Dr Cath Conn

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Associate Head of School, Public Health and Psychosocial Studies – AUT South, & Director, Centre for Child Health Research (CCHR)

Phone: 64+ 9 921 9999 Ext 7407

Email: cath.conn@aut.ac.nz

Physical Address:
AUT University (Room MB217)
South Campus
640 Great South Rd
Manukau, Auckland 2025
New Zealand
Postal Address:

Discipline of Public Health, Mailcode M-2
AUT University,
South Campus,
Private Bag 92006
Auckland 1142
New Zealand

ORCID: ORCID logo  https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4224-1112

Address for blogs:
cath.conn@aut.ac.nz

Qualifications:

BSc (Hons) Soc Sci, MCommH (Liverpool, School of Tropical Medicine), PG Dip Business Admin (Henley), PG Cert Teaching and Learning for Higher Education (Leeds), Doctorate Public Sector Management (Leeds).

Biography:

Dr Cath Conn is the Associate Head of School of Public Health and Psychosocial Studies (AUT South) and Director of the Centre for Child Health Research (CCHR). Cath has worked for nearly 40 years in public health and international development in Africa, Asia, and the Pacific. First with Save the Children over a 10 year period as a programme manager; her roles included emergency programme management in Uganda, primary health care adviser in The Gambia, and managing refugee sanitation programmes in Sudan. She worked for a further 10 years as a consultant and researcher, at the Centre for Development Studies, University of Sussex, and at the Nuffield Centre for International Health and Development, University of Leeds, working on health systems developments in Vietnam, Laos, and Nigeria; and on urban primary health care in China. Over the last 20 years she has become an academic leader in public health education in the UK and New Zealand.

Cath is passionate about real world solutions to people’s health, especially for vulnerable communities. She is taking a leading role in developing a distinctive profile for AUT in public health at AUT’s South Campus with an emphasis on addressing inequities, youth and community empowerment and the south Auckland population. 

Cath has extensive experience of supervising masters and doctoral students. She has published extensively with postgraduate students. Currently she is primary supervisor for around 13 postgraduate students, most of whom are international.

Teaching Areas:

  • Public health policy and systems
  • Programme management and evaluation
  • Qualitative research methods
  • Global health and international development

Research Areas:

  • Youth, technology and empowerment
  • Public health education
  • HIV prevention and youth
  • Access to water and sanitation
  • Women's health
  • Indigenous health in developing countries
  • Health systems/Food systems

Research Summary:

Since 1991 she has been involved in a number of health management research projects in Uganda (district health policy), Vietnam and Laos (studies of district health system), with related publications. She has also published on qualitative research, participatory and narrative methods. Her doctoral research explored young women’s voices and HIV prevention in Uganda using a critical narrative method.

Currently, she is Principal Investigator of the New Zealand Aid / New Zealand Institute of Pacific Research Consortium Project: ‘Healthy eating plus enterprise: A participatory approach to Pacific youth contributing to health goals and Sustainable Economic Development’. This innovative action research project explores alternative narratives and actions associated with addressing the Non Communicable Diseases epidemic in the Pacific. It focuses on Pacific food systems, and in particular the role of youth in leading change in growing, marketing, and eating good foods.

https://niphmhr.aut.ac.nz/research-centres/centre-for-child-health-research

New directions in public and environmental health: This aims to address the challenges faced by public health education in the 21st century in the context of New Zealand and the Pacific region. It examines ‘next’ practice and sectoral employability in the rapidly shifting public and environmental health landscape; and identifies the ways in which tertiary institutions can best prepare both domestic and international students in a digital and globalized context. Research is organized around three key themes: new directions in public and environmental health in the digital age; teaching and learning for 21st century skills in public and environmental health; and public and environmental health in the context of south Auckland and the Pacific. Research findings will be applied to the development of public and environmental health programmes and to the creation of a Centre of Excellence in an innovative and multidisciplinary approach at AUT’s South Campus. This work aims to increase numbers of both international and domestic students and provide them with appropriate skills for the future. The research will also inform a developing partnership with Pacific region institutions, such as, NZ AID, the University of the South Pacific, for linked programmes in public and environmental health. The first two studies involved a review of current knowledge of public health education and universities and a study of Auckland school students’ perceptions of studying public health at university.  

Current Research Projects:

Youth, technology and empowerment for health solutions: This project focuses on the role of youth as champions and leaders in health, and their use of technology to enhance this role and disseminate their experiences. A pilot study is being conducted with youth leaders in Auckland using mobile devices. Another, and related study is being conducted by Dinar Lubis, PhD student, in Bali with young gay men who use video to create HIV prevention messages.

