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Held on Deakin’s Waterfront Campus at Geelong, the meeting took its main theme from the United Nations Year of Biodiversity, but also looked at research directions in Australian universities relating to ERA, the Excellence in Research for Australia initiative driven by the Australian Research Council.
The delegates from universities from all over Australia also heard from Professor Rod Keenan, the Director of the Victorian Centre for Climate Change Adaptation, and Simon Smith from the Department of Sustainability and Environment.
Mr Smith is the Director, Biodiversity Policy and Programs.
Professor Astheimer spoke about the impact of ERA on research generally, but specifically on ecological and environmental issues.
“Professor Astheimer has great expertise in this area, especially some of the new ways of measuring research,” said Professor Peter Nelson, the founding chair of ACEDD.
“Her address, and that of the other two speakers, were certainly illuminating for all the delegates.”
Professor Astheimer also spoke about some of the exciting ecological research initiatives at Deakin in 2010, including the establishment of the Centre for Integrative Ecology, headed by Professor Marcel Klaassen.
Deakin University's Professor Andy T.D. Bennett, who initiated and hosted the meeting, said it was important for the members of ACEDD to learn up close the quality and diversity of research in the life and environmental sciences and how Deakin contributes at a national level.
“All 38 member universities will have a role to play in developing the knowledge we need to deal with the multiple environmental issues now challenging the world,” he said.
“It is important that we all understand each university’s capabilities, and have good communication, and it was with some pride that we at Deakin were able to bring the other delegates up to date with our research and teaching capability and initiatives here at Deakin. We did this whilst showcasing the wonderful facilities available to students and researchers at Deakin, and I am confident delegates, who are in key positions at Australia’s universities, went back with a most positive view of what is happening at Deakin.
“I think everyone agrees that ACEDD has a key role to play in the future of environmental research in Australia and also in environmental policy development.”
ACEDD is an association of academics drawn from Australian universities and with line responsibility for environmental science and/or environmental studies programs and endeavours.
It began informal operations in July 2008 and was formally constituted in March 2009.
ACEDD’s vision is to be the peak professional advocate for excellence in environmental sciences and environmental studies in Australian higher education and to effectively represent the interests of these fields and the sector among government, non-government and private sectors.
The organisation was founded on the idea that ecological and environmental science and environmental studies are crucial fields of higher education, and that the interests of environmental education, research and research training, and community engagement in these fields are to be served in many ways, one of which is by advocacy among peers in the sector.
ACEDD’s mission is to be such an advocate and to effectively represent the interests of the field and sector, basing its actions on the principles of good governance for collegiality, communication and capacity building.