The Centre for Science in Society – Te Pūtahi Pūtaiao ki te Pāpori, started small, in 2013, with just two academic staff. We are now proud to have eleven amazing academics in our Centre as well as a Centre Manager and (currently interim) Director. Our disciplinary expertise varies widely, including Science and Technology Studies (STS), Public Engagement with Science and Technology (PEST), Mātauranga Māori, Psychology, Medical Anthropology, History of Science and Environmental History, Environmental Humanities, and Science and the Arts. 

In addition to carrying out excellent research, we strive to deliver innovative, mind-opening and impactful teaching, utilising a wide range of teaching approaches including fully online courses, blended teaching, small workshops, text-based courses, placements (work-integrated learning), creative courses, off-site wānanga, one-one-one supervisions and massive open online courses (MOOCs).  

In 2013, we launched our first programme, a Minor in Science in Society. This was intentionally designed to run alongside any other degree offered by the University and provide a breadth of study to complement the depth offered in other Majors.  Most of our early students graduated with a Minor in Science in Society alongside a Major in one of the sciences, commerce, education, law or the humanities.  

Since then, our teaching programme has grown rapidly, covering both more breadth and depth, and now includes the only Science Communication undergraduate major offered in Aotearoa as well as a taught Master of Science in Society. Our range of study options includes: 

  • Individual 15-point undergraduate courses that provide science credit and can help students complete their BSc or other degree
  • Minor in Science in Society (can complement any other degree)
  • Major and a Minor in Science Communication (as part of a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Communication)
  • Certificate, Diploma, and Master of Science in Society (taught programme)
  • Master of Communication (Science Communication specialisation)
  • Master of Science (Science in Society) (thesis)
  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

In the last few years, as part of our growth, we have also invested a lot of time and thought into who we are, why we are, and where we want to go.  Despite our wide disciplinary differences, we are held together by shared values and a belief that an academic career (that values teaching, research, leadership and engagement) should be rewarding, exciting and sustainable. While we might not always attain this nirvana (and often don’t), it’s a standard we strive towards and hold ourselves accountable against. 

These ideas are reflected below, in our co-created Purpose and Vision. As the Centre continues to consolidate and grow, and find its place both nationally and internationally, we will continue to revisit and refine this in order to ensure that all our staff feel represented, included and excited to be part of wherever we’re going. 



The Centre for Science in Society is committed to interdisciplinary research, teaching and engagement about the relationships between society, Mātauranga Māori, science, environment, technology and medicine in Aotearoa, the Pacific, Asia and the world.   

Our Vision: 

We strive to create an inclusive, critical, intellectually playful, diverse, welcoming, purposeful, and dynamic academic environment to enable our staff and students to pursue professional and personal goals while living balanced and sustainable lives.   

The Centre for Science in Society’s research, teaching and engagement will have an international reputation while being grounded in local relationships. We will actively contribute to the understanding of the connections and conflicts between society, Mātauranga Māori, science, technology and medicine, and will engage with Māori and other communities in furthering and communicating that understanding.  

Science in Society will act as a catalyst within the Faculty of Science, the Division and the University to bring academics and disciplines into conversation with each other and with their social and cultural contexts. As such, Science in Society will be a point of difference for the Wellington Faculty of Science, offering opportunities to combine disciplinary excellence with multi-disciplinary understanding of the connections and conflicts between society and science.  

We will actively promote the wellbeing of our staff and students, fostering a happy, motivated, productive team. We will make an active contribution to critical conversations about science-inflected issues that will shape the future of Aotearoa, the Pacific, Asia and the world. 


We will know the Centre is achieving its purpose and making a real difference by: 

  • Students enrolling in our courses and giving positive feedback.
  • Employers hiring our graduates, contributing to our research and teaching programme, and offering work placements.
  • Māori and Pasifika academics, staff members and students achieving and feeling safe, welcome and empowered.
  • Ensuring the continuing development of Mātauranga Māori within the Science in Society curriculum, and successfully advocating for its inclusion elsewhere.
  • Research by our academics being funded, published, read, taught and cited.
  • Our work and reputation meaning we are called on to provide expertise, give interviews, and be cited in news and social media*.
  • Research, teaching, engagement and admin (leadership) each being valued for their contribution to the Centre, the University and wider society.
  • Our staff having sustainable workloads and being able to lead balanced lives while achieving diverse professional goals.
  • People wanting to collaborate with us and join our team, and other academics following our example to create new ways of being an academic.

*Check out Rhian Salmon in this Spinoff piece on citizen science, and Rebecca Priestley and Alex Beattie in this Spinoff article about an early climate warning in Aotearoa.

Leave a Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.