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Past projects

An archive of our past projects - from understanding community experiences of shock climate events, to sustainable fashion, and protecting the Great Barrier Reef.

Organising Climate Change

Examining attempts to mitigate climate change through decarbonisation, and how adaptation is negotiated within ‘climate change hotspots’.

Contributors: Professor Christopher Wright, Professor Daniel Nyberg, Vanessa Bowden, Jan Kucic-Riker

Climate change has now fully entered the human psyche evident in the growing media coverage of climate protests around the world and acknowledgement of a climate emergency by governments and public organizations. Current responses oscillate between utopia and nihilism, with organizations central in introducing measures to ‘save the planet’, implementing ‘market mechanisms’, but also preparing for catastrophe.

This project explored how corporate and political elites are organizing responses to a worsening climate crisis. These activities can be understood within the interlinked categories of mitigation, adaptation and suffering. While often presented in a neutral technical manner, we argue that these responses to the climate crisis are inherently political in that i) how and when emissions are mitigated is subject to negotiation, ii) adaptive responses to climate impacts preference market solutions, and iii) the inevitable suffering of escalating climate change is unequally distributed.

The research examined not only the political economy of attempts to mitigate climate change through decarbonisation and the promotion of renewable energy over fossil fuels, but also how adaptation and suffering are negotiated within various ‘climate change hotspots’; regions which are at the forefront of risks from climate change and where there is already contestation over how to respond.

Impacts of Climate Change on Vulnerable Populations

Developing a typology of the mental health and well-being impacts of climate change among vulnerable rural communities.

Contributors: Professor David Schlosberg, Dr Jo Longman, Dr Blanche Verlie, Maddy Braddon

This study aimed to develop a typology of the mental health and well-being impacts of climate change, and to explore intersectoral capacity to enhance adaptability and resilience among vulnerable rural communities.

The objectives of this research include:

1. A broad scoping review of the literature on climate change, mental health and vulnerability to:

a) Identify the range of mental health and well-being indicators affected by climate change
b) Develop a draft typology of mental health and well-being effects of climate change
c) Identify how adaptability and resilience to climate change may be enhanced for vulnerable populations in rural NSW

2. Community engagement including one community engagement workshop in each of three geographic locations: Northern Rivers, Broken Hill and Orange/Dubbo, to bring the community (for example local government, emergency services, Red Cross, NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, NSW Rural Assistance Authority, Business Chambers, Universities, NGOs and the general public) together to:

a) Critique the accuracy and completeness, and assess the potential utility of the draft typology
b) Review ways to build intersectoral capacity to increase adaptability and resilience of vulnerable populations in rural locations

Pandemic Vibrations and Indigenous Vibrations

Using media to explore the environmental impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on well-being and bring focus to the importance of sonic vibration in our world and lived experience.

Contributors: Dr Diana Chester

This project is concerned at its core with the environment, the ways that sonic vibrations can be healing to people and the planet, and how artists and musicians can capture these healing elements and communicate them back to a general public that is reeling from the isolation and challenges of the pandemic. This new creative work intends to reflect on and speak to the anxieties and strain of living through and with the COVID-19 Pandemic moment but more broadly use this as an opportunity to bring focus to the importance of sonic vibration in our world and lived experience.

Through collaborations between scholars and artists, this project endeavors to exemplify the ways that creative research methods can contribute to information distribution and communication as well as compliment and at times subvert more traditional mechanisms for doing so. The team will explore this through the use of animation as a platform and creative expressive tool that can blur the lines between whimsy and reality, and collaborative music development over distance that employs high levels of improvisation with a focus on the aspects of indigenous instruments from around the world that resonate in a healing register.

This project aims to contribute to a larger conversation about sonic vibration, the environment, native and indigenous musical knowledges, healing, and art.

Pandemic Vibrations uses a mix of 2D and 3D animation, music, and sound design to explore the environmental impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on people's emotional and physical well-being, while offering a soothing counterpoint to the constant bombarding we all face in the news. This counterpoint comes in the form of the healing vibrational power of music. To do this the project brings what might in ordinary times be an installation-based work into a digital arena so that it can be easily shared widely. The project brings together animators, indigenous and local musicians, and academics to develop an animated story that uses a playful and whimsical set of characters to illustrate the impacts sound has on our bodies, and to introduce and promote the healing properties of different musical traditions from Australia, West Africa, and North America, to an Australian and International audience. The animation is currently being submitted to festivals in Australia and around the world.

Creative Team:

Director: Diana Chester
Director of Animation: Melody Li
Musicians: Benjamin Carey, Julian Bel-bachir, Sonya Holowell, Diana Chester
Animators: Melody Li, Sarnai Gan-Erdene, Saransh Agrawal, Abhimanyu Gupta

The Re-(E)mergence of Nature in Culture

Using media to explore the environmental impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on well-being and bring focus to the importance of sonic vibration in our world and lived experience.

Contributors: Dr Christine J Winter

Political and corporate denial of climate change is the latest manifestation of the colonial enterprise, which continues to systemically undermine and devalue Indigenous communities, Indigenous knowledge, and Indigenous philosophies. By exploring the multiple ways in which Indigenous communities harness their agency, culture and identity, this project asks how Indigenous philosophies and practices recognise the inextricable and complex links between culture and nature. How is this knowledge then used to challenge large scale environmental degradation and mounting environmental crises?

This project brought together Indigenous scholars – and a range of multiple disciplines – to explore Indigenous thinking and practice. The project draw the scholars into conversation across disciplines, nations and cultures to identify approaches to the world that are committed to valuing and protecting human and nonhuman realms for the long term.

Tiwi Song Culture and Loss

This project explored the interconnectivity of cultural and social resilience and aims to reinforce the importance of oral ritual and knowledge systems, particularly those passed on through song in Tiwi practice.

Contributors: Dr Genevieve Campbell

The Tiwi community experiences a relatively high mortality rate, burdening not only the community itself, but also the rich oral song tradition that is increasingly at risk of being lost before older generations have the chance to pass it on. Song is an essential part of Tiwi culture and spirituality, and many of these songs are themselves essential in affirming identity and facilitating rituals surrounding the mourning process.

This project began by transcribing, documenting and collecting a series of endangered songs as sung by past custodians and current Elders. Through workshops with Tiwi collaborators the project created discussion around oral knowledge traditions and what they mean to the Tiwi and broader community and how we engage with our past, our identity, with the natural world and each other. Central to the project is the creation of a new body of work using archival records, visual imagery and traditional design alongside new vocal work by Elders and emerging Tiwi song practitioners.

Sites of Violence

Sites of Violence merges artistic and academic understandings of human and non-human experiences of violence, and the processes, emotions, and meaning that this violence makes manifest.  merges artistic and academic understandings of human and non-human experiences of violence, and the processes, emotions, and meaning that this violence makes manifest. 

Contributors: Michelle St Anne, Hannah Della Bosca, Professor Danielle Celermajer, Elizabeth Duncan, Eloise Fetterplace, Associate Professor Bruce Isaacs, Professor Megan Mackenzie, Associate Professor Alana Mann, Dr Carolyn McKay, Professor Kari Norgaard, Dr Damien Ricketson, Heather Shannon, Prof. Chris L. Smith, Dr. Dinesh Wadiwel

The purpose of this transboundary approach is to dismantle learned indifference by introducing multiple perspectives to old problems, whilst facilitating productively disruptive collaborations between researchers and artists.

By providing a framework that challenges artists and academics to step beyond their normal sphere of thought to combine various processes of knowledge creation and translation, Sites of Violence is both a clear-eyed examination of the systemic mechanisms of violence that underpin the human desire for control and domination, as well as a recognition of injustice for the landscapes and people who bear the burden of that violence. Through music, through performance, and through scholarship, the project will facilitate a series of interdisciplinary collaborations exploring the ways that cycles of violence and fear endure in Australian bodies and in Australian landscapes, hidden in plain sight.

