New Zealand is a nation surrounded by ocean with the largest distance to our nearest neighbour of any major country on the planet. The University of Otago is the southern-most university in New Zealand, with the largest distance between our main campus city of Dunedin to the nearest university city within New Zealand. We are off the roadmap, out of the way, tucked into our beautiful corner of the world and, as some would say, perfectly positioned as the “last stop before Antarctica”.
But we are a truly global university, with more than 70 per cent of our academic staff trained overseas and 80 per cent of our students coming from outside the Otago region. These people choose to travel long distances to work or study with us, flying over other fine universities on their way in most cases. The reasons they do this are many and varied, but our reputation as a research-led university with an international reputation for excellence, and our commitment to local national and global citizenship are two of the strongest attractors.
As a research-led university, our research must always retain a global perspective in order to keep us as a destination of choice, even when our expertise is applied to important local or regional issues.
Our glorious isolation works wonderfully to our advantage in many cases, giving us direct access to a large part of the planet, such as the Southern Ocean that is a critical and understudied driver of global climate. And, for truly global research, our “off roadmap” position allows us to think and critically analyse the issues the world faces away from (but accessible to) the mainstream thinking that can sometime mean that novel and imaginative solutions are missed.
In this edition of our annual research highlights publication, He Kitenga Global, we have focused our stories on our researchers, groups and centres who have undertaken work that has touched the lives of people all around the world. From the studies of ice in our Southern Ocean that allow us to provide data and science relevant to all oceans and both poles, to the human health, social, commercial and geopolitical research that helps solve some of the most pressing issues across the Pacific, Asia and into the Middle East and Africa, University of Otago research has a truly global perspective.
Enjoy these stores, wherever you may be!
Professor Richard Blaikie
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise)