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New Orleans expert key speaker at tertiary summit

New Orleans expert the key speaker at NZ’s first tertiary community engagement summit

August 19, 2013

Vincent Ilustre, executive director at Tulane University’s Centre for Public Service in New Orleans, will be the keynote speaker at the first New Zealand Tertiary Community Engagement Summit to be held at the University of Canterbury (UC) on August 30.

Ilustre was a member of a task force which reopened Tulane in 2006 after Hurricane Katrina tore through New Orleans in August 2005 when the University was closed for five months.

As a result of that task force’s work, Tulane has become the pre-eminent public service university in the world due to their strong engagement with the rebuild of New Orleans and graduation requirement for every Tulane student to take two community engagement courses.

More than 20 speakers will present to the August 30 summit. Organiser UC’s Dr Billy O’Steen says students and staff from Auckland University of Technology, Christchurch Polytechnic, Lincoln University, the University of Otago and UC will deliver papers along with representatives from the Christchurch City Council, Council of Social Services, Heathcote Village Project and Project Lyttelton.  The event is open to the public.

``While tertiary community engagement has been a field of research and practice in North America for 40 years, its emergence in New Zealand is fairly recent,’’ Dr O’Steen says.

``The Christchurch earthquakes of 2010 and 2011 provided UC and other tertiary institutions in New Zealand with an opportunity to reflect on the important role their students and staff can play in their local and national communities.

``This will be the first opportunity in New Zealand for tertiary institution academics, students, and community organisations to come together to share research, practices and experiences in order to establish the New Zealand context for community engagement.

``We hope the summit will define the New Zealand context for tertiary community engagement and provide a foundation for an association dedicated to this area.’’

The summit is part of a drive by UC to engage closely with the community. Already over 400 students have been involved in UC’s CHCH101 course, launched after the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes, to build on the Student Volunteer Army’s community engagement work.


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