Sydney Environment Institute

HfE Australia Pacific Observatory

HfE Australia Pacific Observatory - Environmental Humanities

Our aim is to honour and explore the concept of ‘caring for country’, a unique tradition of philosophical ecology that has been espoused and practiced by Indigenous Australians for centuries.

Our Observatory was born from crisis. Academics at an annual meeting of the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes gathered to share ideas about the environmental challenges threatening our planet. Sponsored by the CHCI, we were funded by the Andrew Mellon Foundation to launch three linked ‘Observatories’ to promote the methods and approaches of the environmental humanities, in Europe, the United States and the Australia-Pacific.

The searing hypothesis that our globe has entered a new post-Holocene epoch of ‘the Anthropocene’ where humans influence fundamental biophysical and geological forces confirms the seamless interconnection of nature and culture. Today’s environmental challenges can neither be grasped nor solved by the sciences and technologies alone: human societies generate global warming, accelerate species extinctions and acidify the oceans. To change human values and behavior in the interests of sustainability and justice needs the tools and methods of the humanities.

The environmental humanities (or ecological humanities) transcend the limitations of individual disciplines in favor of a capacious interdisciplinary field and approach committed to collaboration with the natural and technological sciences. Our stories explore multiple causalities and complexities, enact human and non-human connectivities, and engage with a range of environmental knowledges.

While recognizing our global interconnections, each Observatory also addresses the distinctiveness of local environments and social structures. The Australia-Pacific Observatory does this through three interconnected missions and project clusters hosted within the Sydney Environment Institute.

2 Key Research Areas:

Flickr Commons: "Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, near Bungendore, NSW"_Steve Shattuck


Research Affiliates