Work / Life Ecologies

Air Travel is a significant and growing part of our carbon footprint, and our overall environmental impact. This is particularly the case for universities and academics, who might fly for any number of reasons: conferences, meetings, field work, commuting, and relocating being the most common. But how well recognized is the impact of air travel by academics and universities? Do they see flying as an activity that can be reduced, in the same way that they can reduce the consumption of energy and water? What is leading to our unsustainable patterns of air travel, and can anything be done about it? These are some of the questions we deal with in our research on air travel.

  • In our research on academic air travel, we learned that one of the main reasons academics go to conferences is for the opportunity to interact with other academics in an informal setting. Academics commonly cited the conversations they have during conference breaks and meals as being particularly beneficial for professional and personal networking. But given that eating meals is such an embodied and material experience, what would it look like to experience that remotely? Can we really eat a meal with someone on the opposite side of the world in the same way as though they were sitting next to us?

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  • Have you ever wanted to attend a conference that was right up your alley, but just couldn’t find a way to get there? Perhaps the flights were too expensive, and you or your employer didn’t feel it was worth the time and money to make the trip. You may have caring obligations where spending multiple days away from home just isn’t feasible. In either case, you would miss the event.

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  • The last few decades have seen the increasingly pervasive use of the term ‘smart’ when it comes to technologies and the built environment. Technology is the material backbone and sustainability a significant aspiration for the designers and organisations developing and occupying ‘smart’ built environments. Allister Hill’s project aims to address the relationship between materiality, space and sustainability in what may be considered a ‘smart’ building – RMIT’s ‘Swanson Academic Building’ (the SAB). The SAB, located on an inner urban university campus, is a 5-star Green Star rated, multi-award winning and hailed as a successful example of a technologically innovative and sustainable building.

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  • Investigating students’ eating practices and food spaces at an inner urban university

    Work Life Ecologies Phd Candidate Bhavna Middha is investigating the eating spaces at inner urban universities and their interrelationship with students’ eating practices and their implication on sustainable consumption. Here Bhavna describes her innovative research methods, and gives some examples of her findings:

    ‘Selfoodie’(posting food selfies) is a research method I have used to follow the students’ eating practices on and off campus and as a way of exploring the changing spatio-temporal characteristics of eating practices.

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  • airplane wing

    Why do academics fly so much? What is it about academia, or the university sector in general, that makes flying such a normal part of the work life? And what can be done to reduce the amount of air travel that academics undertake?

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