Bicultural competence at heart of new degree
A new Bachelor of Communication degree at the University of Canterbury is weaving bicultural awareness and activities
into each course of study.
The Bachelor degree in the College of Arts launches in 2019 and will offer four majors: Journalism, Communication
Strategy in Practice, Political Communication, and Tauwhitinga Māori: Communication Strategy for the Māori World
Associate Professor Donald Matheson
, head of UC Arts Media and Communication, says his department worked closely with Aotahi School of Māori and Indigenous
Studies and the Office of the Assistant Vice-Chancellor Māori to develop the degree and strengthen relationships with
Ngāi Tahu and local iwi.
Activities incorporated into the degree include visits to Tuahiwi Marae, work-based projects with Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu
and coursework highlighting Māori perspectives on communication, such as indigenous understandings of risk and writing
for Māori news media.
Market research for the degree showed employers have an appetite for graduates that understand the Māori world, te reo
language, and ensure that conversations, relationships and partnerships are respectful. Employers seek graduates who are
focused and critical thinkers, and can bring new perspectives to a workplace, he says.
“The qualification will encourage students to focus and give them confidence to be more biculturally aware and take
ownership of their journey.
“The degree comes at a perfect moment as the University is becoming more biculturally aware and looking for ways to
deepen what students learn here.”
Dr Matheson says developing the degree has deepened his own confidence in using te reo and collaborating with iwi. He is
optimistic new students will gain the same confidence in undertaking the degree.
In recent years, UC has developed the Graduate Profile. The profile includes five attributes a UC degree instils in
students to make them stand out in the job market, including producing graduates who are biculturally competent and
confident. The new degree demonstrates how invested UC is in achieving that.
Assistant Vice-Chancellor Catherine Moran, who coordinates the Graduate Profile programme, says a bicultural perspective
extends a person’s understanding of cultural matters.
“It also assists them in being better informed and positive citizens in Aotearoa, as well as giving individuals a
greater understanding of themselves.”