SEI's summer reading guide

20 December 2023
From bushfire management and how to cool your body in a heatwave, to stories of snails in Hawai’i and regenerative farming in Northern India. We’ve compiled a list of books, essays, and podcasts by our members, to add to your summer content list.

Books and essays

A World in a Shell (2022)
Snail Stories for a Time of Extinctions

By Assosciate Professor Thom van Dooren

In this time of extinctions, the humble snail rarely gets a mention. And yet snails are disappearing faster than any other species. In A World in a Shell, Thom van Dooren offers a collection of snail stories from Hawai'i—once home to more than 750 species of land snails, almost two-thirds of which are now gone. Following snail trails through forests, laboratories, museums, and even a military training facility, and meeting with scientists and Native Hawaiians, van Dooren explores ongoing processes of ecological and cultural loss as they are woven through with possibilities for hope, care, mourning, and resilience.

Book cover featuring orange flames

The Fires Next Time (2023)
Understanding Australia’s Black Summer

By Peter Christoff, featuring a chapter by SEI’s Professor David Schlosberg and Professor Danielle Celermajer

The Fires Next Time offers a comprehensive assessment of the Black Summer fires. Its contributors analyse the event from many vantage points and disciplines - historical, climate scientific, ecological, economic, and political. They assess its impacts on human health and wellbeing, on native plants and animals, and on fire management and emergency response. They consider whether reactions could have been different, and what is needed to improve our handling of future bushfires. 

Book cover featuring colourful Indigenous art

Everywhen (2023)
Australia and the Language of Deep History

Co-edited by Professor Jakelin Troy

Everywhen is a groundbreaking collection about diverse ways of conceiving, knowing, and narrating time and deep history. Looking beyond the linear documentary past of Western or academic history, this collection asks how knowledge systems of Australia’s Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders can broaden our understandings of the past and of historical practice. Indigenous embodied practices for knowing, narrating, and reenacting the past in the present blur the distinctions of linear time, making all history now. Ultimately, questions of time and language are questions of Indigenous sovereignty.

Aerial view of oil palm plantation

How to mourn a forest: a lesson from West Papua

By Dr Sophie Chao

Sophie Chao explores the significance of mourning among the Indigenous Marind communities of rural Merauke West Papua, whose intimate and ancestral relations to native plants, animals, and ecosystems are increasingly threatened by mass deforestation and monocrop oil palm expansion. 

Chao will present the 2024 Iain McCalman Lecture on the the Indigenous Marind People’s practice of ‘multispecies mourning’. Learn more and register.



Reimagined Futures podcast series

Stories of community resilience and transformation in the face of the climate crisis

A seven-part podcast series produced by the Sydney Environment Institute, navigating the critical questions and myths surrounding life under a climate-changed future. The series explores how some of the most impacted communities in the world are engaging in collective action to reimagine a just and sustainable future for all.

Unearthing Critical Minerals podcast series

Hosted by Professor Susan Park

Expert Susan Park explores the minerals propelling our clean energy future, unpacking the global dynamics at play in the journey of minerals like copper, lithium, and cobalt from mines in Chile, to manufacturing warehouses in China, to the rooftops of Australian homes.

Cartoon drawing of brain

The Solutionists Podcast

Episode 1: How to cool your body and survive in extreme heat featuring Professor Ollie Jay

Heatwaves kill more people than all natural disasters combined – but because they’re not visually dramatic, we underestimate how dangerous they are. Ollie Jay, whose groundbreaking research has informed the likes of Google and the Australian Open, has another way of showing us how dangerous heatwaves can be.

Quick reads: SEI’s top 5 most-read web articles of 2023

View of windmills through bushland trees

1. The politics of an unsettled energy transition
SEI researchers Dr Sophie Webber and Dr Gareth Bryant highlight the key challenges of land, labour and finance in achieving a renewable energy transition in Australia.

2. A future of political theory, when justice is multispecies
What does justice for all Earth beings look like in 2050? SEI researchers reflect back from an imagined future world where justice extends beyond the human, and our planet is once again thriving.

3. Building resilience to the mental health impacts of climate change in rural Australia
Climate anxiety and the mental health and well-being impacts of extreme weather-related events are of growing concern globally. In Australia, rural communities are dealing with unprecedented drought, fires and floods every few weeks. However, little is known about what promotes the resilience of rural communities to these impacts.

4. Climate change and social capital: Professor Daniel Aldrich visits SEI
Dr Justin See reflects on the visit of leading political scientist Daniel Aldrich, who emphasised the importance of strong social relationships in building community resilience in the face of climate disasters.

5. Empowering marginalised communities through food: the impact of FoodLab Sydney
How can organisations meaningfully engage in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals? Master of Sustainability graduate Emma Holland shares the findings of her capstone research focusing on measuring and communicating the impact of FoodLab Sydney.

Header image: via Unsplash.

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