Hope and Wonder Series

port willunga pathway to beach

The natural environment is full of wonder, and sits at the foundation of the work of the Environment Institute. From early memories to daily experiences our lives are infused with the hope that by uncovering, protecting and educating students and the wider public about the environment we will collectively be better off in the world.

Whether you're a seasoned environmentalist or just starting to learn about important environmental challenges, the Hope and Wonder series is an excellent resource that will leave you feeling empowered and inspired.

How do you engage? Take your pick: our Podcasts, Public Lectures and Community Events can be found here for your own enjoyment or as a teaching resource.

Podcasts Public lectures Upcoming events

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Ecofuturist icon of plant

EcoFuturist is a podcast series supported by the Environment Institute and hosted by Professor Andy Lowe, Director, Environment Institute. The podcast engages with scientific experts, industry leaders, artists, adventurers, and individuals committed to making a difference in their local and global communities, all of whom prioritise life on earth in their grand plan. These individuals not only envision a sustainable future but are also actively providing solutions to bring about this reality.

EcoFuturist - Listen on: Apple | Google | Pocket Casts | Radio Public | Spotify

  • Episode 9: Action as the antidote to despair: creative pathways for young adults to connect with community and conservation

    It can be easy to get overwhelmed by all the information we have around the effects of the changing climate. How do young adults in particular combat ‘eco anxiety’ while at the same time maintaining motivation to be part of the solution amidst a rapidly escalating sense of urgency around environmental conservation efforts?

    In this episode we speak with Kirsty Bevan, CEO of Nature Conservation Society of South Australia and Acting CEO of Conservation Council of South Australia, and Maddie McShane, Nature Advocacy Researcher and Campaigner, and Director of Earth Jam

  • Episode 8: Sowing the seeds for the future of health, resilience, and environmental protection

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    Have you ever had a memory from childhood that took you back to nature? Maybe it was the smell after the rain, freshly cut grass, or the warmth from of the sun on your skin. How do our experiences of the natural world as children affect us as adults? Are these effects lasting or do we need to ‘top up’ our nature reserves to reap the full benefits that nature has to give? How can we fill our ‘nature cup’ when the demands of day-to-day modern existence can often pull us away from the natural environment?

    In this episode we explore all this and more with Human Geographer Prof Melissa Nursey-Bray, Deputy Director, Institute of Sustainability, Energy and Resources (ISER), and Dr Mark Kohler, Senior Lecturer at the School of Psychology, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, both at the University of Adelaide.

  • Episode 7: You can’t build an ego while caring for a stream

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    Bruce Pascoe is an acclaimed author, speaker, researcher, and farmer. He’s passionate about sharing knowledge of traditional indigenous land management and food production practices, caring for country and people across cultural and political divides. In this conversation we look to find common ground, to find a path forward together to regenerate the earth for us all.

  • Episode 6: Exotic plants and animals: the illegal wildlife trade happening right under your nose

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    There is increasing interest in owning wild and exotic animals and the internet is able to serve up whatever your heart desires, even if importing these animals is illegal.

    In this episode we speak with Dr Phill Cassey and PhD student Charlotte Lassaline both from the School of Biological Sciences as well as from the Invasion Science and Wildlife Ecology Group at the University of Adelaide. We examine what it’s going to take to conserve and recover ecosystems in a world where wildlife is being traded not only in secret corners of the internet, but often right in front of our eyes.

  • Episode 5: Nature deprivation: the real consequences

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    Are you getting the best microbes on offer? What are microbes anyway and why should we care?

    If you’ve ever heard of the term “microbiome” you probably relate it to gut health, but there’s so much more to it! It’s all around us, and in us, and affects our brains, immune systems, stress levels, and psychological state.

    Join us for this episode where we speak with Dr Jess Stanhope and Prof Phil Weinstein about how public health is affected by urban environments and the promising future for disease prevention and treatment in the reversal of global urban nature deprivation.

  • Episode 4: Under the surface: scheduling light on ‘ocean blindness’

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    What happened when the head of Engineering for Google Australia and the Professor and author behind Australia’s first ever textbook on Marine Ecology came together? Nothing short of the miraculous bringing back to life of an extinct ecosystem in the waters of Australia's biodiverse southern coastline.

    And what’s next on the sparkly horizon?

    In this podcast episode find out how the founders of AusOcean, Alan Noble and Prof Sean Connell, are stretching traditional models of marine conservation efforts through open-source hardware and software, and low-cost ways of public engagement. They are a driving force shedding light on the ‘ocean blindness’ that muddies our understanding of biodiversity conservation in marine ecosystems, looking to reverse the tide of extinction in our oceans.

  • Episode 3: Water: too much, too little, too dirty

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    Water is finally back on the global table after 46 years of not being discussed at a global scale conference. Conservation, salinity, pricing, agriculture, cultural use - the list goes on. Is the subject of 'water rights' at risk of getting lost in an endless talk fest? Where do we start when trying to come up with solutions to the many water issues we face on a local and global scale? What even are ‘water rights’?

