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Grant Nelson (left) and Professor Robert Patman

The Gama Foundation founder Grant Nelson (left) and Professor Robert Patman at an award ceremony in Christchurch today. Professor Patman is the winner of the 2024 Critic and Conscience of Society Award.

University of Otago Professor of Politics Robert Patman has been recognised for his outstanding commitment to educating the public and decision-makers about issues relating to international relations.

Professor Patman has been named the winner of the 2024 Critic and Conscience of Society Award.

The award, sponsored by the philanthropic trust The Gama Foundation and administered by Universities New Zealand – Te Pōkai Tara, recognises an academic’s role under the Education and Training Act 2020 to act as the critic and conscience of society. It encourages academics to provide expert commentary on important issues affecting the New Zealand community and future generations.

For years Professor Patman has been at the forefront of discussions about international relations, particularly in the past two years when he has made more than 1000 media appearances.

He has also challenged the actions of powerful actors on the global stage and the actions – or lack of actions – of the country’s decision-makers on issues such as the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the United States of America’s invitation for New Zealand to join AUKUS, and the Israel-Gaza conflict.

Recently, his consistent advocacy of an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza has played a part in shaping the terms of debate in New Zealand.

The Gama Foundation spokesman Grant Nelson says Professor Patman “has had a prodigious output of articles and interviews on issues that will, over time, impact on the New Zealand community and future generations”.

“His media commentary has undoubtedly played a significant role in educating the public and decision-makers on international and humanitarian issues,” Mr Nelson says.

Professor Patman says he is deeply honoured to receive the award.

“As an international relations academic with a strong commitment to public education, this award means everything to me,” he says.

“I would like to thank the Universities New Zealand selection panel for recognising my efforts to contribute to a better understanding of this country’s relationship with a disrupted but increasingly interconnected world.

“I would also like to acknowledge the tremendous support and encouragement of my family, friends and work colleagues that helped make this outcome possible.”

Professor Patman plans to use part of the $50,000 funding to secure research assistance to progress two literature projects, a book titled Rethinking the Global Impact of 9/11 and a co-authored volume called Why Political Leaders are Poor at Learning from History.

Pro-Vice Chancellor, Te Kete Aronui Division of Humanities, Professor Jessica Palmer says this is a much-deserved recognition for Professor Patman, who is fearless in his role as an academic.

“He understands the importance of, and is generous in, his service as critic and conscience of society.

“As well as producing a wealth of proactive commentary, he is readily available to media to give valuable insight on breaking news. He provides a vital, Aotearoa-based perspective on international relations.”

Professor Patman is an inaugural Sesquicentennial Distinguished Chair, a Fulbright Senior Scholar and an Honorary Professor of the New Zealand Defence Command and Staff College.

He received the award at a ceremony in Christchurch today.

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