Seven Years in Fiji: An Academic’s Life in Paradise

Dr John Lowry, Massey University

 RSNZ Manawatu Branch March 2018 meeting

7.30 pm Tuesday, 20 March, Palmerston North Central Library, George Street, Palmerston North

“In July 2010, together with my wife, two sons and a dog, I left the convenience and predictably of life in a small North American city for a tropical island in the South Pacific. My new position was that of Senior Lecturer at the University of the South Pacific (USP) at its main campus in Suva, Fiji. Established in 1968, USP is an intergovernmental public research university providing tertiary education to 12 Pacific island nations. In this talk I share my experiences working as an academic at one of most unique institutions of tertiary education in the world (USP is one of only two intergovernmental universities—the other is the University of the West Indies). While my talk will address teaching, research and service/citizenship, a common theme throughout will be the students I worked with.  With over 16,000 students, comprised of Melanesians, Polynesians, Micronesians and Fijians of Indian descent (and the occasional exchange student) USP has a vibrant and exciting multi-cultural student body, who in the end, are what make it “paradise’.”

John Lowry is a geographer with a broad background in geospatial science applications addressing human-environment interactions. Prior to coming to Massey University in July 2017 he was Senior Lecturer at the University of the South Pacific (USP) in Suva, Fiji where he was instrumental in developing a three-year Bachelor’s of Science degree programme in Geospatial Science. While in Fiji John’s research interests focused on GIS applications in public health, urban ecology, and disaster risk assessment in the developing country context. He maintains connections with USP as Adjunct Senior Lecturer and is currently involved in projects investigating spatial accessibility to health facilities, developing a spatial decision support system for agroforestry interventions, and recording traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) in fishing communities using Participatory GIS. Prior to USP John was Associate Director of the Remote Sensing/GIS Laboratory in the College of Natural Resources at Utah State University, USA; a position he held for eleven years.

All warmly welcome!