Current Projects

Fields of Green? Sport as a Communications Platform for Environmental Issues and Sustainability

This project investigates the range of environmental and sustainability messages communicated by sport media, and how these messages negotiate the dilemma of promoting environmental awareness through events and activities that also generate adverse ecological impacts. By engaging sport media professionals, environmental claims-makers, policy-makers and journalists, this project seeks to deliver valuable knowledge that informs industry decision-making, policy formulation and environmental awareness. The intended societal benefit is a new understanding of how environmental issues are communicated through popular media to large-scale publics, including how tensions in the communication of environmental change are negotiated.

Monash University: Brett Hutchins
University of Tasmania: Elizabeth Lester


Remaking the Australian environment through documentary film and television

This project aims to investigate how documentary film, television and online media have transformed our sense of the Australian environment since the 1950s. The project will produce a historicised account of how media has fashioned contemporary environmental consciousness. Expected outcomes include environmental knowledge and social action, collaborations between media producers, scientists and educators, and attention to the role of Indigenous knowledge practices in relation to the environment. The project will enhance understanding of the significance of environmental documentaries in shaping practical and imaginative responses to a world undergoing transformation.

Monash University: Belinda Smaill, Therese Davis
Melbourne University: Chris Healy


Healthy Parks, Healthy People? Assessing the Relevance and Impact of Parks on Human Health, Well-Being and Environmental Sustainability

This collaborative project examines the relationship between visitation to national parks (both in the U.S. and Victoria) and health and human well-being. Several critical questions of societal and ecological significance are addressed: what is at stake for populations who are not visiting and therefore not attaining benefits from parks?  How are these benefits communicated and how can they be promoted across all population demographics? If parks are not valued for their benefits, how will this influence the long-term health and well-being of the park ecosystems and society? The objective is to produce information that helps lead to the long-term sustainability and well-being of parks and people.

Monash University: Brett HutchinsVicki PeelCeline Klemm
Pennsylvania State University: Derrick Taff, Bing Pan, Peter Newman, Zach Miller


Understanding Ecologies through Interactive Documentary

The project is transdisciplinary and includes both a research component and a practical audio visual component. It draws on the fields of film and screen studies, science communication and ethnography. Taking up the complex issue of biodiversity, why it is important to a given ecosystem and the consequences of possible biodiversity loss and resilience, this project focuses on enhancing public interest in science, and conservation biology in particular. The first part of the project will focus on the Swift Parrot, an endangered species in Southern Australia. This well-known species highlights a number of issues for the public engagement with species loss and the project will investigate the potential of fact based storytelling in and the role interactive documentary media might play in addressing these issues.

Belinda Smaill and Billy Head


Shopping and sharing online: environmental impacts of distributing goods in digital economies

Online marketplaces such as eBay or Alibaba are well-known examples of how people shop, share and circulate physical goods today. This interdisciplinary project examines those sites as hubs of social and economic activities, as well as complex infrastructures and networks with environmental impacts.

Aneta Podkalicka


Rethinking Public Knowledge of Wildlife through Documentary Screen Media

The aim of this project is to rethink public knowledge about the environment by historicising and defining a new media sphere that is concerned with the circulation of wildlife through documentary representation. Blockbuster nature films, television wildlife series, advocacy documentary and newer forms of online nonfiction screen
culture play a fundamental role in how communities define and invest in the natural environment. I invoke ‘documentary,’ a film genre, to explore how fact-based storytelling now plays a new role in an expanded sphere of screen media. By redefining this term, this project seeks to understand how documentary screen media facilitates and constructs public engagement with the nonhuman environment, thus impacting on actions for the future.

Belinda Smaill


Bated Breath: The Lived Experience of Cyclone in a Climate Change World

This oral history project explores the lived experience of cyclone in North Queensland and how people make sense of extreme weather events in an era of politicised knowledge on climate change. So far the project has recorded more than 20 hours of oral history with members of communities severely affected by cyclones Yasi (2011) and Larry (2006). The project aims to offer a lens through which to
examine the public understanding of science, politicisation of disaster, and perceptions of environmental change.

Deb Anderson


Media Storm: A Local Study of Australian Reporting on Cyclones

Through a close study of an under-researched topic—cyclone reporting in Australia’s Wet Tropics—this interviewing project examines on the experience of local news journalists who reported on severe tropical cyclones Yasi (2011) and Larry (2006), and the role of local media in making sense of extreme weather events in an era of politicised knowledge on climate change. So far the project has recorded more than 10 hours of interviews with press, broadcast and digital news journalists based in North Queensland.

Deb Anderson


After the Fires: The Politics of the Black Saturday Bushfires.

This project raises critical questions of media coverage of ‘compounded crises’ related to extreme weather disaster, in the context of urgent calls to address the implications of a changing climate. Stage one of the project has involved longitudinal analysis of local, state and national mainstream media coverage (2009–2016) of the worst bushfires in modern Australian history, the Victorian Black Saturday bushfires of 2009—revealing blame games that targeted environmentalists and the government and which near-silenced meaningful discussion of the complexity of fire science, impacts of climate change on weather conditions, and calls for adaptation. Stage two of the project will involve interviews with journalists, politicians and members of fire-affected communities in a bid to explore the media’s constitutive role in crisis response, as well as the legacy and potency of ideological conflict that shapes the media-policy nexus in Australia. [Project initiated in collaboration with the late Assoc. Prof. Phil Chubb].

Deb Anderson and Monika Djerf-Pierre


Courting Disaster: Cyclone Reporting in a Climate Change World

What are the ethical and professional challenges for journalists in reporting extreme weather events in an era of ‘post-truth’ discourse on anthropogenic climate change? This project aims to widen the scope of the project Media Storm: A Local Study of Australian Reporting on Cyclones, by examining the lived experience of regional, national and international journalists who reported on cyclones Debbie (2017), Yasi (2011) and Larry (2006), which affected communities in North Queensland. This empirical research on disaster reporting seeks to generate reflexive thinking on, and
recommendations for, journalism practice and ethics in the context of politicised debate over inter-related issues of weather, climate and change.

Deb Anderson