Professor Libby Robin

FAHA, PhD, BA(Hons), BSc, Dip Ed.
Professor Fenner School of Environment and Society ANU, Fellow of the Australian Academy of Humanities
ANU College of Science
T: 6125 5016

Areas of expertise

  • Historical Studies 2103
  • History And Philosophy Of Specific Fields 2202
  • Environmental Science And Management 0502
  • Curatorial And Related Studies 2102
  • Other Environmental Sciences 0599

Research interests

General themes: Environmental humanities, Conservation history and policy; Interdisciplinary environmental studies; The scientific aesthetic; Climate Change and the humanities; History of Ornithology in Australia; History of Science in Australia and the region

New Books:

2017      Lukasiewicz, Anna, Stephen Dovers, Libby Robin, Jennifer McKay, Steven Schilizzi and Sonia Graham (eds.) Natural Resources and Environmental Justice: Australian Perspectives, Melbourne: CSIRO Publishing. 284pp.

2017      Newell, Jennifer, Libby Robin and Kirsten Wehner eds. Curating the Future: Museums, Communities and Climate Change (Routledge Environmental Humanities), Abingdon, UK, Routledge, 2017. 298pp.

In Press Warde, Paul, Libby Robin and Sverker Sörlin The Environment: A History of the Idea Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore MD 


Environmental Humanities

Co-convenor of Australian Environmental Humanities Hub

Key paper: Robin, Libby ‘Environmental humanities and climate change: Understanding humans geologically and other life forms ethically’, WIREs Climate Change 2017 e499, doi: 10.1002/wcc.499


Expertise for the Future

 Histories of environmental prediction and policy (2011-2018) Libby Robin (ANU), Sverker Sörlin (Royal Institute of Technology KTH, Stockholm) and Paul Warde (Cambridge) (project leaders) Outcomes include The Future of Nature: Documents of Global Change (2013, Yale UP) (Winner Best Anthology at New England Book Fair, USA) Website:

Related website: 

Also contribution to Past Futures: Experts Development and Sustainability (eds Rivera, Sum and Trentmann; Oekom)


December 14-16 2016 Environment, Society, and the Making of the Modern World The history and legacy of the UN Conference on the Human Environment held in Stockholm,  June 1972 Paper "Stockholm in Australia"

IASS Potsdam 28-29 April 2016 Futures Past: Experts, Development and Sustainability  Paper: Experts past and future:The Environment, Integrated Global Change Science and the Anthropocene

Biological invasions and national identity ARC grant The Culture of Weeds LP120400273.

Book in prep: Thinking with Nature

Museums in the Anthropocene

Jennifer Newell, Libby Robin and Kirsten Wehner (eds) Curating the Future: Museums Communities and Climate Change Routledge Environmental Humanities, London: 2017

Libby Robin, 'Anthropocene Cabinets of Curiosity: Objects of Strange Change' in Future Remains:  A Cabinet of Curiosities for the Anthropocene (eds. Gregg Mitman et al) (University of Chicago Press, 2018) pp. 205--18

Understanding Australia in The Age of Humans: Localising the Anthropocene ARC Grant DP 160102648 (2016-2018) (with Iain McCalman University of Sydney, Kirsten Wehner, Jennifer Newell,  and others)

The Anthropocene in Museums: Workshop Deutsches Museum Munich 3-4 December 2015

History of  Science 

Key recent publications:

Robin, Libby with Stephen Boyden (2018), ‘Telling the Bionarrative: A Museum of Environmental Ideas’, Historical Records of Australian Science 29(2) pp A-O Published online: 14 June 2018 (15pp)

Robin, Libby with Max Day, ‘Changing Ideas about the Environment in Australia: Learning from Stockholm’. Historical Records of Australian Science 28(1): 37—49.

Maroske, Sara, Libby Robin, and Gavan McCarthy, ‘Building the History of Australian Science: Five Projects of Professor R. W. Home (1980-present)’ Historical Records of Australian Science 28(1): 1—11.

Special Issue: Desert Science (eds Libby Robin, Steve Morton and Mike Smith) Historical Records of Australian Science 25(2) 2014:



Environmental Humanities Hub (Co-convenor with Thom van Dooren USyd)



Professor Libby Robin FAHA is an historian of science and environmental ideas. She is Emeritus Professor at the Fenner School of Environment and Society at the Australian National University.

Career highlights include Guest Professor at  the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), Stockholm in the Division of History of Science and Technology (2011-2014; affiliated professor 2015-2017) and Senior Fellow in the National Museum of Australia's Reseach Centre (2007-2015).

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).

She was elected Fellow of the Australian Academy of Humanities in 2013.

Researcher's projects

Climate Change and the humanities

Curating the Future: Museums Communities and Climate Change (Newell, Robin and Wehner eds., Routledge 2017) 298 pp.

Museums and Climate Change Network:

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

Enviroment and Justice

Lukasiewicz, Anna, Stephen Dovers, Libby Robin, Jennifer McKay, Steven Schilizzi and Sonia Graham (eds.) Natural Resources and Environmental Justice: Australian Perspectives, Melbourne: CSIRO Publishing, 2017. 284pp

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

  • Liz Boulton 'Hyperobject: Climate change and military strategies for response'
  • Lilian Pearce 'Socio-ecological restoration for Australia'
  • David Salt 'Resilience thinking in Agricultural Investments in Biodiversity' (supervisory panel, Crawford School)
  • Sharon Willoughby 'Gardening the Australian Landscape' 


Cameron Muir 'Broken Country: Science, Agriculture and the "Unfulfilled Dreams" of Inland Australia 1880-present' (Graduated December 2011) See also: Cameron Muir The Broken Promise of Agricultural Progress London: Routledge 2014.

Alan Williams 'Aboriginal Population Dynamics and their Response to Climate Change through Prehistory' [completed 2015]

Sonya Duus 'Controversies around coal mining in Australia' [completed 2015]

Kate Andrews 'Learning from the history of agricultural development in Northern Australia' [completed 2015]

Alison Pouliot 'A thousand days in the forest: An Ethnography of the Culture of Fungi' [completed 2016]

Edward Deveson 'Plagues and Players: An environmental and social history of Australia's Southern Locusts' [completed 2017]

Diane Erceg 'Explorers of a Different Kind: A History of Antarctic Tourism 1966-2016' [completed 2017]


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 information is drawn from ARIES. To add or update Projects or Grants information please contact your College Research Office.

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    Updated:  23 April 2019 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers