Academic Staff

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Professor Simon Springer

Discipline of Geography and Environmental Studies
School of Environmental and Life Sciences
Faculty of Science
Centre for Urban and Regional Studies – Director
R: Social Science Building SR289
P: 02 4921 2075
E: simon.springer@newcastle.edu.au
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Check out Simon’s website.

I am Professor of Human Geography and Director of the Centre for Urban and Regional Studies at the University of Newcastle, Australia. My research interests are broadly situated within political, development, urban, economic, and social geography, with a particular interest in Cambodia. My primary aim is to understand the relationship between neoliberalism and violence. I use an anarchist lens in exploring the possibilities of non-violence, and how this can productively be woven into geographical knowledge.

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small staff for blogAssociate Professor Kathy Mee – Head of Discipline

Discipline of Geography and Environmental Studies
School of Environmental and Life Sciences
Faculty of Science
Centre for Urban and Regional Studies
R: Social Science Building SR295
P: 02 4921 6451
E: kathy.mee@newcastle.edu.au
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In 1998 I won the University of Newcastle Vice Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching and the Faculty Science and IT Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2008. These awards reflect my commitment to teaching. I teach undergraduate courses in human geography from first to fourth year level. My particular areas of teaching expertise are in: Human Geography, Cultural Geography, Social Geography, and Urban Geography. I believe that learning should enable students to develop key competencies relevant to their discipline, that incorporating aspects of student centred learning can enhance motivation to learn, and that teaching is an important part of learning. In each of my courses students engage with material theoretically, methodologically, develop their communication skills and choose case studies that appeal to their own geographical interests. Kathy developed the highly successful work integrated learning course for Development Studies and human geography which allows students to gain experience working with external organisations and to reflect on the implications of this process for their career development.  Kathy has also be instrumental in the Indigenisation of the curriculum in the Bachelor of Development Studies.

My primary research expertise is in the area of cultural geography. I am interested in how places are understood, represented, valued and experienced by people at a range of scales. This research interest has developed in three main ways. First, I have undertaken projects that investigate the meanings of places. These projects have looked at the discursive construction of places in a range of cultural texts including the news media, films, government reports and documents and private sector advertising. Second, I have investigated how places are experienced by residents. Recent research has focused on the experience of inner Newcastle neighbourhoods for public housing tenants and private residents. Third, I am interested in how places are managed. My interest in place management involves a consideration how places are managed by public sector institutions, how technologies can be used to enhance the management of places, how residents experience place management through an understanding of care and the diverse practices of urban regeneration.  My current research uses an assemblage framework to explore urban regeneration.  I am also involved in work looking at social housing, particularly the impacts of the shift from public housing to community housing and the impacts of examining this process through the lens of care.

Kathy Mee is a key member of UON’s Centre for Urban and Regional Studies.

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Associate Professor Michelle Duffy

Discipline of Geography and Environmental Studies
School of Environmental and Life Sciences
Faculty of Science
Centre for Urban and Regional Studies
R: Social Science Building SR291
P: 02 4921 5097
E: michelle.duffy@newcastle.edu.au

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Michelle currently supervisors and co-supervisors six PhD students, as well as demonstrating and sharing her knowledge around spaces and places, and sustainability in theory and in practice.

Michelle is interested in 4 key areas including soundings, tourism, mobilities and resilience.

Michelle considers that sound and music play an important but often overlooked role in our everyday lives. Her work in soundings covers a range of topics, including the performance of music and listening practices. More recently Michelle has developed methodological frameworks (with Gordon Waitt, Theresa Harada, and Michael Gallagher) to better understand how listening draws attention to the ways in which we are constituted through and embedded in place. This exploration also opens up ways to access the emotional, affective and bodily responses that go on to constitute feelings of wellbeing, inclusion, connection and exclusion.

Regarding tourism, Michelle’s research on festivals originated her PhD studies where I explored the ways in which music performance was used to construct community identity. Since then she has continued to explore the role of festival events in community development initiatives, particularly in peri-urban and rural areas. Her current research (with Judith Mair and Gordon Waitt) uses the lens of the encounter as a means to consider how we might define and assess the social benefits of festivals.

Michelle’s research on mobilities with Paul Atkinson and Nichola Wood investigates the concept of place as understood through the prism of dance as a particular form of sensuous mobility. Examining the dancing body reveals an unspoken corporeal knowledge that resides in our engagement with the everyday world. When we observe a movement, even inattentively, we understand that movement in terms of its relationship to a particular environment but also with regard to our own capacity to move.

Michelle is also interested in community resilience, how we might determine resilience and vulnerability and how this is all informed by processes  of social inclusion and exclusion, wellbeing, and sustainability.

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Small sarah wAssociate Professor Sarah Wright – Future Fellow

Discipline of Geography and Environmental Studies
School of Environmental and Life Sciences
Faculty of Science
Centre for Urban and Regional Studies
R: Social Science Building SR216
P: 02 4921 7157
E: sarah.wright@newcastle.edu.au
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My teaching is focused on human geography with a specialisation in critical development studies. I am the convenor of the development studies degree at the University of Newcastle and am a lecturer in geography and development studies. I have a Graduate Certificate in the Practice of Tertiary Teaching from the University of Newcastle and have supplemented my formal qualifications in teaching with participation in programs to strengthen my teaching skills including with a year long teaching support program involving training, ongoing consultation and evaluation with the renowned Center for Instructional Development and Research at the University of Washington, USA. Through my teaching I aim for a constructive learning environment that empowers students and facilitates them developing a love of learning that will stay with them throughout their lives. In my work as a teacher, course coordinator and convenor of the Development Studies degree at the University of Newcastle, I aim to encourage an effective learning community both within and beyond my classes. This involves building trust and respectful relationships that support diversity through course design and in the classroom. It is my aim that students develop critical thinking skills and broadly applicable competencies, and come to view themselves as empowered citizens with important contributions to make in the classroom and in broader society. My teaching experience is informed by 15 years professional work as a practitioner and educator in group facilitation, cross-cultural awareness training and community-based environmental education working with non-government organisations and community groups in the Philippines, Cuba, Australia and the US. I value collaboration in teaching and research and place high importance in making contributions that extend beyond the classroom. Since starting at the University of Newcastle, I have developed collaborations with government, community and indigenous partners that bring students and community together through practical-based fieldwork and research. I have worked with indigenous partners and students to help evaluate educational tourism options, to collaborate on the production of educational materials (Biliru, Darwin), to develop a pilot study tour (Wagiman Women Rangers, Tjuwaliyn) and co-produce a publication on the practice and cultural importance of weaving for an indigenous cross-cultural womens program in Arnhemland (Gaywu womens program). Meg is passionate about teaching

My research is focused on the areas of Indigenous geographies, science studies and critical development studies. My work is underpinned by a commitment to social and environmental justice. In Indigenous geographies, my contributions are primarily through a successful ongoing collaboration with Dr Sandie Suchet-Pearson and Dr Kate Lloyd and five Yolngu women, Laklak Burarrwanga and family, from Bawaka in the Northeast Arnhem Land. Together we have explored what it might mean to take Indigenous ontologies of co-becoming seriously, in ways that might help us better understand theoretical concepts such as space and place, and also to move towards a de-colonised, Indigenous-led practice in development studies and natural resource management. The group’s work building on Indigenous ontologies to include Country as a co-author (Bawaka et al 2013; Wright et al 2012) in publications and ethics review processes was highlighted as exceptionally innovative during the Fay Gale Memorial Lecture at the 2011 IAG conference. I have built range of innovative relationships with Indigenous groups and government agencies involved in tourism in the NT including with the Department of Business, Economic and Regional Development and Tourism NT. These relationships focus on interwoven learning exchanges (Wright et al 2007) between academics and Indigenous collaborators. My research in science studies has a specific emphasis on Indigenous knowledge systems and intellectual property, particularly as they relate to geographies of food and food sovereignty. My work focuses on the politics of knowledge, the way that different knowledges are experienced in place and the ways they have been variously adopted, reworked and contested at different scales. My highly cited article (Wright 2005), for example, that explores knowledge spaces as a platform for understanding the construction and co-construction of knowledge, provides an innovative framework from which to explore issues of intercultural communication on ontological levels. I have a strong commitment to collaborative work and praxis and work closely with community groups, NGOs and social movements in Australia, the Philippines and Kenya. I have developed important collaborations with government and community partners in Australia and internationally. In Australia, I have been approached to evaluate educational tourism options, collaborate on the production of materials including websites (Biliru, Mills), co-write books (Burarrwanga et al 2008; Ong’Wen and Wright 2007; Yap et al 2004), write policy documents (Bachmann, Cruzada and Wright 2008), and run pilot study tours (Wagiman Women Rangers, Juma experiences). I have also worked in the Philippines and Kenya supporting farmer-led and Indigenous-led movements.

