Research Fellow, Synthetic Biology, Western Sydney University

Ref 1427/21 Research Fellow, ARC Centre of Excellence in Synthetic Biology, Institute for Culture and Society

Western Sydney University is a modern, forward-thinking, research-led university, located at the heart of Australia’s fastest-growing and economically significant region, Western Sydney. Boasting 11 campuses – many in Western Sydney CBD locations – and more than 200,000 alumni, 49,500 students and 3,500 staff, the University has 14 Schools with an array of well-designed programs and degrees carefully structured to meet the demands of future industry. 

The University is ranked in the top two per cent of universities worldwide, and as a research leader, over 85 per cent of the University’s assessed research is rated at ‘World Standard’ or above.  

About Us 

The Institute for Culture and Society carries out research on the transformations in culture and society in the context of contemporary global change. It operates as a leading international centre for interdisciplinary, engaged and collaborative scholarship in the humanities and social sciences for a digital age. Research at the Institute for Culture and Society is organised around an integrated program of research focusing on a number of broad themes including Automated Worlds; Borders & Diversity; Cultural Infrastructures; Environment and Technology; and Urban Futures. 

The Institute is one of four Research Institutes at the University, and the only one predominantly focused on the discipline area of the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (HASS). 

An important role of the Institute is to help develop the University’s overall research performance through external income generation and high-quality publications. It also conducts profile-raising activities through organising major conferences, developing a network of similar research entities nationally and internationally, hosting visiting scholars, and forging strategic partnerships with external organisations and communities. Public and community engagement is an integral aspect of the Institute’s work. 

The Institute for Culture & Society hosts the Western Sydney University node of the ARC Centre of Excellence in Synthetic Biology (CoESB) (http://www.coesb.com.au). The CoESB is a new, cross-disciplinary, and national research centre, which aims to create the knowledge and strategies necessary for Australia to develop a vibrant bioeconomy building on the nation’s strengths in agriculture. 

The Centre will combine engineering with molecular biology to design and construct novel biological systems that can convert biomass from agriculture or waste streams to biofuel, bioplastics and other high-value chemicals. The Centre brings together leading researchers in the humanities, social and technological sciences in an international industry, research and civil society network. 

Funded by the Australian Research Council for seven years from 2020 to 2026, CoESB is hosted at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, with nodes in seven other Australian universities (University of Western Australia, Queensland University of Technology, University of Queensland, University of Newcastle, Australian National University, University of NSW, and Western Sydney University). Research in the CoESB is focused upon Centre’s three capabilities: Systems Bioengineering, Industrial Translation, and Social Dimensions. 

The Role – Research Fellow in CoESB 

The Research Fellow will be actively engaged with research associated with the Social Dimensions capability, which embeds expertise and analysis from law, ethics, philosophy, the arts, political science, and the social and behavioural sciences within the science and engineering of synthetic biology. With a focus on ethical issues and values, legal frameworks and cultural shifts, this team of scholars explores some of the central questions arising from the CoE, such as what problem are we trying to solve and is synthetic biology even the right solution? And how does the promise translate into practice, policy and benefits for society? The Research Fellow will work with Dr Josh Wodak, the CoESB node leader at Western Sydney University. 

The position will conduct and manage primary research on ethical issues and values, and cultural shifts with respect to synthetic biology, with a particular focus on biodiversity conservation and/or climate change mitigation; publish research in high-quality outlets; engage and translate research with collaborators, international colleagues and industry partners; assist with project management and administration of project research; supervise research assistants and, where appropriate, co-supervise PhD students. This research-focused role does not include a teaching load, but opportunities for developing and maintaining a teaching profile may be available during the course of the Research Fellowship. 

This is a Full-Time, Fixed-Term position for 3 years based at the Parramatta Campus.

Remuneration Package: Academic Level B $125,306 to $147,860 p.a., (comprising Salary of $105,885 to $125,030 p.a., plus Superannuation and Leave Loading) 

Position enquiries: Dr Josh Wodak via email J.Wodak@westernsydney.edu.au 

To Apply 

To be considered for this position, please submit: 

1. Your CV 
2. A 2-page cover letter outlining your experience and how you will contribute to research within the Social Dimensions capability, about ethical issues and values, and cultural shifts with respect to synthetic biology, with a particular focus on biodiversity conservation and/or climate change mitigation. 
3. Response to the selection criteria 

Closing Date: 8:30pm, Monday 31 May 2021.

