Humanities for a Changing Climate

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The crisis of climate change demands more than scientific understanding and technical solutions. It requires us to think again about the demarcation between humans and nature, to revisit the legacies of colonialism and our fossil-fuelled industrial past and to imagine a radically different future.

This three-part online event, hosted in partnership with La Trobe’s Centre for the Study of the Inland, brings together museums, music, research and creative thinking from across the environmental humanities to reflect on how our disciplines are engaging with the challenge of living with climate change and acknowledge the personal stress, the responsibility and the injustice of the Great Acceleration.

This event will be co-hosted with Katie Holmes FASSA, (Centre for the Study of the Inland) and will include musical interludes from the group ‘Music for a Warming World’.

Event details

When: 2.00pm-4.30pm (AEDT), Monday 15th November 2021
Where: Zoom Webinar

Event co-host

La Trobe University CSI logo

Session one: Conversation

Lilian Pearce (Centre for the Study of the Inland) will chair a conversation between Christof Mauch from the Rachel Carson Center for Environmental Humanities (partner to the pioneering Deutsches Museum, “Anthropocene” gallery 2014-2016, Munich), and Jenny Newell, Climate Projects Officer at the Australian Museum Sydney, whose new exhibition Changing Climate opened in 2021.


Professor Christof Mauch

Professor Christof Mauch is Director of the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society, and Chair in American Cultural History at LMU Munich. He is an Honorary Professor and Senior Fellow at the Center for Ecological History of Renmin University in China, a past President of the European Society for Environmental History and a former Director of the German Historical Institute in Washington, D.C. (1999-2007). His recent and upcoming books include Slow Hope: Rethinking Ecologies of Crisis and Fear (2019); Urwald der Bayern (Bavaria’s Primeval Forest) (2020), and Paradise Blues. Auf der Suche nach der amerikanischen Natur (In Search of America’s Nature) (2022). 

Website: Rachel Carson Center (RCC)


Dr Jenny Newell

Dr Jenny Newell is the Manager of Climate Change Projects at the Australian Museum where she works to advance understanding and engagement in climate solutions through the medium of museums. Her most recent exhibition is Spark: Australian innovations tackling climate change (2021, Australian Museum – onsite and online). With a background in Pacific environmental history, Jenny has worked with Pacific communities and collections at the British Museum, National Museum of Australia, the American Museum of Natural History and the Australian Museum to amplify voices on climate change for broad audiences. Jenny convenes the Museums & Climate Change Network and is a member of the International Council of Museums’ Working Group for Sustainability. Her publications include edited volumes Living with the Anthropocene and Curating the Future: Museums, Communities and Climate Change.

Twitter: @ClimateJen
Linkedin profile


Dr Lilian Pearce

Dr Lilian Pearce is a lecturer in environmental humanities at La Trobe University’s Centre for the Study of the Inland and research fellow at the University of Tasmania. She holds a Bachelor of Science with honours (UTAS) and a PhD in environmental history (ANU). She has a particular interest in issues of social and environmental justice and how environmental management practices do political work. Her most recent essay ‘The Politics of Contaminated Kin’ appears in Kinship: Belonging in a World of Relations (eds Gavin Van Horn, Robin Wall Kimmerer & John Hausdoerffer, Centre for Humans and Nature Press, 2021). 


Session two: Music for a Warming World 

Lead musician Simon Kerr from Music for a Warming World introduces this unique eco-art fusion of music, visual imagery, science and culture.

Dr Simon Kerr pictured front with Music for a Warming World band members

Dr Simon Kerr

Simon Kerr is a climate activist, musician, writer and Honorary Research Fellow in the Centre for the Study of the Inland at La Trobe University. He is the producer of the multimedia eco-music project Music for a Warming World  and runs the Melbourne based Musicians’ Climate Crisis Network  He taught politics and environmental policy at Lincoln University in NZ, before embarking on a 15 year career in research management. He is now the La Trobe Consortium Engagement Lead for the 4 year Commonwealth funded Murray Darling Water and Environment Program. 

Session three: Roundtable

This roundtable will bring together a range of voices from across the environmental humanities. It will include a Q & A and an open discussion between participants and the audience.

Libby Robin FAHA, author of the essay ‘#Arts for Survival’, will chair the session. Speakers: Barry Judd (Indigenous Studies), Susan Martin (Literature), Guy Abrahams (co-founder of CLIMARTE, lawyer and business leader), Graham Tulloch FAHA (Editor Humanities Australia), Katerina Teaiwa (Arts practice in the Pacific), and Anita Smith (World Heritage in Pacific Islands).

