August 2023 IAG Newsletter item: Uni and AGTA news

14th August 2023
By Nicole Miller - Communications Officer, IAG

Read the latest news from geographers from Australian universities and the Australian Geography Teachers Association (AGTA).

Thanks for everyone who submitted their updates.

Each edition of the IAG newsletter contains a link to news from universities and AGTA. If you would like your update considered for a future edition, submit your story to the newsletter editor (Dr Meg Sherval). Read more, and find the editor's email address at, Newsletters.



Monash University

HUMAN GEOGRAPHY - held a two-day symposium on the 13th & 14th of July at which academic staff showcased their current work and future research agenda to build intellectual relationships and spark new collaborations.
Dr Ben Iaquinto (Hong Kong University) will be delivering a guest lecture to the department on August 10 on "Grounding Mobility: Protest Atmosphere at Hong Kong International Airport.

Dr Ben Iaquinto (Hong Kong University) will be delivering a guest lecture to the department on August 10 on "Grounding Mobility: Protest Atmosphere at Hong Kong International Airport."

Dr Elissa Waters and Dr Svenja Keele co-presented their recently co-authored (with others) paper 'Reimagining climate change research and policy from the Australian adaptation impasse' at the Climate Adaptation Conference held 23-27July 2023 in Adelaide. Dr Svenja Keele and Dr Edouard Morena (University of London) have been awarded US$15000 from the Climate Social Science Network to investigate 'The Smartest Elephants in the Room: Consultants in the international climate debate'.

Dr Elissa Waters has joined the Organizing Committee for IGU IGC2028 in Melbourne

Congratulations to Dr Souvik Chakrabarty who has been awarded the Institute of Australian Geographers' Award for Dissertation Excellence for his PhD Thesis on "Framing the Pluriverse: Understanding the Role of Popular Intellectuals in the Niyamgiri Movement in India."

Congratulations to Dr Benjamin Thompson and Professor Megan Farrelly who have been appointed to Levels C and E respectively. And a huge Welcome to Professor Robyn Bartel who has recently joined the department as Head of Discipline.

Also, At the time of writing we are advertising for 3 x level Bs and hope to make welcome announcements in the not too distant future.

Physical Geography

Welcome to Dr Ariaan Purich who joins the school as a lecturer in Climate Science. Ariaan's research focuses on understanding coupled ocean-atmosphere-sea ice interactions across the Southern Hemisphere, with a particular focus on Antarctic and Southern Ocean climate variability and change.

Congratulations on two PhDs being awarded in the Coastal Research Group to Dr Marycarmen Martinez-Diaz on "Mangrove biogeography under climate change scenarios and urbanisation" and Dr Sabrina Sayers on "Using UAVs to bridge the gap between temperate mangrove vegetation structure and bio-geomorphology". Finally, Professor Ian Cartwright gave a keynote talk at the International Atomic Energy Agency Isotope Hydrology Symposium in Vienna (3rd to 7th July) on "Determining transit times in dynamic environments using Tritium".



The University of Adelaide

Is introducing the Graeme Hugo AO Commencement Grant for Geography. Available to rural, regional and remote students enrolled in a Bachelor of Arts (Geography, Environment and Population) or Bachelor of Environmental Policy and Management. More information.



The University of Melbourne

From The School of Geography, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences

Congratulations to our recently completed PhD graduates:

Dr Lyn Gallacher has officially passed her PhD. Lyn’s thesis is titled: ‘Take Flight: sounding out mobility in the tiny airports of south-eastern Australia’. It is an investigation into disadvantaged regional aerodromes which do not have regular public transport. Many of them are in trouble and some are disappearing. Using mobility studies this thesis seeks to find out why and considers what might be lost if they disappear. Lyn was supervised by David Bissell and Celia McMichael

Dr Soe Soe Htway has officially passed her PhD. Soe Soe’s thesis is titled: ‘Farmland Rental by Absentee Foreign Investors in Myanmar: Access, Livelihoods, and Politics’. Soe Soe was supervised by Celia McMichael, Vanessa Lamb and Wolf Dressler.

Dr Carolina Mayen Huerta has officially passed her PhD. Carolina’s thesis is titled: The use of Urban Green Spaces (UGS) as a resilience tool to improve health and wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic’. Carolina was supervised by Ariane Utomo, Ilan Wiesel and Rebecca Runting.

Dr Nida Mollison has officially passed her PhD. Her thesis is titled ‘Creative Labour in Networked Space: Understanding Melbourne Visual Artists’ Working Practices through the Digital’. Her research examines how digital platform technologies are affecting the working practices of intergenerational groups of Melbourne-based artists, informed by qualitative research and observation. Nida was supervised by David Bissell and Ilan Wiesel.

