Max Kelly

Max Kelly

Max Kelly has over 15 year’s experience teaching and researching issues in sustainability and development. Max has experience across Europe, Africa, Asia and the Pacific.

Location Deakin University, Geelong, Australia.


  • a very interesting reflection on this talk - thanks Kate!

  • Hi, Thanks for this. Any of the materials that are dated back to 2013 would be chosen deliberately as there would be no more recent materials that covered this point, or it is an author that I wanted you to read! The course is fully updated every year. Key authors include Meadows with the limits to growth debate, Costanza (all the way back to 2000) which is...

  • I have become an avid writer or emails (and phone caller) to my local politicians. It has got to the point where I have had some conversations with most of them face to face and occasionally get 'Dear Max' direct responses. It feels like a good way to get some ideas in front of people (although it requires a degree of pushiness to keep doing it!)

  • Hi Neil, Yes, this is such a problem both for food standards for the consumer but also for producers - large scale limited quality standards is very hard to compete with...

  • There is an interesting situation here in Australia where the supermarket sector is absolutely dominated by two supermarkets which means that the power in the food system is vested with these two companies. The implications for a sustainable food system are not great - unless public opinion (and dollars) drives change. It is possible but difficult.

  • Interesting - anybody feel differently about this? (not saying you are wrong but it is a useful point for discussion)

  • Thankyou Anthony - a great example of possible!

  • Max Kelly made a comment

    Interesting how often food and agriculture come up (here and previously). I have a background in agriculture so always find it fascinating to see how opinions and knowledge (and agricultural practices) have changed over time.

  • Don't worry - just browse the padlet or the comments here :)

  • Yes, interesting - thanks

  • Fair enough!

  • The star trek version is so focused on tech ology as a solution .... food replicators, photon beams you name it!

  • Yes, a devastating paralell

  • A very thoughtful contribution -

  • indeed he did!

  • True, although the progress has been significant and the UK has just announced plans to ban fossil fuel based cars from 2030 which is a huge step.

  • There are a number of initiatives in different places to reduce packaging on fruit and veg particularly - this is an uphill battle when it really should not be.

  • This is perhaps my greatest challenge. I live in Australia but my family is in Ireland. Cheap travel enables (well in a non COVID world anyway) this kind of life, but the carbon footprint of flying cancels so many other efforts I make to be carbon neutral.

  • it feels a bit like an oil tanker - it is possible to steer but not quickly.... a rather apt analogy....

  • Yes, and the associated rise of social media, concentration of information sources and many other factors which both contribute to greater knowledge, and also the lack of diversity in our news media feeds (I cant think of the term but it relates to the fact that we tend to be fed news/articles which align with our values/politics)

  • yes, great points - the ongoing impacts of colonialism, and the slow and painful demise of neoliberalism...

  • The growth of 'repair cafes' is an interesting phenomenon - as well as circular economy thinking

  • That is a great summary.

  • lots of competing demands on food - healthy, sustainable, fair to the producers, local, no added sugar etc etc - it is a decision minefield (I also take a unit on food security so can go on and on on this particular track!)

  • Hmm - interesting points - the critiques of XR (white privilege lack of diversity etc), along with critiques of other protest(er)s (Greta Thunberg and many many others) does bring to the fore the very polarised debate that occurs around any issue related to climate and environment. The politicisation of environmental action within a shift towards right wing...

  • @GwynnethCheeseman @RaeNuss-Soeharto good points re the social and cultural as well as economic impact of 'fad' foods - there are many examples but Quinoa is a fascinating one to follow if you have time

  • Indeed - there are recent efforts to reignite a new green revolution for Africa (AGRA) - heavily supported by the Gates foundation amoung others which is causing some interesting discussions.

  • The com itment of Biden to reenter the Paris Agreement is indeed a positive step - and sometimes it is important to find the positives - the Pasic agreement may. to be perfect but it provides a platform for the political focus to drive action - whether it is sufficient or not is another question.

  • I have always found this one very important, environmental action is not a new invention, nor indeed an invention of the 'global north' . I think it is important to shift our gaze sometimes

  • An excellent addition! I toyed with this as an addition but concluded that some sense of reflection is required to see how the year plays out (although we do touch on COVID as much as is possible in such a time of flux)

  • Max Kelly made a comment

    Some great comments below, highlighting, in essence, the complex and interlinked nature of the SDGs. There is an interesting mix of problems (poverty) and solutions (education) and the relationships between each are an indicator of the issues facing a critical assessment of global development. How easy do you think it would have been to agree on these goals?

  • Yes, the suburban dream seems a long way from some of the Melbourne suburban developments and the concept of food deserts, car reliance and many of the issues associate with poor planning (never mind the large air conditioners tacked on the side of most of these houses).....

