To celebrate the career of retiring co-director Professor Iain McCalman in 2019, the Sydney Environment Institute launched an annual lecture aimed at highlighting early-career researchers who, like McCalman, are working across disciplinary boundaries to impact both scholarship and public discourse.
The inaugural lecture was given by Dr Frances Flanagan, whose talk titled ‘Climate Change and the New Work Order’ explored how the workforce can (and must) become a site of social and ecological renewal. This longform article is an edited version of Dr Flanagan’s presentation, which was held at the University of Sydney on Wednesday 6 February, 2019.
“This essay is about the environment and work. It is about why we so often imagine these matters to be separate, and how they might be better woven together, in both our imaginations and our politics. And it is about how taking the long view on work can help us, even when time is short.
My argument, put simply, is that we cannot achieve a sustainable society, one that exists within safe planetary limits, without reconfiguring the way we organise and value work; and that such a change would, in turn, make work more interesting and secure, and our society more equal.”
Dr Frances Flanagan trained as a historian at the University of Western Australia and Oxford, and has been a senior scholar at Hertford College Oxford, a Royal Historical Society Marshall Fellow at the London Institute of Historical Research, and a researcher at Birkbeck. She was the former national research director at United Voice, where she worked to deepen the links between policymakers, academics, government, civil society organisations and workers. She is the author of Remembering the Revolution: dissent, culture and nationalism in the Irish Free State (Oxford University Press, 2015), as well as a range of publications on the past and future of work, environmentalism, gender and social change.