Adams, Michael J. Associate Professor

Associate Professor of Human Geography

  • Faculty of Social Sciences
  • School of Geography and Sustainable Communities
  • Australian Centre for Culture, Environment, Society and Space (ACCESS)

Top Publications


Research Overview


  • My research (and teaching) engages with human-nature relationships. I have completed extensive research on shared governance arrangements between government conservation agencies and Indigenous communities in national parks and World Heritage Areas, including direct contributions to policy development. Other research has examined Indigenous and local knowledge systems and how these interact with Western knowledge frameworks, as well as the cultural dimensions of hunting, especially around knowledge, respect and sacredness. Reflection on my learning from Indigenous and vernacular communities has led me to more exploratory work on nature and the search for meaning. This has been examined through ethnographic and immersion research on hunting, on freediving, and on connections to place, and has been published in narrative non-fiction forms as well as conventional academic formats.  I am also interested in the theory and practice of transformational learning experiences.

    Methodologically, I like ‘full-immersion fieldwork’, getting deeply and actively involved in the human and non-human lives and landscapes I research. I have worked with Indigenous and other communities across Australia, in arctic Scandinavia, Indonesia, the United States and in India. Prior to joining academia, I have 20 years of professional experience that integrates teaching, research, professional and community roles. I have worked for community-based organisations, NGOs, government agencies, Indigenous organisations, and as a consultant. This experience continues to facilitate strong industry and community linkages that benefit both teaching and research.

Available as Research Supervisor

Selected Publications


Presentations


Investigator On


Other Research Activities


  • UoW Global Challenges Program 2018 -
  • 2018 UOW Faculty Seed Grant (with others $7,000); 2017- 2018 NCP AsiaBound Mobility Program: Fieldwork Intensive ($133,500); 2018 Jindaola Indigenous Learning Program (with others $30,000); 2017 Global Challenges Seed Grant (with others $20,000); 2017 Calibre Essay Prize ($5,000); 2017 Bundanon Trust Writer in Residence ($1,000); 2016 AsiaLink Arts Residency ($6,000); 2016 Australia-India Institute Chingari Program ($4,000); 2015 Bundanon Trust Writer in Residence ($1,000) 2014 AsiaBound Outbound Mobility Program: Fieldwork Intensive ($21,500) 2013 AsiaBound Outbound Mobility Program [with others] ($21,500) 2013 Formas Swedish Research Council ($5,000 funding as keynote speaker) 2012 UIC Strategic International Links Grant - India ($12,500) 2012 UIC Strategic International Links Grant California (with Dr C. Eriksen, $10,500) 2012-2016 UOW Strategic Research Initiative: Australian Centre for Cultural Environmental Research - annual member allocation $6,000. 2011-2004 UOW Research Strength: Institute for Conservation Biology & Environmental Management - annual member and special allocations $36,000. 2011 UOW Outstanding Contribution to Teaching and Learning Award 2010 Dept of Environment, Climate Change & Water ($10,000) 2009 NSW Regional Arts [with Garry Jones] ($9,909.80) 2009 UOW Community Engagement Grant [with Garry Jones] ($9,968) 2008 Dept of Environment & Climate Change Research Agreement ($10,000) 2007 ALTC National Award for Teaching Excellence ($25,000) 2007 UOW Educational Strategies Dev Fund grant [with Dr Nick Gill] ($10,000) 2006 UOW Teaching and Learning Fund Grant ($32,000) 2006 Dept of Environment and Conservation Research Agreement ($6,000) 2005 Dept of Environment and Conservation Research Agreement ($2,500) 2004 UIC Strategic International Links Grant ($6,500) 2004 ARC Special Initiatives: Research Networks [with others] ($10,000) 2003 Churchill Fellowship ($15,000) 2002-2004NSW Environmental Trusts [with others] ($145,000) 2002-2004 National Parks and Wildlife Service research grant ($56,000) 1998-2000 ARC-SPIRT Postgraduate Scholarship ($62,000) 1999 ANU Centre for Cross Cultural Research ($2,500)

