Department of Geological Sciences
Strategic Plan
2005 – 2015
Department of Geological Sciences
University of Canterbury
Private Bag 4800
Christchurch
New Zealand
April 2005
Statement of Strategic Intent
The Department of Geological Sciences will establish and maintain a
reputation as an international centre of high quality in both research and
scholarship, and teaching and learning.
Department of Geological Sciences - Strategy Statement
1. CONTEXT
The Department of Geological Sciences is at a turning point. The good 2003 PBRF outcome
has put us in the limelight on a national if not an international basis. We presently have
sufficient reputation (emphasised by PBRF), highly experienced staff and confidence to be
able to take decisions on future staffing and research strategy that will enable us to grow to
well above our present subcritical mass. Success in this will lead to significantly greater
student numbers and quality of education; greater staff capability to initiate and support
substantial research projects; and increased research income and research outputs. Once
well established on that pathway, continued growth will be relatively easy. By contrast, if
we do not take the forward-looking decisions; if we instead focus only on consolidating our
present work, without positively pushing into potential growth areas – there is a serious
danger that we shall slowly but surely lose ground, lose EFTS, lose (more) staff and become
a second rate unit. Such a decline would not be a good result for the Department but neither
would it be for the College of Science to which we look for support in our growth strategy.
2. MISSION
The Department of Geological Sciences will establish and maintain a reputation as an
international centre of high-quality in both research and scholarship, and teaching and
learning, in the geosciences.
In the particular areas of research, education and external relationships, the following
statements are agreed:
1. Research: The Department of Geological Sciences will actively seek to lead in
strategic research programmes that:
 increase understanding of Earth System structure and behaviour
 train students in the methods and techniques of research
 contribute to meeting New Zealand’s needs for sustainable resource
development, environmental quality and hazard management
 lead to high-quality research publications
 collaborate with selected national and international partners in academia,
research organisations and industry
 integrate knowledge and concepts across the disciplines of Earth System
science
2. Education: The Department of Geological Sciences will evolve strategic educational
methods that develop student learning and critical thinking skills, through studentcentred attitudes and increasing use of:
 an Earth System science and management context
 problem-orientated student learning
 modern technology
 partnerships with other organisations
leading to a broad and balanced understanding of the Earth Sciences.
3. External Relationships: the Department of Geological Sciences will actively foster
strategic external relationships that:
 contribute to public awareness and understanding of Earth System science
 contribute to scholarship in education and research
 contribute to the sustainable development of society
 contribute to environmental quality
 generate income and students.
 recognise the Department’s responsibilities as custodian and provider of
fundamental Earth Sciences information, particularly that relevant to New
Zealand.
To achieve the vision the Department of Geological Sciences will need to:
1. Produce students who:
 are independent learners and thinkers
 have a broad and balanced understanding of the Earth Sciences
 are excellent communicators
 are systems thinkers
 are proven problem-solvers in Earth System science
 are technologically confident and up-to-date
 are versatile and adaptable
2. Make best use of our specific advantages in education and research with respect to:
 our geographic position within an advanced society on an active plate
boundary in the Roaring Forties
 the availability of the latest technology
 our interrelationships with other disciplines (especially engineering and
geography)
 the tradition and continued relevance of excellent field-based geology
 our 2003 PBRF score
3. Engage and retain carefully-chosen staff of the highest calibre who are:
 enthusiastic
 committed
 innovative
 productive
 adaptable
 excellent communicators
 scholars in education and research
3. STRATEGIES
Research Strategy
The focus of the departmental research is the geological history, dynamics and processes
operating around Pacific rim, with special emphasis on New Zealand and the southwest
Pacific. Within this broad focus we foresee continued and increasing research potential in
five overlapping fields:
1. Pacific Rim Tectonics: research on processes, past to present, at active margins
ranging from arc magmatism through basin formation to terrane accretion, with
special emphasis on determination of tectonic evolution and holistic geology by the
application of a range of integrated geological techniques applied to New Zealand
and the Pacific rim.
2. Active tectonics and landscape evolution: research designed to lead to an
understanding of active faulting and folding processes in surface and near surface
settings (particularly those associated with the New Zealand plate boundary), and
their influence on geomorphology.
3. Geological Hazards and Disaster Management:
The assessment, mitigation and management of seismic, volcanic, land instability,
flooding, coastal hazards, and resulting disasters.
Paleoenvironments and Paleoclimates: New Zealand’s southern, mid-latitude,
oceanic setting uniquely supports research on questions of global climate and ocean
circulation in the Quaternary, and to longer term changes of environment and
paleobiology related to progressive isolation.
5. Applied and Environmental Geoscience: research in the fields of engineering
geology/geomorphology, environmental geoscience, and near surface geophysics
directed at maintaining and enhancing infrastructure, sustainable use of resources
and the interface between the Earth and society.
4.
Each of the above programmes have potential for research growth. Each of the above
research programmes feeds directly into the Department’s teaching programme.
Education strategy
The department favours a Geoscience System approach that integrates learning across
many Earth Sciences through a focus on processes. Our objectives are:
 To produce graduates capable of analytical thinking, with the ability to assess
received wisdom, and to work with complex and incomplete data sets
 To provide a broad-based understanding of Planet Earth for all students and to
bring an improved understanding of geosciences to the wider community
 To prepare B.Sc. Hons, M.Sc and Postgraduate Diploma graduates for
professional employment in the fields of geology, engineering geology, hazard
and disaster management, and environmental science
 To produce outstanding Ph.D graduates in our key research fields.
 To increase EFTS at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels
RESEARCH & SCHOLARSHIP
Strategic goal
To maintain our position as the leading national university research
department and build our international reputation for research and
scholarship in Geoscience.
Milestones
Short term
2005/6 Yr 0 – 1
Medium term
2006/7 – 2009/10 Yr 2 – 5
Develop and implement a
focussed strategic research
plan involving staff , capital
equipment and facilities and
with national and
international strategies.
Move towards an interdisciplinary
approach to research
Seek and obtain increased
external research funding.
Develop outward looking,
internationally collaborative culture.
Maximise PBRF outputs and
encourage enhancement of
PBRF grades through support
and mentoring.
Develop strategic staffing approach
to support the key Departmental
research programmes.
Develop strategic links with
other Departments in the
University of Canterbury.
Develop strategic links with
the Institute of Geological &
Nuclear Sciences, other CRIs
and other external research
organisations.
Operate a rolling capital
equipment plan for large and
medium cost research
equipment.
Develop staff career progress to
ensure stability of research
groups/foci.
Grow postgraduate (Masters and
PhD) student enrolment.
Replace the existing XRF
spectrometer with major new
analytical equipment more
appropriate to research in
environmental geoscience.
Undertake the progressive
refurbishment of research facilities
and laboratories within the
Department.
Long term
2009/10 – 2014/15 Yr 6 - 10
Have academic staff who are
internationally renowned for
research and recognised by
honours and awards.
Have technical staff who are
integral to the Department’s
research activities, are highly
skilled and motivated, and
whose outstanding
contributions are recognised
by awards.
Influence governmental and
national strategies for the
Earth Sciences.
Establish new cutting-edge,
strategically important,
research facilities within the
Department.
TEACHING & LEARNING AND THE
STUDENT EXPERIENCE
Strategic goal
To provide a high quality, holistic student experience and a high quality learning
environment based on an integrated Geoscience System approach.
Milestones
Short term
2005/6 Yr 0 – 1
Medium term
2006/7 – 2009/10 Yr 2 – 5
Enhance the student experience
by developing and creating
student involvement in the
activities of the Department and
the College, and via internal
and external geoscience
societies.
Add significant value to our
students by taking into account
the needs of stakeholders to
maximise students’
employment prospects.
Provide better guidance for
students in deciding their
University options.
Prepare a marketing strategy to
increase student numbers at
both undergraduate and
postgraduate level.
Continuously review the
portfolio of Geoscience courses
to better use our resources.
Bring high quality Erskine
Fellows and other visitors to the
Department to support the
teaching and learning
programme.
Improve the teaching facilities
and environment within the
Department for the benefit of
both students and staff.
Contribute significantly to the
Colleges’s Science Outreach
programme.
Develop strategies to increase
Maori and Pacific Island intake
and encourage these students to
continue to graduate studies.
Develop senior students
mentoring junior students as a
key facet of the Department
learning environment.
Increase student involvement in
the running of the Department.
Investigate the feasiblity of
provision of 100 level courses in
Nelson and/or other remote
locations.
Market the Department as a
place to study because of its
research excellence.
Develop strategies to grow the
intake of international students
at undergraduate and
postgraduate levels adding to
the culture and diversity of the
Department.
Long term
2009/10 – 2014/15 Yr 6 - 10
Students will see the
Department as the premier
place of choice to study
Geoscience in New Zealand.
ORGANISATION & MANAGEMENT
Strategic goal
The organisation and management structure is appropriate and effective for
the delivery of the Department’s strategic plan.
Milestones
Short term
2005/6 Yr 0 – 1
Develop an open, honest and
inclusive management and
leadership style that is effective
in the delivery of the strategic
plan.
Facilitate the further
development of departmental
strategies.
Increase the visibility of the
Department within the
University as a whole.
Undertake succession planning
for HOD and Departmental
Executive appointments.
Increase staff morale by sound
management.
Medium term
2006/7 – 2009/10 Yr 2 – 5
Enhance interactions between
departments and diminish
departmental and college silos.
Develop a team approach that
engenders a spirit of working
for the University, College and
Department rather than self.
Initiate constructive
discussions, driven by teaching
and research considerations,
with the Department of
Geography, the College of
Science and other relevant
stakeholders concerning the
establishment of a School of
Earth & Environmental Studies
Long term
2009/10 – 2014/15 Yr 6 - 10
Operation of a stable
Departmental organisational
structure that facilitates good
management.
The management style and
structure is supportive and
inclusive of all staff in the
Department.
Maximise the abilities and skills
of all staff in the Department.
The Department of Geological
Sciences will be integrated
within a multidisciplinary
School of Earth &
Environmental Studies.
STAFFING
Strategic goal
Maintain a high quality, diverse staff to deliver and underpin research and
teaching of the highest calibre.
Milestones
Short term
2005/6 Yr 0 – 1
Recruit high quality new staff in
order to achieve the
Department’s strategic goals.
Appoint a new academic staff
member in our first priority
strategic research area of
Environmental Geochemistry.
Appoint in 2006 a new
academic staff member in the
core discipline of crystalline
petrology.
Develop a transparent work
allocation for Department
academic staff.
Develop a plan to address
gender and ethnic imbalance.
Enhance the performance
review process for all staff in
order to support their career
development.
Develop succession planning
for future HOD appointments.
Undertake a gap analysis of
technical and administrative
expertise in the Department and
develop a strategic plan to
address deficiencies.
Ensure that the essential
contributions made by technical
staff to research and teaching
objectives are recognised within
and outside the Department.
Medium term
2006/7 – 2009/10 Yr 2 – 5
Develop procedures to better
utilise adjunct appointments
and Visiting Erskine
Fellowships
Develop a rolling postdoctoral
scientist programme that
increases the number of
research fellows and provides
periodic refreshment of
personnel.
Develop strategy for joint
appointments with CRIs and
industry stakeholders.
Appoint in 2007/8/9 new
academic staff members in
strategically important research
and teaching areas.
Increase the number of
academic staff in response to
growth in EFTS and income.
Develop a strategic plan for the
recruitment of additional
technical staff .
Long term
2009/10 – 2014/15 Yr 6 - 10
Strategic staffing policy with
career progression planning
and career development for all.
Make significant progress to
achieve gender balance in
Departmental staffing.
Have well motivated and
professional staff who are
acknowledged leaders in their
fields.
FINANCES
Strategic goal
To meet our annual financial goals as agreed with the College of
Science and to use funds responsibly and in accord with Departmental
strategic planning.
Milestones
Short term
2005/6 Yr 0 – 1
Develop more high-level
financial expertise within the
Department Finance
Committee.
Medium term
2006/7 – 2009/10 Yr 2 – 5
Develop appropriate influence
and relationship with key
research funders.
Develop a priority-based
CAPEX process.
Fund research through
collaboration with industry,
CRIs, the service sector, and
other Universities.
Complete the 2006 budget
process in keeping with College
guidelines.
Increase international funding.
Continue to monitor spending
and develop good financial
management in the
Department, supported by the
good accounting practices of
the College .
Increase the amount of external
research funding.
Obtain scholarships to support
more postgraduate students.
Develop a research funding
strategy.
Assess and invest in
appropriate new initiatives.
Have a healthy positive balance
to enable reinvestment in the
Department.
Long term
2009/10 – 2014/15 Yr 6-10
Be financially viable and strong
in order to contribute to the
successful operation of the
University, the College of
Science, and the Department.
TREATY OF WAITANGI
Strategic goal
The Department will benefit from good relationships with Maori
Milestones
Short term
2005/6 Yr 0 – 1
Promote and maintain good
relationships with Ngai Tahu.
Develop and contribute to
courses that are attractive and
relevant to Maori students.
Increase staff awareness and
understanding of Maori issues
and the Treaty of Waitangi.
Have frequent interactions
with our Maori students in
order to support them and
address their specific needs.
Medium term
2006/7 – 2009/10 Yr 2 – 5
Long term
2009/10 – 2014/15 Yr 6 - 10
Develop strategy for increasing
Maori students at
undergraduate and
postgraduate levels.
The Department will have a
good interaction with Maori
and as a result will have more
Maori students.
Develop research of Maori
interest.
Maori will be aware of
Department activities and
objectives.
Promote Maori Earth Scientists
into academic positions at
Canterbury and elsewhere.
EQUITY & DIVERSITY
Strategic goal
The Department will develop an inclusive and supportive culture based on
equity
Milestones
Short term
2005/6 Yr 0 – 1
Identify and address any Equity
issues within the Department.
Gender Equity considerations
will be a high priority in
making all future staff
appointments.
Support staff in order to
minimise the negative impact of
particular family situations or
health on their profesional
duties.
Medium term
2006/7 – 2009/10 Yr 2 – 5
Formulate Departmental
policies and procedures in line
with the University’s Equity &
Diversity plan.
Increase the proportion of
women on the academic staff.
Increase the proportion of
women holding senior
academic rank within the
Department.
Develop a system to achieve
more equitable workloads
amongst staff.
Ensure that students of
minority cultures and ethnic
backgrounds are fully included
in the activities of the
Department.
Long term
2009/10 – 2014/15 Yr 6 - 10
Achieve an equitable and
diverse culture within the
Department that is supportive
of both staff and students.
COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT
Strategic goal
The Department will engage in the local and national community at all levels.
Milestones
Short term
2005/6 Yr 0 – 1
Increase local awareness of
Departmental activities and the
Geoscience discipline.
Develop good relations with
The Press and other media.
Develop interaction with the
local community by
contributing speakers to lecture
programmes.
Develop Geoscience-orientated
Outreach activities directed
towards local schools and
teacher organisations.
Play a significant role on the
activities of national
Geoscience, Environmental and
Science organizations.
Assist the College of Science in
promulgating Science education
and research
Develop a Departmental
Alumnus strategy in
conjunction with the College
and University.
Medium term
2006/7 – 2009/10 Yr 2 – 5
Develop strategic links with
Christchurch City and ECAN
Councils, and with other local
and national stakeholders.
Develop links with the Industry
Community and service sector.
Develop specific links with
local schools.
Make press releases on all
possible favourable
Departmental activities.
Strengthen links with Outreach
Secondary Schools and develop
links through Outreach with
Primary Schools.
Encourage staff members to
contribute to debate and
activities at local, national and
international level.
Long term
2009/10 – 2014/15 Yr 6 - 10
Either directly or through the
College of Science the
Department will be seen as a
centre of excellence and
activity.
Through the various
community engagement
activities, external stakeholders
will recognise the value and
importance of Geoscience ,
locally and nationally.
Establish and develop strategic
links to appropriate
international communities.
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Department of Geological Sciences Strategic Plan 2005 – 2015