Gemma Viney Reflects on Her 2017 Honours Research Fellowship

Our Knowledge Translation Officer Anastasia talks to 2017 Honours research Fellow Gemma Viney about her Honours Fellowship experience with SEI.

Gemma Viney pictured with SEI Co-Director Iain McCalman and Deputy Director Michelle St Anne

As 2017 comes to a close, we are saying farewell to this year’s Honours Fellows and have just begun to receive applications for our 2018 Honours Research Fellowship programme. As part of our acknowledgment of the achievements of our 2017 Fellows, we talk to Gemma about her fellowship, and how it impacted her overall Honours experience.

Gemma received First Class Honours and was nominated for an award for the highest thesis mark in the Department of Government and International Relations.

Gemma’s Honours thesis undertook a content analysis of Aboriginal and farming community submissions to the government and applied environmental justice theories in the examination of how relationships are forming between Aboriginal and farming communities in rural NSW in response to extractive industry.

Find out about Gemma’s fellowship experience below.

The questions are: How would you describe your experience completing Honours with as an SEI Research Fellow?

The opportunity to be an Honours Research Fellow with the Sydney Environment Institute had an immense impact on my experience over the course of this year. Not only did the Institute provide resources, opportunities and connections that I would never have otherwise had access to, but it also created a support structure of smart, generous and constructive people who were so important throughout the year. It was so comforting to have people around me that knew exactly what I was going through and so rewarding to talk through ideas and concerns with people who were knowledgeable, engaged and supportive of my thesis topic.

What opportunities or experiences did the Fellowship provide?

The fellowship provided me connections with a number of SEI affiliated academics who were all willing to listen and give feedback on my thesis concepts in its early stages. The SEI fellowship also gave me a consistent place to work over the course of the year. This meant I could create a space that was productive and kept exclusively for my honours studies while maintaining a separation at home and with friends as a place away from the headspace of honours. Lastly, the Fellowship with the SEI gave me the opportunity to volunteer at the Institute’s Environmental Justice conference which was exciting both as an insight into how academic conferences are run and as an opportunity to spend three days hearing the academics I had written about in my thesis speak about the field I had spent my year researching.


What was your favourite part of your Honours Research Fellowship? Would you suggest other people apply? Why/why not?


I would encourage others to apply. More than anything having the resource of people around you who are so enthusiastic about your project and willing to help makes such a difference on the course of the year. My favourite part was meeting and working with the members of the Sydney Environment Institute, whether it be having them talk me down from a thesis-related meltdown or taking a much-needed break and a chat over lunch. It made the year not only more academically rewarding, but something I could really enjoy and I’m so grateful to everyone at the Institute for that.

If you are a student in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences who has applied for, or been accepted to study Honours in 2018, you may be eligible for an SEI Honours Research Fellowship in 2018. Click here for details on the Fellowship, and on how to apply. Hurry! Applications close 20 December 2017.