Associate Professor Peter John O'Connor

PhD, BA, DipTchg, DipRSADrama


Associate Professor O’Connor is an internationally recognised expert in applied theatre. His research has focused primarily on using applied theatre as a public education medium to address major social issues including public health, gender equity in schools and the development of inclusive, empathetic and critical school cultures. Recent applied theatre research includes national programmes on preventing family violence and child abuse and parenting programmes in Youth Justice Facilities. His work in Christchurch following the February earthquake has lead to UNESCO funded research and programme development. In 2012 he was named the Griffith University  School of Education and Professional Studies Alumnus of hte Year. He is currently engaged in the ongoing debates about charter schools and the nature of quality public education. Peter was previously the National Education Manager for the Race Relations Office and the National Project manager for the Like Minds campaign with the Mental Health Foundation. His 2003 PhD on his work in forensic psychiatric units won the 2006 AATE Distinguished Dissertation Award in Washington DC.

Research | Current

  • Applied theatre in trauma zones
  • Applied theatre and criticality
  • Charter schools

Teaching | Current

Postgraduate supervision

  • Molly Mullen PhD 2010 Managing applied theatre: negotiating murky terrain and tangled webs.
  • Adrian Schoone PhD 2010 ‘Through the unknown, remembered gate’: the AE tutor, pedagogy and possibilities.
  • Claire Coleman PhD 2010 Dancing through the fourth wall: How can the philosophical underpinnings of process drama and critical pedagogy explicitly interrelate, and what tensions and opportunities are offered when they dance together.
  • Jane Luton PhD 2010 Caught Between Worlds: Stories of battle, beliefs and barricades from key drama in education theorist/practitioners.
  • Esther Fitzpatrick PhD 2011 How to enable Pākehā children to construct a positive ethnic identity; exploring teachers’ beliefs, perceptions, and practice.
  • Paul Heyward PhD 2010 Using role-play to enhance teaching and learning in Higher Education.
  • Michelle Johannson MProfStuds 2011 Dusky Maiden - Noble Savage: Pasifika Identity and Representation in NCEA Drama.
  • Luke Devery MA 2011 Troupe Waihi in the light of the vision: A case study of extracurricular dramatic activity as a reflection/extension of the vision of the 2007 New Zealand Curriculum.


Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • O'Connor P (2011). Beyond serendipity: Surviving the storm. Research in Drama Education, 16 (1), 96-100. 10.1080/13569783.2011.541612
  • O'Connor PJ (2011). Valuing Diversity in the early childhood arts classroom: A drama case study. Children, Meaning-Making and the Arts (pp. 177-194). Frenchs Forest, NSW: Pearson Australia.
  • O'Connor PJ (2011). There is a crack in everything: Romeo and Juliet, social justice and youth justice.. Paper presented at Pacific Circle Consortium Conference, University of Auckland, Faculty of Education. 12 August - 14 August 2011.
  • O'Connor PJ (2011). Stances and Territories: Drama, interdisciplinarity and social change. NJ Drama Australia Journal, 35.
  • O'Connor PJ (2011). Prison theatre: Letting the light in to disciplinary relationships. NJ (Drama Australia Journal), 35.
  • O'Connor PJ (2011). Its all about the books: Children's Perceptions of Libraries. .
  • O'Connor PJ (2011). Assessment Report on The Young Mob Project, Sydney Australia. Assessment Report on The Young Mob Project.
  • O'Connor P (2010). Creating democratic citizenship through drama education, the writings of Jonothan Neeland. Trentham Books Ltd. Pages: 170.

Contact details

  • Media Contact

Primary location

Level 3 , Room 335
New Zealand