University of Canterbury

Civic Engagement Lab for transdisciplinary research and action


University of Canterbury




New Zealand

founding year


student body



Institutional Approach

The University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand is resolutely committed to reaching carbon neutrality by 2030, spearheading research to address global sustainability challenges, and integrating the SDGs into their curriculum. They were the founding institute of ACTS- the Australasian Campuses Towards Sustainability. Canterbury’s vision and operating principles include traditional Maori values of collaboration, care for other humans and the natural world, and empathetic listening. With respect to sustainability, Canterbury integrates the principle Hei Puāwaitanga: to flourish and live well into the future; identifying and acting on the conditions required for intergenerational justice. A key approach lies in actively engaging with and positively impacting local communities. In this line, the “Civics Lab” for civic engagement hosts the international, interdisciplinary research group “Hei Puawaitanga: Sustainability, Citizenship and Civic Imagination”. The Civics Lab braids Maori and western knowledge to study and understand how communities engage in transformative action for sustainable futures. Their key themes include engaging urban youth in sustainability challenges and supporting young people in a changing climate and civic literacy and democratic engagement. Canterbury’s Sustainability Policy, established in 2020 and overseen by the Sustainability Programme Board, includes specific and ambitious plans for carbon neutrality biodiversity, waste, waterways and sustainable food and drink procurement.


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