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Professor Matthew Kearnes

9385 1010

I am the current convenor Environment and Society group, the Environmental Humanities programme and the Geographical Studies programme, based in the School of Humanities and Languages, UNSW. 

I am also the current president of the Geographical Society of NSW.  

I completed a BSc (honours) in Human Geography at Macquarie University and a PhD at the University of Newcastle. Before arriving at UNSW I held post-doctoral positions at the Department of Geography at the Open University and the Department of Sociology at Lancaster University. I also held a Research Council’s UK Academic Fellowship at the Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience Department of Geography, Durham University (2007-2011).

My research is situated between the fields of Science and Technology Studies (STS), social and cultural geography and contemporary social theory. My research focuses on the social constitution of processes of technological and environmental change. In this context I have documented the constitution of vernacular understandings of, and responses to, technological, scientific and environmental change, and have explored novel means for promoting diverse forms public participation. Deploying qualitative and ethnographic methodologies, my research has explored the societal dimensions of, and public engagement with, climatic change, bio-nanotechnology, geoengineering and contemporary water treatment and supply.

I am currently CI on two ARC Discovery Projects. Together with Prof. Alison Ritter (UNSW), Dr. Kari Lancaster (UNSW) and Prof. Jason Chilvers (UEA) I am a CI on the ARC DP Designing Illicit Drug Policy Solutions: The Role of Participation (DP200100909, 2020-2022), that deploys a novel ethnographic and praxiographic approach to participatory policy processes in the domain of illicit drug policy. In collaboration with A/Prof Thom van Dooren (USyd), Dr Emily O'Gorman (Macquarie), Prof Stephen Muecke (UNSW), Prof Grace Karskens (UNSW), Dr Natalie Osborne (Griffith) & Dr Peter Minter (USyd), I am CI on the recently awarded ARC DP Narrative Ecologies of Warragamba Dam (DP220101258, 2022-2026).

I am a CI in the ARC Training Centre for Transformation of Australia’s Biosolids Resource (2020-2025). I am also currently a member of the leadership team of the UNSW Global Water Institute.

Prior to these awards, between 2014-2018 I took up an ARC Future Fellowship (FT130101302, Governing Climate Futures: The Social and Political Ramifications of Climate Modification, $713,402). In the context of my ARC Future Fellowship I took up a visiting position in the School of Geography, Oxford University (September 2015-December 2015).

Between 2014-2021 I was a CI in the ARC Centre of Excellence on Convergent Bio-Nano Science and Technology (CBNS, CE140100036, 2014-2021, $26 million). My involvement in this large and multi-institutional project represented an innovative collaboration between scientific and technological research and social scientific reflection. In this context I led one of the Centre’s ten signature projects, focused on the ‘social dimension of bio-nano interactions. 

I am a member of the editorial collective for Science, Technology & Human Values an associate editor of Science as Culture. I am a member of the Society for Social Studies of Science (4S), the European Association for the Study of Science and Technology (EASST), the Science and Democracy Network, the Institute of Australian Geographers, and the Geographical Society of NSW

Selected Publications

Journal articles

Samarakoon S; Munro P; Zalengera C; Kearnes M, 2022, 'The afterlives of off-grid solar: The dynamics of repair and e-waste in Malawi', Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions, vol. 42, pp. 317 - 330,