  • yes, there are two competing discourses going on here - the build back better, and the rebuild the economy dialogues. They are in some ways representative of keys issues that underpin sustainability ....

  • How we experience and measure a better life is a fairly complex question. WHo is familiar with Bhutan's integration of wellbeing and spirituality into governance through eh Gross national happiness index?

  • @PiaK Exactly! We are a Victorian (Australia) based University but have always focused on initially distance learning and more recently Cloud based teaching and learning systems - particularly in our international and community development courses ( where many of...

  • Welcome Jessica and don't hesitate to ask if you have any questions about this unit, or the course more generally (I am also the course director of the MICD)

  • Hi Rachelle, nice to see some familiar faces in here!

  • Hi Juliet, that sounds wonderful and it is great to hear of positive actions for sustainability. Is regenerative agriculture a term/concept much used in Scotland at the moment?

  • There are so many opportunities to brung existing knowledge, skills and experience into the development field!

  • I also had to look that one up so thankyou - we all learn something new every day!

  • Hi Thet, the role of ICT and technologies in a sustainable future is undeniable and a great area for research

  • Its fantastic to hear of positive actions for sustainability. Let's hope your petition is succesful.

  • Welcome, Hanga, It's great to hear that as a high school student you have such a passion for sustainability. Thanks for joining us!

  • Welcome Carlos and we look forward to hearing more of the changes you have seen, Thanks, Max

  • Hi Emily, Welcome to this course. The full version (5 courses or 10-week version) of this course runs as both a micro-credential as well as a unit in the Graduate Certificate of Sustainable Development and Humanitarian Action at Deakin. It provides the equivalent of one unit of study that can be used as credit towards a GC or Masters programs (subject to...

  • Thanks, Emma,
    Hopefully, this will give you at least a taster of graduate education and possibilities for further studies,

  • This diagram and the notion of planetary boundaries is pretty core to the remainder of the unit

  • No till has taken off - regenerative agriculture is also gaining a lot of traction here in Australia particularly as there is scope for 'carbon farming (sequestration of carbon in soil through managements practices) can make money under the Government ERF.

  • indeed the current global economic system challenges many aspects of a sustainable future - an issue that will arise more and more throughout the course (and unit for those progressing into the micro credential or beyond)

  • Thanks for sharing this Emma. It is indeed an interesting and positive read!

  • There are significant moves within the humanitarian sector towards the 'localisation' of aid, which looks to both increase funding towards; 'local' actors, as well as consider the role each actor plays in the aid chain, and where indeed the power in the system lies, and whether this is the b est outcome for those for whom aid and development is intended to...

  • Thanks for bringing this up. I had a student last year from within the construction industry and I was really impressed with some of the initiatives and innovations coming out of this industry, it was not an area I was familiar with at all!

  • time is a challenge for us all - the design of this course is for it to be able to be done bite-sized chunks - delve into what really engages you, and make these points the ones where you contribute more perhaps if you find you are struggling to keep going. If anything is not clear just ask - don't get bogged down. There ar plenty of us here to help out or...

  • @SamJohnson @DilipKumar This is an excellent suggestion - how can we share our learnings or findings and something that can be picked up throughout the course hopefully.

  • That is true, however, I encourage all questions and try and ensure that people are comfortable with contributing ideas, questions, opinions, reflections and so on. The key to the open debate is being able to hear another opinion through active listening, a skill that is perhaps being lost in the barrage of media (social and otherwise). We hope this will be...

  • Absolutely, and also sometimes give us different perspectives that may challenge us, or provide a new direction for thinking.

  • As the old adage goes, there is no such thing as a silly question and as an educator, I can absolutely support that. Ask away!

  • Hi, Its great to see such a diverse cohort of students in this course. As you will see as we move through the course the experience is designed to ensure that we have the opportunity to learn from each other's experiences and ideas. Welcome to those who have already introduced themselves and I look forward to hearing from more of you!

  • yes, a point that has some relevance to the current climate crisis. Although some of the parameters differ wildly, the capacity for global action has already been demonstrated

  • agreed! However, policy choices often mean trade-offs. I think it can be useful to consider them in this way. I am pleased that education is number one. It does seem foundational. i think that is the key here. Where are the foundations upon which a sustainable world can be built

  • interesting take. I think there is plenty of potential to explore who may be best placed to ascertain how the goals can be achieved. International NGOs, local civil society? What about multilateral institutions (UN etc), or national governments? Private sector? Lts and lots of talking points here!

  • History is written by the conquerors....

  • I am a Hans Rosling fan. If nothing else ( and there is plenty in his work) he makes data accessible - sensible. Data can be manipulated a lot of ways but these long data sets and organsaiton do help address misconceptions. Unfortunatly he passed away a couple of years ago. I miss his work!

  • This paper on planetary boundaries is central to the remainder of the programme!