I am a geographer whose research examines human-environment relations, both conceptual and material. Since 2015, I have been Head of the School of Geography at the University of Melbourne.
Our aim is to build a world-leading School in which both human and physical geography are strong and can collaborate to help meet pressing social and environmental challenges.
I came to this position from many years at the University of Wollongong where, from 2009-2014, I was an Australian Research Council (ARC) Australian Laureate Fellow and Director of the Australian Centre for Cultural Environmental Research (AUSCCER). Before that, from 2007-2009, I was Head of the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences. In 2005-06 I was King Carl XVI Gustaf Visiting Professor of Environmental Science, Kristianstad University, Sweden, and have been a Visiting Professor at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden (2012-14).
My research – focused on long term changes in the Australian landscape and the interactions of both prehistoric and contemporary peoples with these environments – has positioned me as an international leader in geographical debates about the relationship between humans and nature. My work has used concepts and analytical methods from physical geography, archaeology and cultural geography, meeting international standards of excellence across these three disciplinary areas. Central to my contributions is the concept – and challenge – of coming to terms with landscapes that have been peopled for many thousands of years. Paradoxically, although it is now widely understood that human influences pervade all Earth surface processes, ideals of pristine past landscapes without people continue to dominate environmental management. My scholarship focuses on first articulating, then finding ways to overcome, these contradictions. My theoretical contributions are grounded in the empirical findings of fieldwork projects across tropical, temperate, arid and urban Australia.
In recent years I have worked mostly in cultural geography, with projects on ethnically-diverse environmental knowledge, backyard gardens, wheat and invasive plants. This developed from my earlier interest in Aboriginal land use, ethnobotany and fire. I started my research career using palaeoecology and archaeology to study long term changes in the Australian landscape, and the interactions of prehistoric peoples with their environments.
My latest ARC-funded research is investigating with colleagues the social and cultural benefits of market-based environmental policy instruments for carbon and water. Case study areas include the Murray-Darling Basin, Kakadu and Timor Leste.
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Lesley Head's selected work
Investigating The Sustainability-Migration Nexus Through Interdisciplinary, Comparative Cr..
Internal Research Grant
Australia's mass fish kills as a crisis of modern water: Understanding hydrosocial change ..
Displaying the 5 most recent projects by Lesley Head.
Internal Research Grant
Displaying the 105 most recent scholarly works by Lesley Head.
Bringing Together Landless Farmers and Unused Farmland: The Sunraysia Burundian Garden and Food Next Door Initiative
O Dun, Deborah Bogenhuber, Lesley Head, Joselyne Kadahari, Natascha Klocker, John Niyera, Joel Sindayigaya
Book Chapter | 2018
This book is a critical reflection on the past and the present of urban food growing in Australia, as well as a map and a passiona..
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Honours, Awards and Fellowships
NOTINLIST - Not in List
FASSA - Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia
FAHA - Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities