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Multispecies Justice

Theories and practices of justice beyond the human
An exciting opportunity for a commencing PhD student to join an interdisciplinary group of leading scholars to undertake research on what happens to our concepts and practices of justice when beings other than humans – animals, plants, ecosystems - are included.

The Sydney Environment Institute is fostering the world’s leading project on Multispecies justice. Historically, justice has most commonly been thought of as the preserve of humans, and critical scholarship and advocacy have principally sought to ensure that all humans were recognised as subjects of justice.

More recently, the grave harms inflicted on non-human animals and the environment have come to be recognised as injustices, demanding that we ask, ‘what would justice across the human-more-than-human world look like and entail?’ To date, scholars of human rights, animal ethics and environmental studies have worked to conceptualise justice, analyse the production of injustice, and reimagine institutions with a view to their respective subjects of concern (humans, animals, environment).

The impacts of the most pressing problems of our era, however – climate change, indigenous rights, resource depletion, and industrial farming for example – cross the boundaries of these fields and subject categories. This project is the first of its kind explicitly dedicated to multispecies justice, challenging scholars to reconceptualise justice in a way that is sufficiently capacious and fluid to accommodate the vast breadth of our multispecies world. 

Through collaboration, shared imagining and interdisciplinary, multispecies conversations, the Multispecies Justice collective has worked to produce scholarship that penetrates and transforms the three areas of research (human rights, environmental studies, human-animal studies) and scholarship in various disciplines, at the same time as defining a new field.

Looking forwards, with interdisciplinary, multi-institutional and more-than-human co-operation at the core of this project’s design, the Multispecies Justice collective, alongside collaborating academics, artists, activists and practitioners aims to bring desperately needed insights, perspectives and practical ideas to a world where all species and multispecies relations are beset by grave injustices.

To be successful in your PhD application you will have a strong and relevant academic background in the humanities or social sciences, the aptitude to work as part of a team, a strong interest in, and commitment to research that makes a contribution to issues concerning animal and/or environmental justice. 

We strongly encourage First Nations candidates to apply.

The Chief Investigators will supervise the student based on their expertise and candidate preference.

  • Professor Danielle Celermajer, Multispecies justice, human rights, political theory, transitional justice, animal justice, institutional transformation and imaginaries;
  • Professor David Schlosberg, environmental justice, including climate, adaptation, energy, and food justice; justice theory;
  • Associate Professor Thom van Dooren, environmental humanities, extinction studies, multispecies studies;
  • Associate Professor Anik Waldow, History of the human-animal difference, communication and the use of language (in humans and animals); affective Embodiment in an interdependent world;
  • Dr Dinesh Wadiwel, critical animal studies, disability rights, critical race theory;
  • Dr Sophie Chao, environmental anthropology, multispecies studies, plant-human relations, Indonesia, Melanesia, Indigenous studies
  • Dr Christine Winter, Environmental justice, multispecies justice, intergenerational justice, decolonial theory, Māori  philosophy

The successful PhD candidate will be based at the Sydney Environment Institute.  

If you are looking to undertake doctoral research that speaks to this moment, takes place at the edge of academic knowledge production and will challenge you intellectually, ethically and personally, we look forward to conversations with you.

This emergent research theme aims to understand how concepts, practices and institutions of justice need to be transformed to take into account the interests and flourishing of all beings, human and more than human. It seeks to draw on both empirical research into life ways and practices prefiguring multispecies justice, conceptual and ethical frames that can assist in further developing this approach, and the work of communities, artists and activists exploring ethical relationships amongst humans and the more than human world. 

Students will have the opportunity to work as part of a vibrant team, including scholars across a range of experiences and levels - from other doctoral students through to senior professors. Our Multispecies justice collective hosts a range of activities, from reading groups, to symposia and international events, as well as collaborations with artists and policy makers. While students will be working within a particularly disciplinary area, they will be engaging across a range of disciplines and thus be able to experience interdisciplinary research and methodologies. The successful candidate(s) will have the experience of a candidature within a genuinely collaborative team, as well as exposure to international research developments and collaborations beyond the academy.  

Applicants are invited to submit a proposal for PhD research that aligns directly to this project and makes a contribution contextualising past, present, and future occupation of island environments. 

Prospective candidates may qualify for direct entry into the PhD program if their research proposal (see above) is accepted and they satisfy one of the criteria listed below.

  • Bachelor's degree with first- or second-class honours in an appropriate area of study that includes a research thesis based on primary data not literature review
  • Master's degree by research in an appropriate area of study that includes a research thesis that draws on primary data
  • Master's degree by coursework, with a research thesis or dissertation of 12,000–15,000 words that draws on primary data not literature review, with a grade-point average of at least 80 per cent in the degree.

For more information regarding applying for a PhD refer to the course details for Doctor of Philosophy (Arts and Social Sciences).

Please also refer to guidelines for preparing a research proposal.

A number of scholarships are available to support your studies.

These scholarships will provide a stipend allowance of $35,000 per annum for up to 3.5 years. Successful international students will also receive a tuition fee scholarship for up to 3.5 years.

For other scholarship opportunities refer to FASS Research Scholarships (Domestic) or FASS Research Scholarships (International)

For further details about the PhD project contact


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