Geographies of the Anthropocene –––– RGS-IBG annual conference

RBGA flock of AUSCCERites are flying out the door, making the annual migration to the Royal Geographical Society-Institute of British Geographers’ conference (1-4 September). This year the conference is held at the University of Exeter, focusing on ‘Geographies of the Anthropocene’.


If you’re attending the conference or following conference conversations via Twitter (#RGSIBG15 @RGS_IBG), be sure to mark the following sessions in your diaries:

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Transformative disaster


Winter in Wollongong is usually a fairly benign affair. Cool dry air, blue skies. But this past week we’ve had an east coast low that has brought severe weather warnings, heavy rain and localised flooding.

On Tuesday I was teaching our big first year human geography class. Five hundred students spread across five campuses – Wollongong, Shoalhaven, Southern Highlands, Batemans Bay and Bega. The theme of the lecture was ‘natural disasters’, and we were considering how they’re not quite as ‘natural’ as they might seem. Continue reading

One Blood


Illustration for ‘The Jungle Book’, Detmold Brothers, 1908.

This coming month I have an essay published in the Indian journal Seminar, which I consider something of an honour. Seminar, which has a readership in the hundreds of thousands, is legendary in intellectual and policy circles in India. Ramachandra Guha, named as one of the world’s top one hundred intellectuals by ‘Foreign Policy’ magazine in 2008, described Seminar as ‘an indispensable national institution.’

It’s a unique publication: each monthly issue is themed, and contributors are invited by the editors. The September issue has contributions from researchers at Stellenbosch, Uppsala, New Delhi, Harvard and Chicago universities, amongst others. It opens with an editorial called ’The Problem’. The September issue is edited by Gunnel Cederlöf and Mahesh Rangarajan, and the focus is ‘Nature and History: a symposium on human-environment relations in the long term’. Mahesh is a distinguished Indian environmental historian and author of many books on conservation. He is currently Director of the Nehru Memorial Library and Museum in New Delhi, as well as being a regular election commentator in India’s national elections. Gunnel is Professor of History at Uppsala University and KTH, Stockholm, and has published extensively on India. Continue reading

Meet Kiera Kent

Kiera Kent

Kiera Kent

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.

Kiera began her PhD with AUSCCER at the start of 2014. Here she answers questions about her research.


You’re in the second year of your PhD. What is the focus of your PhD research?

My research looks at where and how children play in the city. For example, built playgrounds are common spaces that represent ‘children’s spaces’ in the city. Playgrounds can provide a lot of play opportunities for children; however, when talking to children about where they prefer to play, research has shown that children will often talk about informal spaces in their neighbourhood or near their school. For example, a favourite tree to climb. When creating city spaces with children in mind, these everyday play spaces are more challenging to plan and design.  This is where my current research interest lies.

The playground at Brighton Lawn/Belmore Basin is one location where children are often seen playing. This is a regional playground meaning that it is larger, and has more play opportunities.

The playground at Brighton Lawn/Belmore Basin is one location where children are often seen playing. This is a regional playground meaning that it is larger, and has more play opportunities.

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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.

IPIS booklet_V4_Page_01

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:


Simplified Chinese / 中文:

Vietnamese / tiếng Việt:

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!









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