Richard Easther

Te Whatu Kairangi Award

Helping others to aim for the stars

  • Category: Innovation in learning, teaching, and curriculum

Richard is Professor of Physics Waipapa Taumata Rau | The University of Auckland. 

As a child Richard dreamt of studying the stars. Once he began teaching, he recognised that what happens in our classrooms is ours to shape. These aspirations, along with his recognition that learning is a fundamental human activity and human beings are social animals, have led to a wholesale change in the teaching of physics. He is now a role model for teaching and learning in the university. 

Richard’s creativity and innovation have fundamentally changed the student learning experience, including creating a new Studio teaching space that is now “at the heart of the programme.” One student commented, “the way that this course was taught in the studio was exceptional. The interactivity and discussions really helped in developing a greater understanding of each concept and how to use them.” 

While much of the teaching innovation is aimed at the undergraduate level, under Richard’s leadership the PhD community grew fivefold. In 2014 he co-created the Science Scholars programme, the first of its kind in New Zealand, that acts as an “enrichment programme across all disciplines in the faculty. 

Richard’s initiating equity measures, mentoring of staff, and creating community and international connections, encourages others to also aim for the stars. 

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Professor Richard Easther - Recipient of a 2022 Te Whatu Kairangi Award