Please click here to view Position Description 

How to Apply:

Western Sydney University is committed to diversity and social inclusion. Applications from people of culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds; equity target groups including women, people with disabilities, people who identify as LGBTIQ; and people of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent, are encouraged. 

If you require assistance in using the System, please email recruitmentpartnerships@westernsydney.edu.au or phone the Recruitment Helpline on (02) 9852 5422. Please note, we do not accept applications for roles to the recruitmentpartnerships@westernsydney.edu.au email.  This site is optimised for all the latest browsers including Internet Explorer 11.0, Edge, Safari, Firefox and Chrome. Note that earlier versions of any of the browsers mentioned are supported, but likely to demonstrate slower response times.

THE REFLECTION POND – The Perils of Destiny: an Important Lesson of the COVID-19 Pandemic

We are re-sharing essays submitted to ‘The Reflection Pond,’ the opinion section of this past year’s ISEE newsletter. This submission was part of s series on Covid-19 and Environmental Ethics.

THE PERILS OF DESTINY: AN IMPORTANT LESSON OF THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

by Phil Cafaro

The current global pandemic, devastating as it is, has the potential to teach people some useful environmental lessons, if we’re willing to pay attention. One is that commercializing wild animals and selling them in unhygienic “wet markets” is an invitation to epidemiological disaster. Another is that the current global economy is toxic: when this novel coronavirus drastically ratcheted back economic activity, fish returned to Venice’s canals and New Delhi residents breathed easier and could once again see the Himalayas.

Perhaps the most important environmental lesson COVID-19 can teach environmentalists is that increasing the density of human populations is not the answer to our environmental problems. Even in normal times, excessive density harms people’s physical and mental health. During a pandemic, density can quickly turn deadly. Stories from France to India to Brazil have detailed how difficult it is for people in crowded cities to practice safe social distancing. For poor slum dwellers, living packed in one or two rooms and sharing communal water sources and toilets, it is literally impossible.

In recent years, “smart growth” advocates in the U.S. and Europe have been saying that increased density is the key to creating more ecologically sustainable societies. Fill in those unused city lots with more houses and office buildings. Re-zone detached, single-family housing areas to allow apartments. Re-zone areas designated for three or four-story apartments to allow six or eight-story ones. Build in! Build up! Yes, in my backyard! Smart growth will supposedly allow us to continue to grow, creating environmental efficiencies, while leaving land outside designated growth areas to remain for wild nature.

Such an approach is bound to fail. All those people crammed into cities still need resources from the countryside. So, in fact, more city-dwellers do not translate into more land left to nature, but instead to more land developed to grow food and host energy infrastructure, more wetlands filled in and more forests managed intensively—and more second homes built out in the country for those rich enough to afford them. As our cities, towns and populations grow, we inevitably take more resources from other species and gobble up habitat they need to survive.

Similarly, density’s touted environmental “efficiencies” turn out to be less than valuable than advertised. It’s true that New Yorkers have some of the lowest per capita greenhouse gas emissions in the country, due to more mass transit use and apartment living—a function of high density. But the metro area generates the highest total greenhouse gas emissions of any similar area in the country—a function of its excessive population. When YIMBYs urge Americans to get with the program, like NYC and San Francisco, and embrace denser development, they really are urging us to increase our overall greenhouse gas emissions. As a consolation prize, we will get to virtue signal that our per capita emissions have gone down. But it is total emissions that ultimately count when it comes to climate disruption.

In the same way, from an environmental perspective, what matters is overall water consumption, overall demand for food, overall land paved over in concrete, overall air miles flown. More people mean more of all these environmental stressors. Children in New York have higher asthma rates than children in less populous parts of the country, since higher population densities lead to worse air pollution. Year in and year out, that takes a toll on many kids’ ability to live a normal, healthy life. It doesn’t matter if per capita particulate emissions are lower in NYC than in smaller cities and towns—NYC children’s lungs are still worse off because of the crowding, with emissions from many persons per unit area.