Environmental Disasters and Just Governance

This project aimed to investigate how the concept influences the local and global responses to large-scale immediate and long-term harm, exploring alternative, and more just, means of conceptualising and governing these events. 

Contributors: Professor Susan Park, Associate Professor Teresa Kramarz, Professor Rosemary Lyster, Professor David Schlosberg, Dr Sabine Selchow, Professor Glenda Sluga

 

Grappling with the blurring of natural disasters and human-induced disasters, this project investigated how disasters intersect across the following: time (slow onset and immediate disasters); scale (local, regional, and global); magnitude (affecting contained versus global populations); jurisdiction (local, state, regional, and global); who it effects (which people, species); and how it can be governed (by states, non-state actors, corporations, international organisations). By interrogating how disasters are understood, framed, and responded to, an understanding of the governance gaps can be revealed and responses posited for addressing the increase in disasters globally in a warming world.

As we shift to a rapidly changing world, we must be cognizant of who is affected and how, and whether concerns of justice should be fundamental to governing disaster responses.

Resource Legacies and Impacted Communities

This research project broadly concerns who gets to make decisions about natural resources – planners, state actors, corporations, Indigenous and local communities – and how those decisions are made.

Contributors: Dr Rebecca Lawrence and Dr Alison Ziller

This project examined the knowledges are produced and contested in debates over the management of natural resources, and whose knowledge counts. The research also investigated the material impacts of resource management practices on communities and their on-going legacies, such as the social and environmental impacts of mining and mine closure, and the impacts of strategic planning decisions for local communities. Finally, the research sought to understand how natural resource planning and management can better account for issues of social and environmental justice, with a particular focus on the traditional lands of Indigenous peoples.

This research was funded by The Swedish Research Council for Sustainable Development, The Norwegian Research Council and the Nordic Council of Ministers.

Ocean Ontologies

How have cultures understood relations among salt water and terra firma, and what’s becoming of those relations in the course of anthropogenic climate change?

Contributors: Dr Killian Quigley

It is regularly observed that humanities and social-science research is making an ‘oceanic turn.’ This marine reorientation is justified in myriad ways, not least by clarifying the essential roles oceans play in the workings of our planet’s climate system. At the same time, the oceanic turn has been keenly contested by those who ask just whose interests and knowledges it serves, and whose it neglects.

This project took an historically and culturally comparative approach to examining whether and how oceans have been interpreted as sites of poetic, aesthetic, and geographic difference. It was motivated by the fact that when cultures recognise salt water as ontologically incommensurable with dry land, this has consequences—for life, labour, governance, and a great deal more besides. It was motivated, moreover, by the fact that some cultural traditions have not understood oceans as the ontological other of terra firma. Acknowledging plural marine sensibilities, across time as well as space, is a core practice of an integral ocean studies.

Ocean Ontologies strived to reflect this pluralism. Its areas of focus ranged from the strange and overlooked tradition of marine pastoral in European literature and art to the cosmopolitan cultural history of pearl-shell diving in the Timor, Arafura, and Coral Seas. Through analysis historical and contemporary accounts of inundation, this project also explored how distinct cultural understandings of relations among landscapes and seascapes are generating distinct responses to anthropogenic sea-level rise. Another, multispecies aspect of this project considered how submarine invertebrates have challenged conventions in the conceptual history of nature, and indeed of life.

Neighbourhood Heat Stress Response

The Neighbourhood Heat Stress Response Project aimed to develop and implement a simplified extreme heat-health policy that delivered evidence-based heat-health advice based on ongoing experimental studies to the wider community through a variety of platforms, including an interactive smartphone-based app and a public messaging campaign.

