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Source: Massey University

Associate Professor Krushil Watene.

When Associate Professor Krushil Watene, Ngāti Manu, Te Hikutu, Ngāti Whātua o Orākei, Tonga, got the news that she had been accepted into the year-long international leadership programme, Homeward Bound, she admits she was both “thrilled and terrified”.

Dr Watene, a philosopher in the School of Humanities Media and Creative Communication, was one of a hundred women chosen from a pool of 376 applicants.

Dr Watene originally heard about the programme from colleague Dr Priscilla Wehi (Cilla) who attended the programme in 2017. “To be honest I didn’t feel I had much of a chance of being accepted as it’s for women with a background in STEMM disciplines (science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine).

“However, Cilla really encouraged me to apply and it seemed such a great opportunity. And as I see philosophy as part of a much wider context about open thinking and ideas, it made sense to apply.”

Dr Watene firmly believes in the value of all disciplines working together to meet global challenges.

“Whether it’s science, history or philosophy, we all need to change our ways of thinking and develop a more integrated approach to problem-solving to meet the challenges we are facing. We need new ways of thinking, including the indigenous viewpoint, to solve global problems.”

The Homeward Bound global leadership programme is a ten-year initiative (the current year’s programme is the sixth, known as HB6). One hundred women from around the world are selected each year to participate in a collaborative leadership programme which culminates in a three-week expedition to Antarctica.

“My interests include philosophy and its link to environmental values and justice so the Antarctica aspect of the programme is really interesting. Antarctica is a metaphor for how we interact with the environment,” Dr Watene says.

Dr Watene’s interest in Antarctica has included being part of the online seminar series; “Māori and Antarctica: Ka mua, ka muri”  – created as part of research on the Ross Sea in Antarctica through the National Science Challenges’ Vision Mātauranga programme (led by Dr Wehi).

The leadership aspect of the programme will also be beneficial.

“I really love the approach to leadership Homeward Bound is based on. It is a grounded, collaborative approach, based on values and embracing a big picture of leadership.

I want to build my leadership capability for various reasons, including for developing a community of indigenous philosophers and a Centre of Indigenous Philosophy.

“I hope the leadership capability I build through HB6 will support these initiatives as well as my research and teaching at Massey.”

Dr Watene has already gained a great deal from her involvement with the programme.

“The programme is all about building capability, taking risks and getting outside my comfort zone. It’s wonderful to be part of a rich and supportive community of amazing women both in HB6 and the alumnae from earlier years.

“By developing my bio for the programme, I have already learned about communicating my story, who I am and what’s important to me, and talking about my journey.”

The programme has regular meetings and workshops, and in March 2022 the group will meet in Argentina for the three-week ship journey to Antarctica.

“There will be daily landings which will be a great opportunity to see Antarctica’s biological diversity. I will keep a journal which will allow me to reflect on the experience. I hope to get a deeper understanding of how it feels being connected to a place and how places inspire us and transform our thinking.”

About Dr Watene

Dr Watene was awarded a $300K Marsden grant in 2017 for a three-year study into how Māori and other indigenous perspectives can have a stronger voice in discussions about social and global justice. She was awarded a Rutherford Discovery Fellowship in 2018 and was recently appointed to the Advisory Board of the 2020 United Nations Human Development Report alongside some of the world’s leading economists and humanitarian thinkers.

About Homeward Bound

“Its purpose is to lead for the greater good; managing the planet as our home. Delivered by an international collective of experts in leadership, science, strategy, visibility, and wellbeing, the Homeward Bound program consists of online and face-to-face delivery and is your gateway into an active global network of STEMM women. Over 10 years, we aim to build a global collaboration of 1000 women with backgrounds in STEMM. They will be visible, collaborative, networked and impacting the decisions made in many quarters for the greater good.”

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