Researcher

Professor Tema Milstein

My Expertise

Environmental communication and culture; Ecocultures and ecocultural identities; Ecotourism and wildlife; Environmental activism; Environment and society; Transformative pedagogy

 

 

Keywords

Fields of Research (FoR)

Environmental communication, Environment and culture, Communication and media studies, Cultural studies, Human geography, Cultural geography

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Biography

Tema Milstein's work is in the field of environmental communication, a social science and humanities transdiscipline that understands communication as a powerful force at a time of human-generated ecological and climatic crises. She is particularly known for cultural approaches to studying how communication shapes ecological understandings, identities, and actions. Her work tends to discourses that otherwise go unnoticed, to connections...view more

Tema Milstein's work is in the field of environmental communication, a social science and humanities transdiscipline that understands communication as a powerful force at a time of human-generated ecological and climatic crises. She is particularly known for cultural approaches to studying how communication shapes ecological understandings, identities, and actions. Her work tends to discourses that otherwise go unnoticed, to connections between discourses and wider destructive or restorative practices, and to paths toward sustainable, just, and regenerative futures. Her research spans the globe, illustrating tensions between overarching and marginalised environmental meaning systems, examining ecotourism and environmental activism, and establishing the study of ecocultural identities. Milstein's Routledge Handbook of Ecocultural Identity (Routledge, 2020, co-editor José Castro-Sotomayor) gathers 40 international interdisciplinary authors to bring the ecological turn to sociocultural understandings of the self. She is a former Fulbright Scholar and is the 2020 recipient of the Faculty of Arts, Design, and Architecture Dean's Research Award for Society Impact. 

As a member of the Environment & Society Group, Milstein serves as convenor of the Master of Environmental Management, a program focused on nourishing tomorrow's change-makers in restoratively rethinking and reshaping the world. She is dedicated to transformative ecopedagogy, and is co-editor of Environmental Communication Pedagogy and Practice (Routledge, 2017), founder of the "inside-out classroom," and served as her former institution's University Presidential Teaching Fellow. Milstein has taught at universities in Australia, the United States, Italy, China, and New Zealand. Before coming to UNSW, she was associate professor of Geography & Environmental Studies and Environmental Communication at the University of New Mexico. In her previous professional life, she was a print and public radio journalist.

At UNSW, she is involved in several projects, including as lead for (Daily) Delight~Disrupt, a 2-year ADA Innovation Hub public scholarship project using research to ignite everyday experiences of ecocentric transformation as part of the global Massive Change Network, and as co-lead of UNSW Urban Growers, a cross-university staff and student volunteer effort to create and maintain on-campus experiential learning through growing food and community. She's a founding member of UNSW's Regenerative Response Collective, serves as Advisory Committee member for UNSW's Fowlers Gap Research Station, as Reference Group member for UNSW's Institute for Industrial Decarbonisation, and as member of Beyond Growth, a UNSW staff-formed group.

Internationally, Milstein serves on several journal editorial boards, including flagship journals in the field such as Environmental Communication, the Quarterly Journal of Speech, and Communication Monographs.


My Grants

Recent Examples:

  • UNSW Visiting Teaching Fellowship. 2023.
     
  • Faculty of Arts, Design, & Architecture Research Fellow. 2022.
     
  • Sustainable Development Reform Hub, UNSW. Seed Grant Project: Designing Regenerative Economies: Legal, Policy, and Governance Reform for 'Regen Cities'. 2022
     
  • United States Fish and Wildlife Service
    • Project lead/chief investigator. Developing the university campus as an urban wildlife refuge. August 2018-July 2020.
    • Project lead/chief investigator. Conservation management audio-visual public messaging. August 2018-May 2019.
    • Project lead/chief investigator. Conservation management social media outreach. August 2017-May 2018.
    • Project co-lead/chief investigator. Wildlife and pollinator habitat via campus community garden pedagogy. August 2017-July 2018.
       
  • Mandela Washington Fellowship Academic and Leadership Institute (flagship program of President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative). Co-investigator/project lead for environmental communication. 25 young African leaders, six-week institute. US Department of State, US International Research and Exchanges Board, US Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. 2017.
     
  • McCune Foundation. Partner investigator/expert consultant. MediaDesk NM capacity building for non-profit sector in sustainability innovation. 2013-2014.
     
  • US Fulbright Scholar/Fulbright New Zealand. Senior Scholar. New Zealand ecotourism communication practices and sustainability. Kaikoura & Auckland, New Zealand. US Congress and partner country. 2012.
     
  • United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Co-investigator. Collaborative for Sustainable Foodshed Development. 2010-2013.

 


My Qualifications

PhD, University of Washington

MA, University of New Mexico


My Awards

  • Faculty of Arts, Design, and Architecture Research Fellow. UNSW. 2022.
     
  • Faculty of Arts, Design, and Architecture Dean's Research Award for Society Impact. UNSW. 2020.
     
  • University of Tasmania Visiting Fellow. Hobart, Australia. 2016.
     
  • Journal Article Awards: 
    • National Communication Association. For Outstanding Environmental Scholarship.
      • 2017. Sole author
      • 2009. Sole author
         
  • Book Awards:
    • American Educational Studies Association. Critics Choice Award.
      • 2013. Chapter author
    • National Communication Association. For Outstanding Environmental Scholarship.
      • 2020. Co-editor
      • 2017. Co-editor
      • 2013. Chapter author
      • 2010. Chapter author
         
  • Book Chapter Award: 
    • National Communication Association. For Outstanding Environmental Scholarship.
      • 2022. Co-author
         
  • Top Conference Papers:
    • International Communication Association. Environmental Division:  2017,  2012.
    • National Communication Association. Environmental Division:  2010,  2006.
    • Western States Communication Association. Environmental Division:  2011.
       
  • Teaching Awards:
    • Presidential Teaching Fellow. University of New Mexico. 2015-2017. 
    • Outstanding Teacher of the Year. University of New Mexico. 2011. 

My Research Supervision


Areas of supervision

See my areas of expertise and published research


Currently supervising

  • PhD student Gretchen Miller. The Rescue Project, citizen-storytelling, courage, and the more-than-human world.
  • PhD student Madeleine Miller. Critical food politics and regenerative farming agriculture paradigms. 
  • PhD student Catherine Sarah Young. Participatory art and climate science. As Scientia mentor.
  • PhD student Joanne Christine Marras Tate. Covid-era more-than-human discourses and reclamations of space. External (University of Colorado Boulder, US).
  • Master's student Rhiannon Newton. Dance and embodied performance as potentially ecoculturally restorative.

 


My Engagement

Recent podcasts:

Recent media articles:


My Teaching

I am passionate about teaching. I understand the classroom as a uniquely transformative space wherein people can collectively raise awareness about unseen dimensions of culture and society and gain tools to imagine and practice restorative and regenerative futures. I've taught for more than two decades in higher education and I currently teach:

IEST5005 Environmental Communication

IEST5001 Frameworks for Environmental Management

ARTS1241 Environmental Advocacy and Activism

 

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Videos

Tema Milstein talks about what's standing in the way of more positive, even restorative environmental relations in Western and industrial/ised cultures and how we can move forward. 2022.
This is a 2023 episode of the Thinking in the World Series, published by the International Consortium of Environmental Philosophers. It's part of the Environmental Humanities Toolkit for Policymakers.
In conversation with Laura McLauchlan, Tema Milstein discusses the Routledge Handbook of Ecocultural Identity
Nature Freaks on ABC
Tema Milstein and Tim Ingold in conversation
What is Ecocultural Identity?