Successful Social Science Week Webinar

Human Geographers @ Monash recently contributed towards two critical National Social Science Week webinar events.

Place matters: time for a sustainability reset?

Human Geographers Associate Professor Ruth Lane, Associate Professor Megan Farrelly and Professor Rob Raven (Monash Sustainable Development Institute), together with a large number of online participants, and facilitated by Professor Chris Nash, explored the complex and diverse pathways required for driving more sustainable futures.

Social-Science-Week-Webinar-img The discussion highlighted the deep intersections among the environment, sustainability, policy, politics and the economy. As Prof. Raven highlighted, we need to promote new imaginaries for the future and to work with existing, and build new, coalitions of interested parties to drive the change.

A/Prof. Ruth Lane spoke of future local opportunities for urban centres by developing micro-manufacturing and promoting more reuse and repair venues. Ruth also indicated that perhaps an outcome of the covid-19 pandemic is an opportunity to reset our materials economy along more sustainable lines.

A/Prof. Megan Farrelly discussed of a growing local awareness of the quality (or lack thereof) of public open spaces during these periods of Covid-19 lockdown. This has signalled greater opportunities for reimagining how we think about and use streetscapes and public open spaces, and to think strategically about how we can incorporate more green and blue spaces to deliver multiple localised benefits.

Audience questions were on point and raised interesting dilemmas including:

  • While there has been a shift in society towards embracing more localised sustainability practices, including recycling, reducing consumption and adopting household solar, how do we make these ideas and practices more politically acceptable?
  • Considering the institutional complexity involved around sustainability decision-making, how can we encourage greater community participation whilst still acknowledging and accommodating this inherent complexity?
  • How do we balance grassroots actions with state-led legislative and policy change to produce positive outcomes?
  • Are we scared of failure? Does this impede more progressive reforms?
  • How can we bridge the gap between policy rhetoric and practical, on-ground actions?

Covid-19 and Digital Disruptions

Dr Charishma Ratnam was a leading panellist in a webinar examining the opportunities, limitations and costs associated with relying on the internet and digital media to navigate the repercussions linked to the pandemic. A highlight of the discussion were insights raised from recent research around digital engagement within culturally and linguistically diverse communities.