Adaptation and the social sciences: Aysha Fleming at the Master Class
Aysha Fleming is a social scientist at CSIRO in Hobart, where she is looking at how the Australian wine industry is making decisions about responses to climate change. She is one of 20 young leaders participating in the PIARN Master Class program, and she provided this account of her experiences following the final Master Class session in north Queensland in May.
The PIARN Master Class is a great concept for linking people from a diverse range of industries and backgrounds together to focus on the issue of climate change adaptation. The class was really vibrant and exciting with all of the participants and presenters being open and encouraging, but also free to speak their mind and challenge assumptions. A particular strength of the class is having a relatively small group continue together over the three sessions so that we have got to know each other and build a strong network.
The research projects profiled in Townsville were particularly informative and interesting, being quite different from previous presentations, and from my own knowledge base in southern Australia. The range of industries covered across the three classes was a key reason for me wanting to be part of the program as you get so many different perspectives and ideas. I didn’t expect there would be such a strong social research component as well, but with presentations from Lauren Rickards in Canberra and Nadine Marshall in Townsville, the social research side was also very well represented. This created a surprising benefit for me, as although I was familiar with the theories and methods that they talked about, I got to see some of their latest findings and it helped the group relate to my own area of work. It was great to have more discussion around the social research agenda of climate change adaptation sparked as a result.
The whole program was so well designed and well run, it would be hard for me to pick out a favourite place or presentation, but I think the field visits were particularly good for giving us insight into how things are 'on the ground'. The presentations from the Climate Champion farmers were also particularly good for this reason. Another highlight was being able to share our views on funding and potentially have some real impact in to how some of the research decisions will be made into the future. Having many of the presenters spend extra time with the participants through group discussions and joining us for meals, allowed invaluable time to make comments and suggestions.
From my perspective as an early career social researcher, I learnt a lot from the classes about how a wide range of primary industries are affected by and responding to climate impacts, and how the links between policy, research and industry need to be improved through more communication, transparency and collaboration.
I think the Master Class is a step in the right direction for this collaboration. As a result of the classes I am now planning work with several of the other participants and I feel confident that the network will continue based on the relationships we have created and the experiences we have shared. I am proud to have been one of the first PIARN Master Class participants.
Read more about the Master Class program.