Categories
education

Educating future leaders

Dr Indrapriya Kularatne of Otago Polytechnic Auckland International Campus discusses educating international future leaders to be sustainable practitioners. A specialist in International Sustainability Education, Indra makes use of the diverse perspectives of students from all over the world. The first step is an appreciation of the real environment that includes themselves. He works to ensure that his future managers see sustainability as the solution, not the problem.

We can’t live alone

Do something right. others will follow you.

Superpower: Blending scientific knowledge and social aspects and ability to communicate with future managers.

Creating change agents – we take people from nowhere practicing sustainable practitioners.

Sustainability is about changing mindsets

Categories
ecology landscape

Learning in Place

Dr Walter Poleman is a Senior Lecturer and Director of the Ecological Planning Programme at the Rubenstein School of the Environment and Natural Resources at the University of Vermont. He is coordinator of the Greater Burlington Sustainability Education Network which is a United Nations Regional Centre for Expertise for Education for Sustainable Development.

I love to see how things connect – and place is crucial in that.

People and place are inseparable.

We are all the parts connected together in a whole.

The best educators help students see connections

Relearning an integrated whole

Restorative justice and restorative environments are in the same place – healing can occur, and they are both dependent on the health of the whole.

Sustainability: ecological flourishing plus human flourishing

Walter teaches courses in integrated field science, landscape ecology, and measurements and mapping of natural resources. He also serves as the director of the Place-based Landscape Analysis and Community Engagement (PLACE) Program, a partnership of University of Vermont and Shelburne Farms, which provides local residents with a forum for exploring and understanding the natural and cultural history of their town landscape.

Categories
history

Diseases of Modern Life

Prof Sally Shuttleworth of St Anne’s College University of Oxford discusses diseases of modern life – what we can learn from Victorian responses to change. She talks of astonishing rates of change – just look at journey times – that created bewildering changes to society, and brought forth both optimism and anxiety.

We discuss how a Victorian sense of duty came with a strong desire to improve things, with a sense of legacy for a future ourselves unknown. Also how technological development emboldened a imperial mentality. The Victorians were deeply aware of the tensions of industrialisation and fought for the survival of health and the environment – including through sanitary organisations. There is much we can learn from the responses to these “Diseases of Modern Life“.

People at all levels in Victorian society followed (and contributed) through books and periodicals – the latter being notable for what we would now describe as eclectic mix of subject areas – from engineering to arts to life sciences. The mill workers had a breadth of understanding that might surprise us now, including taking active roles in constructing scientific communities.

Prof Shuttleworth was in Dunedin as the William Evans Fellow in the Department of English and Linguistics at the University of Otago. Her work “Speed of Modern Life” involved a multimedia projection onto the side of the Richardson building (a collaboration with The Projection Studio). This piece tracks the transformation from rural communities to industrial production with an increasing pace and sense of pressure.

Categories
climate change community electricity generation

Energised community action

Scott Willis believes in community action. We talk about all the ways the manager of the Blueskin Resilient Communities Trust has put that belief into action. Recent successes include the launch of the Blueskin Energy Network that provides a market to encourage small-scale renewable community energy sharing. The completion of the first Climate Safe House was a real milestone on a project to progress new housing models to demonstrate adaptation and innovative ownership options.

The vision is to energise our communities, to be talking about and taking action on the big issues

As I move away from myself, my influence gets less, but the potential sphere impact increases…community is a great scale to affect good change.

Demonstrating what we can do at the flaxroots, we can make change at a different scale

Energy enables us to thrive more than survive, but our profligate consumption has caused the long emergency

We need to engage with the cost of profligate use of energy

We’re democratising our electricity sector

There is always something we can do, but don’t feel burdened to get it right, be humble enough to know we are always learning how to make a difference

Working on solutions makes me happy.

Acting despite uncertainty

Categories
communication politics

Taking responsibility, positively.

Hysterical negativity doesn’t drive opportunities. We have to make room to be positive.

Prof Joseph Haldane is founder, chair and CEO of the International Academic Forum (IAFOR).

With a doctorate in french studies, his research and teaching is on history, politics, international affairs and international education, as well as governance and decision making.

We talk about global governance and ethics and the politics of fear. The Machiavellian playbook of fear is being used quite deliberately – setting up the “other” and changing the balance of victimhood. From this we see “fake news” and strongman politics. But Haldane is positive and sees a path of positive politics and international cooperation . Travel, he says, is breaking down racist paradigms. But to do that we have to change to a future of thriving and regenerative future. While the challenge is intergenerational, it is also urgent, so we can’t be forced into inaction by negativity.

