I’m a field philosopher and writer. I’m Deputy Director at the Sydney Environment Institute and an Associate Professor in the School of Humanities at the University of Sydney, Australia. From 2020-2022, I am also a Professor II in the Oslo School of Environmental Humanities at the University of Oslo, Norway.
My current research and writing focus on some of the many philosophical, ethical, cultural, and political issues that arise in the context of species extinctions and human entanglements with threatened species and places. This research works across the disciplines of cultural studies, philosophy, science and technology studies, and related fields.
I have explored these themes in depth in three books: Flight Ways: Life and Loss at the Edge of Extinction (Columbia University Press, 2014), The Wake of Crows: Living and Dying in Shared Worlds (Columbia University Press, 2019), and A World in a Shell: Snail Stories for a Time of Extinctions (MIT Press, 2022).
My research has been funded by a range of fellowships and competitive grants. From 2017-2021 I held an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship (FT160100098) and from 2014-2016 an Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellowship (Experienced Researchers). I have been awarded other funding from the Australian Research Council (DP110102886; DP150103232; DP220101258), the British Academy, and a variety of other funding bodies.
I completed my BA (honours) in philosophy and religious studies at the Australian National University (2003), and my PhD in the Fenner School of Environment and Society, also at the ANU (2007). From 2011-2017 I helped to establish and then worked with the Environmental Humanities group at the University of New South Wales, where we set up Australia’s (and one of the world’s) first undergraduate qualifications in the Environmental Humanities and the world’s first MOOC in this emerging area.
I have held visiting positions at the University of California at Santa Cruz (2005, 2010), the Environmental Humanities Laboratory at the Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden (2014), the Department of Anthropology at MIT (2018), the Centre for Pacific Islands Studies at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa (2018), and been a Humboldt Research Fellow at the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (2014, 2015, 2016).
From 2012-2019, I was co-editor of the international, open-access journal Environmental Humanities (Duke University Press). I founded this journal with the late Deborah Bird Rose as the first space dedicated explicitly to this emerging field. In 2016, Deborah retired and I co-edited the journal with Elizabeth DeLoughrey. In 2020 we handed the journal over to new editors and it continues to thrive.
I am currently a member of the Australian Research Council College of Experts, co-convenor (with Libby Robin) of the Australian Environmental Humanities Hub, and Director of the Australia-Pacific Observatory of Humanities for the Environment.
Email: thom.van.dooren [at] sydney.edu.au