Working with India to address human impact of climate change

15 November 2019
Partnering with Tata Institute of Social Sciences in India
Today the University of Sydney, Australia signed an MOU research agreement with Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) in Mumbai to work on collaborative research around the flagship theme of 'Human Security in the Anthropocene'.

Signed by Dean of the University’s Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Professor Annamarie Jagose, and Acting Registrar of TISS Mr M. P. Balamurugan, the partnership builds on the existing collaboration the University has in place for joint research projects and student exchange opportunities.

“We are living through the Anthropocene, a geological age defined by the influence of humans on our environment. The impact of human action on the planet is starting to be felt unevenly across the world as we grapple variously with the fact that we may have irrevocably changed the world on which we live. Communities in both India and Australia are grappling with the very real consequences of climate change. There is no better time for researchers to work together across continents to find solutions to this global challenge,” Professor Jagose said.

“Academic partnerships are all about nurturing ideas and talent, and co-creating knowledge for the universal goals of equity and social justice. We see our partnership with the University of Sydney committed to achieving these goals through mutual exchange of students and faculty, and creating opportunities for excellence in varied academic fields,” Director of TISS, Professor Shalini Bharat said.

Communities in both India and Australia are grappling with the very real consequences of climate change.
Professor Annamarie Jagose


The University of Sydney will invest AU$100,000 (IND 4,900,000) a year over three years to support research collaborations under the multidisciplinary flagship theme. Researchers will work on collaborative projects to explore:

  • the social and environmental implications of climate change, including natural hazards and environmental migration
  • the impact of higher temperatures, drought and floods on rural communities
  • the stresses of climate change on city planning.

The MOU was signed during the University of Sydney’s delegation visit to India in November. It was the University’s largest ever international delegation with more than 60 staff traveling to India, and demonstrates the growing importance of the country to Australian universities. The University will also participate in high level meetings with IIT Bombay, Manipal Academy of Higher Education and the Indian Institute of Management in Calcutta and Bangalore to explore further partnership opportunities.

Communities in India will be among those to feel the effects of climate change first.
Professor Bill Pritchard

Bill Pritchard, Professor of Geography at the University of Sydney, will kickstart the partnership with TISS by giving a public talk at the campus on Monday 18 November about ‘Human Security and the Anthropocene: Indian inflections in the global climate change emergency’.

In his talk Professor Pritchard will argue the changes humans have made to the planet's physical processes will have their most devastating impact on populations who are poorer or highly dependent on close local relationships with the natural environment.

“Communities in India will be among those to feel the effects of climate change first. With 66 percent of the population living in rural areas, and an estimated 25 percent of these people living below the poverty line, we know these factors will make them more vulnerable to the impact of climate change. For these populations it is crucial to apply a human security lens when assessing climate change,” Professor Pritchard says. 

Currently there are around 60 University of Sydney academics doing research in or about India; our research collaborations with Indian partners are growing and we hope to accelerate that growth over the coming years. In 2015, Indian Institute of Technology Madras signed on as one of our 20 strategic partners.

The University is looking to develop priority partnerships with six Indian institutions we already have an existing relationship with, to develop deeper engagement in strategic areas of science and research. Each priority partner has been matched to multidisciplinary research themes.

Current strategic partnerships with institutions in India include:·      

Sitou Sally

Higher degree research student

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