Note: #Arts for Survival honours the creative leadership of Mandy Martin (1952–2021). If you would like to join supporters of the Mandy Martin Climarte Fellowship, visit the Climarte website



Emeritus Professor Libby Robin

Libby Robin FAHA is Emeritus Professor of Environmental History at the ANU. She is an historian of science and environmental ideas. She has published widely in the history of science, international and comparative environmental history and the ecological humanities. An award-winning author, her most recent work is The Environment: A History (2018), co-authored with Sverker Sörlin and Paul Warde.

Libby has also had extensive experience working in the museum sector and has also had a profound influence in her role as a supervisor and mentor to many younger environmental historians. She has been a leader in the field of environmental humanities and was one of the very first scholars in Australia to be working in this field.

Twitter: @Libbyde


Guy Abrahams

Guy Abrahams is Director of the ART+ENVIRONMENT consultancy and Co-founder and former Chair & CEO of CLIMARTE. Guy is an Associate of the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute and a valuer for the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program. Guy was a lawyer before becoming Director of Christine Abrahams Gallery, one of Australia’s leading commercial art galleries. Previous positions include Chair of the City of Melbourne’s Art & Heritage Collection Advisory Panel and a member of their Public Art Advisory Panel, President of the Australian Commercial Galleries Association, Board member of the Melbourne Art Fair, the National Gallery of Victoria Art Foundation, the Australian Tapestry Workshop, and the Banksia Environmental Foundation. Guy holds Law and Arts (visual arts) degrees from Monash University and a Master of Environment (climate change politics & policy) from the University of Melbourne. He has received climate communications training from former US Vice President Al Gore and is an active advocate for urgent action on the climate crisis.

Twitter: @GuyAbrahams1


Professor Barry Judd

Barry Judd is a descendent of the Pitjantjatjara people of north-west South Australia, British immigrants, and Afghan cameleers. He is a leading Australian scholar about Aboriginal participation in Australian sports and his research focuses on engaging the broader population in difficult questions around the place of Indigenous people in Australian society. Barry has lived and worked extensively in inland Australia and has an ongoing research interest in remote Indigenous contexts. Barry commenced in the position of Professor and Director of Indigenous Studies at the University of Melbourne in February 2020.

LinkedIn profile


Emeritus Professor Susan K. Martin 

Susan Martin is Professor Emerita in English and a former Associate Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research) for the College of Arts, Social Sciences and Commerce, La Trobe University, Australia. Her current research is on the teaching of Australian literature, and Australian cultural production and the representation of drought. She has researched and published widely on contemporary and historical Australian writers. She has particular interests in Australian literature and the environment, and Australian book culture. She was a member of the Australian Research Council ERA Research Excellence Committee (REC) Panel for HCA in 2018, and a former President of the Association for the Study of Australian Literature (ASAL). Her books include Women and Empire (Australia)(Routledge, 2009) and Colonial Dickens (ASP, 2012 with Kylie Mirmohamadi).

Twitter: @susanshark


Associate Professor Katerina Teaiwa

Katerina is of Banaban, I-Kiribati and African American heritage born and raised in Fiji. She is Associate Professor of Pacific Studies and Deputy Director – Higher Degree Research Training in the School of Culture, History and Language, Australian National University. She is Vice-President of the Australian Association for Pacific Studies, Chair of the Oceania Working Party of the Australian Dictionary of Biography, Art Editor for The Contemporary Pacific: a Journal of Island Affairs, author of Consuming Ocean Island (2015) and a practising visual artist. In 2019 Katerina was awarded the College of Asia and the Pacific’s Teaching Excellence Award. The Pacific Women’s Professional and Business Network of NSW awarded her “Educator 2020”. 



Emeritus Professor Graham Tulloch

Graham Tulloch FAHA is Emeritus Professor of English at Flinders University. He has co-edited a number of collections of essays and, as Editor of the Australian Academy of the Humanities, he has edited the Academy’s journal, Humanities Australia, from 2017 to the present. Graham has written extensively on Scottish Literature and the Scots language and has a special interest in Scottish literature and language in Australia. He has also edited a number of Scottish and Australian texts including Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe and Marcus Clarke’s His Natural Life.


Associate Professor Anita Smith

Dr Anita Smith is an Associate Professor of Heritage and Archaeology at La Trobe University, with a teaching and applied research focus on Indigenous, archaeological and built heritage. Anita is internationally recognized for her expertise in the implementation of the UNESCO World Heritage Convention and she is currently the Cultural Expert member of Australia’s delegation to the World Heritage Committee. Anita is an Advisor to the UNESCO Pacific World Heritage program and her research has supported four successful World Heritage nominations in the region including Budj Bim Cultural Landscape, Australia. She is the lead author of a report to the Heritage Council of Victoria – ‘Heritage and Climate Change’ (Extent Heritage, 2021) and co-author of a chapter titled ‘Developments in Management Approaches’ in the United Nations Second World Ocean Assessment (WOA II) launched by the UN Secretary-General in April 2021.

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.