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I teach primarily in environmental political theory, contemporary political theory, and law. 

Here is a syllabus for one of my most popular courses - Humans, Nature and the Future: An Introduction to Environmental Political Theory.

I like to explain my teaching philosophy to my students using a metaphor that has been very important in my own life. This is the metaphor of exploring the backcountry (or in Australian English, “the outback” or “the bush”). We have come together, I tell them, to explore an intellectual landscape. And my role with them is akin to the role of a park ranger, engaging those who are visiting their park.


The Country* we will be exploring together is one I know well and have spent a long time in, and one I love. I hope to share it in a way that communicates this care and respect. At the same time, I have pragmatic aims: I want to share the significance and power of the landscape we are exploring, so my students feel equipped to adventure within it themselves. I hope to give them the “lay of the land” – ways to get around, key paths already blazed by others, obvious trailheads and hidden detours. And I hope to offer them tools – close reading, critical thinking, dialectic – that they can use to orient themselves and follow what matters to them.


The pragmatic tradition holds that our goal, as teachers, is to nurture our students as whole human beings: to give them skills to pursue meaning as it appears to them, and strengthen the communities in which they live. These two pursuits are closely related. As teachers, we advance this goal by bringing our students into an ongoing conversation about how our collective intellect, ethics, and imagination can help us respond together to the world’s most pressing problems. As human beings, we advance it by serving as kind, ethical and transparent mentors; by modelling open-mindedness and vulnerability; and by connecting our academic work to our lives beyond the classroom and the faculty lounge.


The practice of encountering, sharing and reflecting on narratives provides our students with the opportunity to live and practice empathy. It enables them to come together across diverse experiences, perspectives and backgrounds, and exploring the embodied and emotional – as well as intellectual – elements of the intellectual journey that we share. We can advance this practice for our students by bringing a wide range of voices into the classroom; by honouring the importance of our students’ attempts to make meaning of their experiences; by offering them the chance for creative as well as philosophical reflection on the materials we teach; and by facilitating conversations about the many ways we can imagine and narrate the moment in history in which we live.


*“Country” is an Australian Aboriginal English term, and refers to places understood not just as physical environments, but as complex, living, breathing entities. For one evocative discussion, see Tyson Yunkaporta, Sand Talk: How Indigenous Knowledge Can Save The World (Text, 2022).

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