Impact Story


  • <p>I am trained as a geographer: geo-grapher, earth-writer. In 2017 my lyric essay on freediving, grief and loss, ‘<a href="https://www.australianbookreview.com.au/abr-online/current-issue/4100-2017-calibre-essay-prize-winner-salt-blood" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Salt Blood’</a> won the <a href="https://www.australianbookreview.com.au/prizes-programs/calibre-prize" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Calibre Essay Prize</a>. This work connects an intimate personal story with reflection on our place in the world. It has been showcased in a <em>TEDx</em> <em>Wollongong</em> talk (2018); an interview on Richard Fidler’s national ABC <em>Conversations</em> podcast (2017, ~200,000 downloads); and numerous radio and print media interviews. The work was included in two national ‘best of’ collections in 2017: <em><a href="https://www.blackincbooks.com.au/books/best-australian-essays-2017" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Best Australian Essays 2017</a></em>; <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/conversations/conversations-michael-adams-rpt/9233856" target="_blank" rel="noopener">ABC <em>Conversations Best of 2017</em></a>. The essay itself has been downloaded by readers more than 20,000 times.</p><p>Reflection on the privilege of my learning from Indigenous and vernacular communities led me to research on nature and the human search for meaning. This approach, using deeply personal immersion research expressed in innovative forms, enables open and creative communication with broad public and specialist audiences. I use ethnographic and immersion research to study hunting and death, animals and the sacred, freediving and loss, and connections to place. Insights in all of these areas underscore my debt to Indigenous teachers. While I also publish in conventional academic formats, it is narrative non-fiction and other creative writing that has significantly extended my research impact and engagement.</p><p>My work ranges from global environment and heritage policy to personal and autoethnographic analysis. Impacts consequently embrace the specifics of detailed conservation policy through to contributing to national public cultural conversations. Much of my work has been collaborative with Indigenous and other local communities, conducted in partnership with other researchers, government agencies and NGOs in Australia, Sweden and India. Since 2001, my research has provided evidence of the critical importance of Indigenous relationships to environment in responding to Australian and international environmental challenges. This research has raised awareness and influenced public, agency and academic understanding of issues spanning the recognition of Indigenous culture and rights, to nuanced approaches to grief and loss, and their linked significance.</p><p>My analyses and recommendations on environment policy highlight the unique contribution and relevance of vernacular and Indigenous knowledges and practices, and the social and environmental justice aspects of that recognition. Developed from previous professional work in national park agencies, environment NGOs and Aboriginal organisations, this research has raised awareness with conservation managers, Indigenous leaders and the public. These team projects have had practical outcomes including delineating the precise boundaries of national parks (Cape York 2002); influencing park policy on Aboriginal burning (Uluru 2014); influencing state government policy on Aboriginal land claims (NSW NPWS 2001); and developing international best practice on Indigenous approaches to conservation (<em>IUCN</em> 2011, <em>World Parks Congress</em> 2014).</p>

Available as Research Supervisor

Advisees


  • Graduate Advising Relationship

    Degree Research Title Advisee
    Doctor of Philosophy Art and Urban Aboriginal Adolescent Identity Moyle, Catherine
    Doctor of Philosophy Storytelling and Ocean Conservation Croft, Freya
    Master of Philosophy The applications and function of Citizen Science in Growing Community Based Knowledge Woods, Adam
    Doctor of Philosophy Perspectives on Aboriginal Country in Australia Cavanagh, Vanessa

Outreach Overview


Professional Service Activities


Awards And Honors


Teaching Overview


  • I teach GEOG339 International Fieldwork Intensive, annually taking students to Asia for two weeks. Since 2015 we have been to the Andaman Islands, India; Bali, Indonesia (twice); mainland India; and will be going to Phang Na Bay, Thailand in 2019. I teach Buddhism, Environment and Sustainability at the Nan Tien Institute. For ten years I taught INDS201 Redefining Eden: Indigenous Peoples and the Environment. I previously taught INDS150 Introduction to Indigenous Australia, and INDS130 Introduction to Comparative Indigenous Studies.

    These were taught to Wollongong and regional campuses. I regularly lead field trips for visiting international academics and Study Abroad students.

    I am interested in experiential and participatory learning. My teaching engages with subjects that are controversial, sensitive and highly relevant nationally and internationally, including critical unresolved issues around entrenched racism and environmental crisis. I have mentored numerous Indigenous students through science and other degrees, and mentored many graduates into professional careers. Several of these graduates have won prestigious awards, including the Robert Hope Memorial Prize (J. Kitchener 2013); the Ray Kelly Scholarship (R. Evitt 2009); the NSW Indigenous History Fellowship (Evitt 2010); and the Illawarra Prize in 4th Year Earth & Environmental Sciences (V. Cavanagh 2008).

