Young academics re-imagine the future of NSW

10 Aug 2016

Over 30 young academics from across New South Wales have envisaged new ways to tackle problems and emerging opportunities as part of Reimagining New South Wales series. Presented to His Excellency General The Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Ret’d), Governor of New South Wales, the “knowledge foresight” exercise brought together economic and social discussion to visualise NSW in a post-mining and post-fossil fuels era.

University of New South Wales academics Dr Carolien Van Ham and Associate Professor Matthew Kearnes were among the state’s “best and brightest” young and mid-career academics selected to take part by the NSW Vice-Chancellors’ Committee (NSWVCC).

The future forecasting series aimed to re-imagine what NSW could look like in 2025, providing ideas and vision for politicians and policy-makers in NSW. The topics addressed by the project covered issues of the environment, health, the ‘caring’ economy, innovation and education.

“The aim was not to develop a plan or a strategy but to produce a series of thought pieces, framed in an accessible way, to be shared publicly, so that further discussion might ensue,” says Professor Roy Green, Dean of UTS Business School, who led the project for the NSWVCC.

Dr Carolien van Ham, lecturer in comparative politics at UNSW presented ‘How good governance strengthens democracy’ asking whether NSW citizens are adequately engaged in the policymaking process.

“Good governance leads to better solutions. Citizens’ capacity to solve problems is greatly undervalued,” writes Dr van Ham.

In particular the Governor hoped to see ideas that integrated rural and regional development, UNSW Associate Professor Matthew Kearnes in environmental humanities presented an article focusing on the relationship with NSW’s land and sustainable agriculture after the mining boom.

“Instead of clinging to an old-fashioned view of “wilderness”, we should recognise that areas used intensively by humans can support significant biodiversity,” writes Associate Professor Matthew Kearnes in ‘Going beyond ‘wilderness’ and finding fresh ways to relate to our environment’.