Definition: We have to be the best version of whatever we have at the moment

Superpower: Decent host, bringing the right people together.

Activist: I have the ability to run, to be excited by projects, and to focus on the long term drivers of change.

Miracle: Inequality is the most egregious injustice. We need meaningful international and national public policy to address.

This conversation was recorded at IAFOR’s Asian Conference on Education in Tokyo in November 2019.

Categories
climate change conflict law peace

Genuine connections

Now he is a human rights researcher, but as a young man Brian Aycock joined the military. He was sent to provide security for international war crimes investigations, including watching the uncovering of mass graves. Trained to dehumanise the situation he instead developed a strong empathy for the other and returned to study history and literature.  He found community and connection in those who are activists in their daily lives, and a kinship with the downtrodden. He joined the Peace Corps and through genuine connections in places such as Malawi learnt his most important lesson – be nice to everybody. For Brian this means a respect for the other and indeed a breakdown of otherness.  Returning to the US again he worked with poor and disenfranchised on a “get out the vote” campaign – learning much about the value of positive communications.

Further study in the UK in economics led to marriage in Japan and working on refugee resettlement programmes and from there to an MA in refugee law.  He is now working for the International Academic Forum (IAFOR) in Japan, bringing people together in international cooperation of research and learning.   

We talk about the inequity of an international system that has globalised except for labour – privileging money and goods over human beings, and that we have failed to recognise that migration is at the heart of human security.  

He is continuing to research refugee law, focusing on climate refugees.  Brian argues that we urgently need an international framework for burden sharing for such environmentally displaced persons. 

Definition:  Solved before handed onto next generation. 

Superpower: Kindness

Activist: Yes, if you’re not, you’re failing as a human. If you’re not doing anything, you’re letting life pass you by.

Motivation: Respect for human beings

Miracle: Seeing each other as humans – be kind to each other

Advice: Say hello to the people around you. 

This conversation was recorded at Lingnam University in Hong Kong in November 2019.

Categories
community health nursing rural

Compassion for Rural Communities

Dr Audrey Snyder is associate dean of nursing – experiential learning and innovation at University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She is President of the global Rural Nurse Organisation.

We talk about the personal development of the ethic of care – asking can we train for that? A passion for making a difference to other people is crucial. We talk about the challenges of caring for rural communities whose aging small populations are spread out which means special challenges across the sphere of nursing from emergencies to mental health to community wellbeing. This community wellbeing also applies to rural nurses themselves with challenges for maintaining a community of practice.

Audrey was in Dunedin for the Australasian Nurse Educators Conference.

Categories
education

politics of everyday life

Deane E. Neubauer is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of Hawaii, Manoa. Over the course of his career he has focused on a variety of political and policy areas including democratic theory, public policy, elections and various policy foci, including education, health, agriculture and communication.

We talk about the rapidly changing world driving change in higher education including climate change, AI and resurgent nationalism. The implications of these forces are far-reaching, from the challenges to old disciplines, massification and the notion of truth.

But before that we talk about growing up in Wisconsin, and accidentally stumbling in academia then sociology and political science. And then a cornucopia of topics encompassed by “the politics of everyday life”: alternative healthcare; globalisation; resurgent nationalism; interdisciplinarity; politics of resentment; and how we get real change. While change may come from an emergency (he points to Californian fires), we need, Deane says, to find a way to “overcome the forces of despair”.

Categories
education RCEOtago youngleader

Youth that needs to be listened to

Matt Shepherd, Sylvia Otley and Luke Geddes from the Youth Working Group of the Otago UN Regional Centre for Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development

Categories
climate change dunedin youngleader

Real positive change

Zak Rudin was one of the co-organisers of the Dunedin School Strike for Climate. Now he has finished school, we talk about what drives him and what’s next.

Categories
climate change psychology

Head in the crowds

We talk with Prof Marc Wilson of Victoria University of Wellington. Why is there such a gap between science and people who don’t believe in climate change? Psychology. Marc says that what we believe, we believe for a reason, and in this case a lot of disbelief can be linked to views on hierarchy versus equality, and orientation to authority. And this leads to entrenched positions that can’t be overcome with more facts. He says that we’ve probably saturated the market of people who will be convinced by facts.

So how can we make a difference? Marc points to changing the way we communicate “what kind of world do you want to live in in 50 years?”.

