Spatial inequality and Australian cities in a warming world

Monday 7 May 2018
6.00 - 7.30pm

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Charles Perkins Centre Lecture Theatre (Auditorium), University of Sydney



Sydney Ideas

Part one of the Living in a Warming World series convened by Dr Frances Flanagan and Michelle St Anne.

There are many dimensions to spatial inequality in Australia. This seminar will probe the uneven distribution of the country’s economic and environmental resources, with a particular focus on cities. What does residence in ‘hot Sydney’, mean for your life chances, for those of your children, and for the elderly in your community?  How do poorer schools, less green space, fewer trees, reduced public transport, fewer libraries and areas of public airconditioned space work together to exacerbate inequality?  How does ‘hot Sydney’ compa re to life in suburbs with good health and transport infrastructure, more public space, moderating sea breezes and reduced levels of crime and risk?

Confirmed Speakers

Associate Professor Ollie Jay,  Director of the Thermal Ergonomics Laboratory
Associate Professor Kurt Iveson, School of Geoscience
Dr. Abby Mellick Lopes, Western Sydney University

Series Chair

Professor Christopher Wright, University of Sydney Business School


Ollie Jay is an Associate Professor in Thermoregulatory Physiology, and Director of the Thermal Ergonomics Laboratory, in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Sydney, and Lead Researcher of the Charles Perkins Centre (CPC) Research Node on Climate Adaptation and Health. Prior to moving to Australia in January 2014, he was a tenured Associate Professor at the University of Ottawa in Canada (2008-2013). Originally from the UK, he obtained his PhD in Thermal Physiology from Loughborough University in 2002, which was then followed 4½ years of international postdoctoral research experience at Simon Fraser University (2003-05) and the University of Ottawa (2005-08). His research activities primarily focus on developing a better understanding of the physiological and physical factors that determine human heat strain and the associated risk of heat-related health problems during work and/or physical activity, as well as among the general population during heat waves.

Kurt Iveson is primarily interested in the question of how social justice can be achieved in cities. Within this broad interest, his previous research has focused on two main areas. First, he has examined the significance of the urban public realm for citizenship and democracy. This has included looking at contests over different uses of urban public space, including the politics of protest, graffiti writing, cruising, hanging out, and outdoor advertising. Second, he has explored how urban planning might work better to achieve social justice in cities. In particular, he has considered the ways in which planners should conceptualise, and respond to, different forms of diversity in the city.

Kurt’s current research is focused on the governance of the outdoor media landscape (from graffiti to government notices, shop signage and outdoor advertising), and on the spatial politics of urban informatics systems (with a particular focus on their implications for privacy and urban citizenship).

Abby Mellick Lopes is a design theorist with 15 years’ practical and academic experience in the field of design for sustainability. She currently holds the position of Senior Lecturer in the design program in the School of Humanities and Communication Arts. She is a member of the Digital Humanities Research Group and joined the Institute for Culture and Society in 2016.

As a key member of the pioneering research and educational consultancy The EcoDesign Foundation from 1996-2004, she researched design strategies for adaptation to climate change and the ecological impacts of information technologies and infrastructures. Her research continues to draw on these themes, currently in a project exploring the liveability of Western Sydney in a climate-changed future, ‘Cooling the Commons’ with the Mapping Urban Resilience in Riverland, Sydney (MURRS) group at ICS. In 2006-7 she was a member of the CRC Irrigation Futures investigating sustainability in urban irrigation, and in 2006-8 was Joint Chief Investigator on a Partnership Program with Penrith City Council and the then Centre for Cultural Research, researching universal design and cultural context in public parklands in Western Sydney. She also researches in visual communications and has a long-standing interest in how image ecologies mediate sociomaterial relationships, which was the topic of her PhD titled ‘Ecology of the Image’ (2005). As a Partner Investigator, she co-led the visual communications strand of the transdisciplinary project ‘Transitioning to Sustainable Sanitation Futures’ , led by the Institute for Sustainable Futures at UTS in 2010-2011, a project that won a Green Globe award for environmental innovation in 2012, and she is currently developing a new collaborative project with Dr Alison Gill investigating repair cultures in Sydney.

Christopher Wright is Professor of Organisational Studies and a member of the Discipline of Strategy, Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the University of Sydney Business School. His research explores organizational and societal responses to climate change, with particular reference to how managers and business organizations interpret and respond to the climate crisis. He has published on this topic in relation to issues of corporate citizenship, emotionology, organizational justification and compromise, risk, identity and future imaginings. He is the author of the book Climate Change, Capitalism and Corporations: Processes of Creative Self-Destruction (Cambridge Uni Press, 2015).