Critical reflections on crisis and emergency framings: A panel discussion

Image for Critical reflections on crisis and emergency framings: A panel discussion

Theatre A (G06), Elisabeth Murdoch Building, Spencer Road, University of Melbourne, Parkville


There is increasing realisation and concern that foundational systems for life are being stretched to breaking point. In this context, narratives of escalating global crisis or emergency are becoming commonplace and there is pressure on key institutions to adopt this framing.

This seminar begins from the premise that global crisis and emergency narratives can both drive and distract from important processes of change. On the one hand, crisis framings can be used to produce moments of disruption and accountability that expose failures of governance, institutional contradictions and raise ambition on decarbonization efforts. This in turn can multiply possibilities for change, new forms of agency, and rethinking of environment-society relations. On the other hand, crisis or emergency framings can also highlight and multiply risks, producing unintended consequences and license previously unpalatable strategies through new modes of authoritarianism and technocratic rule.

In this panel discussion, we ask four experts to reflect on the potential and pitfalls of crisis or emergency framings. They will critically interrogate who is deploying the language of crisis and emergency and to what end; what are the new opportunities and risks emerging and at what scale; and what concepts and framings we need to develop to promote action on climate change and achieve positive socio-environmental transformation.



Sally Moxham, Manager, Climate Emergency and Sustainable Transport, City of Darebin
Sally manages over 30 staff in the Transport Engineering, Transport Strategy, Climate Emergency and Environment (Strategy and Programs) teams in the city Strategy and Sustainability Division of the City of Darebin.

Dr Hayley Singer, Lecturer and Teacher in Creative Writing at the University of Melbourne
Hayley is a Research Associate of the Melbourne node of the ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions, teaching associate at the University of Melbourne, and the convenor of EcoFeminist Fridays.

Jo Chandler, Editor and Lecturer with the Centre for Advancing Journalism, University of Melbourne
Jo is an award-winning journalist with 30 years experience as a staff reporter, senior writer, roving correspondent and freelance writer. Her work covers science, environment, health, human rights, women's and children's issues, aid and development.

Professor Jon Barnett, Australian Research Council Laureate Fellow in the School of Geography at the University of Melbourne
Jon is a political geographer whose research investigates social impacts and responses to environmental change. He has twenty years of experience conducting field-based research in several Pacific Island Countries, and in Australia, China and Timor-Leste.