Community Engagement

The Department of Geography is committed to facilitating learning through community engagement where possible and opportunities exist for this at all levels.
This is part of UCs commitment to engaging with local groups to help make the city more sustainable and resilient, especially post-earthquake.

While this occurs in many courses across the subject, it is a key feature of:

all of which involve students working with local communities to address real world issues of importance to those groups.

Community Based Film

In 2013 Prof Peter Newman (Curtin Uni, Perth), a Visiting Erskine Fellow helped make a film “Christchurch: Resilient City”. The film was made with staff (Prof Simon Kingham and Prof Eric Pawson) and students involved with the GEOG402 Sustainable Urban Development class in which students learn by working with local community groups and organisations on real research problems related to sustainable urban development. Many of the people in the film are partners we have worked with in the class.

The film is freely available to be seen.

The film is also divided into selected segments as follows:

GEOG110 Dynamic Places: Exploring Human Environments

GEOG110 draws on the insights of human geography to deepen our understanding of how places are made and inhabited. We examine the economic, social and cultural aspects of contemporary places and also consider their resilience and sustainability. We introduce some of the key methods and techniques available to explore changing places by working with local communities to examine their areas. This involves collecting and collating data for a community, then  analysing and reporting the findings. Finally an online assets map is produced.

In 2013, GEOG110 worked with the Parklands Network, a group of local organisations that included the Residents Association, local schools, churches and sporting clubs. They wanted to understand more about what it was like to live in the Parklands area (a suburb in the north-east of Christchurch that was badly affected by the 2010/11 earthquakes). In particular, they were interested in the ‘assets’ within their neighbourhood, including the skills, knowledge and resources of local people and groups.

A survey, designed in partnership with staff and students from the University of Canterbury’s Department of Geography, explored these issues.  It was delivered and administered by students in the GEOG110 course, as part of the University’s commitment to working with local communities. A copy of the final report can be found here (pdf 1Mb). In addition, an online Google Map will be created that identifies the key assets of Parklands as identified by local residents.

GEOG309 Research Methods in Geography

GEOG309 provides a student-centred grounding in research methods, using a group work approach and service learning, i.e. research projects done in conjunction with partners in the community. It is a capstone course designed to deliver an engaging learning experience as preparation for graduate work or entry to the workforce. The course involves groups of students working with local community groups on real world research projects initiated by the community groups and developed by the students

2012 Reports (pdfs)*

Dog Park Use in Christchurch Christchurch Coastal Pathway: Potential Use
From red zone to green corridor Community Resilience within the Lyttelton Harbour Basin
Recovery of recreational assets in Sumner Exploring the Wellbeing of Residents In Redcliffs
Social Housing in Christchurch Sumner Waterways: Opportunities for Restoration
Park Vandalism in Christchurch Spatial Aspirations in the Red Zone

2013 Reports (pdfs)*

Attitudes to native plants Avon Otakaro cycleway
Connections and networks in Halswell Education for food resilience in Lyttelton
Evaluating the social impact of Trees for Canterbury Flood and natural hazard management in the Avon Otakaro Corridor
Gap filling in the suburbs Kids for edible gardens evaluation
Operational feasibility of the Taylor's Mistake and Godley region of the proposed Horomaka Geopark Mt Pleasant community facilites for youth
Volunteering in Lyttelton: Impacts and encouraging greater participation. Recovery options for red-zoned public land in Sumner
Spatial integration of key natural environment recovery options for Sumner valley Understanding connections and networks amongst Halswell residents

GEOG402 Sustainable Urban Development

GEOG402 explores the contemporary and pressing issue of sustainable urban development, in the context both of the western world and the developing world. The course focuses on geographical issues related to urban planning for resource use and infrastructure development, including energy use, transport networks and housing development. The course includes an applied and practical element, conducted in collaboration with the local government officials and local community groups.

2012 Reports (pdfs)*

Vision in Action Ways forward for Pita Kaik
Rebuilding a business zone after disaster  

2013 Reports (pdfs)*

Local Food Initiatives A Future for the Avon River
Sustained Life in Vacant Spaces Opportunities and obstacle to the uptake of photovoltaics


* These pages contain research reports produced as part of courses where students have worked with external stakeholders. This include a range of community groups and in some cases local government.
These are university assignments, and not pieces of professional consultancy. As such, while most are very good, we cannot guarantee the quality of them.