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The Australian National University

Professor Libby Robin

FAHA, PhD, BA(Hons), BSc, Dip Ed.
Professor (ANU)/ Senior Research Fellow (NMA), Fenner School of Environment and Society, Bldg 141 ANU
ANU College of Medicine, Biology and Environment

Areas of expertise

  • Historical Studies 2103
  • History And Philosophy Of Specific Fields 2202
  • Environmental Science And Management 0502

Research interests

Expertise for the Future Histories of environmental prediction and policy (2009-2014)     Libby Robin, Sverker Soerlin and Paul Warde (project leaders)   Outcomes will include two books: An anthology of sources, The Future of Nature: Documents of Global Change (October 2013 , Yale UP) and The Environment: A History (2015 in prep.) For details see website below.

History of Science in Australia and the region - Editor (with Rod Home), Historical Records of Australian Science (journal of the Australian Academy of Humanities:

Biological invasions and national identity  ARC grant The Culture of Weeds LP120400273.Book in prep: Fear of Ferals

History of Arid Zone Science ARC Grant LP 110200742 Alive with the Dreaming!: The Songlines

Other themes: Conservation history and policy; Interdisciplinary environmental studies; The scientific aesthetic; Climate Change and the humanities; History of Ornithology in Australia

Environmental Humanities see


Libby Robin is an historian of science and environmental ideas. She is Professor at the Fenner School of Environment and Society at the Australian National University and Senior Research Fellow at the National Museum of Australia's Research Centre. She was Guest Professor at the Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm in the Division of History of Science and Technology (2011-2014), and continues as a regular departmental visitor in 2015.

Libby has published widely in the history of science, international and comparative environmental history and the ecological humanities. She has won national and international prizes in History (How a Continent Created a Nation), in Zoology (Boom and Bust), and in literature (Flight of the Emu, The Future of Nature).
Libby also coordinates (with Cameron Muir) the Australian and New Zealand Environmental History Network, and (with Thom van Dooren) the Australian Environmental Humanities Hub She is President of the International Consortium of Environmental History Organizations. 

In November 2013, she was elected Fellow of the Australian Academy of Humanities.

Researcher's projects

Climate Change and the humanities

Collecting the Future: A project exploring the idea of Museums in the Anthropocene (with Kirsten Wehner National Museum of Australia and Jennifer Newell American Museum of Natural History, and several other international partners). Workshop AMNH October 2013. Book: Curating the Future (Newell, Robin and Wehner eds., University of Hawaii Press and CSIRO Publishing) forthcoming 2015

See also:

Robin, Libby, Dag Avango, Luke Keogh, Nina Möllers, Bernd Scherer and Helmuth Trischler, ‘Three Galleries of the Anthropocene’, The Anthropocene Review Vol. 1(3) 2014. Pp 207–224 doi:10.1177/2053019614550533

Environmental humanities:  

Co-convenor of the Australian Environmental Humanities Hub

Environmental Humanities (series editor with Iain McCalman), Routledge.

Relevant Publications:

Libby Robin, 'No Island is an Island', Aeon December 2014

Bergthaller, Hannes, Rob Emmett, Adeline Johns-Putra, Agnes Kneitz, Susanna Lidström, Shane McCorristine, Isabel Pérez Ramos, Dana Phillips, Kate Rigby and Libby Robin, ‘Mapping Common Ground: Ecocriticism, Environmental History, and the Environmental Humanities’, Environmental Humanities Vol. 5 (November 2014), pp. 561-576.

Libby Robin 2012, 'Global Ideas in Local Places: The Humanities in Environmental Management', Environmental Humanities, vol. 1, pp. 69-84

Expertise for the Future (international project with KTH Environmental Humanities

Laboratory, Stockholm): Conferences, workshops and two major books:

Libby Robin, Sverker Sörlin and Paul Warde (eds) The Future of Nature: Documents of Global Change (Yale University Press, 2013) WINNER 2013 New England Book Prize for Anthology

Paul Warde, Sverker Sörlin and Libby Robin The Environment: A History (in prep).


 Libby Robin 2013. ‘Histories for Changing Times: Entering the Anthropocene?’, Australian Historical Studies, 44(3): 329-340 DOI: 10.1080/1031461X.2013.817455.

Libby Robin  ‘The Future Beyond Numbers’ in Nina Möllers and Christian Schwägel (eds.) The Anthropocene / Anthropozien Munich: Verlag Deutsches Museum [English and German] [2014, in English 2015 in association with exhibition]

Libby Robin and Will Steffen, 2007. ‘History for the Anthropocene’, History Compass, 5(5): 1694–1719; doi:10.1111/j.1478-0542.2007.00459.x

Member of the Anthropocene Curriculum Project HKW Berlin 2014.

The Observatory Project (Mellon Foundation) with Iain McCalman (University of Sydney)

Climate and Culture in Australia (ARC Grant 2002-2005) Tim, Sherratt, Tom Griffiths and Libby Robin (eds) A change in the weather: Climate and culture in Australia, Canberra: National Museum of Australia Press. 2005

Biological invasions:

Culture of Weeds ARC Project LP120200472 (with industry partners National Museum of Australia and Royal Melbourne Botanic Gardens). Book in prep: Libby Robin  Fear of Ferals

see also 

Robin, Libby ‘Wilderness in a Global Age, Fifty Years On' (Special Wilderness Act Retrospective Forum) Environmental History, Vol 19(4), October 2014: 721-727

Comparative studies between Australia and South Africa (with Jane Carruthers, University of South Africa). See:  Libby Robin and Jane Carruthers 2012, 'National identity and international science: the case of <em>Acacia</em>', <em>Historical Records of Australian Science</em> 23(1) 34-54 ; Jane Carruthers and Libby Robin, ‘Taxonomic imperialism in the battles for Acacia: Identity and science in South Africa and Australia’, Transactions of the Royal Society of South Africa 65(1), 48-64.

