USC sustainability research celebrates milestone

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USC sustainability research celebrates milestone


Professor Tim Smith, right, with Ben Preston and Ryan McAllister

31 October 2017

The local and global impacts of USC’s Sustainability Research Centre over the past decade have been outlined by its academics, research students and graduates, and partners in the community.

The centre recently marked its 10-year anniversary with its annual advisory board meeting and an alumni dinner for 70 people who travelled from as far as the United States.

New advisory board member Professor Ben Preston flew from California for the meeting, joining inaugural members Emeritus Professor Steve Dovers and Professor Hugh Lavery.

Professor Preston is the Director of the Infrastructure Resilience and Environmental Policy Program at the RAND Corporation, a non-profit global policy think tank.

USC Professor of Sustainability Tim Smith, who was director of the centre from 2007 to 2017 when he handed over to USC Professor of Geography Roy Sidle, said students and staff had travelled to environments across the globe, from Mooloolaba Beach to the Equator to the Arctic Circle.

“Our goal remains to help regions transition towards sustainability,” he said. “We focus on understanding the relationships between people, place and change, using collaborations and multiple disciplines such as human geography and environmental management.

“In the past 10 years, the SRC has generated $7 million in external research income to the local region, produced 500 research publications and graduated 26 PhD students. It leads USC’s sustainability-related teaching programs.”

Alumni at the function included Dr Michael Duggan, of Brisbane, who recently became Chief Operating Officer of Eco Fuel Innovations after working as Director of Risk Advisory in Sustainability Services at Deloitte Australia. The 2016 PhD graduate examined how to facilitate effective sustainability education across the globe.

Professor Smith said the centre was making substantial knowledge contributions to complex sustainability challenges in 25 countries – “but there’s still a long way to go.”

Highlights of the centre’s first 10 years included:

  • completing the first sustainability indicators assessment for the Sunshine Coast in 2012;
  • co-leading the first integrated climate change adaptation project for the Sydney region, earning an Australian Museum Eureka Prize in 2009;
  • showcasing its research on climate change and water governance at the world’s oldest academe, the Royal Society, in London in 2015;
  • developing lasting partnerships with other world-leading researchers in sustainability through organisations such as Uppsala University, Brock University, the Stockholm Environment Institute, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory;
  • helping USC achieve the equal highest research rating nationally in environmental science and management (an ERA assessment of 5 – well above world average).

Julie Schomberg

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