Eric Pawson - People - Geography - University of Canterbury - New Zealand

Professor Eric Pawson

Eric PawsonPosition

Cultural, Environmental and Historical Geography


M.A., D.Phil.(Oxf.)

Contact Details

Phone: +64 3 369 4063 ext. 94063
Fax: +64 3 364 2907

Postal address: Department of Geography, University of Canterbury, Private Bag 4800, Christchurch, New Zealand


Distinguished New Zealand Geographer Medal, 2007
University of Canterbury Teaching Award, 2008
National Tertiary Teaching Excellence Award, 2009
Distinguished Service Award, NZ Geographical Society, 2010
University of Canterbury Teaching Medal, 2013
Fellow, New Zealand Geographical Society, 2014
President, Ako Aotearoa Academy of Tertiary Teaching Excellence, 2015


  1. landscape change and environmental histories: a jointly authored book entitled Seeds of Empire. The Environmental Transformation of New Zealand was published by IB Tauris in 2011. It stemmed from a Marsden funded project (2004-07) called ‘Empires of grass’ which sought to delineate the processes involved in the transformation of native vegetation types into the European grasslands on which New Zealand's colonial economy was built. In turn, this developed out of an ongoing project on New Zealand environmental histories, which has produced two books, including Making A New Land. Environmental Histories of New Zealand (2013) and recent work on Anthropocene landscapes.
  2. biological economies: this project was also supported by the Marsden Fund (2010-13) and involves geographers and sociologists from five New Zealand campuses interested in raising the visibility of social science as a means of understanding change in New Zealand’s biologically-based economic sectors (food, fibre and tourism). The team has aimed to develop this understanding theoretically in order to contribute to international debates about experimentation, new networks and relations, metrologies and audit, provenance, and creating markets. Two team books are in process, and a series of articles published.
  3. geographical education and teaching innovation, specifically aspects of active learning including problem-based and community-based learning. A co-edited book Active Learning and Student Engagement was published by Routledge in 2010, and more recently articles on geography for the Anthropocene as the result of a keynote address on ‘Classrooms without borders’ delivered to the Institite of Australian Geographers/New Zealand Geographical Society Conference in Melbourne, July 2014.


Professional activities:

University of Canterbury:

  • PBRF mentor, College of Science
  • Marsden Fund applications mentor, College of Science and College of Arts


  • Executive member and Treasurer, Studio Christchurch, a federation of university architecture and allied schools in New Zealand providing community-based learning opportunities in the city post earthquake
  • Steering group, Christchurch Creative Network, a group of professionals seeking to contribute their skills to the city rebuild, particularly in development of resilience policy and initiatives


Editorial Boards:

  • Journal of Geography in Higher Education (UK/US)
  • Journal of Historical Geography (UK/US)
  • Journal of Rural Studies (UK)
  • Kotuitui, On-line Journal of New Zealand Social Science
  • New Zealand Geographer

Selected Publications

Please see Eric's UC Research Profile for a full list of publications