Planetary wellbeing and human learning

Academic Members:

Professor Margaret Somerville

Associate Professor Susanne Gannon

Associate Professor Tonia Gray

Professor Gay Hawkins (Institute for Culture and Society)

Associate Professor David Cole

Research Focus:

The overall purpose of this cohort is to contribute to a thriving international research hub that addresses compelling contemporary questions in relation to planetary wellbeing and human learning. Many of these questions speak to the Anthropocene as a geological epoch that acknowledges the extent of human impact on the planet. How can we live well in precarious times, participate in world-making towards a sustainable socio-ecological future?  In this way our work is focused at the fragile intersection of personal, social and planetary wellbeing.

This cohort considers a variety of post/qualitative methodologies, including posthumanism and new/feminist materialism, feminist post-structuralism, interspecies studies, auto-ethnography, and arts-based methodologies.  These are often research and pedagogical methodologies that disrupt traditional humancentric views of education and inquiry. Cohort discourse centres around different ways to inquire, educate and be in the world, as human amongst more-than-human others.


The cohort holds 3 - day Spring and Autumn Retreats each year. These provide a rich stimulus of doing/making/writing workshops; HDR student presentations with feedback provided by supervisors; presentations on theory, methodology and other aspects of thesis-making; and the building of a community for thinking together, connecting and personal wellbeing on the doctoral journey. The keynote presentations at these bi-annual retreats are open to all SoE HDR students.

We encourage and maintain extensive national and international networks and partnerships as essential to addressing contemporary challenges of being, learning and flourishing in and with the world. During 2019, invited scholars included Prof Juan Salazar Francisco and Prof Megan Watkins, both from WSU’s Institute for Culture and Society. Workshop topics included On writing a thesis and Lingering in the material. The 2019 Spring Retreat was conducted in conjunction with the School of Education HDR Conference. It included formal student presentations on their research, group discussion of methodologies, and a writing retreat.

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