops to explore new methods that will help us better understand the complex intersections of gender, health and wellbeing.”

Professor Thorpe says the day could be the impetus for a new research network, as well as a collaborative book project. She says the ability to mingle will be very powerful: “The opportunities for new and unexpected ideas and connections to emerge is what makes such events so exciting.

“These kinds of symposia are a critical part of academic life and research that we’ve been missing for two years. I’m looking forward to welcoming our guests onto the beautiful University of Waikato campus for a day of thinking and learning together. The pandemic has radically impacted our understandings of health and wellbeing, and this symposium will ensure we are on the cutting edge of developing theories and methods that respond to these complexities.”

This research aligns with the following United Nations Sustainable Development Goals:

Good Health and Well-being Gender Equality Partnerships for the goals

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