• Associate Professor Grant Duncan (pictured) and Dr Damien Rogers unlock the hidden messages in State of the Nation speeches in this month’s free lecture at Massey University’s Albany campus.
  • Dr Damien Rogers

Making sense of our changing world

Massey University politics researchers Associate Professor Grant Duncan and Dr Damien Rogers kick off Massey University’s 2018 free lecture series this month in a lecture provocatively entitled Vision or diversion: What do State of the Nation speeches really tell us?

The thought-provoking series of 10 free public talks, collectively titled “Our Changing World”, are all presented by leading lecturers, researchers and writers from Massey University’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences, and are aimed at helping members of the public get a better understanding of captivating and unsettling developments at home and abroad.

Lectures are held monthly from February to November, and follow on from last year’s successful series. Speakers bring their expert knowledge and insights to current topics, offering fresh perspectives on and analysis of some of the more complex and gritty questions of the day.

Topics include: How much attention should we pay to State of the Nation speeches? Will cyber-terrorism or North Korea be the biggest threats to our security? How will a culturally diverse society hold together? What impact will the digital age have on future learning? Can mindfulness, poetry or religion be our secret weapons to cope with it all?

Some lectures focus on the here and now – from Grant Duncan and Damien Rogers’ decoding political leaders’ State of the Nation speeches and gauging their intent, to whether China can rein in North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. Others draw on the past for wisdom that can help us navigate contemporary life. For example, Classical Studies experts will explore what we can learn from the Ancient Greeks and Romans on how diverse groups can live harmoniously in civil society, and a psychologist examines the place of ancient Buddhist teachings in modern life. Another will share ripping yarns from his new book on New Zealand’s ace airmen of WWI, overlooked in history books until now.

Historian Professor Peter Lineham (who will deliver the final lecture on the outlook for religions in New Zealand) says he and his colleagues in humanities and social sciences are passionate about connecting with the public and the world to share ideas and knowledge, generate debate and provide new conversation points on complex issues.

“In this age of information overload and fake news, it can be hard to make sense of what’s really going on behind the scenes in the echelons of power, or the headlines,” he says. “We feel it’s important to take the knowledge and research we do out into the public sphere ­– not to tell people what to think, but to provide them with frameworks, ideas, and information as food for thought for a more nuanced view of things.”

In the first lecture on February 22, Associate Professor Grant Duncan and Dr Damien Rogers unpick and read between the lines of speeches by our new set of political leaders.

Grant Duncan teaches political theory and New Zealand politics at Massey University’s Albany campus, and was one of the media’s go-to commentators during the 2017 election; Damien Rogers’ wide-ranging research interests include International armed conflict and civil war; war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide; international arms control and disarmament; and United Nations peacekeeping operations, sanctions regimes, and arms embargoes.

Together Grant and Damien will look for the underlying issues that political leaders do – and do not – address, in relation to New Zealand’s domestic social and economic situation and its trade and security relations with the wider world.

This and subsequent lectures will be held in the Sir Neil Waters Lecture Theatre Building at the Massey University Albany Campus at 6:30pm.

For full details of the full series and to register, go to: www.massey.ac.nz/ourchangingworld