Sarah Wright is a key member of UON’s Centre for Urban and Regional Studies.

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Dr Faith Curtis

Discipline of Geography and Environmental Studies
School of Environmental and Life Sciences
Faculty of Science
Centre for Urban and Regional Studies
R: Social Science Building SR289
P: 02 4921 2075
E: faith.curtis@newcastle.edu.au

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Key Teaching areas:

  • Human geography
  • Sustainability and environmental management
  • More-than-human geographies

My research interests centre on the entangled relationships between the human and nonhuman worlds, and how these relationships produce spaces in complex and surprising ways. For example, my PhD investigated more-than-human agents in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park and sought to uncover the multitude of ways that these agents came together to perform park spaces, national park nature and park management.

  • Bell, S.J., Instone, L. and Mee, K.J. 2017, Engaged witnessing: researching with the more-than-human, Area. doi:10.1111/area.12346
  • Bell, S.J. 2013, Book Review ‘Reconfiguring the Natures of Childhood’, Issues in Educational Research, 23(3), 433-435.
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small staff for blog PaulDr Paul Hodge

Discipline of Geography and Environmental Studies
School of Environmental and Life Sciences
Faculty of Science
Centre for Urban and Regional Studies
R: Social Science Building SR296
P: 02 4921 5092
E: paul.hodge@newcastle.edu.au

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My teaching and learning philosophy is grounded in nurturing life-long learning. My courses enable and encourage students to develop a keen and critical sense of the world around them. I design courses that foster the importance of relationships and the creation of safe learning spaces that reassure all students of their capacity to actively participate in the class and broader community. By integrating ‘two-way learning’, where students are empowered to draw on their life experiences, the classroom is transformed into a place of constructive, active learning and critical engagement. Cultivating a collaborative pedagogy I provide opportunities for students to become aware of their strengths and capacities and use these to contribute to real solutions in a climate-changing world. I received the Faculty of Science Staff Excellence Award 2018 which demonstrated my passion for teaching.

Key teaching areas:

  • Critical development studies
  • Critical pedagogy
  • Governmentality and security
  • Political ecology and the more-than-human
  • Postcolonial geographies & intercultural research

My research on governmentality and security has attempted to extend current theorising in the context of Oceania by introducing the governmentality-security nexus to help explain the governing of populations in the region and local efforts to subvert such incursions (Hodge, 2014; Hodge, 2012). I have introduced theoretical insights, notably those of Foucault and Butler, into current debates about asylum seekers in their quest for social justice at a time of increased securitisation (Hodge, 2015). In collaboration with Annika Dean (UNSW) we are extending governmentality theorising into environmental geopolitics, specifically climate change and adaptation policy in Kiribati and Oceania drawing on her PhD research.

My research on post-colonial geographies of development and intercultural research emerges out of two successful competitive Faculty grants (FSCIT Strategic Small Grant, 2013 and FSCIT Small Research Grant, 2015) and collaborative work with a former honours student (Lillian Tait). The first project builds on the strengths, capacities and aspirations of young people in Fiji (aged 18-30) to build an adaptive typology of context-specific, culturally appropriate development frameworks. The second ongoing research project (with colleague Associate Professor Jenny Cameron), in collaboration with the Indigenous-led Centre for Appropriate Technology (headquartered in Alice Springs) focuses on strengths-based practices for working with and sustaining Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. The third project challenges conventional ways of theorising development relationships drawing on the insights of development practitioners. This research redefines the current theoretical terrain on post-development thinking by engaging emotional geographies.

