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Social Ecology


2005 - 2011

Charlie’s PhD research, writing and publication was carried out at University of Western Sydney in the School of Social Ecology at the Hawkesbury Campus. Under teachers such as Stuart Hill, Richard Bawden, John Cameron and David Wright.


Made famous by Murray Bookchin in the US, Social Ecology at Hawkesbury had its own recipe and flavour, a blend of Transformative and Experiential Learning, Knowledge Systems, Sense of Place, Ecopsychology, Ecofeminism, Jungian/Depth Psychology, Environmental Movement, Chaos & Complexity...and so much more. It was up to you to bring your experiences, passions and preparedness to academically explore. All this was set in the context of Australia..


At the time Charlie also worked at Southern Cross University teaching Social Sciences & Ethics - teaching, researching and organising a conference on the lived experiences of poverty and social Exclusion


The School of Social Ecology encouraged innovative research methodologies and so Charlie's thesis was used an autobiographical methodology.  A series of life 'learning encounters' from garden making, conservation, food growing, forest and river regeneration, Permaculture, books, courses, teaching, and projects, places and landscapes. These were seen as nodes of broader communities of practice (Wegner).


In particular Sense of Place and Practice Theory frameworks are are used. He asks what are we really doing? Stories of self, place, of the work we are critically integrated. Photos of practices and places are used to challenge the 'fatal allure' of narratives. The images, as below, are used using the method used by WG Sebald.


Mostimportantly the question is asked - 'how do we make sustainability ideas and ideals become reality? A range of findings emerge around 

deepening ecological practice, Australian history, the absolute importance of taking action.


'Situating Place Practice; Critical Reflections on Sustainability, Conservation, Education and Craft' Charlie William Sheridan Brennan, Western Sydney University, 2011.

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