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Human Development &
Capability Association

Agency, Well-Being and Justice

Krushil Watene Awarded Rutherford Discovery Fellowship

Political philosopher and HDCA membeer Dr. Krushil Watene from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Massey University in New Zealand was awarded a fellowship for research entitled: Intergenerational justice: Obligations and decision-making.

Dr. Watene, Ngāti Manu, Te Hikutu, Ngāti Whātua o Orākei Tonga, says that many of our long-held beliefs, such as the notion that the environment is a resource without limit, fail us under the weight of such things as global climate change and rapid technological advancements.

“The impacts of these failures are so far-reaching that people the world over are searching for new and stronger foundations to take us into the future. This research programme looks to the unprecedented philosophical landscapes of Aotearoa New Zealand in order to encounter some innovative solutions.”

She will provide two “pioneering” contributions to philosophy and policy-making, firstly, an account of our obligations to future generations that is grounded in Māori concepts and a decision procedure that models decision-making under conditions inclusive of our obligations to past, present and future generations.

“The result is more than a particular philosophy, but also a way of discussing and debating what is needed in times where people have to engage more robustly in discussions of intergenerational justice. What we ought to leave behind for future generations is one of the most important questions that we face.”

Expressing a feeling of being “incredibly privileged” to have been awarded a fellowship, Dr Watene also felt “an incredible amount of responsibility to contribute positively to the future of Aotearoa New Zealand, and to create a platform that provides other Māori and Pacific scholars (and other women in philosophy) with opportunities to undertake innovative philosophical engagement that positively transforms our communities”.

Dr Watene, the recipient of a Marsden fast-start grant in 2016, will co-host the second engaged philosophy symposium with Dr Kristie Dotson of Michigan State University at the Auckland campus next June. She will host a group of indigenous North American Anishinaabe scholars and elders at her Ngāti Manu marae next July. Dr Watene was also successful in her bid to host the Human Development and Capability Association annual conference at Massey University in 2020.

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