None of this means that sensible zoning, alternating denser with less dense areas and undeveloped areas, is not necessary for effective environmentalism. But increased density should not become an end in itself, or a substitute for setting limits to human demands on nature. It should not become an excuse for more population growth in places like California that are already groaning under excessive human numbers. Then “smart growth” becomes a way for clever people to continue to do dumb things: a bait and switch tactic to hide the fact that we continue to damage the environment. That’s the path humanity treads today, as climate disruption, ocean acidification, mass species extinction, and other ecological stressors driven by excessive human numbers threaten the entire planet. The evidence is clear that this path is not sustainable.

Phil Cafaro is Professor of Philosophy at Colorado State University and former ISEE President.

CFP: Holmes Rolston III Early Career Essay Prize in Environmental Philosophy

Featured

2021 Call for Papers

Holmes Rolston III Early Career Essay Prize in Environmental Philosophy

The International Association for Environmental Ethics is issuing an essay prize open to its members who are scholars in an early stage of their career.

The prize is named in honor of Professor Holmes Rolston III, for his pioneering work in the field of environmental philosophy. Papers are invited on all aspects of environmental philosophy or environmental affairs (with a strong theoretical component).

A prize of $500 will be awarded to the winning essay. All submitted papers that qualify (see conditions) will be reviewed by an Essay Prize Committee of ISEE Officers in consultation with the Editorial Board of Environmental Ethics. The winning essay will be published in the journal Environmental Ethics.

Scholars who have earned their doctorate no more than five years prior to submission are invited to submit an essay. Submissions must be accompanied by a one-page CV to provide evidence of early career status. Only ISEE members are eligible for ISEE awards and prizes.

The word limit is 60,000 characters (including spaces), including notes and references. An abstract of 100-150 words should also be included. Essays must be prepared for blind review.

The essay should not be under consideration for publication elsewhere, and should not be submitted to any other journal until the outcome of the competition is announced.

Email submission to ISEE President Allen Thompson at <allen.thompson@oregonstate.edu> The closing date for submissions is June 1st, 2021.

CALL FOR NOMINATIONS: 2021 Victoria Davion Award for Intersectionality in Environmental Ethics

Featured

International Society for Environmental Ethics

2021 Victoria Davion Award for Intersectionality in Environmental Ethics

CALL FOR NOMINATIONS

To help build a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive field of environmental ethics, the

International Society for Environmental Ethics seeks to highlight intersectional scholarship in

environmental philosophy. To this end, we established an award in recognition Dr. Victoria Davion, who made cutting-edge contributions to interdisciplinary work in feminist and environmental ethics and was the founding editor of the journal, Ethics & the Environment. At the 2020 Annual Meeting of the Society, Dr. Chris Cuomo delivered a keynote address and was the inaugural recipient of the award.

With this call, the Society seeks nominations for the 2021 Victorian Davion Award for Intersectionality in Environmental Ethics. The award honors scholars engaged in intersectional work that describes, considers, or responds to overlapping forms of exclusion, discrimination, or injustice – such as the interplay of race, class, and gender in environmental injustice, or the relationship between colonialism and climate inequities.  Eligible candidates will be those whose work may be characterized, for example, as examining relations between environmental philosophy and feminist or gender studies, critical race theory, Indigenous studies, or disability studies. We aim to recognize work in research, teaching, and service that extends the scope of environmental ethics to incorporate perspectives and methods that have been historically marginalized or excluded from environmental philosophy as a discipline, and that address questions of epistemic justice, such as the devaluation of certain forms of knowledge within academic environmental philosophy, barriers to and opportunities for developing more inclusive perspectives, and approaches to respectfully collaborating across perspectives and traditions. In general, we seek to honor and advance work that brings different threads of philosophy and environmental thought—within and beyond formal academic discourse—together.

The award is open to individuals at all to stages of their career; however, candidates should demonstrate a sustained commitment to intersectional scholarship, or more broadly, to diversity, equity, and inclusion in the field of environmental ethics and beyond. Self-nominations are welcome.

Nominations should include:

  1. A letter of nomination, listing the name, affiliation (if any), and contact information of both the nominee and nominator. The letter should explain how and why the nominee qualifies for the award.
  2. The nominee’s curriculum vitae or professional resume.

Nominations may also include:

  • Descriptions, representative samples, or links to relevant work.
  • Additional letters of endorsement for the nomination, no more than two.