History of Arid Zone Science

Dickman, Christopher R. and Libby Robin, ‘Putting Science in its Place: The Role of Sandringham Station in Fostering Arid Zone Science in Australia’, Historical Records of Australian Science, 2014, 25, 186-201

Robin, Libby, Steve Morton and Mike Smith ‘Writing a History of Scientific Endeavour in Australia’s Deserts’ Historical Records of Australian Science, 2014, 25,  143-152

Alive with the Dreaming!: Songlines of the Seven Sisters LP110200743 (with National Museum of Australia and nine Aboriginal corporations).

Also: Libby Robin, Robert Heinsohn and Leo Joseph (eds) 2009. Boom and Bust: Bird Stories for a Dry Country, Melbourne, CSIRO Publishing.  

Science and National Identity  Libby Robin 2007. How a Continent Created a Nation, Sydney, UNSW Press.

Interdisciplinary environmental studies 

International bioregionalism: Libby Robin 2012. ‘Seasons and Nomads: Reflections on Bioregionalism in Australia’ in Tom Lynch, Cheryll Glotfelty and Karla Armbruster (eds.) The Bioregional Imagination: Literature, Ecology, and Place, Georgia FL, University of Georgia Press, pp 278-294.

Conservation history and policy Libby Robin, Christopher R. Dickman and Mandy Martin (eds) Desert Channels: The Impulse to Conserve, Melbourne, CSIRO Publishing. 2010

Australian cases: Grafton, R. Q.  Libby Robin and R. J. Wasson (eds), Understanding the Environment: Bridging the Disciplinary Divides, Sydney: UNSW Press. 2005

The scientific aesthetic Mandy Martin, Libby Robin and Mike Smith, Strata: Deserts Past, Present and Future, Mandurama: Mandy Martin with Land and Water Australia. 2005

History of Ornithology in Australia

Libby Robin 2012, 'Conservation through Knowledge: A Short History of the First National Ornithologists' Society in Australia', in W.E. Davis, H.F. Recher, W.E. Boles (ed.), <em>Contributions to the History of Australasian Ornithology</em>, Nuttall Ornithological Club, USA, pp. 1-49.

Libby Robin, 2001. The Flight of the Emu: A hundred years of Australian ornithology 1901-2001, Carlton: Melbourne University Press. 


Available student projects

As per the normal practice in the humanities, prospective students propose projects to me for consideration.

Current student projects

Current ANU Doctoral Scholars

  • Kate Andrews 'Learning from the history of agricultural development in Northern Australia'
  • Virginia Brunton 'A History of Compost'
  • Ted Deveson 'Australian locust ecology. A history of outbreaks, government responses and ecological research'
  • Sonya Duus 'Controversies around coal mining in Australia'
  • Diane Erceg 'Tourism in Antarctica'
  • Rob Nugent 'The Anthropocene in film'
  • Lilian Pearce 'Socio-ecological restoration for Australia'
  • Alison Pouliot 'Exploring fungi'
  • David Salt 'Resilience thinking in Agricultural Investments in Biodiversity' (supervisory panel, Crawford School)
  • Alan Williams Aboriginal Population Dynamics and their Response to Climate Change through Prehistory'
  • Sharon Willoughby 'Gardening the Australian Landscape' 


Cameron Muir 'Broken Country: Science, Agriculture and the "Unfulfilled Dreams" of Inland Australia 1880-present' (Graduated December 2011)

NEW BOOK: Cameron Muir The Broken Promise of Agricultural Progress London: Routledge 2014.


Graduated (2012) Fei Sheng ('Fisher') 'Chinese environmental ideas in 19th century goldfields Australia' (Peking University)

Graduated 2012 UCL London, Susanna Lidstrom.

Past student projects

Cameron Muir

  • Muir, Cameron, Deborah Bird Rose, and Phillip Sullivan. 'From the Other Side of the Knowledge Frontier: Indigenous Knowledge, Social–Ecological Relationships and New Perspectives.' The Rangeland Journal 32, no. 3 (2010): 259-65.
  • Muir, Cameron. 'Feeding the World.' Griffith REVIEW Edition 27: Food Chain (February 2010): 59-73 WINNER OF The GRIFFITH REVIEW EMERGING WRITER'S PRIZE FOR NON-FICTION in 2010
  • Muir, Cameron. 'The Opera House of the West.' Australian Humanities Review no. 47 (2009): 55-65.
  • Daniel Connell Water politics in the Murray-Darling Basin Federation Press 2007

    George Main Heartland: the regeneration of rural place UNSW Press 2005

    Bernadette Hince 'Environmental history of subantarctic islands' (Îles Kerguelen, Île Saint-Paul, McDonald, Heard, Macquarie, Auckland and Campbell Islands) (Unpub. thesis 2006)


    Projects and Grants

    Grants are drawn from ARIES. To add Projects or Grants please contact your College Research Office.

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    Updated:  02 April 2015 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers