Transformative disaster

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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

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 st921@uowmail.edu.au             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.

Seven contributions of cultural research to the challenges of sustainability and climate change

Lesley Head and Marie Stenseke

(An abbreviated version of this paper was published in Swedish for World Science Day (14.11.14) as Head, L. and Stenseke, M. 2014 Humanvetenskapen står för djup och förståelse In E. Mineur and B. Myrman (eds) Hela vetenskapen! 15 forskare om integrerad forskning. Stockholm: Vetenskapsrådet. ISBN: 978-91-7307-245-8, pp. 26-33. Marie Stenseke is Professor of Human Geography at the University of Gothenburg)

Human and physical sciences alike have reached a convergent point on recommending urgent research on climate change’s social and cultural dimensions (Hulme 2008) since, if these are ignored, it is likely that both adaptation and mitigation responses will fail because they simply do not connect with what matters to individuals and communities (Adger et al. 2012). Increasingly, recognition of the cultural dimensions of sustainability issues goes hand in hand with calls for interdisciplinary approaches to these important problems (Seidl et al. 2013). However that cross-disciplinary collaboration is often on terms defined by the natural sciences. In this paper we seek to articulate the particular and distinctive contributions of qualitative cultural research methods in the environmental field.

We do so in order that they are understood in their own terms, and as a basis for more respectful collaborative research. For too long lone social scientists have been ‘tacked on’ to environmental management bureaucracies dominated by natural science models (Roughley 2005). Among these sole practitioners Roughley has documented a history of marginalization, despite some good intentions by management. Further, these individuals often face the misplaced expectation that their research will result in neat instrumental policy outcomes rather than a more diverse conceptual contribution (Amara et al. 2004). These issues have been encountered long before climate change dominated the agenda; for example in natural resource management, land-use planning and biodiversity conservation (Gill 2006). Continue reading

Exploring climate change in culturally diverse Australian households

Australian residents, from a range of ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds, are being sought to help researchers at the Australian Centre for Cultural Environmental Research answer the following questions:

How do Australians feel about climate change?
How might climate change affect Australian households?
How might Australians’ everyday lives change due to climate change?
Are Australians prepared to cope with these changes?
Are some households better prepared to cope than others? Continue reading

Geoscientists: saints or sinners?

Professor Noel Castree has recently published in Nature Climate Change, a monthly journal dedicated to publishing the most significant and cutting-edge research on the science of climate change, its impacts and wider implications for the economy, society and policy.

The paper argues that geoscientists must forge new alliances with social scientists and humanists to bring the climate change debate to the next level and allow society to better respond to global environmental change. Continue reading

Free download: Household Sustainability

The cover of Household Sustainability: Challenges and Dilemmas in Everyday LifeLast year Household Sustainability: Challenges and Dilemmas in Everyday Life was published. You can now download the Introduction of the book for free.

The book is written by: Chris Gibson, Carol Farbokto, Nicholas Gill, Lesley Head and Gordon Waitt.

Contrary to the common rhetoric that being green is ‘easy’, household sustainability is rife with contradiction and uncertainty. Households attempting to respond to the challenge to become more sustainable in everyday life face dilemmas on a daily basis when trying to make sustainable decisions. Various aspects of life such as cars, computers, food, phones and even birth and death, may all provoke uncertainty regarding the most sustainable course of action. Drawing on international scientific and cultural research, as well as innovative ethnographies, this timely book probes these wide-ranging sustainability dilemmas, assessing the avenues open to households trying to improve their sustainability.

The book is now also available in paperback.

PhD Scholarship – environmental knowledge and practice of migrant food growers

Project title: Exploring the environmental knowledges and practices of migrant food growers in urban and peri-urban NSW

$AU25,392 per year (3 years max)

A fully-funded PhD scholarship worth $AU25,392 per year, for three years, is available in the Australian Centre for Cultural Environmental Research, Department of Geography and Sustainable Communities at the University of Wollongong. The project is entitled: ‘Exploring the environmental skills, knowledges and practices of migrant food growers in urban and peri-urban NSW’. The successful candidate will explore these practices in the context of broader discussions of sustainability and climate change adaptation.

The project is funded by University of Wollongong in association with an Australian Research Council Discovery Project awarded to Professor Lesley Head, Dr Natascha Klocker, Professor Gordon Waitt and Professor Heather Goodall. It is anticipated that the successful applicant will enrol by August 2014.

The PhD project is to examine the diverse food growing practices of migrants across formal and informal spaces in Sydney and the Illawarra including market gardens, community gardens, backyards and public spaces. It will consider how migrants’ diverse environmental knowledges, experiences in countries of origin, understandings of Australian environments and perceptions of climate change inform their food growing practices. The successful student will be responsible for conducting research with migrant food growers using a range of qualitative social scientific fieldwork methods. Funds are available to support research and field expenses.

Applications are sought from suitably qualified candidates with a First Class Honours Degree, and/or a Masters by Research degree in human geography, environmental social science, anthropology or related disciplines. Applicants will need to demonstrate research training as is evident in a substantial thesis characterised by primary research. Ability to speak a language other than English (which the applicant could show is relevant to migrant food growers in Sydney) would be an advantage, but is not essential.

Applicants should initially submit a letter outlining their suitability for this research and the nature of their research training and any thesis completed as part of their study so far, a CV, and academic transcripts for all degrees.

Send these documents to Professor Lesley Head at the email address below by 30th May 2014. Please ensure that all documents are contained in one single pdf file.

The successful applicant will be enrolled in a PhD in Human Geography at the University of Wollongong, supervised by Dr Natascha Klocker and Professor Lesley Head.

The scholarship is open to Australian and International applicants.

For further information about the project, please contact Professor Lesley Head lhead@uow.edu.au

Further information about the Department of Geography and Sustainable Communities and AUSCCER can be found via:

http://socialsciences.uow.edu.au/ausccer/index.html

http://socialsciences.uow.edu.au/dgsc/index.html

Our most clicked posts in 2013

It’s been a busy year here and most AUSCCERites are now taking a well-deserved Christmas break. So for our final blog post of the year we’re revisiting some of our most clicked, read and shared pieces in 2013. Thanks for reading and sharing Conversations with AUSCCER this year and we’ll see you in 2014. Continue reading

Loving your monsters – the Climate Council and #Pinktober

Two particular monsters are in my consciousness at the moment, the newly formed Climate Council and #Pinktober. #Pinktober is a constellation of diverse consumerist activities to publicise and raise funds for breast cancer research, signified by selling things that are pink or can be pinkified. The Climate Council is a non-profit organisation established by leading scientists who argue that ‘Australians deserve independent information about climate change, from the experts’. It is the crowd-funded replacement for the recently axed Climate Commission. That Climate Commission link, by the way, goes nowhere, not even to a useful archive of previous Climate Commission documents (which have however been presciently archived by the National Library of Australia). Continue reading

Meet Professor Lesley Head

Professor Lesley Head

Professor Lesley Head

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. Each month we’ll introduce a new academic or PhD candidate to give greater insight into AUSCCER’s work.

Professor Lesley Head is an Australian Laureate Fellow and the Director of AUSCCER. Here she answers ten questions about what she does and AUSCCER’s work.

 

Continue reading