Contributors: Professor David Schlosberg, Associate Professor Ollie Jay, Dr James Smallcombe 

Climate change is here, and it is now. Of all developed countries across the globe, Australia is probably the most vulnerable to the consequences. One of the leading climate change-related health hazards for Australians is the effect of extreme heat. In the short-term, the legacy of human activities to date have set an inevitable trajectory for our climate. Every year, new temperature records are being set, and by the year 2030, days with peak temperatures that were previously considered “extreme” in the 1970s will be the new “normal”. Mitigating the health effects of extreme heat has now been declared “the public health challenge for the 21st century,” leading to numerous medical associations, including most recently the Australian Medical Association, to formally recognise heat as a leading component of the health emergency that climate change poses to humans.

In response to this threat, public health bodies over the last decade have implemented heat-health action plans that aim to provide the public with information to reduce their personal heat stress risk. While there is some evidence to support the efficacy of these heat-health action plans, several major limitations typically remain:

  • The health impacts of hot temperatures can potentially be modified by factors such as wind speed, humidity, and solar radiation exposure.
  • The health impacts of hot weather are not yet individualised in a manner that accounts for factors such as age, medication, co-morbidities and social factors
  • Many recommendations to mitigate the health effects of hot weather are not grounded in scientific evidence.
  • Policy responses to heat stress remain primarily focused on the individual, while global research illustrates the need to emphasise community resources, such as accessible cooling centres and viable transport, for the most vulnerable.

Our Neighbourhood Heat Stress Response Project aimed to address these shortcomings by developing and implementing a simplified extreme heat-health policy that delivered evidence-based heat-health advice based on ongoing experimental studies to the wider community through a variety of platforms, including an interactive smartphone-based app and a public messaging campaign.

This project was run in partnership with Resilient Sydney at the City of Sydney and the Research Hub on Human Health and Social Impacts of Climate Change at the University of Sydney.

Everyday Militarisms and Climate Emergency

This project focused on our everyday militarisms lens on the question of climate emergency. The research examined the ways in which climate emergency becomes militarised, both in responses to crisis and in the discourses we use to address it. 

Contributors: Dr Astrida Neimanis, Professor Tess Lea, Dr Blanche Velrie

The militarisation of everyday life has arguably become so banal that we barely notice it, even as it has pushed some of the great social, environmental and cultural shifts of recent generations. From the advent of the internet and the mechanization of human labour, to facilitating physical and visual access to once unfathomable environments (such as the deep sea and outer space), to the ubiquity of chemical compounds in both human and non-human bodies, militarisms are everywhere. Military legacies, infrastructures, and technologies continue to shape and reshape possibilities for planetary futures.

Recently, increasing attention has turned to the entanglements between militarisation and more-than-human worlds. For example: How are military technologies called upon to help address questions ranging from species conservation to climate change? How are extractive industries tethered to the military industrial complex? How do toxic legacies of war both foreclose and make possible the flourishing of different kinds of life? How does our understanding of “security” necessarily shift in the Anthropocene epoch, when any separation between human cultures and natural worlds is fundamentally untenable?

The project focused on our everyday militarisms lens on the question of climate emergency. The research examined ways in which the climate emergency becomes militarised, both in responses to crisis and in the discourses we use to address it. Also, how climate catastrophe is taken up within military institutions and structures. The project posed the question: what possibilities exist for a military response that resists authoritarian, masculinist, or technocratic tactics?

The project team established key partnerships with the Sydney Social Sciences and Humanities Advanced Research Centre (SSSHARC) and researchers at the UC Davis Critical Militarization, Policing, and Security Studies research group.

This was associated with the The Everyday Militarisms research collaboratory between the University of Sydney and University of California Davis. Through events and research artists, activists, researchers and other professionals were brought together to generate new perspectives and dialogue on the ways in which militarisms are inseparable from everyday life.


More past projects

This cutting-edge project investigated how onshore wind, solar PV, and lithium-ion batteries global supply chains are governed. The urgency for reducing CO2 emissions defers questions of process and justice, leading to governance ‘gaps’ and accountability ‘traps’.

