AUSCCER Retreat Wrap-Up

Two weeks ago twenty-five AUSCCER staff and postgrads attended a postgraduate retreat at Kioloa’s ANU coastal field campus, on the New South Wales south coast. The three days were jam packed with advice and ideas for the PhD process: topics ranging from managing stress, networking, writing tips, and post-PhD trajectories. With the new faculty emerging and seven new PhD students attending (you can ‘meet’ some by clicking here), this was a great chance to take stock of AUSCCER’s present and future.

More importantly Kioloa was an environment for socialising outside the University walls, allowing everyone a chance to get to know the people behind the PhDs and research projects. Days were broken up with some creative icebreakers (adeptly handled by Ananth and Justin), and walks to the bush and the beach. The night activities – Ellen’s trivia designed exclusively for geographers on Tuesday, and a sell-out Wednesday crowd for the faculty band Highfalutin’ – were particular highlights!

Below are a few pictures from the day’s events. A huge thanks to Leah for the idea, initiative and leadership to put the event together, to the staff who made the trip, and everyone who organised sessions throughout the days and nights. Continue reading

Indigenous people and invasive species – proceedings from the World Parks Congress

Last December, Jenny Atchison (with Lesley Head) shared a video of their presentation delivered at the World Parks Congress in Sydney. Since this time, Jenny, Lesley and a number of symposium presenters have collaborated and proudly present a global community booklet – Indigenous people and invasive species: Perceptions, management, challenges and uses.

Published by the IUCN & CEN Ecosystems and Invasive Species Thematic Group, the booklet encapsulates 15 case studies on Indigenous people and invasive plants from around Australia, including Lesley and Jenny’s research on Indigenous Invasive Plant Management in Northern Australia.

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Ens, E., Fisher, J. and Costello, O. (Editors) (2015) Indigenous people and invasive species: Perceptions, management, challenges and uses. IUCN Commission on Ecosystem Management Community Report.

Reviewing the 2015 IAG conference

Post by Chris Brennan-Horley

Now that a few days have passed and everyone at AUSCCER has regrouped and defrosted from IAG 2015, it’s time to reflect on our week in the National Capital. Canberra provided the full winter experience, with most nights dropping below zero and daytime temps occasionally making it into double digits. Kudos goes to Tom Measham and the conference organising committee for pre-empting the weather as we were greeted at registration with our very own IAG 2015 puffer vest! A truly functional piece of conference merch, sported by many grateful participants over the coming days.

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Why ask questions?

Like many, I’ve recently returned from the Institute of Australian Geographers annual conference in Canberra. I listened to some terrific research papers, especially by graduate students from around the country: well conceived, carefully planned and structured, rehearsed and timed, executed with interest and sometimes pizzazz.

But the speaker’s final word does not mark the end of the performance. It is now time for questions. There is a moment of tangible nervous energy in the room.

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The heat on winter warming: why cultural geography can help energy policy makers

Post by Gordon Waitt

HeaterHow Australian homes are heated in winter is of recent policy interest because of greenhouse gas emissions, fuel poverty and public health risks. Policy initiatives around winter warming practices are often contradictory, advising people to heat more for health and less to save money and the environment. Furthermore, how people should live with lower winter temperatures is configured within two assumptions.  First, that households should not let the ambient temperature of the rooms in which occupants spend the day fall below 18 degrees Celsius, or, above 21 degrees Celsius. Second, that when it comes to heating choices, people are positioned as rational consumers rather than parents, grandparents, carers or employees working from home. Overlooking the personal in favour of the financial, costs are often envisaged by policy makers to be the key mechanism to change home heating choices of most Australians.

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Would you like to share your views on climate change and the future?

AUSCCER-308 Stephanie EditAUSCCER’s Stephanie Toole is currently seeking residents from the Greater Sydney area who are willing to share their experiences of weather, thoughts about climate change and views on the future. The study encourages contributions from residents from a diverse range of ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds.

 

 

You can take part in two ways:

  1. A one-hour interview. The interview can be organized for a time in July (including weekends) and a place that is most convenient for you (e.g. your home, a café, or library).
  1. A 30 minute online survey, titled Preparing for climate change? A survey of views and practices in culturally diverse Australian households. You do not need to believe in climate change in order to complete the survey – all views are valued. If you provide your contact details on the final page you will have a chance to win one of five $100 shopping vouchers.

The survey is available in:

 English: https://surveymonkey.com/s/D2H2FPK

Simplified Chinese / 中文: https://surveymonkey.com/s/XBSJ2KS

Vietnamese / tiếng Việt: https://surveymonkey.com/s/XBT6HNG

Arabic (please contact Stephanie for a hard copy)

 

If you would like to take part in an interview, require an Arabic version of the survey, or would like more information, please contact Stephanie at [email protected]             or 0475 200 881.

It would be great to hear your perspective!

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Stephanie has also published the post Exploring climate change in culturally diverse households.

Meet Sophie-May Kerr

Sophie-May Kerr (photo credit - Anthony Kerr)

Sophie-May Kerr (photo credit – Anthony Kerr)

The Australian Centre for Cultural Environmental Research (AUSCCER) is a teaching and research group focusing on cultural and social aspects of environmental issues. AUSCCER’s expertise and research is wide-ranging. Over the next few months we’ll introduce some of our academics and PhD candidates to give greater insight into AUSCCER’s work.

