Culture, Trust, and Systems: Local and Democratic Politics for the Anthropocene

Thursday, 21 February 2019
6.00pm – 7.30pm

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ABS Lecture Theatre 1130, Abercrombie Building, University of Sydney



Sydney Ideas

The idea of ecological democracy is a promising one, a combination of two sets of appealing core normative values – environmental concern and engagement on the one hand, and democratic legitimacy and procedure on the other. Yet these two sets of values are quite different, and not so easily reconciled. Ecological democratic thought has been consistently mindful of the very real tension, and is focused on finding, developing or promoting synergies between democracy and sustainability.

For this Sydney Ideas event, we examine a variety of ways of rethinking local politics for more sustainable and democratic ends. Speakers will address the potential of coalitions forming to prevent the increased enclosure of public lands, grassroots efforts to create new food systems, and new forms of cultural intervention and shifts – value-guided ecological democracy. The goal is to put innovative thinkers and actors into conversation to examine the role of the local in living practices of ecological democracy.


Professor Lisa Disch, University of Michigan
Dr Marit Hammond, Keele University, UK
Professor David Schlosberg, Sydney Environment Institute


Dr Alana Mann, Department of Media and Communications


Lisa Disch is Professor of Political Science and Women’s Studies at the University of Michigan where she teaches a large introductory course on political ideas and ideologies, as well as upper-division courses on population and the environment, contemporary political theory, political representation, and Anglo-American and French Feminism among other things. She has published books on the political thought of Hannah Arendt (Cornell), on the discursive production of two-party democracy in the US (Columbia), and is most recently co-editor of The Oxford Handbook of Feminist Theory with Mary Hawkesworth (Cxford), and co-editor with Nadia Urbinati and Mathijs van de Sande of The Constructivist Turn in Political Representation (Edinburgh). She is finishing a book-length monograph on political representation for the University of Chicago Press.

Marit Hammond is Lecturer in Environmental Politics at Keele University, UK, and a Co-Investigator of the ESRC Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity (CUSP). Her research interests include environmental political theory, sustainability governance, and democratic theory, especially deliberative democracy. Recent and forthcoming work includes the book (with Nicole Curato and John B. Min) ‘Power in Deliberative Democracy: Norms, Forums, Systems’ (Palgrave) and numerous articles in journals such as Environmental Politics, Environmental Values, Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy, Contemporary Political Theory, Policy Sciences, and Democratization.

David Schlosberg is Professor of Environmental Politics in the Department of Government and International Relations at the University of Sydney, and Director of the Sydney Environment Institute. His work focuses on contemporary environmental and environmental justice movements, environment and everyday life, and climate adaptation planning and policy. He is the author of Defining Environmental Justice (Oxford, 2007); co-author of Climate-Challenged Society (Oxford, 2013); and co-editor of both The Oxford Handbook of Climate Change and Society (Oxford 2011), and The Oxford Handbook of Environmental Political Theory (Oxford 2016). His latest book, Sustainable Materialism: Environmental Movements and the Politics of Everyday Life, will be published byOxford this year.

Alana Mann is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Media and Communications, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS), University of Sydney, and a key researcher in the University’s Sydney Environment Institute. Her research focuses on the communicative dimensions of citizen engagement, participation, and collective action in food systems planning and governance.She is a Chief Investigator on the Australian Research Council (ARC) funded project FoodLab Sydney (2018-2020) with partners including the City of Sydney and FoodLab Detroit, and is collaborating with Macquarie University and the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) on the project Growing Food and Density Together: Enabling Sustainable Place-making through Local Foodscapes in the Inner City, funded by Urban Growth NSW. In 2018 Alana was a visiting scholar at Harvard’s Food Law and Policy Clinic and the Department of Development Sociology at Cornell University. She is the author of Global Activism in Food Politics: Power Shift (2014) with a new monograph Voice and Participation in Global Food Politics due for publication in 2019.