The outcomes of the project included original knowledge of what parts of the global renewable technology supply chains are being governed and how, where there are protection norm gaps and negative impacts and why, and whether the most important renewable energy global supply chain governance initiatives are accountable and effective.

The project provided valuable benefits for improving governance through policy recommendations for mitigating renewables’ negative impacts.

Contributors: Professor Susan Park, Professor Craig Johnson, Associate Prof. Teresa Kramarz, Dr Ainsley Elbra

This project investigated how complex marine ecosystems can be sustainably maintained and managed as diverse ecosystems under climate change. This research provides more accurate predictions of climate change impacts, building Australia’s capacity for early adaptation. This is critical to the sustainability of human livelihoods derived from these socio-ecological systems.

This project included collaborations with the University of Queensland, James Cook University, University of Technology Sydney, University of Leeds, UK, University of the Ryukyus, Japan and NSW Department of Primary Industries.

Contributors: Dr Brigitte Sommer

This project explored nature-based solutions (NBS) to urban climate change adaptation through the lens of environmental justice (EJ), questioning whether NBS and the governance strategies they are embedded in can produce environmentally just outcomes in the city.

Contributors: Zoe Stojanovic-Hill,

This project aimed to explore interpretations of resilience within Australia’s finance and governance sectors. Spearheaded by the Rockefeller Foundation, the concept and framework of urban resilience has steadily rolled out across policy and finance sectors across the world. Despite these efforts, an ever-growing infrastructure gap remains, and demands the right tools and metrics to finance a climate-uncertain future. Current policy and financial tools, therefore, must be thoroughly evaluated in order to bridge this gap.

Contributors: Sarah Chow

This project explored how heat, cold and humidity (among other atmospheric, meteorological and elemental forces) collide with carceral infrastructures; and, how people living in Australian prisons experience these phenomena. Informed by primary archival research, the project argued that Australia’s prison system weaponises the weather – a weaponisation that is unevenly experienced across different infrastructures, bodies and geographies. This invocation of ‘the weather’ draws upon work by scholars in Black Studies (Christina Sharpe) and feminist environmental studies (Astrida Neimanis and Jennifer Hamilton). These scholars posit that, far from a neutral or apolitical phenomenon, the weather is more-than meteorological – a force that is implicated within, and co-productive of, our political, social, bodily and material ecologies.

Contributors: Stella Maynard and Associate Professor Tess Lea

The objective of this project is to recreate the way we think about the narratives of trees, and how they can serve as important communicators of culture and markers of time passed. In this particular case, we are focusing on trees located in Afghanistan. Through ethnographic methods, storytelling, creative artistic practice, and geo-location and data visualization we are highlighting the stories, patterns, and history of these trees in Kabul, and the stories the people of Kabul tell about these trees.

The narrative we too often hear about trees is limited to the catastrophic things that are happening to them namely logging and burning or that they serve to sequester carbon. Just as trees themselves develop networks of communication and support for their fellow trees, this project will lean into this capacity trees have to tell the interconnected stories of those people in the communities that have surrounded them.

We have developed an evolving and growing online exhibition entitled, Arboreal Stories, where artistic practice is used bring a voice to the trees of Afghanistan, which have stood and withstood, conflict, war, and large cultural changes. Through the ongoing development of this website we aim to shift ours and others thinking about the knowledge trees possess and the importance of their role in a community. We have used the source ethnographic audio and video interviews as the basis for the development of creative responses including 3D animation, weaving, and digital storytelling.

Collaborators: Dr Diana Chester and Ann Jyothis Raj

Stasis in Aotearoa New Zealand’s climate change policy is increasingly a flashpoint in a broader conversation about the role of the agricultural sector in the country’s economy and society. This project sought to add depth to this conversation by historicising agricultural capital, with a focus on theorisation of the state and the valuation of non-human nature in agriculture’s mode of production. Successive governments’ and agricultural capital’s ‘inaction’ on climate change may then be understood within the framework of global political economy and the historical specificity of New Zealand’s political economy – meaning that barriers to alternative paths forward for climate change action are laid bare and strategies for overcoming these can be explored.

