Bringing Pacific knowledge and innovation to new courses

New interdisciplinary Pacific Studies courses developed at the University of Canterbury (UC) draw on cutting-edge research from the region.

  • Pacific studies

    UC’s Pacific researchers working in the field study how traditional structures such as this gathering house in Samoa facilitate community resilience to climate change.

SDG 17

Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 17 – Partnerships for the Goals

Three new undergraduate courses – The Global Pacific; The Contemporary and Transnational Pacific; and Pacific Sustainability and Climate Resilience – reframe current deficit narratives of the Pacific and its communities, celebrating a long history of resilience, Indigenous knowledge and innovation.

UC researchers who developed the courses are involved in the pioneering Pacific Ocean and Climate Crisis Assessment (POCCA) study, which studies climate mitigation and adaptation in 16 countries in the Pacific region, with a focus on giving voice to Indigenous knowledge.

Innovative case studies from this research, and other projects led by UC’s Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies (MBC) in the Pacific and locally, are incorporated into the teaching of these new courses and are linked with the UN Sustainability Goals.

“The inclusion of student and staff perspectives from across the university was important in designing these courses,” Pacific Academic Lead Ashalyna Noa says.

“Students we surveyed saw great value in Pacific Studies courses for wide ranging reasons – they could deepen their understanding of the Pacific, be exposed to and normalise diverse world views as part of their studies, and learn how to effectively engage in cross-cultural settings.”

The courses were developed by UC’s new PAKC – Pacific Knowledge and Culture hub, which incorporates the world class MBC and the Pacific Development Team (PDT). PDT provides pastoral care to Pacific students and supports academic staff to enhance Pacific success on campus.

The introduction of the new courses, as well as the Pacific Studies minor, complements existing programmes offered at UC and will equip learners with the knowledge and skills to further their postgraduate, research and career pathways.

Earlier this year, UC appointed Fijian scholar Distinguished Professor Steven Ratuva as its first Te Amorangi | Pro-Vice-Chancellor Pacific.

“The Pacific Studies courses will provide the relevant prisms and intellectual tools to analyse and understand Pacific cultures, sustainability, resilience, innovation and transformation in a changing world,” Professor Ratuva says.

“Because the content themes introduce students to values of cultural understanding, equity and diversity, the courses will connect well with other disciplines as well as contextualise New Zealand’s identity in the Oceanic region.”

The courses, offered in person and online, will include guest lectures by community knowledge holders, leading Pacific experts, practitioners and policy makers.

Future and current UC students can now enrol in these three new courses, and the Pacific Studies minor, on the UC website.

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