Sophie-May Kerr began her PhD with AUSCCER at the start of 2015. Here she answers questions about her research.

 

You’ve just begun your PhD candidature within AUSCCER. What is the focus of your PhD research?

I’m interested in social and environmental transformations that address high carbon and space-intensive urban lifestyles. In a climate changing world, one way in which cities are changing to accommodate for population growth and an increased demand in housing is through a shift towards urban consolidation. My goal is to inform understandings of sustainable urban living by examining sharing as a sustainable practice. My research will focus on the way urban residents share space (for instance, by living in apartments) and material resources (such as vehicles and household items). Responses to the challenges of urban population growth and carbon intensive lifestyles need to be grounded in an understanding of everyday life and efforts to increase rates of apartment-living must be informed by an understanding of how this mode of living can become socially sustainable. A key aspect of the research will be to consider how high-rise apartments might be made an attractive long-term residential option for a diverse population, including families. My research will focus on sustainability at the household level – understanding the everyday experiences of living in an apartment and the ways people consume material resources and inhabit spaces. I am interested in building form and layout and the strategies families have for making effective and efficient use of small spaces. An important part of this study will be exploring the discourses around raising children in apartments and the way this is portrayed, represented and stereotyped. Whilst living in apartments with children is not yet the norm in the Australian context, many cities around the world have high rates of apartment living, including families and there are no doubt lessons to be learned from these contexts.

Photo credit - Anthony Kerr

Photo credit – Anthony Kerr

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Exploring Geographic Connections at the IAG annual Conference     

iag20151

July is just around the corner and that means the Institute of Australian Geographers’ annual conference is nearly here. It will be a quiet week at AUSCCER base, as 22 AUSCCERites head down to the Australian National University in Canberra to ‘Explore Geographic Connections’.

If you’re attending, be sure to catch some of AUSCCER’s most recent research and Lesley’s keynote address. You can also follow conference conversations via Twitter – #IAG2015Canberra. To view the full program, click here.

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“It is time to move beyond kill-based strategies”: Rethinking shark hazard management

Photo credit: Paul Jones, UOW

 

‘Catch and destroy’ has been the Western Australian Government’s most recent policy approach to reducing human-shark encounters. The 2014 controversial policy was implemented following five deadly shark bites along Western Australia’s (WA) coastline within a ten-month period. However, a new study by AUSCCER’s Dr Leah Gibbs (pictured) and Dr Andrew Warren has shown that the majority of ocean-users in WA oppose shark nets, drumlines and culling, and would rather see the state government fund research and education. Their study has recently been published in the journal Marine Policy.

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Meet Carrie Wilkinson

Carrie Wilkinson

Carrie Wilkinson

The Australian Centre for Cultural Environmental Research (AUSCCER) is a teaching and research group focusing on cultural and social aspects of environmental issues. AUSCCER’s expertise and research is wide-ranging. Over the next few months we’ll introduce some of our academics and PhD candidates to give greater insight into AUSCCER’s work.

Carrie Wilkinson began her PhD with AUSCCER at the start of 2015. Here she answers questions about her research.

 

You’re in the early stages of your PhD candidature. How would you describe the focus of your research?

My current doctoral research focuses on the agency, assemblages and materiality of water and water tanks in everyday life. Specifically, I am interested in learning from the everyday water experiences and practices of households which subsist on non-mains water sources – such as bore water, rainwater, river water and/or dam water – in peri-urban bushfire prone landscapes.

Tank water households are largely self-sufficient in terms of gathering, storing, conserving, recycling and disposing of water for household consumption and I am interested in what emerges through residents’ narratives of life with water tanks and tank water, and life without mains water supplies. By taking seriously the vitality of water and water tanks I want to better understand the vulnerabilities and adaptive capacities of tank-water households in a changing climate, where events such as drought and bushfire are expected to increase pressure on water supplies in future.

 “Whitewashed house with corrugated iron roof and water tank, Hill End” c.1870-1875 (Source: State Library of NSW, image by American and Australasian Photographic Company).  What do we know about water tanks?  What can we learn from water tanks? How do we “know” water tanks? I want to provide an historical context and theoretical framework for understanding contemporary Australian water- and water tank-relations. To do so, I have been exploring the catalogues of Australia’s libraries, museums and newspapers to find resources such as photographs, legislation, editorials and so forth relating to different perspectives and times of water abundance and scarcity, and different attitudes to storing and using water and water tanks in Australia.

“Whitewashed house with corrugated iron roof and water tank, Hill End” c.1870-1875 (Source: State Library of NSW, image by American and Australasian Photographic Company).
What do we know about water tanks? What can we learn from water tanks? How do we “know” water tanks? I want to provide an historical context and theoretical framework for understanding contemporary Australian water- and water tank-relations. To do so, I have been exploring the catalogues of Australia’s libraries, museums and newspapers to find resources such as photographs, legislation, editorials and so forth relating to different perspectives and times of water abundance and scarcity, and different attitudes to storing and using water and water tanks in Australia.

 

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