Marc is encouraged by the crowds that turned out for School Strikes for Climate. He says the very act of coming together with like-minded people is an accomplishment. Despite criticism, marchers shouldn’t feel guilty because they are carrying a mobile phone, or wearing a plastic jacket – they are part of systems that will take a long time to change, and that calls for perfection are intended to be dis-empowering. So rather than aiming for perfection, it is OK to aim for good.

Definition: Language of sustainability has been misused. Need to describe in terms of passion and energy.

Success: Students

Superpower: Tenacity, thick skin (Brian Dixon says he should have said communicator).

Activist: Increasingly. Did think that soience had to be objective, but now realises that everything is value-laden and to pretend otherwise is to do science a disservice.

Motivation: Sense of obligation. But not hard as every day exciting and different. We (university) everything has to change because the students do.

Challenge: Ongoing research into adolescent self-harm

Miracle: Emotional skills curriculum

Advice: Aim for good.

Marc was in Dunedin to speak as part of NZ Psychology Week “Living Life Well”. His talk The Elusive Climate Consensus:If it’s so obvious, why doesn’t everyone believe (or not) in climate change?

Categories
computing

programming to save the planet

Adrian Friday is Head of Department and Professor of Computing and Sustainability at Lancaster University.

Adrian Friday is Professor of Computing and Sustainability at Lancaster University talking about programmers power to create responsibly.

I loved creating new things

Vision for future

(Can computing save the world?) Computing has a role to play – it helps us understand the world.

Creating better systems

I think you have to be a bit of a party-pooper. Our business models and the way we chose to run society, the way those businesses run that want to see more demand..and as society I think we have to hold that to account. As scientists it is our responsibility to say ‘hang on a second, we are creating systems that are putting more computers into our homes just so you can switch the lights on, with an extra energy footprint, extra resource footprint’ and I think it is our responsibility to try and highlight that these are design elements that are not currently factored into our processes.

Technology is innately situated in the world –

There’s a perception that green technology will save us…because it is more efficient it is more sustainable…but I personally don’t believe that the future is more of the same.

There’s a community who care about the impact technology is having on the world and on people

Programming superpower to try to save the planet

We’ve got a bit hooked on new stuff, more convenience.

Socioecological systems…look at where people’s lives have impact

On demand shopping… how (in)efficient is that? And what of the social impact? If we just look at the movement, that’s a traditional computer science problem (travelling salesman), but when you add in the social, we have to talk with other people

(Is computing sustainable?) It’s on an unsustainable trajectory.

Unsustainable computing, we’re locked into cycles of updates. We’ve created an expectation of updates – people aren’t happy with keeping things the same.

How do we create systems of longevity? – that we want things to last?

We’re very good at design things that are quickly going to be obsolete.

Ubicomp as a scientific lens – computing is throughout the chain, affecting people’s lives in very direct ways – we have to be responsible practitioners.

People are focused on a particular thing – like being a really good computer scientist – they’re not there necessarily to become a sustainable computer scientist. So there’s a challenge in how we communicate that in an engaging way.

Definition: environmental sustainability… energy and carbon impacts…not the business interpretation that is often conflated.

Success: Freight transport projects, walking and hybrid routing problem – hoping that this will change policy – so having a greater impact.

Superpower: computer science, being able to create my vision through the power of programming. It’s one of those tools that lets you create the future, and realise your dreams. It sounds a bit saccharine but you could be passionate about crowdfunding for a charity, or transforming cancer care – you could go out and help people achieve that with your programming superpower. So I’m going to apply my programming superpower to try to save the planet.

Activist: No.

Motivation: Work ethic. I do have a passion for this topic, and that’s a little bit selfless because it’s probably not a career maker if I was to be purely self-centred, but I do think that it is really important.

Challenge: I can speaking to academic audience really well, but there are huge changes, we have to address the climate change emergency, we academics fly too much. We have to have more impact.

Miracle: A global summit about climate change that focuses

Advice: Read Mike Berners-Lee’s book.

There’s this idea that sustainability is about giving things up. But actually sustainability is about valuing the human and doing things differently. If we get it right, we can have quiet roads, less pollution, places for the kids to play, more wildlife…lots of benefits for humankind that we’re not currently realising.

Engage with the impacts., and lobby politicians so that it’s clear that it’s important to you.

Categories
government ocean pacific

Service-led Leadership



Cook Islands communicator Thomas Wynn was in Dunedin to speak at the Otago Polytechnic Distinguished Alumni Awards.

