Q&A

Q&A With 2020 Honours Fellow Zoe Stojanovic-Hil

Welcome to Zoe Stojanovic-Hill, who is joining the Institute from the Department of Government and International Relations.

Image by Karsten Wurth via Unsplash

What are you researching for Honours?

My research will investigate the connection between environmental justice and nature-based solutions (NBS) to urban climate change adaptation in the European Union, making a theoretical contribution to the literature on environmental justice and exploring the potential for Australian cities to implement NBS. ‘NBS’ is a concept, largely emerging out of EU policy discourse, describing a range of ecosystem-based interventions for sustainability challenges, including climate change adaptation and mitigation. According to the EU, the concept of NBS is distinct from similar concepts for two reasons: it respects ecological limits to human activity, and looks to nature for answers. Accordingly, NBS aim to combat the effects of climate change by working with natural systems or mimicking patterns in nature. The concept is also said to be unique because it explicitly aims to simultaneously address social, economic and environmental issues, rather than offering one-dimensional solutions to narrowly-defined problems. As I understand it, urban NBS can take the form of conservation projects or design and planning projects to ‘re-nature’ cities, as well as related economic and governance arrangements. My research will focus on NATURVATION, a NBS project led by Professor Harriet Bulkeley from the University of Durham, alongside researchers from the UK and Europe. Working in the tradition of environmental justice – and gaining insight from other stands of political theory, as well as political economy and critical geography – my research will analyse this relatively new development in EU policy and assess the implications for Australia.

What was the inspiration behind your Honours research?

I have taken a number of courses in the environmental humanities which have shaped my research interests, including classes on environmental politics, the political economy of the environment, and the geography of international development and local livelihoods. I’ve chosen to focus on the impact of climate change in cities because, to be perfectly honest, I have been inspired by previous work from SEI on sustainable urbanisation. I also like the Guardian’s series on urbanisms. I’ve refined my focus on the advice of my supervisor, Professor David Schlosberg. I have always been interested in big ideas and I am excited to explore ideas on citizenship, democracy, power and justice in this context.

What do you hope this research will contribute to society and its future?

I’d generally like to see environmental justice for all groups, including people of all socioeconomic classes, as cities cope with climate change. I hope my research will contribute towards that goal, offering up a new, nuanced perspective on environmental theory and policy.

Apart from research, what are your passions and interests?

I’ve always loved the outdoors, probably because we went camping in the Snowy Mountains for pretty much every single family holiday as a child. I like reading novels and non-fiction books on the social sciencey topics that interest me. I’ll bury my head in a book at one end of my commute, completely absorbed, and wake up on the other side. I also like writing, and I was lucky enough to edit the ol’ student rag Honi Soit in 2018. I’m a music lover but my musical abilities are tragically limited to bad karaoke.

What about the Sydney Environment Institute made you interested in completing Honours Fellowship with us?

I have been following SEI for years, attending public lectures and listening to podcasts. I first attended a series of lectures on food justice in the city, led by Professor David Schlosberg and Dr Luke Craven, which sparked my interest in environmental justice in the city. I’ve spoken to past SEI Honours Fellows and they’ve had great things to say about the fellowship, especially the research community. I’m an intellectually curious person – frenetically trying to learn everything, all at once – and I think it will be interesting to study in an interdisciplinary environment.


Zoe Stojanovic-Hill is an honours research fellow with the Sydney Environment Institute in 2020. She is completing a Bachelor of Arts in the Department of Government and International Relations and the Department of Political Economy at the University of Sydney. She has been involved in the student community, writing for the student newspaper Honi Soit throughout her degree and editing the paper in 2018. This year, her research will investigate environmental justice (EJ) and nature-based solutions (NBS) to urban climate change adaptation in the European Union, making a theoretical contribution to EJ theory and exploring the potential for NBS to be implemented in Australia.