Skip main navigation



We have included this Glossary for reference, please note that you are not expected to remember all the new terms.

You can refer to the Glossary throughout the course by returning to this step or by downloading the PDF version of the Glossary which is available in the Downloads section.

Please note that this vocabulary has been filtered through the Academic Word List from sublist 1 – up to and including sublist 5. Therefore, this course is designed to fit Intermediate Level English language learning students and above.

The phoneme sounds and meanings have been taken from Oxford learners dictionaries and the Māori words are from Māori dictionary. The example sentences have been taken mainly from the course content, but the Māori greetings have been taken from the introductory videos at the beginning of each lesson.

Select the pink hyperlink letters displayed below to jump to alphabetical sections of the Glossary.




academic /æk.əˈdem.ɪk/ (adj / noun)

Meaning: connected with education, especially studying in schools and universities.

Example: The University tries to achieve peace and justice by delegating many representatives to protect academic freedom.
Back to top

access /ækses/ (uncountable noun)

Meaning: the opportunity or right to use something or to see somebody/something

Example: Do you have access to cheap and healthy food in your community? Back to top

accommodation /əˌkɒməˈdeɪʃn/ (noun)

Meaning: a place to live, work or stay in

Example: The University’s campus, as well as accommodation, such as student hostels and flats, is user-friendly for people that have disabilities. Back to top

achieve /əˈtʃiːv/ (verb)

Meaning: achieve something to succeed in reaching a particular goal, status or standard, especially by making an effort for a long time

Example: The only way to achieve these goals is for everybody to act together. Back to top

achievement /əˈtʃiːvmənt/ (noun)

Meaning: a thing that somebody has done successfully, especially using their own effort and skill

Example: Achievements should be rewarded. Back to top

acknowledged /əkˈnɒlɪdʒ/ (verb)

Meaning: to accept that something is true

Example: In 2020, the University of Otago was officially acknowledged as a United Nations Regional Centre of Expertise (RCE) for Sustainability. Back to top

affect /əˈfekt/ (verb)

Meaning: affect somebody/something to produce a change in somebody/something

Example: It is important that all people know how water is going affect them. Back to top

akoranga pai (noun)

Meaning: Quality education

Example: SDG 4 Back to top

alternative /ɔːlˈtɜːnətɪv/ (noun)

Meaning: a thing that you can choose to do or have out of two or more possibilities.

Example: We should be looking for alternative ways to make these contacts, such as e-conferencing. Back to top

annual /ˈænjuəl/ (adjective)

Meaning: happening or done once every year

Example: Any team that can show that they are doing some of the actions in these Impact Guides can get recognised with annual awards. Back to top

approach /əˈprəʊtʃ/ (verb)

Meaning: to come near to somebody/something in distance or time

Example: In order to reduce the impact that the University throws out into landfill, a major waste management company in Dunedin was approached. Back to top

area /ˈeəriə/ (noun)

Meaning: part of a place, town, etc., or a region of a country or the world

Example: In order to achieve a target a lot of action needs to take place in different areas. Back to top

assistance /əˈsɪstəns/ (noun)

Meaning: help or support

Example: The aim of this scholarship is to teach the skills needed in order for students to return to their own country and give assistance where necessary. Back to top

available /əˈveɪləbl/ (adjective)

Meaning:  that you can get, buy or find

Example: Childcare facilities available to use. Back to top

ata mārie (Greeting)

Meaning: Good morning Back to top

available /əˈveɪləbl/ (adjective)

Meaning:  that you can get, buy or find

Example: Childcare facilities available to use. Back to top


beneficial /ˌbenɪˈfɪʃl/ (adjective)

Meaning:  improving a situation; having a helpful or useful effect

Example: We can change the energy that goes into making that item into more beneficial activities. Back to top


categorised /ˈkætəɡəraɪz/ (verb)

Meaning: to put people or things into groups according to what type they are

Example: How is your rubbish categorised? Back to top

civil /ˈsɪvl/ (adjective)

Meaning:  connected with the people who live in a country Example: A Civil Defence Emergency Management group predicts how emergencies will be handled. Back to top

commenced /kəˈmens/ (verb)

Meaning: to begin to happen; to begin something

Example: In 2019 the University commenced, or began a collaborative research project to protect New Zealand’s native kauri tree. Back to top

commitment /kəˈmɪtmənt/ (noun)

Meaning: to begin to happen; to begin something Example: The University of Otago was the first New Zealand university to sign this commitment to complete the sustainable goals in 2018.
Back to top

committed /kəˈmɪtɪd/ (adjective)

Meaning: willing to work hard and give your time and energy to something; believing strongly in something

Example: Some New Zealand supermarkets are committed to supporting sustainable food systems that they stock. Back to top

community /kəˈmjuːnəti/ (noun)

Meaning: all the people who live in a particular area, country, etc. when talked about as a group

Example: Do you have access to cheap and healthy food in your community? Back to top

component /kəmˈpəʊnənt/ (noun)

Meaning: one of several parts of which something is made.