Talking points

Good leaders have served, and served well – with a strong values base.

How do we change the world? Do something.

Our greatest successes happen around the kitchen table.

Creating a space at the table especially for people we disagree with.

Island nations – we have to depend on each other.

Leadership is either the answer or the problem

Power is the most dangerous drug available. The antidote is accountability.

Definition: Our grandchildren will be able to enjoy a better quality of life.

Superpower: Telling someone that they did a good job. The love. Perhaps the ultimate superpower is to care enough to do something.

Activist? Yes, nothing changes without activity. And that means stepping out of comfortable into uncomfortable.

Motivation: Desire to be better.

Advice: Don’t be a spectator – be a participant.



Categories
computing

Computing for social responsibility

Alan Borning is Professor Emeritus at Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Washington. He is the founder of Solutions for Environment, Economy and Democracy (SEED).

For the longest time, the things that I care about – sustainability, urban form – were not really connected to my day job, so I refocused my research.

Impacting the political process is a responsibility

How human values are expressed in software…value sensitive design

We have a crisis of democracy, a broken democracy and a broken discourse

Definition: Living within nature, a society that enables a different thriving and prosperity

Success: OneBusAway

Activist: Yes, I support activists

Motivation: Doing something about huge problems. It’s easy to get pessimistic so hope is important – things that have a possibility of working out, lets focus on that.

Challenge: Surveillance capitalism

Miracle: Change the political system to take money out of politics. Vote.


Advice: Looks for things that motivate you. See how it ties into bigger picture, but don’t get overwhelmed by that.

Categories
art

Emotion and logic

Dr Rachel Jacobs is an artist based in Nottingham and London. She founded the collective Active Ingredient. Rachel completed a PhD in 2014 entitled ‘The Artist’s Footprint: Investigating the distinct contributions of artists engaging the public with climate change’.

We discuss many of Rachel’s projects, including A Conversation between trees (ACM), The Prediction Machine, and Rachel’s current project Performing the Future – a project looking at the future in response to environmental change.

The art of sharing, telling stories

Approach without an agenda

Emotional connection

The focus has been ‘how do understand the data more?’ but there’s a disconnect, we need to focus on ‘how data can be made more meaningful?’.

We need a combination of emotion and logic to act

I’d rather help people think about it and make sense in their own terms than have them get angry or defensive.

Feeling of future unfolding

(Positive) Something has changed, I hope it sticks

Sustainability: Not thinking sustainability as something different from how we live our lives.

Superpower: Caring about how people feel emotionally about the world.

Challenge: Future Machine

Miracle: Changing the causes of climate change

Advice: Try to find out as much as possible, be open minded, even things that scare me.

Categories
innovation

Positive, responsible innovation

Dr Helena Webb is a Senior Researcher in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Oxford. Helena explores how people interact with technologies in different kinds of setting and how social action both shapes and is shaped by innovation. We talk about responsible innovation, opportunities for positive change, and running ethical hackathons in Zimbabwe.

Understanding the ways in which our lives are shaped by technological innovations.

Activist?: Yes and no. I want to do social good but need to be open to be criticised.

Motivation: Opportunities to find out and see into different contexts

Advice: Go with what you are interested in and go with that flow.

 

Categories
computing

rethinking impact



Lucy Pei is a PhD student at the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences at University of California Irvine. Lucy was volunteering at a literacy centre for resettled refugees and could see problems with the things she and others were doing – even though they we doing it properly. This led to her paper We Did It Right, But It Was Still Wrong: Toward Assets-Based Design.  We discuss how interventions often fall short of delivering lasting impact in resource-constrained contexts,and the need for different ways of thinking about impacts, and different time scales.

Wholly different ways of doing science interventions

We need a willingness to try, but carefully.



Categories
law

Green criminology

Paul Stretesky is a Professor at Northumbria University where he specialises in green criminology. We talk environmental justice and environmental crime.

Both a crime and a created crime

Race to the bottom

The political-economic organisation of capitalism causes environmental destruction.

Capital will move where it can to create profit, but pollution knows no boundaries.

Sustainability: things we do today that don’t compromise what others can do tomorrow.

Success: Green Criminology. Increasing recognition of impact of extraction on communities.

Superpower: Connections between different fields

Activist: At various points. As a scholar supposed to be objective.

Challenge: A lot to be learned from community organisations

Advice: People may say you’re a little crazy, but find a person who is aligned and stick with it, it can make a big difference.