UNESCO Chair Program in Communication, Environment and Heritage

The world is increasingly challenged on a global scale. Protecting local places, histories and cultures is hard. How do we negotiate a shared future that respects communities and their environmental and cultural heritage?

Australia has entered its fifth decade as a signatory to the UNESCO World Heritage Convention in the wake of a series of disastrous climate-related events from bushfires to coral bleaching that significantly impact its natural and cultural heritage. At the same time, the centre of global population, trade and travel continues to shift towards the Asia-Pacific, increasing pressure on the region’s landscapes and species. Every day, communities seek better ways to negotiate and be heard about what they value, how they are faring and what they want for the future.

This is at the heart of the UNESCO Chair program in Communication, Environment and Heritage. The program works with researchers across the University, with expertise in, among other things, environmental communication, Aboriginal heritage, community wellbeing, policy, history, environmental law, visual arts and biophysical sciences. Our government and community partners are at the forefront of heritage protection, custodians of some of the world’s most precious wild and historic assets, which they also have to manage for tourism and other demands. The program draws together this impressive range of expertise for training and research.

Chair holder

Professor Libby Lester is the inaugural chair holder. Her research on environmental communications - with a focus on how communities negotiate increasing risks and demands on landscapes and resources in the face of a changing climate - is internationally recognised. She has attracted almost $3 million in competitive and contract research funding, published more than 100 books, chapters and journal articles, and has supervised 20 research higher degree projects to completion. She has been a visiting scholar at the UK’s Oxford University and Japan’s National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies. A former journalist with the Melbourne Age and other newspapers and magazines, she continues to write and produce media. She has a PhD from Melbourne University in Media and Communications, and a BA from the Australian National University in Prehistory and Physical Geography.

View Professor Libby Lester profile