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 be introducing some of our academics and PhD candidates to give greater insight into AUSCCER’s work.
Dr Andrew Glover is a visiting Research Fellow from RMIT University, Melbourne. In this blog post he answers some questions about his research.
What are your research interests?
Broadly, I’m interested in social practices as they relate to sustainability. That means I’m interested in how and why we move, both physically and digitally, because these inevitably have implications for the resources we use and the environmental impact we have. I’m also interested in the sociology of consumption and waste.
I’m working on several projects related to academic air travel and remote conferencing. I’ve reviewed university policies about air travel and video conferencing, as well as interviewed academics about their experiences of air travel and their use of online alternatives. I’ve also done some ethnographic work on digital conferencing, trying to understand what the difference is between ‘being there’ physically, and digitally via technologies such as livestream, telepresence, or on social media. The underlying rationale for this research is that air travel is a significant and growing contributor to climate change and fossil fuel use, so we need to find ways to not fly as much.
I have a paper that’s about to be published in the journal Sustainability: Science Practice & Policy, where myself and colleagues involved in the Work Life Ecologies project looked at the strategic plans of Australian universities with respect to air travel. We found that while a reasonable number of universities are interested in reducing air travel emissions, many of them are also encouraging staff to fly through their internationalization policies and strategies. While even the most sustainability-minded universities may acknowledge the need to reduce air travel, many of them have policies in place that encourage it, often implicitly.
Would you call yourself a geographer?
I was trained in sociology, and although I would still call myself that when pressed, I’m increasingly sceptical about disciplinary boundaries. I think this is particularly the case for issues like sustainability, which are highly transdisciplinary. With those caveats aside, it’s often said that sociology is about ‘familiarising the unfamiliar and de-familiarising the familiar’. This is really important for sustainability because it helps us to understand practices and ways of life that we might otherwise just take for granted.
Do you have any advice for PhD students?
I would say that writing should be seen as a way of thinking through your research ideas, rather than writing being the product of thinking. More practically, make sure you have your references entered in your management software properly so you don’t have to waste time fixing your bibliography at the last minute! And back up, always back up.
Why have you chosen to visit AUSCCER?
AUSSCER has a great reputation in research on sustainable consumption, and I know several people who have visited at one point or another. Plus, I just moved to Wollongong, so it was the natural place for me to come at UOW for social research on sustainability.
Andrew will be speaking at the Environmental Justice conference at The University of Sydney, November 6th-8th 2017. You can find out more about the Work Life Ecologies project here and follow Andrew on Twitter @theandrewglover.
Andrew’s recent publications:
Glover, A., Strengers, Y., Lewis, T. 2016. Academic aeromobility in Australian universities. DEMAND Centre Conference, Lancaster, 13-15 April 2016
Glover, A. (2016). Handling Things at Home: A Practice-Based Approach to Divestment. In G. Spaargaren, D. Weenink, & M. Lamers (Eds.), Practice Theory and Research: Exploring the dynamics of social life London: Routledge. pp. 246.
Glover, A. (2015) Characterising elements of practice: the contours of altruistic material divestment, Journal of Design Research, Vol 13, No. 3, pp. 265-277