Case Studies

A Cool Approach to Land Management

With unprecedented bushfires raging across southeastern Australia in the summer of 2019/20, Australians are all too aware of the continent’s intrinsic relationship with fire. Western Sydney University researcher, Dr Jessica Weir is documenting the cultural practices and intimate knowledge that Australian Aboriginal people have with fire in order to gain a better understanding of how to manage bushfires. Weir has learned from her collaborative work that many Aboriginal people involved in land management engage with fire differently. Fire is understood to be central to living with and respecting Country...Read more

From Plastic Fantastic to a Waste Quagmire

From food packaging, to contact lenses and credit cards, plastic is used in almost every aspect of daily life. How did it become such a ubiquitous material in just a few decades? In her 2015 book Plastic Water, about the rise of bottled water, Professor Gay Hawkins, at Western Sydney University’s Institute for Culture and Society, investigated the history of plastic packaging and how it has transformed food production, markets and waste streams. Her insights highlight how to develop better strategies for managing plastic waste and reduce our reliance on plastic packaging...Read more

Custodians of the Ice

Western Sydney University has led an initiative for five diverse cities to unite around one commonality: their ties to the Antarctic. Five key cities surround Antarctica and are officially recognised as gateways to the icy continent: Christchurch in New Zealand, Puntas Arenas in Chile, Ushuaia in Argentina, Cape Town in South Africa, and Hobart in Australia. Professor Juan Francisco Salazar, of Western Sydney University’s Institute for Culture and Society and the School of Humanities and Communication Arts, led the Australian Research Council Linkage Project, Antarctic Cities and Global Commons, between 2017 and 2020. The project team included 15 researchers in five countries, and aims to unite these gateway cities as a Southern Ocean rim cooperative network of Antarctic urban hubs...Read more

'Living Lab' Showcases Sustainable Neighbourhood

Western Sydney University has entered into a joint partnership with the diversified property group Stockland to create a thriving, mixed-use precinct that will serve the local community near its Penrith campus. The transformative new precinct, named the Penrith Sustainable Innovation Community (PSIC), presents numerous opportunities to integrate curriculum, University operations and research through co-design, co-creation and co-development of both campus infrastructure and the community...Read more

Promoting Simple Ways to Stay Cool

By drawing on community knowledge, researchers at Western Sydney University have produced an informative and accessible pamphlet that outlines simple ways to deal with rising temperatures in the home. With summers predicted to become hotter due to global warming, the pamphlet will prove a valuable resource. “The pamphlet emerged from a project that we’d done with households in Western Sydney looking at how they respond to the heat and what strategies they employ,” says Louise Crabtree-Hayes, a professor at Western’s Institute for Culture and Society. “It was really interesting as there was this phenomenal pot of knowledge about dealing with the heat in the community and we wanted to make it more accessible to people.”...Read more

Raising the Roof on Housing Insecurity

Single, older women who rent and have had low incomes throughout their lives often live in fear of eviction — and sometimes have to rely on charity for food. Western Sydney University’s Associate Professor Emma Power has gathered first-hand accounts from these women to lobby for changes. The gender wage gap means their superannuation is inadequate, and private rentals are out of reach, explains Power. “Single, older women are one of the fastest growing groups of homeless people in the country.”...Read more

Adult Media Literacy in Australia

COVID-19 is the first pandemic of the 21st century and the first of its kind to occur at a time when information technology and social media platforms are being used on a mass scale. The prevalence of conspiracy theories about the virus and vaccines during this period led to mistrust in health authorities and risky behaviour. This experience has demonstrated the dangers of misinformation to society and put media literacy on the agenda of governments around the world, including Australia...Read more

Foundations For Belonging

Leaving your comfort zone and integrating into a new environment has challenges for everyone, but it is particularly difficult for refugees who navigate a new chapter of their lives in an unfamiliar country. In Australia, successful refugee integration is typically assessed by a narrow band of markers such as employment, education, English language proficiency, and health. While outcomes in these areas are important, they do not capture the full spectrum of factors contributing to belonging...Read more

Beyond Business

Is it possible to build a more socially just and environmentally sustainable manufacturing culture in Australia while maintaining profitability and growth? Can you stay committed to valuing your workers during the time of an unexpected disaster or introduce automation in plants without it leading to mass unemployment? According to the 2020 report published by a research team at the Institute for Society and Culture (ICS), Western Sydney University, the answer is yes to all these questions!...Read more.

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