Young researchers head to UK to examine global sustainability issues
A group of young University of Canterbury postgraduate researchers working on global sustainability issues are heading
to London this week to take part in international initiatives on sustainable prosperity.
Dr Sylvia Nissen, Mehedi Hasan and Geoff Ford, all from the UC College of Arts, are members of the Sustainable Citizenship and Civic Imagination
: Hei Puāwaitanga research lab led by UC political scientist Associate ProfessorBronwyn Hayward
The researchers will discuss cutting edge approaches to living more sustainably while achieving community wellbeing at a
UK Economic and Social Research Council postgraduate research workshop. Leaving New Zealand on 13 September, the
researchers will also be involved in launching a study in London of young people growing up in seven world cities.
A UC postdoctoral fellow, Dr Sylvia Nissen’s PhD thesis combined politics and sociology to examine levels of student
debt and the implications for student political engagement, wellbeing and achievement. Dr Nissen says she is excited to
have the opportunity to connect with researchers from around the world and across disciplines to share the latest
insights into sustainable prosperity.
“Understanding how we can live well within environment limits is one of the most urgent challenges confronting our
societies and economies,” she says.
Geoff Ford is a linguistics and politics PhD candidate who used his background in IT to digitise the Hansard debates and
talkback radio to understand how people talk about the economy, sustainability and other political implications of
“My PhD is focused on contemporary thinking on the economy in New Zealand and this is a great opportunity, while I’m
wrapping up my research, to be able to connect with cutting edge thinkers on sustainability and economics.”
PhD student Mehedi Hasan is studying politics and geography to understand how young people’s experience of wellbeing and
physical security can be enhanced by access to green space in the rapidly urbanising context of Dhaka, the largest city
“As I begin my doctoral research, I am delighted to be able to participate in this research workshop with top
international scholars as it will provide an important foundation for the rest of my study to understand how rapidly
growing cities like Dhaka can develop sustainably,” he says.
The UC researchers will participate in the Centre for Understanding Sustainable Prosperity (CUSP) UK doctoral workshop
on new research techniques and ideas, at the University of Surrey and take part in the launch of a new international
study, led by Assoc Prof Hayward with CUSP and seven international research teams in cities around the world, examining
how cities, businesses and communities can make sustainable differences to the quality of young people’s lives and
The researchers are funded by the Economic and Social research Council of England and the intent of the visit is to
share new research about how to live sustainably.
“These PhD scholars are a credit to UC and New Zealand,” Assoc Prof Hayward says.
“They are working at the cutting edge of new interdisciplinary thinking about what it means to live well on a finite
planet, how do we meet the needs of growing populations without constantly using material resources will require
rethinking our political economies, and our lifestyles. In addressing these questions, these researchers in particular
are drawing not only on politics but in this case also being supervised by academics from sociology, geography, and
linguistics and economics.”
The international research group for Sustainable Citizenship and Civic imagination: Hei Puāwaitanga, is a
multidisciplinary research team and ‘civics lab’, at the University of Canterbury. It investigates citizenship and civic
governance, participation and democratic urbanisation, with a particular focus on sustainability and inclusion,
especially for children and youth.
Caption info: (from left to right): Dr Sylvia Nissen, Mehedi Hasan and Geoff Ford are members of the Sustainable Citizenship and
Civic Imagination research lab led by Associate Professor Bronwyn Hayward.