Hear top scholars, students, and community leaders discuss how diversity in university education is crucial to answer the critical questions the world faces today and in the future.

Date and time: Wednesday, 22 February 2017. The debate will start at 5pm and ends at 7pm

Location: Burns 1, University of Otago


Nicola Gaston

Nicola Gaston, Alan MacDiarmid,
Photo: Alan MacDiarmid

Nicola Gaston is Associate Professor in Physics at the University of Auckland, and Deputy Director of the MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology, a New Zealand Centre of Research Excellence. As a Principal Investigator in the Institute, her group has worked extensively on quantum-mechanical simulations of the melting behaviour of metal nanoparticles, which has developed our understanding of how the fundamental properties of materials change as they become nanostructured.

Nicola was the 2016 awardee of the CMMSE Prize for contributions in the field of computational chemistry – in particular, for her work on the properties of atomic clusters. She was President of the New Zealand Association of Scientists in 2014-15, and is the author of Why Science Is Sexist, published by Bridget Williams Books in 2015. She’s always happy to talk to people about science on Twitter, where she can be found as @nicgaston.


Graeme Downes

graeme-downesGraeme is a senior lecturer at the department of Music at the University of Otago, teaching song writing and musicology. Graeme has a thirty-plus-year career as a songwriter and performer in the Verlaines and as a solo performer. He is currently working on the band’s tenth studio album, a double album entitled Dunedin Spleen.

Sophie Bond

sophie-bondSophie is a senior lecturer in human geography at the University of Otago. Her research interests include how people create change in ways that enable more just and equitable ways of living. She is particularly interested in how concepts of radical democracy and social action provide insights into how spaces are opened up for action, dissent and alternative imaginaries to be articulated in the current neoliberal context in which such opportunities are frequently foreclosed. Her research explores how neoliberal ideologies and practices shape what can be said and heard through democratic debate in a range of contexts from environmental resource management through to the neoliberalisation of tertiary education.

Professor Jim Flynn

jim-flynnEmeritus Professor of Political Studies at the University of Otago.

Professor Flynn is also an Honorary Doctor of Science, recipient of the Gold Medal for Distinguished Career Research, and a fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand.

Michael Armstrong

michael-armstrongMichael Armstrong is a previous Hodgkins Fellow at the University of Otago. He has run the art programmes at Aoraki Polytechnic (now Ara) for the past 20 years and he is the winner of a 2016 TEU award of excellence for his contribution to teaching arts. Michael has works in many major public collections throughout New Zealand. Photo: Glenys Parry

Millie Lovelock

millieMillie is a Masters student in English and one half of Dunedin Group Astro Children. Mille is also a solo performer with a number of projects on the go, her latest being Repulsive Woman. Millie’s Master dissertation is on fan fiction and she is a regular columnist for the Otago Daily Times.