A third collaborative research focus (with colleague Associate Professor Sarah Wright) makes contributions in critical pedagogy in development studies. This ongoing research explores experiential student learning when ‘on-Country’ with traditional custodians in the Northern Territory (Hodge et al 2011; Wright & Hodge, 2012; Hodge, Wright, Mozeley, 2014) and has recently developed a more local emphasis with collaborative discussions underway with Darkinjung traditional custodians of the central coast, NSW. We are also exploring digital technologies to develop students’ intercultural competency to foster international learning communities as part of an Office of Learning & Teaching (OLT) Seed Grant (under consideration) with the Geography Department at the University of the Philippines.

Paul Hodge is a key member of UON’s Centre for Urban and Regional Studies.

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small JillDr Bonnie McBain

Discipline of Geography and Environmental Studies
School of Environmental and Life Sciences
Faculty of Science

R: Social Science Building SR182
P: 02 4921 8871
E: bonnie.mcbain@newcastle.edu.au

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small megDr Meg Sherval

Discipline of Geography and Environmental Studies
School of Environmental and Life Sciences
Faculty of Science
Centre for Urban and Regional Studies
R: Social Science Building SR297
P: 02 4921 6809
E: meg.sherval@newcastle.edu.au
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Key teaching areas:

  • Climate Change Impacts,
  • Environmental Ethics,
  • Geopolitics,
  • Land-use transformation,
  • Rural and Resource Geography,
  • Sustainability.

Key research areas:

  • Remoteness,
  • Impacts of resource depletion,
  • Resource contestation,
  • Resource nationalism,
  • Social and economic impacts of climate change,
  • Territoriality,
  • Arctic Governance,
  • Environmental law and ethics,
  • Land-use transformation,
  • Rurality.

Meg Sherval is a key member of UON’s Centre for Urban and Regional Studies.

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small JillDr Jill Sweeney

Discipline of Geography and Environmental Studies
School of Environmental and Life Sciences
Faculty of Science
Centre for Urban and Regional Studies
R: Social Science Building SR292
P: 02 4913 8787
E: jill.sweeney@newcastle.edu.au

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GEOS3240

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small JillLara Daley

Discipline of Geography and Environmental Studies
School of Environmental and Life Sciences
Faculty of Science
Centre for Urban and Regional Studies
R: Social Science Building SR293
E: lara.daley@newcastle.edu.au

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GEOS3240

Conjoints

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Conjoint Associate Professor Howard Bridgman

Discipline of Geography and Environmental Studies
School of Environmental and Life Sciences
Faculty of Science
Centre for Urban and Regional Studies
R: Social Science Building SR 201A
P: 02 4921 5093
E: howard.bridgman@newcastle.edu.au

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small lesleyConjoint Senior Lecturer Dr Lesley Instone

Discipline of Geography and Environmental Studies
School of Environmental and Life Sciences
Faculty of Science
Centre for Urban and Regional Studies
R: Social Science Building SR208
P: 02 4921 6637
E: lesley.instone@newcastle.edu.au

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My research is located at the intersection of cultural studies, environmental studies and geography. I am particularly interested in the key roles that belonging, identity and place play in questions of biodiversity management, environmental regulation and sustainability. Exploring the complex relations between people, animals, land and place requires a multivalent approach, and I draw on a diverse and rich theoretical landscape including non representational theory, postcolonial studies, and performativity. My recent work focuses on critical questions of nature-society delineation and aims to explore the active engagements of bodies, text, land and non-humans that shape Australian landscapes and everyday engagements with them. This approach has led me to work on dingoes, landscapes of detention, fencelines, national parks and northern Australian perspectives. Current research explores socio-cultural dimensions of urban ecological restoration, human-plant relations and urban natures, especially urban parks.

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Conjoint Lecturer Mr Phil Ireland

Discipline of Geography and Environmental Studies
School of Environmental and Life Sciences
Faculty of Science

Centre for Urban and Regional Studies

E: philip.ireland@newcastle.edu.au

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