Contributors: Dr Anna Sturman

This research project aimed to deepen our understanding of urban digital technologies in the Anthropocene, focusing on how we make our digital lives and if we take seriously environmental challenges relating to the digital. The research invited students and staff of the University of Sydney to participate in a survey on their use of digital technologies in everyday life. If we are to get out of this unwanted capitalist-driven epoch, taking account of the digital lives we’re weaving will be a part of any transition.

Contributors: Dr Jessica McLean

Ecological poetics. Ecopoetics. Ecopoiesis. These and other words give terminological form to a growing impulse among those who labour with language and literature: to articulate, reckon with, and remake relations among the world’s human and more-than-human communities. Words, images, sounds, and stories—and the voices, histories, and desires they hear and ignore—are implicated in the shaping, as well as the undoing, of worlds. An ethical ecological poetics, then, imagines, composes, and speaks through a spirit of responsibility for the places, relations, and beings it draws near.

Unsettling Ecological Poetics, a collaboration between the Sydney Environment Institute and the Visiting Indigenous Writers Program, situates these challenges in and from Australia. A pivotal recent symposium, at the University of Sydney, gathered a cosmopolitan and multidisciplinary array of scholars and practitioners to ask how Australian perspectives intersect with, and diverge from, ecopoetics on a planetary scale. A coincident, warmly received salon performed this and other inquiries for a broader public.

In its current stage, Unsettling Ecological Poetics is developing along a number of trajectories. An edited collection of scholarly essays has been proposed to a leading international journal. A teaching resource, accessible to colleagues at secondary as well as tertiary levels, is in development. And a podcast series, featuring essential voices in Australian ecological poetics, is under way. 

Contributors: Dr Killian Quigley and Caitlin Maling

After World War 2, Allied forces had to decide what to do with substantial amounts of unused chemical weapons. Guided by the scientific and military opinion of the day, they concluded that the ocean would be a good place to dump them. Not only was the sea literally “out of sight, out of mind,” but its powers of solubility were believed to be capable of absorbing any chemical threat. Over 20 000 tons of chemical weapons were dumped by the US army and the Australian Defense Forces in numerous locations in Australian seas, including off the coast of Sydney. While no substantial ecological monitoring at the Australian dumpsites has been undertaken, research on other dump zones around the world highlights two things: first, given the materiality of the weapons and the physics of the sea, risk of ongoing damage is difficult to calculate; and second, leaving the weapons in situ may be the most efficient and effective response.

The story of sea-dumped chemical weapons in Australia is both an exemplary and cautionary tale for the Anthropocene. These dumps pose a problem not easily solved, and one we will likely have to learn to live with. The unknown afterlives of these chemical warfare agents draw our attention to oceans as vital for planetary health but also remind us that the sea has long been steeped in symbolic, cultural, and social meaning. While these military archives may pose some ecological risks, they are also effective repositories that speak to our feelings about water and our relationship to war.

This research project draws on methods from the environmental humanities to ask: how can we live well in the wake of these chemical and military afterlives? How might reframing our relationship to the sea help us to do so?

This project was supported by a Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences MASSIF Fellowship (2018).

Contributors: Dr Astrida Neimanis

Militarism is part of our everyday environmental, cultural and social worlds

The militarisation of everyday life has arguably become so banal that we barely notice it, even as it has pushed some of the great social, environmental and cultural shifts of recent generations. From the advent of the internet and the mechanization of human labour, to facilitating physical and visual access to once unfathomable environments (such as the deep sea and outer space), to the ubiquity of chemical compounds in both human and non-human bodies, militarisms are everywhere. Military legacies, infrastructures, and technologies continue to shape and reshape possibilities for planetary futures.

