Engaged Social Science Research Initiative

The Engaged Social Science Research Initiative (ESSRI) aims to showcase the social science research that is carried out across the University of Auckland and to give our researchers the chance to connect with others locally, nationally and internationally.

Engaged Social Science Research Initiative

This interdisciplinary, University-wide project, funded by the Vice-Chancellor’s Strategic Development fund, will host a series of research cafés, public lectures and master classes, bringing together social scientists around a number of topical research themes. The ESSRI teams and projects are also supported by eSocSci.

Events will be held between May 2016 and February 2017.

Upcoming projects

Accessible transport and mobility in an age and disability friendly city

Led by Professor Shanthi Ameratunga, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, 13-17 February 2017

Inaccessible transport systems have a huge, inequitable impact on the health and wellbeing of older people and those living with disabilities. We are a multi-disciplinary group of academics motivated to address these concerns at a time of unprecedented changes to Auckland’s urban environment.

Drawing on our interests at the crossroads of population health, transport engineering, and the physical and social dimensions of urban living, our research café brings together national and international social scientists, urban planners, transport professionals and community stakeholders, to identify gaps in current knowledge and practice, and promote deliberative approaches that engage communities involved to stimulate responsive solutions.

Past projects

Indigenous food sovereignty in the context of climate change

Led by Associate Professor Manuka Henare, Business School), 9-10 May 2016

Food security is a global policy objective to address the need to feed 9.6 billion people by 2050 and is inseparable from the challenges of climate change. For Indigenous peoples, food, the climate and environment are sacred gifts. There cannot be food security without control over food production and ownership, care of the environment and monitoring of climate and seasonal variations. Further, the requirements and preferences of Indigenous peoples, and the contribution of Indigenous peoples’ knowledge to, and conceptualisations of, food production and security, are often overlooked in scholarly literature and policy making.

This is also true in the case of climate change, as Indigenous approaches to adaptation have often been ignored by scientists and policymakers. This Research Café is hosted by the Mira Szazy Research Centre, which is developing a research programme on food and health and explores issues of food security in Aotearoa, particularly as they pertain to Maori, and in relation to Tribal First Nations of the USA and Aboriginal communities of Australia. Our project events present and debate food security/sovereignty issues from perspectives that are local and global, and which emerge from research and grass-roots perspectives.

International participants:
Dr Kyle Whyte from Michigan State University (MSU), who holds the Timnick Chair in the Humanities at Michigan State University. He is Associate Professor of Philosophy and Community Sustainability, a faculty member of the Environmental Philosophy and Ethics graduate concentration, and a faculty affiliate of the American Indian Studies and Environmental Science and Policy programs. Dr Whyte’s expertise is in exploring Indigenous food sovereignty, and climate change.

Public lecture:
Monday 9 May 2016 | 6.15 – 8pm | Case Room 4 | OGGB
Dr Kyle White, “Indigenous Justice in the Anthropocene: Connecting Climate Change and Food Security.”

Switching on digital activism

Led by Dr David Mayeda, Faculty of Arts, 5 September 2016

In the 21st century, social media’s ubiquity has reshaped the ways activist groups function. Online platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Vimeo have been central in stimulating and sustaining major social movements, including the Arab Spring and Black Lives Matter campaigns. On the other hand, some scholarship has suggested that 'push button activism' or 'slacktivism' can limit social media’s effectiveness in provoking tangible changes in society.

This research café will explore the strategies that marginalised communities employ when utilising social media to enact social change. Online campaigns aspiring to tackle discrimination faced by indigenous peoples, students of colour, women and other marginalised groups will be addressed.

Please e-mail to register or for further information: itooamauckland@gmail.com

International participants:
Dr Theresa Petray, James Cook University

Public lecture:
Monday 5 September 2016 | 9.15am – 10am | Room 439 | Engineering Building 401
Dr Theresa Petray, James Cook University, Cairns -  “Sites of Subversion: The Opportunities and Challenges of Social Media for Activism”

The ‘war on obesity’: Engaging social perspectives

Led by Dr Darren Powell, Faculty of Education and Social Work 31 October - 2 November 2016

Scientific knowledge about obesity is valuable. However, we believe it is equally important to include the perspectives of people and communities - including children, Māori, Pasifika, women, mothers and others - in order to understand, question and debate the dominance of certain obesity messages, as well as the unintended, sometimes harmful, outcomes of focusing on and targeting fat bodies.

By bringing together postgraduate students, early career researchers and senior academics we will present key research, question important issues, develop collaborative research projects, and foster a deeper understanding of obesity-related social science research in New Zealand and beyond.

International participant:
Professor Jan Wright (University of Wollongong) is the author of numerous publications on obesity, children, gender issues, and health and physical education, including co-authoring The obesity epidemic: science, morality and ideology (Routledge, 2005) with Michael Gard and co-editing Biopolitics and the obesity epidemic: Governing bodies (Routledge, 2009) with Valerie Harwood.

Public lecture - What social science can teach us about the 'war on obesity'
Professor Jan Wright (Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Wollongong)
This session will be followed by a Q&A session.

Aotearoa New Zealand refugee settlement conservatory

Led by Associate Professor Louise Humpage, Faculty of Arts, and Associate Professor Jay Marlowe, Faculty of Education and Social Work, 7-9 November 2016

This research café will ‘investigate the questions that count’ regarding refugee resettlement in New Zealand. For instance: How can we accommodate and evaluate an increased refugee intake? How do we ensure social cohesion and refugee capacities to integrate into a new host society given finite resources and limited housing options? This event will bring together academics, the refugee sector and the government sector to develop theoretically and methodologically robust research questions and projects that address these issues.

International participants:
Associate Professor Farida Fozdar, University of Western Australia

Public lecture by Associate Professor Farida Fozdar

What's new about the 'new racism'?

There is something of a disjunction between what academics understand as racism, and the way the general public uses the term. Using a range of examples from research in Australia and New Zealand (flag waving, cartoons, blogging and conversation), which focus on expressions of nationalism, Associate Professor Farida Fozdar teases out some of the differences between ‘traditional’ racism and what has been called the ‘new’ racism, and some of the insidious ways in which it gets perpetuated. She also considers the ways in which such racism is challenged by the ordinary ‘person in the street’.

Migration and inequality

Led by Dr Francis Collins and Dr Ward Friesen, Faculty of Science and Dr Rachel Simon-Kumar, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, 8-9 December 2016

This research café aims to initiate topical conversations on the emergent socio-economic and wellbeing divides within and amongst migrant communities in New Zealand. Drawing on expertise within fields of geography, population health, politics and education at the University of Auckland, the two-day programme engages communities, policymakers and academics in discussions around current profiles of migrant inequalities, and their implications for political inclusion and policy change.

The café, supported by leading international speakers from Canada and Australia, seeks to foster important new intersections between migration studies and ongoing inequalities research in New Zealand.

Public lecture by Professor Harald Bauder, Ryerson University

The dialectics of migration and refugee politics

National migration policies and politics engage in a dialectical relationship with the imagination of nationhood. This dialectical relationship unfolds differently in settler societies like Australia, Canada and New Zealand and a traditionally ethnic nation like Germany. This lecture employs the dialectical lens on migration to interpret Germany’s recent responses to the influx of refugees from Syria and other countries from the ‘Middle East’ and Africa.

Harald Bauder is an internationally recognised scholar in migration studies whose contributions include critical accounts of the political economy of immigration and settlement; labour market experiences of immigrants; and, immigration discourses in Canada and Germany. His most recent book Migration Borders Freedom problematizes the concept of the border and develops arguments for open borders and a world without borders.