Flinders creates School of the Environment


Flinders University’s capacity to train experts and provide the research required to tackle major environmental issues has been enhanced with the creation of a new School of the Environment.

The national hub of environmental expertise will be established in January next year, and will later be housed in a state-of-the-art “green” building on the Flinders campus that will incorporate cutting-edge technologies to reduce energy and water use and minimise CO2 emissions.

Flinders Vice-Chancellor Professor Michael Barber said that concentration of the University’s research activities and courses related to the environment and sustainable development would establish a flagship environmental school of national standing.

“By grouping our world-class skills, experience and capability, Flinders will upgrade its capacity to make a contribution towards meeting Australia’s mounting environmental challenges, both through research and through provision of a dynamic education for tomorrow’s environmental professionals,” Professor Barber said.

The new School of the Environment will bring together staff and resources from the University’s highly respected undergraduate and postgraduate degree courses in the areas of environmental sciences, management and health. The School will also incorporate the newly established National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training and Airborne Research Australia, a facility based at Parafield Airport that provides unique environmental research and monitoring capability.

“The opportunities for collaborative activities and research will be greatly enhanced both internally and externally, while an intensive focus on the environment will have strong appeal for students looking to make a career in this rapidly expanding field,” Professor Barber said.

“Flinders is committed to the principles of ecologically sustainable development that we advocate in our environmental courses and is keen to support the State Government initiatives that build on South Australia’s reputation as a leader in environmental sustainability,” he said.

The role that Flinders environmental education plays in the wider community, especially in Adelaide’s southern region, will also be a focus of the new School.

The new School will become the fourth school within the Faculty of Science and Engineering, drawing together areas and staff responsible for the University’s major environmental courses:

  • Earth Sciences – responsible for undergraduate and postgraduate programs in Groundwater Hydrology and Water Resources Management;
  • Geography, Population and Environmental Management – responsible for undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Environmental Management, Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and Applied Population Studies.
  • Environmental Health – responsible for postgraduate programs in Environmental Health with particular research expertise in water quality.

The Interim Dean of the School of the Environment, Associate Professor Clive Forster, said the aggregation of expertise, and a resulting enhanced profile from the inclusion of several highly regarded research centres, would position the new School well for future collaborations and partnerships within the University and beyond.

“Increasing our understanding of groundwater and contributing to the future policy discussions about this important national resource will be a central theme for the new School,” Associate Professor Forster said.

“However, the new School will also have a significant research and teaching capability in the built environment and in population-environment issues by encompassing the graduate program in Applied Population Studies and the recently-established Flinders Institute of Housing, Urban and Regional Environments,” he said.

“This unit is already having an impact on public debate over housing matters and has produced major reports in association with the private sector.

“There will be even further scope for productive collaborations with external stakeholders when much of Flinders diverse environmental expertise is housed under one roof. There will also be collaborative opportunities within the University between disciplines such as public policy, law, engineering, education, economics, history, biological science and business.”

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