Professor Wendy Steele, who is from RMIT’s Centre for Urban Research in the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies in Melbourne, will spend the next six months helping to establish a new regenerative futures cluster at RMIT Europe as Research Director.
Steele says that the theme of regenerative futures builds on topics of sustainability and resilience in three ways.
The first seeks to transform ‘business as usual’ and create flourishing futures based in new ideas and practices while remaining connected to the current local context.
The second one is grounded in the idea of living systems and cities – acknowledging that although humans are social beings, nature is also critically important.
The third is that it specifically seeks to address questions of equity and justice in the transformative process.
“The power of regenerative futures is that it provides hope for a flourishing planet Earth – grounded in the practices of local communities who are seeking to make a difference in a positive way,” said Steele.
Over the next six months, Steele will link up with partners across Europe including the Stockholm Resilience Institute, the Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Vienna, Dark Matter Labs, Politics for Tomorrow and The New Institute, as well as colleagues in Utrecht, Rotterdam and London.
She also plans to connect with community-based organisations working in topics of climate adaptation, climate justice, threats and disasters and learn more about different types of civic engagement practices taking place locally in Barcelona and beyond.
Steele, who was previously the Interim Director of the RMIT Urban Futures Enabling Impact platform, has a background bridging environmental humanities and social sciences through transdisciplinary research.
She realised early on the link between environmental and urban issues, setting forth her fascination for the study of cities and their impacts on both human and non-human participants.
A core focus of Steele’s work is on critical urban governance, looking at policies and planning, as well as regulatory frameworks.
She also addresses questions of climate justice and equity, including themes of climate security in cities related to core infrastructure like water, energy and food.
"A lot of my work is focused on cities in climate change, with a particular emphasis on human-nature relationships through a critical governance lens," said Steele.