Keywords


  • nature, Indigenous, sacred, oceans, conservation, hunting, animals, heritage

Top Publications


Research Overview


  • My research (and teaching) engages with human-nature relationships. I have completed extensive research on shared governance arrangements between government conservation agencies and Indigenous communities in national parks and World Heritage Areas, including direct contributions to policy development. Other research has examined Indigenous and local knowledge systems and how these interact with Western knowledge frameworks, as well as the cultural dimensions of hunting, especially around knowledge, respect and sacredness. Reflection on my learning from Indigenous and vernacular communities has led me to more exploratory work on nature and the search for meaning. This has been examined through ethnographic and immersion research on hunting, on freediving, and on connections to place, and has been published in narrative non-fiction forms as well as conventional academic formats.  I am also interested in the theory and practice of transformational learning experiences.

    Methodologically, I like ‘full-immersion fieldwork’, getting deeply and actively involved in the human and non-human lives and landscapes I research. I have worked with Indigenous and other communities across Australia, in arctic Scandinavia, Indonesia, the United States and in India. Prior to joining academia, I have 20 years of professional experience that integrates teaching, research, professional and community roles. I have worked for community-based organisations, NGOs, government agencies, Indigenous organisations, and as a consultant. This experience continues to facilitate strong industry and community linkages that benefit both teaching and research.

Selected Publications


Presentations


Investigator On


Other Research Activities


  • UoW Global Challenges Program 2018 -
  • 2018 UOW Faculty Seed Grant (with others $7,000); 2017- 2018 NCP AsiaBound Mobility Program: Fieldwork Intensive ($133,500); 2018 Jindaola Indigenous Learning Program (with others $30,000); 2017 Global Challenges Seed Grant (with others $20,000); 2017 Calibre Essay Prize ($5,000); 2017 Bundanon Trust Writer in Residence ($1,000); 2016 AsiaLink Arts Residency ($6,000); 2016 Australia-India Institute Chingari Program ($4,000); 2015 Bundanon Trust Writer in Residence ($1,000) 2014 AsiaBound Outbound Mobility Program: Fieldwork Intensive ($21,500) 2013 AsiaBound Outbound Mobility Program [with others] ($21,500) 2013 Formas Swedish Research Council ($5,000 funding as keynote speaker) 2012 UIC Strategic International Links Grant - India ($12,500) 2012 UIC Strategic International Links Grant California (with Dr C. Eriksen, $10,500) 2012-2016 UOW Strategic Research Initiative: Australian Centre for Cultural Environmental Research - annual member allocation $6,000. 2011-2004 UOW Research Strength: Institute for Conservation Biology & Environmental Management - annual member and special allocations $36,000. 2011 UOW Outstanding Contribution to Teaching and Learning Award 2010 Dept of Environment, Climate Change & Water ($10,000) 2009 NSW Regional Arts [with Garry Jones] ($9,909.80) 2009 UOW Community Engagement Grant [with Garry Jones] ($9,968) 2008 Dept of Environment & Climate Change Research Agreement ($10,000) 2007 ALTC National Award for Teaching Excellence ($25,000) 2007 UOW Educational Strategies Dev Fund grant [with Dr Nick Gill] ($10,000) 2006 UOW Teaching and Learning Fund Grant ($32,000) 2006 Dept of Environment and Conservation Research Agreement ($6,000) 2005 Dept of Environment and Conservation Research Agreement ($2,500) 2004 UIC Strategic International Links Grant ($6,500) 2004 ARC Special Initiatives: Research Networks [with others] ($10,000) 2003 Churchill Fellowship ($15,000) 2002-2004NSW Environmental Trusts [with others] ($145,000) 2002-2004 National Parks and Wildlife Service research grant ($56,000) 1998-2000 ARC-SPIRT Postgraduate Scholarship ($62,000) 1999 ANU Centre for Cross Cultural Research ($2,500)