Dr Pia Treichel has officially passed her PhD. Pia’s thesis is titled: ‘The political economy of international climate finance: Justice, adaptation, and the Green Climate Fund’. Her thesis explores the political economy and justice implications of the Green Climate Fund, the largest of the funding mechanisms under the international climate agreements. Pia was supervised by Jon Barnett, Celia McMichael and Andrew Walter.

Dr Tessa Toumbourou has officially passed her PhD. Tessa’s thesis is titled: ‘Sustaining livelihoods in a palm oil enclave in East Kalimantan, Indonesia’. Her thesis focuses on the links between environmental change, livelihoods,and land and natural resource governance in Kalimantan, Indonesia. Tessa was supervised by Simon Batterbury and Wolf Dressler. and land and natural resource governance in Kalimantan, Indonesia. Tessa was supervised by Simon Batterbury and Wolf Dressler.

Welcome Jane M. Jacobs, Honorary Principal Fellow in Geography

We are delighted to welcome Jane M. Jacobs to the School of Geography, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences as an Honorary Principal Fellow in Geography. Jane is an urban studies scholar with training in human geography. Her current research focuses on the cultural aspects of the production and consumption of the built environment, and she has previously worked on indigenous rights in settler Australia. Jane’s most recent position was Professor of Social Sciences at Yale-NUS College in Singapore. Prior to joining Yale-NUS College she taught at: University College London; the University of Melbourne; the University of Edinburgh; and the National University of Singapore. At UoM she was a founding member of Melbourne’s Institute of Postcolonial Studies and served a term as its Director, so it is with pleasure that we welcome her back to the university.

Human Geography Lab Launch

The new Human Geography Lab in the school officially opened in late April with an event to celebrate. The launch, which included films to watch, audio recordings to listen to, and plenty of wine and cheese, very much warmed the space. We also had a long communal collage to get everyone involved in visually imagining what we’d like the space to be. The space will be available the purposes of research analysis and research training. Thanks to everyone in the HGL Collective for making this space possible, especially to Rachel Hughes for her leadership and advocacy, and to everyone who so enthusiastically attended the launch.



The University of Tasmania

The School of Geography, Planning, and Spatial Sciences is delighted to congratulate Dr Chloe Lucas recently awarded the Tasmanian Young Tall Poppy of the Year by the Australian Institute of Policy and Science. The Young Tall Poppy Science Awards aim to recognise excellence in research as well as enthusiasm for communicating science beyond the walls of the laboratory.

Also, the Curious Climate Schools team (including Chloe Lucas and Charlotte Jones) were awarded a Highly Commended in the Benefitting Society category of the International Green Gown Awards.

Congratulations also to Charlotte Jones on her first publication from her PhD in WIRES Climate Change Jones, CA, Davison, AG, & Lucas, CH (2023) ‘Innocent heroes or self-absorbed alarmists? A thematic review of variety and effects of storylines about young people in climate discourse’. WIREs Climate Change. Read Chloe's publication.



Australian Geography Teachers Association (AGTA)

This report from the Australian Geography Teachers Association (AGTA) identifies the current AGTA Board and provides an overview of selected activities which shape Association focus for 2023.

Australian Geography Teachers Association (AGTA) Board

The Board of AGTA represents each state and territory affiliate. The Board comprises of Presidents as Directors and another member of executive as a Nominated Director. In 2023, the Executive of the AGTA Board are: Dr Susan Caldis (Chair; GTANSW&ACT), Simon Miller (Vice Chair; GTASA), Shane Albertson (Secretary; GTAQ), Dr Grant Kleeman (Treasurer; GTANSW&ACT) and Trish Douglas (Immediate Past Chair; GTAV). Names and representations of the AGTA Board in its entirety are available on our website.

Website Development

AGTA has recently invested in the development of a Geo-Careers focused website and in the re-development of the Association website. AGTA commissioned Red Jelly to lead the website design and development for both projects.

The ‘Go with Geo’ website was launched at the AGTA Conference in Tasmania during October 2022. The refreshed AGTA website was completed in May 2023.

The AGTA Board would like to extend their sincere thanks and appreciation to Dr Grant Kleeman for leading the website design, development and redevelopment projects from conception to publication, and for the time spent in regular liaison with Red Jelly. The AGTA Board would also like to respectfully farewell and extend their gratitude to Rob Berry who held the role of website manager for over a decade.

