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. I am a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities and a member of the Australian Research Council College of Experts.
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).
I was the founding co-editor of the international, open-access journal Environmental Humanities (Duke University Press). I founded this journal with the late Deborah Bird Rose in 2012 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 it over to new editors and it continues to thrive
My research has been funded by competitive grants from the Australian Research Council (FT160100098; DP220101258; DP110102886; DP150103232), the Humboldt Foundation (Germany), the British Academy, and other funding bodies.
I have held a variety of fellowships and visiting positions. From 2017-2021, I held an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship (FT160100098) at the University of Sydney, and from 2014-2016, I was a Humboldt Research Fellow (Experienced Researchers) at the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. My significant, internally funded, positions have included a SOAR Prize at the University of Sydney (2022-2023) and a Professor II appointment in the Oslo School of Environmental Humanities at the University of Oslo (2020-2022, 0.1FTE). I have also been a visiting scholar 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), and the Centre for Pacific Islands Studies at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa (2018).
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 am currently co-convenor (with Libby Robin) of the Australian Environmental Humanities Hub, and Director of the Australia-Pacific Observatory of Humanities for the Environment.
More information on my research/publications is available here and on my teaching here.
Email: thom.van.dooren [at] sydney.edu.au