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SEI News: We Farewell Iain McCalman

The Sydney Environment Institute farewells co-director Iain McCalman, who has announced his well-deserved retirement after a truly remarkable academic career.

Iain McCalman (right), with co-director David Schlosberg and Deputy Director Michelle St Anne. Image by Chris Wright.

Iain’s career has spanned the environmental humanities, cultural history and science, cementing him as a highly respected and internationally renowned researcher. Iain was awarded an Officer of the Order of Australia and elected a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society for his contributions to the humanities, in addition to being recognised as an award-winning author. He has published fourteen books over his career, including The Reef: a Passionate History and Darwin’s Armada: how four voyagers to Australasia won the battle for evolution and changed the world, which was adapted into an international TV series, Darwin’s Brave New World. His work has directly inspired the likes of Al Gore and David Attenborough, influenced environmental policy, and impacted public discourse.

Throughout his career, Iain’s work has been yoked together by the threads of environmentalism, inquiry, equality and justice, and in 2013, alongside Professor David Schlosberg, he co-founded the Sydney Environment Institute. Over the past five years, Iain has tirelessly continued to engage a multidisciplinary network focused on addressing and communicating the key environmental issues of our time.

Ultimately, Iain’s passion and dedication to all aspects of his work is inspiring to all of us that know him. He has dedicated his career to fostering multidisciplinary collaboration and encouraging a wider conversation about environmental issues, and yet, he consistently makes time for mentoring early career researchers and young scholars.

Iain is a compassionate and generous leader and colleague, and he leaves a truly inspirational legacy. He will be sorely missed around the office, however, even as he steps down from his everyday role with the Institute, Iain plans to remain involved in a number of projects.

We at SEI and beyond are so grateful for all of his incredible contributions, and we look forward to continuing to work with Iain as he begins this new chapter.

Sending our best wishes,

David Schlosberg, Co-Director,
Michelle St Anne, Deputy Director.


The Sydney Environment Institute will celebrate Iain’s career next year at the inaugural Iain McCalman Lecture. This event champions early-career researchers who, like Iain, are working across disciplinary boundaries to impact both scholarship and public discourse. The inaugural 2019 Lecture will be given by SEI research affiliate Dr Frances Flanagan, 2019 Sydney Fellow at the Sydney Policy Lab, and former Research Director at United Voice.