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Kicking off Gene Technologies & Our Environment national conversation

The North Island research team from the University of Auckland held their first workshop with a group of seniors in early June, in Warkworth. The workshop began with purposeful games that have been specifically designed to engage participants in genetic, ecological, conservation and social concepts. The games also provide an entry into the facilitated conversation that follows, but also importantly create an enjoyable atmosphere. And clearly our participants agree, with feedback stating “They were loads of fun.”


Following the games participants engaged in a ‘fishbowl' conversation, where five workshop participants sit in the inner circle and engage in a ‘facilitated’ conversation, while the remaining participants sit in the outer circle, listening to the conversation. When someone leaves the inner circle a person from the outer circle may replace them and contribute to the conversation. This technique is ideal for enabling all participants to engage in a conversation, even if they do not always verbally contribute. The conversation covered a diverse range of topics relating to New Zealand’s natural environment and to participants’ perceptions around the use of genetic technologies. The facilitated nature of the discussion allows some direction, but in general as with any conversation the participants guide its direction. Our senior participants engaged in a lively, vibrant and robust conversation. Their only recommendation at the end, was that they would have enjoyed conversing even longer than the allocated 40 minutes.


Throughout June and July 2023 the research teams from the University of Auckland and the University of Otago will engaging a variety of groups across the length of the country including environmental groups, rural communities, tertiary students, and religious/faith groups and with communities on Rakiura -Stewart Island and Aotea Great Barrier Island. After the public dialogues, they will be collating the feedback and using this to collaboratively develop scenarios with ‘expert’ stakeholders who will consider our participants’ perspectives in the development of the scenarios. These scenarios will then be explored in public workshops early next year.


We thank our Warkworth seniors group for their valuable contribution to this research.


Want to join the conversation?


You can contact us and contribute to the conversation using the links below:


Twitter @talkecogenetech






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