AGTA Conference 2024 (Biennial)

The biennial AGTA Conference will be held in Darwin between 2 - 4 October 2024. The theme is ‘A sense of place’. The conference convening team are formed from a collaborative effort between GHTANT and GTASA. The program is still under development and there are ongoing discussions about fieldwork opportunities to be undertaken with traditional custodians at the Tiwi Islands and Kakadu National Park. The leadership team from GHTANT have a close relationship with Larrakia and Yolngu Elders. Discussions are underway to determine the most appropriate and meaningful way to develop and maintain presence during the conference.

Australian Geography Competition and Geography’s Big Week Out

‘The Australian Geography Competition’ (AGC) is now delivered in an online mode which has streamlined completion and marking processes. Approximately 5 years ago, the time of year for conduct of the competition was moved from February to May based on feedback from teachers, citing early Term 1 (February) as being problematic for accessing and circulating promotional material, gathering the competition fees, and general administrative concerns associated with the start of a school year. However, recent feedback indicates May is also a concern due to the fixed windows of NAPLAN testing for Years 7 – 9. Discussions are underway about timing of the competition with mid-late March / end Term 1 being considered. ‘Geography’s Big Week Out’ (GBWO) is where the top 10 performing students from each state and territory, are invited to engage in further competition, in- place through fieldwork and application of a range of geographical tools and skills. The top performing students then proceed to the International Olympiad. During 2022 and 2023, GBWO has been hosted by GHTANT. In 2024 and 2025, GTANSW&ACT will host GBWO, most likely in Canberra, however, fieldwork activities and locations are yet to be confirmed.

Progression on recommendations from Geography: Shaping Australia’s Future

The AGTA Board continue to work steadily on recommendations from Chapter 13 of Geography: Shaping Australia’s Future.

Recognition of geography as a STEM subject

After a national focus on this recommendation which was also emphasised and encouraged through a STEM Ambassador appointment (2020, 2021), this recommendation is now becoming the domain of affiliate responsibility - typically in professional learning programs. AGTA sees affiliate responsibility as a natural progression after having co-ordinated a series of nationally focused dialogue and awareness raising activities through the development of background reports (Caldis & Kleeman, 2019; 2021), conduct of online symposiums and in-person conference plenary sessions, responses to curriculum consultations, and publication in 2021 of a Geography-STEM focused issue of Geographical Education.

Out of field teaching (or teaching beyond specialisation:

This recommendation sits predominantly in the domain of affiliate responsibility, again, typically in professional learning programs. By drawing on key messages from (i) background reports (Caldis & Kleeman, 2019); and Hobbs et al., 2022); (ii) outcomes from research about transition into the teaching profession (Caldis, 2022); and (iii) a recent survey by Kriewaldt & Lee (2022) there are discussions are underway for a bringing a national voice and action to out of field teaching in geography. Discussion focuses on the conduct of ethics-approved research for school-university- professional association partnerships via, for example, online symposiums and in-person conference plenary sessions, to culminate in a national mentoring program for those who teach geography out of field.

Collaboration with academic geographers

This recommendation is gaining a lot of traction within affiliates and remains important at the national scale.

Locally, each affiliate has built a meaningful and mutually beneficial relationship with either an academic society (e.g. RGSQ – GTAQ; GSNSW – GTANSW&ACT; RGSSA – GTASA; GV – GTAV) or with a geography department at a local university (e.g. GAWA – Curtin University and UWA; TGTA – UTAS). Co- badged professional learning events and co-opted members of the relevant Boards as appropriate are the most common initiatives. The ‘GeoNight’ format developed by GAWA-Curtin University is an exemplar model the affiliates are hoping to adapt and adopt in their own context. An upcoming GTASA and University of Adelaide night for Year 12 students is another model for affiliates to incorporate into their program if not done so already.

Nationally, the relationship between AGTA and the IAG remains positive and productive. For example, discussion about and co-construction of letters to Ministers about the Australian Curriculum: Geography are ongoing and also include input from Associate Professor Alaric Maude; the co-badged webinar for the IAG-Wiley series: Geography Education – Flourish or Flounder was well received; invitations to attend each other’s meetings are long-standing and actioned where possible; academics are invited as keynote speakers, to hold workshops and run fieldwork.

Improve the quality of teacher training in geography:

Whilst this occurs more generally through advocacy, it requires a focused approach and is part of our future work. Ideally, the AGTA Board would like to explore research opportunities to validate the Professional Standards for Accomplished Teaching of Geography (GEOGStandards) and if possible, also for the Academic Standards for Geography.

Dr Susan Caldis (Chair, AGTA)

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