New directions in public and environmental health: This aims to address the challenges of public and environmental health education in the 21st century in the context of New Zealand and the Pacific region. It examines ‘next’ practice and sectoral employability in the rapidly shifting public and environmental health landscape; and identifies the ways in which tertiary institutions can best prepare both domestic and international students in a digital and globalized context. Research is organized around three key themes: new directions in public and environmental health in the digital age; teaching and learning for 21st century skills in public and environmental health; and public and environmental health in the context of south Auckland and the Pacific. Research findings will be applied to the development of public and environmental health programmes and to the creation of a Centre of Excellence in an innovative and multidisciplinary approach at AUT’s South Campus. This work aims to increase numbers of both international and domestic students and provide them with appropriate skills for the future. The research will also inform a developing partnership with Pacific region institutions, such as, NZ AID, the University of the South Pacific, and Oxfam New Zealand, for linked programmes in public and environmental health.  The first study to be undertaken in this area is a focus group based research in late 2015 with year 12 students in 3 south Auckland schools; we will be exploring their perceptions of public and environmental health, including what they think about this subject as a career choice.

Publications:

  • Conn C, Williams M, Lees A B, Kersey K, Cammock R. (2019). From factory model education to personalised learning: implications for public health education (in preparation)
  • Conn C, Faesen Kloet G, Wilson K. (2019). Auckland school students’ perceptions of studying public health at university (in preparation)
  • Kersey, K, Lees, A B, Conn, C, Cochrane, T, Narayan, V, Williams, M. (2018). Context matters: the challenges and opportunities of designing tertiary public and environmental health education in South Auckland. Pacific Health, 1:1, AUT Tuwhera/Be Open. doi:10.24135/pacifichealth.v1i1.8
  • Said, A, Conn C, Nayar, S. (2018). New Zealand should intensify efforts to eliminate female genital mutilation by 2030: the views of women from communities that practice FGM/C. Pacific Health, 1:1, AUT Tuwhera/Be Open. doi: 1024135/pacifichealth.v1i1.10
  • Conn, C, Nayar, S, Lubis, D, Maibvisira, C, Modderman, K. (2017). Vulnerable youth as prosumers in HIV Prevention. Journal of Medical Internet Research: Public Health & Surveillance, August 14; 3(3):e53. doi: 10.2196/publichealth.7812
  • Conn, C, Modderman, K, Nayar, S. (2017). Strengthening participation by young women sex workers in HIV programs: reflections on a study from Bangkok, Thailand. International Journal of Women’s Health, 9:619-623. doi: 10.2147/IJWH.S141996
  • Thuita, W., Conn, C., & Wilson, K. (2017). The role of marginalised women in sanitation initiatives: Somali women in northern Kenya. Development in Practice 27(1) 16-25. doi: 10.1080/09614524.2017.1256951
  • Conn, C, Said, A, Sa'uLilo, L, Fairbairn-Dunlop, p, Antonczak, L, Andajani, S, Ofa Blake, G. (2016). Pacific Talanoa and Participatory Action Research: Providing a space for Auckland youth leaders to contest inequalities. Development Bulletin 77, Australia National University, Canberra.
  • Maibvisira, C., Conn, C., & Nayar, S. (2015). Diverse youth voices and New Zealand public policy. Vulnerable Children and Youth Studies: An International Interdisciplinary Journal of Research, Policy and Care, 10(1), 36-40. doi:10.1080/17450128.2014.963774
  • Conn, C., Modderman, K., & Nayar, S. (2013). At the limits of participation: Most at risk populations and HIV programmes. Development Bulletin, 75. Australian National University: Canberra. ISSN: 1035-1132 The Development Studies Network.
  • Conn, C. (2013). Young African women must have empowering and receptive social environments for HIV prevention. AIDS Care: Psychological and Socio-medical Aspects of AIDS/HIV, 25(3), 273-280. doi:10.1080/09540121.2012.712659
  • Gurung, Y., & Conn, C. Indigenous Thami youth participation: The early marriage and early pregnancy prevention project in Nepal. In International Indigenous Development Research Conference 2014 Proceedings.
  • Waite L, Conn C (2012) ‘Participatory Video: A feminist way of seeing’ Handbook of Participatory Video, Ed E-J Milne, Claudia Mitchell and Naydene DeLange, AltaMira Press.
  • Waite L, Conn C, (2011), ‘Creating a space for young women’s voices: Using participatory video drama in Uganda’ Gender, Place and Culture. 18(1).