Environment & Society

As Environment and Society scholars, we critically engage the urgent issues of these times, which we understand as contextualised in long histories of human social and ecological interactions. Our research has the main intention of recognising and creating safe and thriving spaces – environmentally, culturally, and socially – for all beings. 

 In acknowledging there are multiple ways of knowing and experiencing the world, we move away from imposed understandings of “the environment” and engage in conversations about possible and ideal presents and futures. Our research invokes creative approaches to understanding what it means to be human in a more-than-human world, what it means to be just in a human-disrupted world, and what ways of knowing, being constitute and foster caring and flourishing interrelated lives. Our overlapping and intersecting areas of interest include:

Critical Geographies

The environment and society group has a research strength in human geography. We're active members of geographical societies and groups in Australia and around the world, generating and integrating critical and relevant scholarship for the discipline. We have collaborative research projects in Africa, North America, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, and the Pacific. We have different focuses and approaches, including: 

  • Legal geography 
  • Urban geography 
  • Environment and development 
  • Political ecology 
  • Regenerative agriculture
  • Public space  

Ecocultural Studies & Communication 

Our group actively contributes to this broad and transdisciplinary area of scholarship. This work understands human ecological relations as both symbolically and materially constituted, and culture and ecology not as separate spheres but as entangled and always mutually informing one another. Our work in this area takes place in diverse study sites around the globe and our points of interest include: 

  • Ecocultural discourse/environmental communication 
  • Ecocultural meaning systems, identities, and transformations 
  • Environmental humanities 
  • More-than-human and multispecies studies, posthumanism, and new materialism
  • Wildlife tourism, ecotourism, and ecocultural tourism 
  • Transformative ecopedagogy 

Environmental Justice 

Much of our research takes a critical decolonising approach to address ways social and environmental injustices around the world are inherently entangled. This work illuminates power, difference, disparity, and liberatory movements, and often uses collaborative, participatory, and endogenous approaches.  

Our research in this area includes engaged work around resource conflicts in sub-Saharan Africa, biocultural rights and justice for Indigenous groups in Australia and the South Pacific, energy justice dynamics emerging from the “ills” and the “goods” of global energy systems, and discourses of environmental and wildlife activism. Our focuses and approaches also include: 

  • Indigenous ecological knowledges 
  • Community-engaged research 
  • Praxis and action-based scholarship 
  • Ecofeminism 
  • Spatial justice

Environment, Technology & the Politics of Knowledge

Our work also focuses on issues related to contemporary techno-scientific cultures. In this work, our projects explore historically situated modes of generating authoritative environmental knowledge and expertise and the politics of knowledge across a range of environmental issues. This research is also focused on issues concerned with the interplay among technology, environment, risk, and cultural innovation, and with developing unique interventions into contemporary environmental concerns.

Environmental History  

Our work in this dynamic field explores ways in which environments and human affairs have mutually informed one another, and seeks synergy between humanistic and scientific perspectives while maintaining a constructively critical stance toward both.  

This research includes placed-based histories, ranging from water histories in Latin America to forest histories in West Africa, to more globally focused projects, including histories of human origins hypothesis and the geopolitics of population debates. This area includes the University’s flagship New Earth Histories [hyperlink] research program, which brings histories of geosciences and select world cosmologies together to produce a fresh and cosmopolitan history of environmental sciences, analysing the significance of geological time and multiple cosmologies to global modernity itself.

Current Research Projects and Collaborations

Environment & Society Speakeasy: This open fortnightly gathering provides a supportive transdisciplinary platform for sharing emerging research and learning from one another. We maintain a community of practice of friendly constructive feedback to help strengthen the ecocultural work of academic staff and higher degree students across the university. 

Handbook of Ecocultural Identity: This unfolding project engages about 40 international scholars across disciplines in rethinking and reimagining what it means to be human in a more-than-human world.  

The Handbook, due for publication with Routledge in 2020, cultivates and puts into conversation original theory and research to expand the scope and always understand identity as sociocultural and ecological. The work provides insight into ways identities are key to how we are able to shape our ways into inhabitable or uninhabitable futures. 

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