Recently, increasing attention has turned to the entanglements between militarisation and more-than-human worlds. For example: How are military technologies called upon to help address questions ranging from species conservation to climate change? How are extractive industries tethered to the military industrial complex? How do toxic legacies of war both foreclose and make possible the flourishing of different kinds of life? How does our understanding of “security” necessarily shift in the Anthropocene epoch, when any separation between human cultures and natural worlds is fundamentally untenable?

This research cluster seeks to develop important new interdisciplinary environmental humanities and cultural studies perspectives on militarisms that centre intersectional and decolonial approaches. Through collaborations across disciplines, with key partners within and beyond academia, our research refuses either the simple celebration or condemnation of militarisation. Instead we seek new modes and frames through which to understand and act in the context of this complex phenomenon in which we are all implicated.

To date, we have established key partnerships with the Sydney Social Sciences and Humanities Advanced Research Centre (SSSHARC) and researchers at the UC Davis Critical Militarization, Policing, and Security Studies research group.

Contributors: Dr Astrida Neimanis, Associate Professor Thom van Dooren, Professor Tess Lea, Professor Ann Elias, Professor Elspeth Probyn

Too many Australians are going hungry in the City, with food insecure residents struggling with the challenge of putting good, healthy, and sustainable food on the table. What is being done—and what more can we do—to help address this problem? What food-related urban planning policy actions are required to promote food justice? This project  explored this question, in an effort to anticipate what Sydney’s urban food system will look like in the future.

Contributors: 
Professor Bill Pritchard, Assosciate Professor Alana Mann, Professor David Schlosberg, Professor Margaret Allman-Farinelli, Associate Professor Teresa Davis, Associate Professor Brian Jones, Dr. Luke Craven 

In an effort to better understand the nature of these interactions in the Sydney region, the Sydney Environment Institute collaborated with Resilient Sydney, an office hosted by the City of Sydney council as part of the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities initiative.

This research project established how past shock events impacted Sydney residents, using community focus groups and an innovative methodology to identify factors that enabled or impeded personal and community coping capacity. With a particular focus on examining how people accessed and engaged with existing government programs and services designed to assist communities in times of emergency.

Research findings provided government agencies with an understanding of the efficacy of policy, enabling them to design and implement policies and programs that improve community access and assistance before, during, and after such disasters. Recommendations on policy responses, agency collaboration, and community capacity building in response to future shock events were be shared by emergency response agencies, governments and communities across NSW with key findings  included in the Resilient Sydney Strategy and shared with the global 100 Resilient Cities network.

This project was funded by Resilient Sydney under the Community Resilience Innovation Program (CRIP) of Emergency NSW.

Contributors: Professor David Schlosberg, Dr Luke Craven, Hannah Della Bosca

This PhD project examined the interaction of fashion with sustainability in order to rethink fashion as a social practice and consider the ways that it is involved with globalisation, identity, economics, ritual, and everyday culture. This research gathered empirical data from sustainable fashion labels engaged sustainability initiatives and the environmentally conscious consumers who invest in these companies.

Through this detailed and holistic approach to fashion and sustainability this project aimed to shed light on a more effective means of engaging fashion with the environmental and social goals of sustainability. These insights may also point toward an understanding of how individuals interact with concepts of sustainability more broadly given the increasing aestheticisation of everyday life and the prevalence of the fashion process impacting concepts beyond apparel.

Contributor: Dr Lisa Heinze

We are seeing a shift in the nature and form of environmental activism. A whole range of environmental groups have emerged with a focus not on environmental policy at the state or national level, but instead on the development of new and more sustainable practices relating to food, energy, transport, and a range of other basic needs. Environmentalists are no longer just greenies in the forest or parliament. ‘The Environmentalism of Everyday Life’ project examined a variety of these new movements and activists across the US, UK and Australia, from those working in community-supported agriculture and alternative energy to sustainable fashion advocates and the founders of repair cafes.

