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

High North

Post written by Michael Adams

Linnaeus in Sámi dress, portrait by Martin Hoffman, 1737.

Linnaeus in Sámi dress, portrait by Martin Hoffman, 1737.

Two hundred and eighty years ago, the founder of modern taxonomy, Carl Linnaeus, travelled from Luleå to Jokkmokk, both towns in northern Sweden, and connected by the Lule River (jokkmokk, or in the Lule Sami language, Jåhkåmåhkke, means ‘bend in the river’). Linnaeus was on his ‘journey to Lapland’ documenting the ethnobiology of Sami reindeer herders in their ancestral home, Sápmi. I have just returned to Australia after retracing part of his trip.

Lesley’s blog from Gothenburg explored some interesting issues around naming, and the power of names was part of the discussions on my Sweden visit. American environmental historian Karl Jacoby, Maori lawyer Jacinta Ruru, and myself were invited as keynote speakers for a specialized conference on ‘Sami Customary Rights in Modern Landscapes’ developed from a joint research project of Umeå University, (including the Centre for Sami Studies) and Luleå UniversityContinue reading

Transition, adaptation, metamorphosis: framing climate change and regional response

This is the third and final in a series of posts by AUSCCER’s Chris Gibson on climate change and regions, building on papers presented in recent weeks at the 4th International Conference on Sustainability Transitions at ETH Zurich, the annual Institute of Australian Geographers conference at the University of Western Australia, and the 2013 National Climate Change Adaptation (NCCARF) conference in Sydney.

In this final post in my series of post-conference debriefs, I wish to explore further what conceptions of transformation might be required to respond to climate change, and what kinds of perceptions of time are involved.

In this I duly acknowledge on-going conversations with my AUSCCER colleagues and especially Lesley Head, who has written extensively on the topic. In her 2010 PiHG essay Lesley reminded us that ‘adaptation’ was a core concept of twentieth-century cultural ecology, applied in much earlier frames in the context of cultural evolution, ‘traditional’ societies and environmental determinism to describe a combination of general flexibility within new environments, and ‘specific reconfigurations of genetic material’. The term ‘adaptation’ now finds itself reinvented in the context of climate change in ways that retain some of that term’s baggage and limitations. As Lesley warns, ‘there is a risk of discredited dualisms becoming re-embedded in patterns of thinking and proposed solutions to problems’. Continue reading

Back to the future: climate change and regional inheritances

This is the second in a series of posts by AUSCCER’s Chris Gibson on climate change and regions, building on papers presented in recent weeks at the 4th International Conference on Sustainability Transitions at ETH Zurich, the annual Institute of Australian Geographers conference at the University of Western Australia, and the 2013 National Climate Change Adaptation (NCCARF) conference in Sydney.

In my last post I made the case for focusing on regions as a scale of climate change response. In this, I wish to consider briefly the issue of how to rethink future responses in light of the past.

Regions inherit numerous legacies from previous generations: their physical infrastructure, economic base, demography, political culture, workforce skills and social mix. Regions will, with some urgency, need to assess the strengths of their institutions, rethink residential, transport and environmental planning, and document vernacular cultural assets that may prove helpful in adjusting to the ‘new normal’ of climatic extremity.

How well are we positioned to ‘retrofit’ regions, physically, economically, and culturally – and how quickly can it be done? The task is to figure out which bits of regional historical inheritances will count towards transition and adaptation, and which bits will somehow need to be jettisoned. Continue reading

The conversation we need to have about carbon

This article was originally written by AUSCCER’s Lesley Head for The Conversation.

Recent conversations about carbon pricing are still framed within gentle themes of continuing growth and well-being, where no one has to pay more for anything without being compensated. The words that need to be in our conversations are transformation, rationing and shared sacrifice.

Australian political leaders dance around the hard issues of climate change. There are no prizes for national leaders who bring bad news. The diabolical difficulty of turning around a fossil-fuel economy has contributed to five of them (Howard, Nelson, Turnbull, Rudd, Gillard) losing their jobs. Continue reading