Published 08 March 2017
Michelle has been a force in SEI since our inception and has been key to our identity, engagement, impact, and growth. She is a true partner with the Directors, and we are very happy that this role is being formally recognised. Of course, anyone who has worked with SEI over the last four years knows exactly how integral Michelle has been our everyday functioning, and how she brings an amazing combination of competence, integrity, and depth – along with passion and humour – to everything that we do. The new title simply recognises what Michelle has actually been doing at, and for, SEI.
The University of Sydney’s recent strategic plan notes the importance of interdisciplinary efforts to address ‘some of the grand challenges facing society,’ and SEI is named as key to that strategy. We are expected to build relationships across campus, engage with the public, and have an impact on how Australia addresses some of the key environmental and social issues of our time. Toward these goals, Michelle St Anne’s Deputy Director role recognises her leadership in the engagement and impact of SEI and will continue to focus on and build these essential parts of our mission.
Michelle has helped construct an incredible network of environmental academics on campus, and consistently links people who need to know one another – she has an amazing knack of knowing who will complement whom, and how to broaden projects to make them more inclusive and successful. On impact, Michelle has been key to bringing many SEI academics to the public and policy realm – and bringing public figures to SEI. And, combining her ‘day job’ with her passion and talent in the realm of theatre, Michelle has ‘translated’ research done at the Institute into a suite of theatre productions. One of the key reasons for an environmental institute focused on the social sciences and humanities is that we need more than scientific facts – as crucial as they are – to engage the public and impact the way we understand and respond to environmental problems. We need cultural change and political passion, and Michelle’s work at SEI is a key and crucial element of that mission.
So a huge congratulations, and thanks, to our Deputy Director, Michelle St Anne. We look forward to her increasing role not just in the everyday functioning of SEI, but to her contributions (and measurement!) of our goals of broader engagement and impact. If we have any hope of successfully addressing the key environmental issues that we face, we need people like Michelle to draw people together, to recognise and address the truly complex nature of our problems, and to bring amazing skill and passion to the battles.
David Schlosberg and Iain McCalman | Co-directors at the Sydney Environment Institute