Impact Story


  • <p>I am trained as a geographer: geo-grapher, earth-writer. In 2017 my lyric essay on freediving, grief and loss, ‘<a href="https://www.australianbookreview.com.au/abr-online/current-issue/4100-2017-calibre-essay-prize-winner-salt-blood" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Salt Blood’</a> won the <a href="https://www.australianbookreview.com.au/prizes-programs/calibre-prize" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Calibre Essay Prize</a>. This work connects an intimate personal story with reflection on our place in the world. It has been showcased in a <em>TEDx</em> <em>Wollongong</em> talk (2018); an interview on Richard Fidler’s national ABC <em>Conversations</em> podcast (2017, ~200,000 downloads); and numerous radio and print media interviews. The work was included in two national ‘best of’ collections in 2017: <em><a href="https://www.blackincbooks.com.au/books/best-australian-essays-2017" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Best Australian Essays 2017</a></em>; <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/conversations/conversations-michael-adams-rpt/9233856" target="_blank" rel="noopener">ABC <em>Conversations Best of 2017</em></a>. The essay itself has been downloaded by readers more than 20,000 times.</p><p>Reflection on the privilege of my learning from Indigenous and vernacular communities led me to research on nature and the human search for meaning. This approach, using deeply personal immersion research expressed in innovative forms, enables open and creative communication with broad public and specialist audiences. I use ethnographic and immersion research to study hunting and death, animals and the sacred, freediving and loss, and connections to place. Insights in all of these areas underscore my debt to Indigenous teachers. While I also publish in conventional academic formats, it is narrative non-fiction and other creative writing that has significantly extended my research impact and engagement.</p><p>My work ranges from global environment and heritage policy to personal and autoethnographic analysis. Impacts consequently embrace the specifics of detailed conservation policy through to contributing to national public cultural conversations. Much of my work has been collaborative with Indigenous and other local communities, conducted in partnership with other researchers, government agencies and NGOs in Australia, Sweden and India. Since 2001, my research has provided evidence of the critical importance of Indigenous relationships to environment in responding to Australian and international environmental challenges. This research has raised awareness and influenced public, agency and academic understanding of issues spanning the recognition of Indigenous culture and rights, to nuanced approaches to grief and loss, and their linked significance.</p><p>My analyses and recommendations on environment policy highlight the unique contribution and relevance of vernacular and Indigenous knowledges and practices, and the social and environmental justice aspects of that recognition. Developed from previous professional work in national park agencies, environment NGOs and Aboriginal organisations, this research has raised awareness with conservation managers, Indigenous leaders and the public. These team projects have had practical outcomes including delineating the precise boundaries of national parks (Cape York 2002); influencing park policy on Aboriginal burning (Uluru 2014); influencing state government policy on Aboriginal land claims (NSW NPWS 2001); and developing international best practice on Indigenous approaches to conservation (<em>IUCN</em> 2011, <em>World Parks Congress</em> 2014).</p>

Advisees


  • Graduate Advising Relationship

    Degree Research Title Advisee
    Doctor of Philosophy Art and Urban Aboriginal Adolescent Identity Moyle, Catherine
    Doctor of Philosophy Storytelling and Ocean Conservation Croft, Freya
    Master of Philosophy The applications and function of Citizen Science in Growing Community Based Knowledge Woods, Adam
    Doctor of Philosophy Perspectives on Aboriginal Country in Australia Cavanagh, Vanessa

Outreach Overview


Professional Service Activities


Awards And Honors


Teaching Overview


  • I teach GEOG339 International Fieldwork Intensive, annually taking students to Asia for two weeks. Since 2015 we have been to the Andaman Islands, India; Bali, Indonesia (twice); mainland India; and will be going to Phang Na Bay, Thailand in 2019. I teach Buddhism, Environment and Sustainability at the Nan Tien Institute. For ten years I taught INDS201 Redefining Eden: Indigenous Peoples and the Environment. I previously taught INDS150 Introduction to Indigenous Australia, and INDS130 Introduction to Comparative Indigenous Studies.

    These were taught to Wollongong and regional campuses. I regularly lead field trips for visiting international academics and Study Abroad students.

    I am interested in experiential and participatory learning. My teaching engages with subjects that are controversial, sensitive and highly relevant nationally and internationally, including critical unresolved issues around entrenched racism and environmental crisis. I have mentored numerous Indigenous students through science and other degrees, and mentored many graduates into professional careers. Several of these graduates have won prestigious awards, including the Robert Hope Memorial Prize (J. Kitchener 2013); the Ray Kelly Scholarship (R. Evitt 2009); the NSW Indigenous History Fellowship (Evitt 2010); and the Illawarra Prize in 4th Year Earth & Environmental Sciences (V. Cavanagh 2008).

Keywords


  • nature, Indigenous, sacred, oceans, conservation, hunting, animals, heritage
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Research Areas

Geographic Focus