Session: Change and Community

Community, Migration and Development Stream


Day 2, Parallel Session 2C: 3:30pm – 4:30pm

Location: Storey Hall (Building 16), Lower Lecture Theatre, Level 1, Room 1

Chair: Dr Shahadat Khan (RMIT University)


Chris Riedy The Social Practices of Change Agency in the Context of Community Energy Use

  • Presenter and main author: Dr Chris Riedy (Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology, Sydney)
  • Abstract: This presentation investigates the social practices of Australian sustainability “change agents” that are working to reduce community energy use. These change agents work to promote change for sustainability, often through leadership of specific projects or initiatives. Their practices are of interest because they influence the effectiveness of efforts to reduce energy consumption. The specific social practice framework employed in the paper draws on the work of Elizabeth Shove and colleagues. It contends that social practices integrate three types of element: materials; competences and meanings. Drawing on semi-structured interviews with 28 change agents across Australia, the presentation identifies the materials, competences and meanings held by the change agents and explores how those elements are integrated into practices. Observed competences included skills in co-learning or facilitated learning and the cultivation of positive agency. Change agents employed diverse materials, including new forms of media, and tailored their initiatives to the material context in which they were operating. In the realm of meanings, change agents drew on competing theories of change but were united in their focus on the individual as the locus of change. A social practice framework decentres the individual and may offer new opportunities to shift community consumption patterns.
  • About the presenter: Dr Chris Riedy is an Associate Professor at the Institute for Sustainable Futures who works as a researcher, consultant and communicator on sustainability issues. Chris has particular expertise in climate change response, applied foresight, stakeholder engagement and sociocultural change processes. He works as a facilitator and change agent to help deliver personal, organisational, systemic and cultural responses to sustainability challenges. Chris is the President of the Climate Action Network Australia, Co-Chair of the Australian Node of the Millennium Project and a member of the Australian Association for Environmental Education. He blogs at
Dominique Hes Eco-acupuncture in Pretoria: Small Interventions with Potentially Big Impacts

  • Presenter and main author: Dr Dominique Hes (University of Melbourne)
  • Abstract: Pretoria, South Africa, is a place of many contrasts and complicated depth of issues social, economic and environmental. Five projects were developed in a collaborative charrette between the Universities of Pretoria and Melbourne. Contributing to the charrettes were masters students in the field of architecture, landscape architecture, planning, urban design, industrial design, physics, fine art, anthropology, civil engineering, business development and local Pretorians. The eco-acupuncture concepts developed included a network for street vendors, an interactive engagement installation, a green roof retrofit kit, a street vendor cart and interactive water installations. The methodology for integrating both regenerative and biophilic design processes with venture development and eco-acupuncture is described. The intention is to demonstrate the opportunities that occur when engaging trans-disciplinarily in the development of small low cost solutions with the potential to create positive ripples in areas with complex social-ecological pressures. This presentation shares an approach for intervention who’s aim is not eco-efficiency but leapfrogging to positive contribution through social, ecological and economic value development.
  • About the presenter: Dominique received a science degree from Melbourne University and followed this with a graduate diploma in Engineering and a Doctorate in Architecture 2005 at RMIT University, Melbourne. Her research spans both the pragmatics of improving the efficiency and performance of buildings and the aspirational of using ecological sustainability as way to imagine an irresistible future of abundance and prosperity. She asks, why after decades of sustainability based on the Brundtland definition are we continuing to degrade our environment and reducing our ecological capital. Could this be because we see sustainability as something of belt tightening, restriction and guilt rather than an opportunity to reintegrate with the natural world and develop a thriving future where people are a positive force.