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Sustainable programme design: A guide to help institutions prepare for natural advance

Not wanting to be too depressing, but natural disasters can affect anyone, anywhere. It is a positive outcome of the earthquakes in Christchurch to see a practical guide being written that suggests how institutions can prepare for such disasters...before they happen.

About the project

The earthquake of 22 February 2011 required Christchurch educational institutions to cope with the consequences of a natural disaster. In this project, the impact of forced change on Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology (CPIT), decisions made with regards to programme design and the accompanying effect on students are investigated.

The term ‘programme design’ refers to processes undertaken to re-develop or design programmes of learning with a focus on student learning and flexible delivery.

Case studies of 6 selected programmes were analysed to derive a set of guidelines, based on strategies related to sustainable programme design.

The impact of the earthquakes is explored on 3 levels:

  • institutional effects
  • programme design deployment/implementation at a time of forced change
  • impact of institutional/programme design changes on students.

The impacts of the earthquake were collated through focus groups with students and staff and data collected on a wiki of changes made as a result of programmes’ re-location to alternative learning spaces.

Library shelves at CPIT after the earthquake on 22 February 2011Library shelves at CPIT after the earthquake on 22 February 2011 Ground-floor office at CPIT after the earthquake on 22 February 2011Ground-floor office at CPIT after the earthquake on 22 February 2011


In presenting the guidelines, Selena and Martin acknowledge that they have been derived from an analysis of only one institution’s experiences and are based on case studies of selected programmes and selected programme changes. Each institution's context will be different.

The guidelines recommend that institutions:

  • be prepared for forced change beyond logistical issues and, in the context of this report, be prepared through institutional and staff development to better cope with forced change
  • provide resources that will assist the forced change process
  • plan methods for collecting and evaluating changes made and the decisions that underpin these changes.


Dr Selena Chan and Martin Jenkins – Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology

Date completed: August 2012

Download the full report (685 KB PDF)


This work is published under the Creative Commons 3.0 New Zealand Attribution Non-commercial Share A... (BY-NC-SA). Under this licence you are free to copy, distribute, display and perform the work as well as to remix, tweak, and build upon this work non-commercially, as long as you credit the author/s and license your new creations under the identical terms.

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