Example: They’re passionate educators and know their work is a key component in combatting climate change. Back to top

constantly /ˈkɒnstəntli/ (adverb)

Meaning: all the time; repeatedly

Example: It constantly improves teaching professions and school curriculum through the College of Education. Back to top

consult /kənˈsʌlt/ (verb)

Meaning: to go to somebody for information or advice

Example: We spent years researching and educating people about climate change, and consulting with our staff and students. Back to top

consumer /kənˈsjuːmə(r)/ (noun)

Meaning: a person who buys goods or uses services

Example: This is beneficial, or good for both producers and consumers. Back to top

coordinate /kəʊˈɔːdɪnət/ (noun)

Meaning: either of two numbers or letters used to fix the position of a point on a map or graph

Example: The rest of the team document exact coordinates, which will be important later on the lab. Back to top

create /kriˈeɪt/ (verb)

Meaning: to make something happen or exist

Example: We created a sustainability strategy our University council approved. Back to top

cultural /ˈkʌltʃərəl/ (adjective)

Meaning: connected with the culture of a particular society or group, its customs, beliefs, etc.

Example: Other ways of sustaining cultural heritage are by providing performance and exhibition spaces. Back to top


despite /dɪˈspaɪt/ (preposition)

Meaning: used to show that something happened or is true although something else might have happened to prevent it

Example: This means that despite people’s financial, gender, religious, or health condition, they have an equal chance of being employed. Back to top

dimension /dɪˈmenʃn/ (noun)

Meaning: a measurement in space, for example how high, wide or long something is

Example: “I’m interested in thinking about how we can integrate sustainability into all dimensions of life. Back to top

discrimination /dɪˌskrɪmɪˈneɪʃn/ (noun)

Meaning:  the practice of treating somebody or a particular group in society less fairly than others

Example: There are strong anti-discrimination laws set up for all staff. Back to top

disposable /dɪˈspəʊzəbl/ (adjective)

Meaning: made to be thrown away after use

Example: One action taken from this was to remove all disposable coffee cups from campus stores and outlets. Back to top

distribute /ˈdɪstrɪbjuːt/ (verb)

Meaning: to give things to a large number of people; to share something between a number of people

Example: Knowledge of how to source and distribute food and water is necessary. Back to top

dynamic /daɪˈnæmɪk/ (adjective)

Meaning: (approving) (of a person, or thing) having a lot of energy and a strong personality

Example: “…so it’s a very dynamic environment.” Back to top


economic /ˌiːkəˈnɒmɪk/ (adjective)

Meaning: connected with the trade, industry and development of wealth of a country, an area or a society

Example: In this way, economic growth is sustainable. Back to top

ecosystem /ˈiːkəʊsɪstəm/ (noun)

Meaning: all the plants and living creatures in a particular area considered in relation to their physical environment

Example: In other words, marine conservation means studying ecosystems (systems that are connected to each other). Back to top

embed /ɪmˈbed/ (verb)

Meaning: to fix something in a substance or solid object

Example: Green Your Scene is designed, or created to embed sustainable practices into the life of everybody at the University. Back to top

emerge /ɪˈmɜːdʒ/ (verb)

Meaning: to move out of or away from something and become possible to see

Example: “We want all our graduates to emerge with the skills, knowledge and experience to be champions for sustainability throughout their lives.” Back to top

environment /ɪnˈvaɪrənmənt/ (noun)

Meaning: the natural world in which people, animals and plants live

Example: Zero hunger means making the most efficient use of food and water in any environment. Back to top

environmentalist /ɪnˌvaɪrənˈmentəlɪst/ (noun)

Meaning: a person who is interested in the natural environment and wants to improve and protect it

Example: We met businesses and environmentalists. Back to top

exhibition /ˌeksɪˈbɪʃn/ (noun)

