The first thing we are going to change is your thinking about Climate Change.
We love the planet!
Technology and Ecology working together.

The Interconnectedness of Everything pvk/jjz
Professor Stuart B. Hill
University of Western Sydney - Foundation Chair of Social Ecology

Professor Stuart B. Hill is the Foundation Chair of Social Ecology at UWS-Hawkesbury. He has over 250 publications, gives presentations and workshops on agriculture, social and personal change, mens issues and ecological living throughout the world, and with his partner tends his garden in the Blue Mountains.

There are so many things that are different about the undergraduate, postgraduate coursework and research programs in Social Ecology at the University of Western Sydney, it is difficult to know where to start.  First I should say who I am and why I want to tell you about this..

Originally from England, I spent 27 years at McGill University in Montreal where in 1974 I set up Ecological Agriculture Projects which was the world's most comprehensive resource centre on ecologically sustainable agriculture.  In 1993 I came to Australia to spend a sabbatic year in agriculture at UWS-Hawkesbury teaching ecological approaches to agriculture, including organic farming, Permaculture, biodynamics, holistic resource management etc. I also did some teaching in the Social Ecology programs, which just blew me away. 

They challenge everything that is stuffy about university! Most of the students are mature aged and off campus, and most are daring to go to University, rather than this being the next step in a boring life!



Eco Sustainable Planet image



Social Ecology is a learning community that is collectively designing and feeling its way into the future. Most of the learning is experiential and involving projects concerned with working with change - change within one's place of work, local community or environment, and in one's ways of being and doing in the world; and most often in all of these.  Most of the research involves working with others in processes of change - often using an approach called participatory action research or collaborative inquiry, and usually integrating feminist perspectives.

Staff and students alike most commonly talk about social ecology as an experience of finding home. For me the most amazing things about the programs are the people and their achievements. Talk of breakthroughs, transformations, paradigm shifts and life changing experiences are common.

Because people bring their experiences, challenges and fundamental questions into the programs, the whole experience is one of being really alive and vital. This is particularly evident at the one week Residentials, which the students doing the coursework programs attend each semester. Putting these on is more like organising a major theatrical event than the more usual series of lectures that one expects in a University.

To continue my story of who I am - in 1996 I was appointed as the Foundation Chair in Social Ecology, or what is more usually referred to as the Prof!  -  not exactly a job made in  heaven  -  largely because of this government's ongoing undermining of tertiary education in Australia  -  but pretty close.

If you are not yet clear what social ecology is about perhaps the following definition will help, although I should add that every social ecologist will have a different definition depending on their particular passions and current projects.

SOCIAL ECOLOGY provides a holistic framework that emphasises the interrelationships between the personal, social, environmental and spiritual domains for understanding our past and present, and for collaborating with others in visioning and implementing an improved future.

Social Ecology

Social ecology asks us to clarify our values and act in accordance with them, while taking into account what is needed for the healthy functioning of our local community, the people of the world and future generations, and the natural environment and its inhabitants.  It involves an integration of concerns for the areas elaborated below.

Personal: your own values, beliefs, assumptions, hopes, visions, goals, roles, responsibilities, and ongoing process of development.

Social: society with it's evolving structures and processes, (cultural, political, economic, spiritual, philosophical, technological, including the built environment, informational etc.).

Environmental: the rehabilitation and maintenance of the local, regional and global natural environment, and particularly its biodiversity, as a supportive home for present and future generations of humans and all of the other species with which we share this planet.

Spiritual: the greater, largely unknown, whole that extends beyond the borders of our understanding, including all that is mysterious, sacred and too enormous or profound to be simplistically defined (and dismissed).

The Social Ecology programs available include an undergraduate Major, a one-year Graduate Certificate and a two-year coursework Masters of Arts. We also offer research degrees at the Masters and Doctorate levels.

Social ecology graduates are particularly well prepared for work that requires: ability to work with people effectively; communication skills for informing people and changing behaviours; collaboration and taking leadership in change processes; conducting analytical studies of complex situations;  and planning and implementing improved futures. Our programs provide participants with resources and opportunities to prepare them to take leadership or other significant roles in whichever area they choose in the ongoing process of social change.

Graduates tend to be more: autonomous (vs arrogant), yet able to collaborate across difference;  visionary;  creative, imaginative, in-touch with their intuition;  able to be aware of and effectively express and use their feelings;  reflective and responsible; aware of the bigger picture and long-term applications;  able to use a diversity of means of communication; culturally and contextually sensitive;  empowered to act;  integrative of head, heart, body, spirit and soul (and sense of humour); in touch with values and their implications for plans and actions;  and likely to pay attention to diverse outcomes (feedback).

Graduate competencies include: values clarification and their role in change processes; historical and holistic analyses of complex situations; facilitation and leadership re equitable positive co-evolutionary change;  design and establishment of structures and processes that can support improvement; collaboration and support within contexts of difference;  ability to learn and research (particularly participatory action research); rehabilitation and maintenance of personal, social and ecological systems; and effective relational communication.

If this sounds like the sort of program that you have been looking for, or if you know someone who might fit right into such a program, then don't hesitate to contact us.  Get more information and details of the programs by contacting our program administrator Lizzy Pemble by mail (School of Education, UWS Kingswood Campus, Locked Bag 1797 Penrith South DC, NSW, 1797) or at (02) 4736-0334  or e.pemble AT

Lizzy Pemble | Administration
e.pemble AT Ph 02 4736 0334.
Catherine Camden-Pratt
| Course Adviser, Master of Arts (Social Ecology)
c.camdenpratt AT Ph 02 4736 0275.
David Wright | Course Adviser (Head) Social Ecology

david.wright AT Ph 02 4736 0267.


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