Monday, July 15, 2024

$50,000 Critic and Conscience of Society Award opens for applications

New Zealand university academics who excel at keeping the public informed with their expert commentary could receive a $50,000 grant as the 2023 Critic and Conscience of Society Award opens for applications.

The 2023 winner of the award will be following in the footsteps of this year’s winner, Janet Hoek, a Professor of Public Health at the University of Otago and co-director of the university’s ASPIRE 2025 Research Centre, which conducts research to support the Government’s smokefree 2025 goal.

Other previous winners have been Professor Alexander Gillespie from The University of Waikato and Associate Professor Siouxsie Wiles from Waipapa Taumata Rau, University of Auckland (2021), Professor Michael Baker and Professor Anita Gibbs from the University of Otago (2020), Professor Andrew Geddis from the University of Otago (2019), Professor Ann Brower from the University of Canterbury (2018) and Dr Mike Joy from Te Herenga Waka – Victoria University of Wellington (2017).

The award, sponsored by philanthropic trust The Gama Foundation (whose Grant and Marilyn Nelson are pictured with Professor Hoek), aims to encourage academics to fulfil their role under the Education and Training Act 2020, which requires universities to act as the critic and conscience of society.

Each year, the award is given to an academic staff member who, in the opinion of a panel of three independent judges, has done more in the past two calendar years than any other applicant to provide the public with independent, expert commentary on an issue or issues affecting the New Zealand community or future generations.

The award’s $50,000 grant is to help with research, conferences and other work-related expenses.

Winners are not eligible to apply again until five years have elapsed.

The winner of the 2023 award will receive their grant, along with a framed award certificate, at a special function next year.

The award is administered by Universities New Zealand – Te Pōkai Tara. It is not necessary to be nominated and academics can apply via an online form.

The closing date for applications is 28 February 2023.

Applicants’ queries should be emailed to

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