Emerging Insights in the Environmental Humanities

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In this session a group of early and mid-career researchers from a range of disciplines will present a key insight or idea from their research. Themes include oceans, drought, international policy and pastoral poetry, with a geographic spread from Australia to the Himalayas.

Event details

When: 11.00am-12.30pm (AEDT), Friday 19th November 2021
Where: Zoom Webinar
Register: Register now



Professor Lesley Head

Professor Head is currently Redmond Barry Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of Melbourne. She has contributed to international debates about relationships between society and nature and her most recent research has been on the cultural dimensions of environmental issues including climate change.

She held an ARC Australian Laureate Fellowship at the University of Wollongong from 2009-14 where she was Director of the Australian Centre for Cultural Environmental Research. She was King Carl XVI Visiting Professor in Environmental Science in Sweden from 2005-06 and was awarded the Vega Medal of the Swedish Society for Anthropology and Geography in 2015.



Professor Stephen Muecke

Stephen Muecke is Professor of Creative Writing at Flinders University in Adelaide and Professor Emeritus of Ethnography at the University of New South Wales. He was previously Professor of Cultural Studies at the University of Technology, Sydney. He researches Indigenous Studies, Cultural Theory and Environmental Humanities, often focusing on the Kimberley region of North-West Australia. He is ex-President of the Cultural Studies Association of Australia.

He is the recipient of several prizes: Gularabulu was short-listed for the National Book Council Awards in 1983; Reading the Country, won the non-fiction prize for the West Australian Week Literary Awards, 1985, and was short-listed for the New South Wales Premier’s Literary Awards, 1985; Paperbark was Highly Commended in the 1990 Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Awards; No Road was short-listed for the New South Wales Premier’s Literary Awards, 1997, and Highly Commended in the Fellowship of Australian Writers National Literature Awards, 1997.


Dr Alessandro Antonello

Alessandro Antonello is a senior research fellow in history at Flinders University and also holds an Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA). His research investigates the environmental and international histories of the world’s oceans and Antarctica in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. He published The Greening of Antarctica: Assembling an International Environment in 2019.



Dr Sophie Chao

Dr Sophie Chao is Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Department of History, University of Sydney. Her anthropological and interdisciplinary research explores the intersections of Indigeneity, ecology, capitalism, health, and justice in the Pacific. Sophie previously worked for the international human rights organisation Forest Peoples Programme in Indonesia and the United Kingdom. Her book, In the Shadow of the Palms: More-Than-Human Becomings in West Papua, is forthcoming with Duke University Press in 2022 and received the  Duke University Press Scholars of Color First Book Award in 2021. Sophie is the recipient of an ARC DECRA commencing in 2022 that will explore human-kangaroo entanglements from a multispecies lens.

Facebook: More than Human Worlds


Dr Diana Barnes

Diana G. Barnes’ field of research is early modern literature with particular emphases on gender and the literary representation of nature and community. Her book Epistolary Community in Print, 1580-1664 was published with Ashgate in 2013. She has book chapters and journal articles on various C17th topics including Shakespeare’s Merry Wives of Windsor, Brilliana Harley’s wartime correspondence, Margaret Cavendish’s published plays and letters, Andrew Marvell’s challenging poem ‘Upon Appleton House’ and how early modern literature shaped the Australian settler-colonial mindset. Current research projects include a study of early modern women’s use of stoic discourse, emotions and letters, civility and early modern genres of community, cultures of compassion, and early modern bubbles.


Dr Ruth Gamble

Dr Ruth Gamble is Lecturer in History at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia. She is a historian of Tibet and the Himalaya, with a particular interest in this region’s rapidly changing environment. She wrote Reincarnation in Tibetan Buddhism: the Third Karmapa and the Invention of a Tradition (OUP, 2018) and is currently writing a history of the Yarlung Tsangpo (Brahmaputra) River. She has also published multiple articles on the region’s ecological politics, literature, and histories. Before working at La Trobe, Dr Gamble was a post-doctorate fellow at Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich and Yale University’s School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, and taught Tibetan language studies and Asian Religions at the Australian National University. She was recently awarded an Australian Research Council DECRA Fellowship.



Dr Stephen Zagala

Stephen Zagala is a critical writer and collection curator with a background in art history, philosophy and social anthropology. He is currently the Research Fellow in World Cultures at the South Australian Museum and participates in the Posthumanities research theme at Flinders University.


Dr Ruth Morgan

Dr Ruth Morgan

Ruth is an environmental historian and historian of science with a particular focus on Australia, the British Empire, and the Indian Ocean world, living and working on the unceded lands of the Ngunnawal and Ngambri peoples. Her research has been generously supported by the Australian Research Council, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, and the Rachel Carson Center for Environment & Society. She is Director of the Centre for Environmental History at the Australian National University.

Website: ruthamorgan.com

Dr Michelle Langley

Dr Michelle Langley

Dr Michelle Langley (PhD Oxford, MPhil and BA Archaeology UQ) is a Senior Research Fellow in the Australian Research Centre for Human Evolution and School of Environment and Science at Griffith University. She is Australia’s foremost specialist in the study of prehistoric osseous and shell technology and ornaments and currently collaborates with several different teams based across Europe, North America, Africa, Southern Asia, and the Pacific. She is particularly interested in human cognitive evolution, Neanderthal communities, and childhood archaeology — with this last work pioneering our understanding of children in the deep past. She has authored over 85 peer-reviewed scientific papers and is a recipient of an AIPS Queensland Young Tall Poppy Science Award 2018 and a Finalist in the 2021 Women in Technology (WiT) Research Leader Science Award.


Dr James Dunk

Dr James Dunk

James Dunk is a Research Fellow in the Department of History at the University of Sydney. A historian of medicine and the planetary environment, his research explores the way that health, medicine and psychology have responded to ecological crises since the mid-twentieth century. His book Bedlam at Botany Bay won the Australian History Prize at the New South Wales Premier’s History Awards, and his articles have been published in Rethinking History, History Australia and The New England Journal of Medicine. His writing on the environment, mental health and history also appears in Australian Book Review and Griffith Review.

Website: jamesdunk.com

Lauren Tynan

Lauren Tynan

Lauren Tynan is trawlwulwuy woman from tebrakunna country in northeast Tasmania, Australia. She is a PhD candidate in the Discipline of Geography and Planning, Macquarie University, Sydney. Her research areas encompass human geography, development studies and Indigenous studies. Her PhD focuses on relationality and Aboriginal cultural burning practices in southeast Australia.


About the Symposium

The connected crises of climate change and biodiversity decline pose a multitude of threats to humanity. With the scale of the challenge demanding both the attention and collaborative endeavour of experts across the research sector, our 52nd Annual Symposium will examine the insights and solutions the humanities and arts can bring to these critical issues.

The Symposium will showcase ideas from established and emerging scholars from many disciplines – not only from the field of environmental humanities but also researchers with expertise in ethics, justice, emotions, ethical technology, art and design, cross-cultural analysis and linguistics whose work offers a new lens on the social and cultural dimensions of the climate crisis. Speakers will also consider how the humanities disciplines might need to adapt to be more effective in a volatile world where the category ‘human’ is being re-examined in the context of the Anthropocene and the ‘more-than-human’.

>> Explore the full 52nd Annual Academy Symposium program

Acknowledgement of Country

The Australian Academy of the Humanities recognises Australia’s First Nations Peoples as the traditional owners and custodians of this land, and their continuous connection to country, community and culture.