    In this podcast episode, host Prof Andy Lowe, Director of the Environment Institute at the University of Adelaide, speaks with Assoc Prof Peter Burdon and Prof Sarah Wheeler, both also from the University of Adelaide. Sarah is a water economist from the School of Economics and Public Policy, and Peter is an expert in environmental law from the Adelaide Law School.

  • Episode 2: Markets for nature. What’s the currency of biodiversity?

    Nature is threatened, but it is also messy and complex. Ecologists try to untangle the mess of conservation, governments and industry. Small landowners are trying to help too. How do we work to save life on Earth?

    How do we get the scale of investment required to restore our degraded land? Can we create markets for nature? Where does the money come from? And who are the buyers?

    In this episode host Prof Andy Lowe, Director of the Environment Institute at the University of Adelaide, speaks with renowned ecologist Prof Hugh Possingham about the need to set aside 30% of every different kind of habitat for conservation in order to sustain the health of our global biodiversity and to establish biodiversity markets to drive these outcomes.

  • Episode 1: Hearts and Minds. Can science inspired music be a solution to climate change?

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    In this episode host Prof Andy Lowe, Director of the Environment Institute at the University of Adelaide, speaks with Airan Berg, Artistic Director of the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra’s Floods of Fire Citizens’ Orchestra event, and Professor Anna Goldsworthy, Director of The Elder Conservatorium of Music at the University of Adelaide.

    Together they discuss the arts as communicator of complex human situations, a flawed system for tackling climate change, and how working openly between the sciences and the humanities can unite hearts and minds for a better future.

Public lectures

Sean Connell, Sandy Carruthers, Ein Pichler and Catherine Larkin sitting in a line on a stage for a panel discussion

The Environment Institute proudly presents a diverse lineup of local and international speakers throughout the year. With a focus on cutting-edge research and innovative solutions, our events offer a unique opportunity to expand your knowledge and stay up-to-date on the latest environmental issues. We've recorded a collection of recent events that you won't want to miss. Join us and be inspired by leading experts in the field.

  • Unleashing the power of trees for healthier communities - Mr Jon Dee

    The Environment Institute and Green Adelaide had the pleasure of hosting Mr Jon Dee for a public lecture on 'Unleashing the Power of Trees for Healthier Communities', another instalment in our Hope and Wonder Series. Trees are continuously undervalued in urban environments. Trees support community wellbeing, increase biodiversity and habitat, cool the environment and provide an aesthetically pleasing environment. Yet their enormous impact is often underappreciated. However things are changing and these unassuming stalwarts of our streets, parks and wild spaces are getting the recognition they deserve through community tree planting projects. Jon Dee, co-founder of National Tree Day and One Tree Per Child, cautions that cities and towns must dramatically increase their tree cover and protect existing trees and habitat. Dee takes us on a journey through his successful tree initiatives that have planted tens of millions of trees, and along the way created safer and healthier communities.

  • Environmental, nature and wildlife crimes and the role of international law - Mr John Scanlon

    The Environment Institute and Adelaide Law School had the pleasure of hosting Mr John Scanlon AO for a public lecture on 'Environmental, Nature and Wildlife Crimes and the Role of International Law', the first in our Hope and Wonder Series. John is the Chief Executive Officer, The Elephant Protection Initiative Foundation (EPI), Chair, UK Government Illegal Wildlife Challenge Fund and Trustee, Royal Botanical Gardens Kew.

    Followed by a Q&A session featuring the Environment Institute's Professor Andrew Lowe, Dr Adam Toomes from the School of Biological Sciences, and Dr Phillipa McCormack, Vice President of the National Environmental Law Association (NELA) and Co-Director, ENREL.

  • Rewilding the oceans - panel discussion

    The Environment Institute was pleased to present an engaging panel discussion on rewilding our oceans for the University of Adelaide’s Ecoversity 2022 Sustainability Week. Hear from experts on how the future of rewilding rests on combining science with technology, public use with education and policy making.

    The panel consisted of the following experts:

    • Sandy Carruthers, Executive Director Strategy, Science & Corporate Services, Department for Environment & Water
    • Catherine Larkin, Operations Manager & Marine Ecologist, AusOceans
    • Professor Sean Connell, Marine & Freshwater Ecology Theme Lead, University of Adelaide
    • Erin Pichler, PhD candidate studying marine biology

Upcoming events

The Environment Institute is committed to offering a range of events throughout the year, both as hosts and sponsors. Discover our upcoming events below and join us for an enriching experience.




Planet Talks at WOMADelaide Festival

The Planet Talk program is now live. As a proud sponsors, the Environment Institute is eagerly looking forward to WOMAD’s The Planet Talk. We believe that The Planet Talks is a great platform to discuss critical environmental issues and create awareness among people and are excited to be a part of this significant event. Don’t forget to check it out!



Adelaide Festival: Floods of Fire

The University of Adelaide is an event partner of the Adelaide Festival's Floods of Fire. 



Tasting Australia Masterclass - from the reef

First Nations foods are increasingly gaining popularity in the mainstream and are rapidly being adopted into our diets. These plants and animals represent a plethora of foods that are pre-adapted to our environmental landscape and have been sustaining life in the Torres Strait for thousands of years. Yet it is only in recent years that these foods have been more widely adopted and integrated into modern First Nations cuisine.