Meaning: a collection of things, for example works of art, that are shown to the public

Example: Other ways of sustaining cultural heritage is by providing performance and exhibition spaces. Back to top

expertise /ˌekspɜːˈtiːz/ (noun)

Meaning: expert knowledge or skill in a particular subject, activity or job

Example: In 2020, the University of Otago was officially acknowledged as a United Nations Regional Centre of Expertise (RCE) for Sustainability. Back to top


facilities /fəˈsɪləti/ (noun)

Meaning: buildings, services, equipment, etc. that are provided for a particular purpose

Example: There is a parental leave policy, as well as childcare facilities available to use. Back to top

financial /fəˈnænʃl/ (adjective)

Meaning: connected with money and finance

Example: There is a fund of financial aid, or support available to students. Back to top

focus /ˈfəʊkəs/ (verb)

Meaning: to give attention, effort, etc. to one particular subject, situation or person rather than another

Example: Now the team is focussing on finding renewable energy resources. Back to top

framework /ˈfreɪmwɜːk/ (noun)

Meaning: the parts of a building or an object that support its weight and give it shape

Example: The University has a Sustainable Strategic framework to work with. Back to top

fund /fʌnd/ (noun)

Meaning: an amount of money that has been saved or has been made available for a particular purpose

Example: There is a fund of financial aid, or support available to students. Back to top


gender /ˈdʒendə(r)/ (noun)

Meaning: the fact of being male or female, especially when considered with reference to social and cultural differences, not differences in biology; members of a particular gender as a group

Example: In order to support gender equality, there is continuous education. Back to top

generate /ˈdʒenəreɪt/ (verb)

Meaning:  to produce energy, especially electricity

Example: Wind turbines are used to generate electricity. Back to top

generations /ˌdʒenəˈreɪʃn/ (noun)

Meaning: all the people who were born at about the same time

Example: “…development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Back to top

goal /ɡəʊl/ (noun)

Meaning: something that you hope to achieve

Example: In order to help change our mindsets, the United Nations developed 17 sustainability goals. Back to top


hanga pai (noun)

Meaning: Industry, innovation and infrastructure

Example: SDG 9 Back to top

hapori ora (noun)

Meaning: Sustainable city and communities

Example: SDG 11 Back to top

hemokai kore (noun)

Meaning: Zero hunger

Example: SDG 2 Back to top

hiwa āhuarangi (noun)

Meaning: climate action

Example: SDG 13 Back to top

hohou rongo (noun)

Meaning: Peace, justice and strong institutions

Example: SDG 16 Back to top


implement /ˈɪmplɪment/ (verb)

Meaning: to make something that has been officially decided start to happen or be used

Example: The University is in direct communication with local farmers in order to support and implement or put sustainable farming practices into action. Back to top

incentive /ɪnˈsentɪv/ (noun)

Meaning: incentive (for/to somebody/something) (to do something) something that encourages you to do something

Example: There are various incentives, or things we can do to make it easier to travel more sustainably. Back to top

initiative /ɪˈnɪʃətɪv/ (noun)

Meaning: a new plan for dealing with a particular problem or for achieving a particular purpose

Example: This is an initiative set up to directly address everyday patterns of behaviour and thinking around sustainability. Back to top

institute /ˈɪnstɪtjuːt/ (noun)

Meaning: an organisation that has a particular purpose, especially one that is connected with education or a particular profession; the building used by this organisation

Example: The University gives money for national and global research centres, such as the Global Health Institute. Back to top

integrate /ˈɪntɪɡreɪt/ (verb)

Meaning: to combine two or more things so that they work together; to combine with something else in this way

Example: “I’m interested in thinking about how we can integrate sustainability into all dimensions of life.” Back to top

involved /ɪnˈvɒlvd/ (adjective)

Meaning: taking part in something; being part of something or connected with something

Example: Other projects involved student participation to clean up the glaciers around New Zealand. Back to top

item /ˈaɪtəm/ (noun)

Meaning: one thing on a list of things to buy, do, talk about, etc.

Example: Separating these items into various bins reduces everything going to the landfill. Back to top


Back to top


ka kite (Greeting)

Meaning: See you later Back to top

kai (noun)

Meaning: food

Example: Life below water also looks at how land and water is managed within the area. One project that looks at this is called Te Tiaki Mahinga Kai. Back to top

kaumatua (noun)

Meaning: and elder, a person of status

Example: Students in this programme stay on a marae (Māori meeting place) with other university students, scientists and kaumātua, (a person of status, or position). Back to top

kia ora (Greeting)

Meaning: Hello Back to top

kia pai tō rā (Greeting)

Meaning: Have a good day Back to top


lecture /ˈlektʃə(r)/ (noun)

Meaning: a talk that is given to a group of people to teach them about a particular subject, often as part of a university or college course

Example: There are also over 500 free, general public lectures, seminars, and events offered throughout the year. Back to top


mā te wā (Greeting)

Meaning: Until next time Back to top

mahi tahi (noun)

Meaning: Partnerships for the goals

Example: SDG 17 Back to top

mahi tika (noun)

Meaning: Responsible consumption and production

Example: SDG 12 Back to top

major /ˈmeɪdʒə(r)/ (adjective)

Meaning: very large or important

Example: “In order to reduce the impact that the University throws out into landfill, a major waste management company in Dunedin was approached.” Back to top

majority /məˈdʒɒrəti/ (noun)

Meaning:  the largest part of a group of people or things

Example: Now, the majority of students at the university are female. Back to top

mana ōrite (noun)

Meaning: Reduced inequalities

Example: SDG 10 Back to top

mana taurite (noun)

Meaning: Gender equality

Example: SDG 5 Back to top

mauri ora (noun)

Meaning: Good health and well-being

Example: SDG 3 Back to top

mitigate /ˈmɪtɪɡeɪt/ (verb)

Meaning: to make something less harmful, serious, etc.

Example: I want to be working in the future to mitigate the climate crisis. Back to top

mōrena (greeting)

Meaning: Good morning Back to top


network /ˈnetwɜːk/ (noun)

Meaning: a complicated system of roads, lines, tubes, nerves, etc. that are connected to each other and operate together

Example: “When I moved to Chile in 2003, 2004, I really benefitted from a network that was established there.” Back to top

ngā mihi o te ahiahi (greeting)

Meaning: Good afternoon Back to top


oranga moana (noun)

Meaning: Life below water

Example: SDG 14 Back to top

oranga whenua (noun)

Meaning: Life on land

Example: SDG 15 Back to top

overall /ˌəʊvərˈɔːl/ (adjective)

Meaning: including all the things or people that are involved in a particular situation; general

Example: Overall, the University is on its way to being carbon free by 2030. Back to top


participate /pɑːˈtɪsɪpeɪt/ (verb)

Meaning: to take part in or become involved in an activity

Example: Females have better paths to access, participate and achieve in their studies. Back to top

policy /ˈpɒləsi/ (noun)

Meaning: a plan of action agreed or chosen by a political party, a business, etc.

Example: Including everybody is a university-wide policy. Back to top

predict /prɪˈdɪkt/ (verb)

Meaning: to say that something will happen in the future

Example: A Civil Defence Emergency Management group predicts how emergencies will be handled, or managed. Back to top

primary /ˈpraɪməri/ (adjective)

Meaning: connected with the education of children between the ages of about five and eleven

Example: The College of Education trains pre-school, kindergarten, early childcare, primary, secondary, as well as tertiary students to be teachers in all of these sectors. Back to top

process /ˈprəʊses/ (verb)

Meaning: a series of things that are done in order to achieve a particular result

Example: We are also being threatened by natural hazards, such as changing weather patterns and other earth processes. Back to top

project /ˈprɒdʒekt/ (noun)

Meaning: a piece of work involving careful study of a subject over a period of time, done by school or college students

Example: There are also many students who volunteer each year (about 20,000 hours) to support local and national projects. Back to top

pūhara kore (noun)

Meaning: No poverty

Example: SDG 1 Back to top

pūngao pai (noun)

Meaning: Affordable and clean energy

Example: SDG 7 Back to top

purchase /ˈpɜːtʃəs/ (noun)

Meaning: ​to buy something

Example: It is all very well to offer people incentives to purchase an e-bike, but it is also necessary to cater for, or look after people when they have e-bikes. Back to top


Back to top


Rakiura (Island name)

Meaning: Stewart Island

Example: There has also been a lot of collaboration between the University and the Department of Conservation on New Zealand’s southernmost island called Rakiura (Stewart Island). Back to top

recover /rɪˈkʌvə(r)/ (verb)

Meaning: to get well again after being ill, hurt, etc.

Example: We recovered that cost just by upgrading lighting in one building. Back to top

regional /ˈriːdʒənl/ (adjective)

Meaning: of or relating to a region

Example: That helped influence expectations at a critical time for a team planning a new regional hospital in our city. Back to top

research /ˈriːsɜːtʃ/ (noun)

Meaning: a careful study of a subject, especially in order to discover new facts or information about it

Example: The University is recognised to work alongside various institutions, councils, businesses and groups in order to communicate the latest research. Back to top

resource /rɪˈzɔːs/ (noun)

Meaning: a supply of something that a country, an organization or a person has and can use, especially to increase their wealth

Example: We need to realise that each time we buy something new, the resources that go into producing and supplying that particular product uses energy. Back to top

response /rɪˈspɒns/ (noun)

Meaning: a spoken or written answer

Example: One example of this is the Pūtea Tautoko fund, which is a response, or a solution, to people in challenging situations due to COVID 19. Back to top

restore /rɪˈstɔː(r)/ (verb)

Meaning: to bring back a situation or feeling that existed before

Example: This programme has helped to increase scientific knowledge of sand dunes and has even restored some of them. Back to top


sector /ˈsektə(r)/ (noun)

Meaning: a part of an area y of a country’s economy

Example: In regards to the “tech” world, the university provides female secondary school students opportunities to see what it is like to work in the “tech” sector. Back to top

select /sɪˈlekt/ (verb)

Meaning: to choose some body/something from a group of people or things, usually according to a system Example: Each target is achieved by selecting 6 themes. Back to top

source /sɔːs/ (verb)

Meaning: a place, person or thing that you get something from

Example: The University provides a free breakfast and cheap $4 lunches, that also uses locally sourced produce. Back to top

specifically /spəˈsɪfɪkli/ (adverb)

Meaning: connected with or intended for one particular thing only

Example: This hospital is a veterinary clinic specifically set up to treat native New Zealand wildlife. Back to top

strategic /strəˈtiːdʒɪk/ (adjective)

Meaning: done as part of a plan that is meant to achieve a particular purpose or to gain an advantage

Example: We spent years researching and educating people about climate change and negotiating our university’s strategic approach to sustainability. Back to top

sustain /səˈsteɪn/ (verb)

Meaning: to provide enough of what somebody/something needs in order to live or exist

Example: Other ways of sustaining cultural heritage is by providing performance and exhibition spaces. Back to top


targeted /ˈtɑːɡɪtɪd/ (adjective)

Meaning: aimed at a particular place or group of people

Example: There are scholarships for female students, as well as mentoring and targeted support in subjects where females might be underrepresented. Back to top

Te Tiake Mahinga Kai (noun)

Meaning: guarding the customary food gathering areas

Example: One project that looks at this is called Te Tiaki Mahinga Kai. Back to top

tino pai (an idiomatic expression)

Meaning: quite the best, too much, that’s great Back to top

transgender /trænzˈdʒendə(r)/ (adjective)

Meaning: describing or relating to people whose sense of gender identity does not match their biological sex or does not easily fit in with the usual division between male and female

Example: There is support for transgender staff and students. Back to top

transition /trænˈzɪʃn/ (noun)

Meaning: the process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another

Example: To help smooth the transition we put the cost of changing to more expensive wood fuel in our budgets before seeking approval. Back to top


underestimated /ˌʌndərˈestɪmeɪt/ (verb)

Meaning: to think or guess that the amount, cost or size of something is smaller than it really is

Example: People seriously underestimate the effects that climate change will have. Back to top

unique /juˈniːk/ (adjective)

Meaning: being the only one of its kind

Example: The reason we are heading up this unique rainforest is because this is where our ancient clues start their journey. Back to top


visible /ˈvɪzəbl/ (adjective)

Meaning: that can be seen

Example: Some of the more visible achievements are mentioned here. Back to top


waiwhakaora /waɪfakaɔːrə/ (noun)

Meaning: Clean water and sanitation

Example: SDG 6 Back to top

wānanga (noun)

Meaning: university, or place of higher learning

Example: One project that uses concepts, or ideas from the Māori world (Te Ao Māori) is called, “Our Science Wānanga.” Back to top

whai rawa /faɪ rɑːwɑ/ (noun)

Meaning: decent work and economic growth

Example: SDG 8 Back to top


Back to top


Back to top


Back to top

This article is from the free online

English Language Learning Through Sustainability

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now