Meet Ananth Gopal

Ananth Gopal

Ananth Gopal

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.

 

 

Ananth began his PhD with AUSCCER earlier this year. Here he answers questions about his research.

 

You’ve just begun your PhD. At this early stage, what can you tell us about your research focus?

I’m interested in growing cultures, literally. By that I mean, looking at what role culture and ethnicity might play in the everyday food growing practices of people in the Illawarra. My research sits under the ARC discovery project led by Lesley Head, Natasha Klocker, Heather Goodall and Gordon Waitt. They are investigating the role cultural diversity has on people’s perceptions of the environment and environmental practices. The project is multi-pronged looking at a number of migrant communities and how their background may shape encounters in the Australian environmental context. I hope I can contribute something of worth with my focus on backyards and small-scale local agriculture.

  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.

Continue reading

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

Continue reading

Talking research through photographs: notes from the Geographical Society of NSW’s Postgraduate Networking Day

Introduction by Ellen van Holstein

Each year the Geographical Society of New South Wales invites postgraduate students from all over New South Wales to meet up and talk research. Students were invited to bring a picture and briefly present their work based on that image. The event also encouraged the exchange of advice about how to manage a PhD and how to do conferences. The University of Wollongong cohort of postgraduates was represented with ten candidates. The event was an excellent opportunity to think about the core messages of our research projects and to reflect on what it is that makes our geographical minds tick. Having ten new postgraduates start PhDs in geography at the University of Wollongong this year, it was also a great opportunities for old and new AUSCCER postgraduates to get to know each other better and to revel once again in the great wealth of research diversity that AUSCCER accommodates. To get a glimpse of that diversity please click through the photos of the ten AUSCCERites who attended the Geographical Society of New South Wales postgraduate meeting.

Ellen's photo Continue reading

Is walking becoming redundant?

According to the most recent census data, the average Australian household owns one or more vehicles with close to 65% of the workforce traveling to work each day by car, compared to less than 4% who walk. Furthermore, according to the 2014 Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Young People only 33% of children and young people walk or cycle to school, with this average dropping when they reach high school. Public health experts are continually urging us stop sitting at our desks and move more through the promotion of ‘walk to school’ days, but many are cynical of the retention and upkeep of these one-off practices. So what does this mean for our health, the sustainability of our transport systems and the relationships we have with our neighbourhoods? What does this mean for walking? Continue reading

UOW researcher to investigate the experiences of parents/care-givers who take their children to Viva La Gong

Held annually each November, Wollongong’s Viva La Gong is promoted as a ‘family-friendly’ cultural festival with children’s entertainment and involvement being a main focus of the event.

In 2014 Viva La Gong will be held on Saturday 8th November at MacCabe Park and PhD Candidate Susannah Clement from the University of Wollongong’s Australian Centre for Cultural Environmental Research is looking to talk to parents/care-givers who plan to attend with their children. Continue reading

Post-presentation shutdown and the art of question time

Professor Lesley Head.

Professor Lesley Head.

You’ve nailed the presentation. Structured it well. Timed it just right. No powerpoint stuff-ups. You’re pretty sure you had most of the audience with you. You draw breath and take a glass of water. Your brain relaxes.

But wait, there’s question time, and if you’re lucky, a chance for extended discussion. Just as your brain relaxes, you need it to function more than ever, and fast. Continue reading

Meet Charles Gillon

This text originally appeared in UOW’s Research & Innovation newsletter.

Charles Gillon

Charles Gillon

As Australia’s coastal population rises with the tide, PhD candidate Charles Gillon turns his human geography lens to the master-planned estates that dot our coastline.

What are you studying?
I am a PhD Candidate at the Australian Centre for Cultural Environmental Research (AUSCCER), in the Department of Geography and Sustainable Communities, Faculty of Social Sciences. Continue reading

As the smoke clears: Port Kembla’s stack and the place of industrial heritage

Port Kembla’s iconic smokestack stands no more. Towering above the Illawarra skyline since 1965, the 198 metre stack was demolished this morning. The Illawarra Mercury has provided rolling coverage leading up to the demolition. The demolition of the stack has divided opinion, but on the whole its removal appears positive – touted to instigate a revitalisation of Port Kembla’s social character, and an improvement in the Illawarra’s economic fortunes. Conversely, the demolition of Port Kembla’s stack highlights the uncertain place of industrial cultural heritage in today’s modern, technology-driven, climate-aware society.  Continue reading