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Big questions tackled in revamped Winter Symposium Series

Friday, 23 June 2017 1:21pm

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The new-look Winter Symposium Series will kick off in Wellington on Wednesday 5 July, with panellists tackling the topic: The Future of Work.

Who will have jobs in 20 years’ time? Should we downsize Auckland? Are we wrecking our lakes and mountain environments?

Twelve academics from departments across the University are preparing to explore these questions from all angles at this year’s Winter Symposium Series, being held in association with the Otago Daily Times.

The symposium – entitled Why Should You Care? – is a revamp of the former Winter Lecture Series. Three events featuring multi-disciplinary panels are being held in Wellington, Auckland and Queenstown during the next six weeks.

Panellists have been chosen for being among the best and brightest leading thinkers in their fields in the country and will offer edgy and controversial views on important current issues that New Zealanders need to think about in the lead-up to September’s general election.

Gingering up the audience and panellists will be Lyttelton satirist and Otago Daily Times columnist Joe Bennett, who will be master of ceremonies for all three events.

Panellists have been asked to talk in their specialist areas for about seven to 10 minutes. At the end of each presentation, the MC will invite the audience to ask questions and the real debate can begin.

The first event, at Parliament on Wednesday 5 July, will see panel members discuss the important topic of “The Future of Work”.

Professor David Baxter (Physiotherapy), Dr Andrew Coleman (Economics), Professor Richard Porter (Psychological Medicine) and Dr Sara Walton (Management) will grapple with questions like: What jobs will still exist? What will that mean for household income, retirement, savings, reliance on inheritances? Will job changes have an effect on the way our homes and suburbs look? Will isolation affect our national mental health?

The symposium moves to Auckland a week later. On Wednesday 12 July at Rydges Hotel, the panel will tackle the country’s biggest city head-on in the lion’s den, discussing “Regionalism and the dominance of Auckland”.

This time the panellists are Dr Sergio Biggemann (Marketing), Professor Claire Freeman (Geography), Professor Robin Gauld (Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Commerce, and Dean of the Otago Business School) and Professor Etienne Nel (Geography).

Aucklanders in the audience will no doubt want to challenge some of their opinions on such polarising matters as: How can we stop Auckland growing bigger? Is it really Auckland versus the rest? What impact does Auckland’s congestion have on housing and health, business locations, social services, education provision in Auckland and around the country?

The Wellington and Auckland events are being hosted by Deputy Vice-Chancellor, External Engagement, Professor Helen Nicholson.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research and Enterprise, Professor Richard Blaikie will be the host of the third event in Queenstown on Tuesday 8 August at the Copthorne Hotel and Resort.

The topic this time is “Something in the water – water quality, tourism, economy versus the environment”.

Queenstown is an apt location for this panel discussion, given recent concerns about the degradation of the alpine lakes, lake snow/snot, the over-dairying of the South Island, the economy and the environment, and whether overseas tourists should be levied when they arrive to pay for better infrastructure.

Fronting as panellists at this last event will be Associate Professor Brent Lovelock (Tourism), Dr Sarah Mager (Geography), Dr Marc Schallenberg (Zoology) and Associate Professor Nicola Wheen (Law).

Symposium organisers hope the three events will provide much food for thought in the countdown to the election, and prompt politicians and would-be MPs to consider how our academics’ ideas might inform future policy that will make for a better New Zealand.

In a nutshell:

2017 Winter Symposium Series - Why Should You Care?

Wed 5 Jul - Wellington
The Future of Work
Panellists: Professor David Baxter (Physiotherapy), Dr Andrew Coleman (Economics), Professor Richard Porter (Psychological Medicine) and Dr Sara Walton (Management)
Venue: Parliament

Wed 12 Jul - Auckland
Regionalism and the dominance of Auckland
Panellists: Dr Sergio Biggemann (Marketing), Professor Claire Freeman (Geography), Professor Robin Gauld (Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Commerce, and Dean of the Otago Business School) and Professor Etienne Nel (Geography)
Venue: Rydges Hotel

Tue 8 Aug - Queenstown
Something in the water – water quality, tourism, economy versus the environment
Panellists: Associate Professor Brent Lovelock (Tourism), Dr Sarah Mager (Geography), Dr Marc Schallenberg (Zoology) and Associate Professor Nicola Wheen (Law).
Venue: Copthorne Hotel and Resort

If you would like to attend one of the events, please register your interest at wintersymposium@otago.ac.nz with the code (one of either) WLG/AKL/QN Winter Symposium.