• Planetary Health Histories: Developing Concepts


    This historical research project aims to explain the conceptual development of the new planetary health, the principal means of assessing impacts of climate change and global environmental degradation on human health.


    Using a novel combination of history of science and medicine, Indigenous studies, environmental history, and international history, this research is expected to show how environmental health and disease ecology have been re-framed and scaled up in the past century to address the effects of global warming. The project will examine critically this intellectual formation, exploring its potential in global health and revealing its blind spots and

    omissions, especially in relation to Indigenous knowledge and structural inequalities.


    Funded by Australian Research Council Discovery Project DP220100624.


  • Project team


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    Warwick Anderson–Lead Chief Investigator

    Janet Dora Hine Professor of Politics, Governance and Ethics, School of Social and Political Sciences and Charles Perkins Centre, University of Sydney

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    Tony Capon–Chief Investigator

    Director, Monash Sustainable Development Institute & Professor of Planetary Health, School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University

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    Jakelin Troy–Chief Investigator

    Director, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Research, Research Portfolio & Professor of Linguistics, University of Sydney

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    Sverker Sörlin–Chief Investigator

    Professor, Division of History of Science, Technology and Environment, KTH Stockholm

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    James Dunk–Research Fellow

    Research Fellow, School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Sydney

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    Mujahid Torwali–Research Assistant

    School of Humanities, University of Sydney

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    Victoria Bonilla-Báez–Doctoral Candidate

    School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Sydney

  • Recent articles and commentaries




    Activities & events involving project team members

    November 2024

    Sverker Sörlin in Sydney

    Project PI Sverker Sörlin will lead a series of events in Sydney and Canberra themed around planetary governance and the environmental humanities and social sciences.


    October 2024

    Imagining Planetary Health: Rachel Carson Centre

    James Dunk will present at an intensive workshop hosted by the Rachel Carson Centre – one of the first high-profile humanities meetings focusing on planetary health.


    July 2024

    Planetary Health Ethics: In Search of a New Paradigm

    Investigators will convene a three-day workshop in Prato, Italy, looking to develop a new paradigm for a planetary bioethics.


    All history is history of the present, Adelaide

    James Dunk, together with Dr Lilian Pearce (Centre for the Study of the Inland, La Trobe) and Associate Professor Ruth Morgan (Centre for Environmental History, ANU) is convening the workshop All history is history of the present: The craft of environmental history now. The project is co-sponsoring the workshop. More information, and link to the EOI form here.


    4S Conference, Amsterdam

    Warwick Anderson will participate in the 2024 quadrennial joint meeting of the European Association for the Study of Science and Technology (EASST) and the Society for Social Studies of Science (4S).


    April 2024

    Planetary Health, Ethics, Justice, and Indigenous Knowledges

    Warwick Anderson and James Dunk, together with Danielle Celerjmajer (Sydney Environment Institute) will host a roundtable with distinguished visiting scholar Jonathan Patz, on the theme Ecological Justice, Bioethics, Indigenous Knowledges, and Planetary Health. Jakelin Troy will give a brief presentation during the meeting, which the project is sponsoring.


    September 2023

    European Association of the History of Medicine and Health, Oslo

    Warwick Anderson and James Dunk will present at EAHMH in Oslo, 30 August - 2 September.


    The Global Governance and Geopolitics of Environmental and Planetary Health - a Conversation

    Warwick Anderson, Jakelin Troy and James Dunk will take part in a conversation about planetary health and global governance led by Sverker Sörlin for the KTH Environmnetal Humanities Lab. 5 September, 12.30pm. Register by email.


    KTH Environmental Humanities Lab

    James Dunk, Environ/mental: Planetary Mental Health and the Ecological Self, 7 September, 12-1.30pm. Register here.


    August 2023

    European Society of Environmental History, Bern

    Warwick Anderson, Sverker Sörlin and James Dunk will participate in the ESEH conference in Bern, Switzerland.


    Environmental Humanities, National University of Singapore

    James Dunk has been invited to speak to the environmental humanities group at NTU on the theme 'Person/Planet: Towards a Planetary Mental Health'


    July–August 2023

    Project Meetings in Bern, Switzerland and Melbourne, Australia

    Investigators will meet to discuss project aims and plan a calendar of individual projects and events across the project duration, 2023–25.


    May 2023

    Warwick Anderson wins the John Desmond Bernal Prize

    The prize is awarded annually by the Society for Social Studies of Science (4S) to an individual who has made distinguished contributions to the field of STS. Past winners have included founders of the field, along with outstanding scholars who have devoted their careers to the understanding of the social dimensions of science and technology. Read more.

  • Affiliated projects and centres


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    Study of the Planetary Human-Environment Relationship (SPHERE)

    SPHERE–Study of the Planetary Human-Environment Relationship—is a European Research Council-funded project based at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden. SPHERE is a historical study of a comprehensive and complex governance issue in the contemporary world: humanity’s relation to planetary conditions and constraints.

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    The Pacific Circle

    The Pacific Circle supports and promotes research and exchanges in the history of science, medicine, and other practices of knowledge in the Asia-Pacific. It takes knowledge to encompass a cross-cultural diversity of beliefs about the workings of the universe and the command of a myriad of techniques applied to investigations and manipulations of worldly phenomena.

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    Sydney Centre for Healthy Societies

    Researchers at the Sydney Centre for Healthy Societies harness social science and humanities expertise to understand and transform how health and social life intersect on our changing planet. Working across scales of observation from the microbial to the planetary, the Centre highlights how historical context, political arrangements, economic structures, enduring inequalities, and interspecies and environmental relations both produce health problems and might map paths to new solutions.

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    Ecological Emotion Research Lab

    Led by Paul Rhodes and James Dunk at the University of Sydney, the Ecological Emotions Research Lab explores new methods for engaging with ecological distress, grief, anxiety, and other forms of ecological emotion – particularly in community settings.

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    Australasian Science and Technology Studies Network

    AusSTS is a network of researchers in science and technology studies (STS) in
    Australasia. It hosts social, professional, and academic events to create a community in STS across Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand. AusSTS has local nodes in Melbourne, Sydney, Darwin, and Wellington.

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    Australian and New Zealand Society of the History of Medicine

    The Australian and New Zealand Society of the History of Medicine exists to promote the academic study of the history of health sciences within the Australia-Pacific. Membership is open to anyone with an interest in the history of health and illness.

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    Charles Perkins Centre

    The Charles Perkins Centre is a large multidisciplinary research centre committed to improving global health. Based at the University of Sydney, its unique, complex-systems approach allows it to bring together researchers in unexpected research collaborations across four domains: biology; populations; society and environment; and solutions.

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    New Earth Histories research program

    New Earth Histories brings the history of geosciences and the history of select world cosmologies together. Led by Professor Alison Bashford and Dr JarrodH ore (UNSW), it aims to produce a fresh and cosmopolitan history of environmental sciences, analysing the significance of geological time and multiple cosmologies for global modernity itself.

  • Affiliated researchers