Please assemble the nominating materials into one PDF file. Nominations are due by April 15, 2021. They will be evaluated by ISEE Officers and members of the ISEE Nominating Committee.

Send nominations to ISEE President Allen Thompson: allen.thompson@oregonstate.edu

Announcement of the winner and finalists will be made at the 2021 Annual ISEE Meeting in June 2021.


CFP: Philosophy in the Wild

Call for Abstracts

Philosophy in the Wild invites abstract submissions for presentations at our inaugural workshop, the theme of which is environmental philosophy, very broadly construed.* This event is an outdoor, technology-free event.

From July 16th to 18th, 2021, participants will camp at Poe Paddy State Park in central Pennsylvania. Activities will include (though will not be limited to) keynote presentations, participant presentations/discussions, and hiking (optional). No prior camping experience is necessary; Philosophy in the Wild can work with participants to help arrange gear rentals.

This event is wheelchair accessible, although the campsite grounds include gravel. 

The event will follow the relevant local directives regarding Covid-19, and plans will be adjusted as needed. 

Please contact philosophywild@gmail.com with any inquiries.

*Environmental philosophy includes, but is not exhausted by, the following themes:

  • Environmental ethics; environmental aesthetics
  • Environmental political philosophy; environmental justice
  • Environment and capitalism
  • Postdevelopment and postcolonial theories
  • Philosophy of nature and metaphysics
  • Environment and social identities, including disability, indigeneity, race, queer ecologies, and ecofeminism
  • Social ecology and ecoanarchism
  • Climate change; sustainability; future generations
  • Urban ecology 
  • Environment and technology
  • Environment and religion
  • Animal ethics and critical animal studies
  • Environment and human flourishing

Abstracts should be approximately 500 words. Please submit your abstract in .pdf format, prepared for anonymous review, to philosophywild@gmail.com. In the body of the email, please include your name, university affiliation, and paper title. Papers should be suitable for a 25-minute presentation and a 25-minute Q&A session. Submissions from members of underrepresented groups in philosophy are especially encouraged.

Submission deadline: February 1, 2021

Decisions announced: April 1, 2021

Date of Workshop: July 16-18, 2021

Keynote Speakers:

Brendan Cline (CSU Channel Islands)

Karen Kovaka (Virginia Tech)

Organized by: Philosophy in the Wild; https://agoffz.wixsite.com/phil-in-the-wild

Contactphilosophywild@gmail.comhttp://bit.ly/2Rv2cRa 

ISEE Sessions at APA Eastern

For those attending the Eastern Division virtual meeting of the APA, ISEE Group Sessions will be as follows:

Thursday, Jan. 14, 11 am-12:50 pm (U.S. Eastern Time)

12L. International Society for Environmental Ethics

Topic: Animals and the Environment: Rights, Responsibilities, and Reverence

Chair: Marion Hourdequin (Colorado College)

Speakers:

  • Keith Hyams (Warwick University) Winner, Andrew Light Award for Public Philosophy
  • Kimberly Dill (Santa Clara University) “A Call to Environmental Reverence”
  • Corey Katz (Georgian Court University) “Scanlon’s Contractualism and Animal Ethics”
  • Connor Kianpour (Georgia State University) “Protections without Rights”

Friday, Jan. 15, 11 am-12:50 pm (U.S. Eastern Time)

16K. International Society for Environmental Ethics

Topic: Perspectives on Anthropocentrism, Non-Anthropocentrism, Agency, and Value

Chair: Marion Hourdequin (Colorado College)

Speakers:

  • Suvielise Nurmi (University of Helsinki) “Environmental Responsibilities as Responsibilities for Relational Moral Agency”
  • Espen Dyrnes Stabell (Norwegian University of Science and Technology) “Why Environmental Philosophers Should Be Buck-Passers about Value”
  • Akinpelu Oyekunle (Adekunle Ajasin University) “On the Idea of an African Environmental Philosophy: Arguments for Complementary Environmental Ethics”

In addition, after the Thursday session, ISEE will hold an informal social gathering on Spatial Chat from 1-2 pm Eastern time (over the meeting’s “lunch break” for those who happen to be on Eastern time!), to enable opportunities for further conversation.  More information will be sent out next week.