Contributors: Professor David Schlosberg, Dr Luke Craven

This project examined the role museums can play in helping to make sense of Australia’s experiences during a time of rapid planetary change and global disruption. The aim of the project was to offer a dynamic series of platforms which can facilitate discussion and communicate a more tangible experience of how both the individual and the community is responding to this disruption.

Global phenomena such as climate change, ocean acidification, soil erosion, deforestation, species loss, and chemical pollution can be too vast to comprehend. Often we speak about these changes and disruptive forces as problems in abstract or technical terms. We use ‘things’ – objects, performances, stories, images, art – to dramatise the local dimensions of the planetary-scale idea of the Anthropocene.

Visit the online exhibition ‘Everyday Futures’ here.

This project was funded by ARC Discovery Grant ‘Understanding Australia in the Age of Humans: Localizing the Anthropocene’, which brought together researchers, curators, and artists from the University of Sydney, the University of New South Wales, the Australian National University and the National Museum of Australia.

Contributors: Professor Iain McCalman, Dr Caitilin de Bérigny, Cameron Muir, Dr Jennifer Newell, Dr Martha Sear, Dr Kirsten Wehner, Marie McKenzie

This project was derived from Iain McCalman’s prize-winning book, The Reef. A Passionate HistoryThe book is a human history of one of the world’s most bio-diverse, beautiful and important eco-systems from the time of Captain Cook to our present-day age of climate change.

This project aimed to highlight the importance of the reef and in doing so mobilise action. The project included an award-winning open-source website, the-reef.com.au, containing three short films, made by Mike Bluett and Iain McCalman, and a series of interviews with Indigenous custodians and scholars such as Alberta Hornsby of Cooktown. These were expanded into a larger documentary film project with Moira Fahy of Productions1000.

This intersected with a further series of collaborative oceanic and coastal workshops being undertaken with community environmental and eco-tourist groups and associations based at Mission Beach, south of Cairns. These efforts aim to preserve and protect local island, rain- forest, reef and coastal habitats and also celebrate the region’s leadership of the conservationist campaigns that culminated in the formation of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and its UNESCO World Heritage listing. The project also worked with Mission Beach environmentalists to help protect and renew a series of major Reef and Rainforest cultural heritage sites and buildings, including former activist John Busst’s house at Bingil Bay and Ted Banfield’s cairn and walk on Dunk Island.

Contributors: Professor Iain McCalman, Professor Maria Byrne, Professor Ann Elias, Assosciate Professor William Figueira, Dr Killian Quigley, Dr Renata Ferrari Legorreta

‘The Underwater Realms’, is a project developed with humanities and science colleagues at the Universities of Sydney, Stanford and Vanderbilt. The project held conferences and workshops both at Sydney University and Stanford, and conducted research expeditions to the University of Queensland’s Heron Island Marine Research Centre and the University of Sydney’s One Tree Island Marine Research Centre. The project aimed to produce a book of essays exploring the multi-faceted impacts of human underwater explorations and imaginings on western culture from the early modern period to the present.

Contributors: Professor Iain McCalman, Professor Maria Byrne, Associate Professor, William Figueira, Professor Jonathan Lamb, Professor Ann Elias

SEI joins a growing international community of oceanic researchers and practitioners by putting marine matters at the centre of our collective concerns. Poetics and aesthetics are vital elements of an approach that recognises the importance of language, literature, music, visual art, and imagination for human orientations toward the sea. Thinking poetically and aesthetically also helps clarify the ways that marine contexts, processes, and lives sometimes elude terrestrial forms of inquiry, metaphor, image, and feeling. Taking an expanded view of what constitutes poetics and aesthetics, and of who counts as a poetic and aesthetic agent, also opens spaces for honouring nonhuman oceanic selves.

Contributors: Professor Margaret Cohen, Professor Jonathan Lamb, Dr Killian Quigley, Professor Maria Byrne, Professor Ann Elias, Associate Professor William Figueira