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Stuart Hill smiling in the woods
Stuart Hill is a longtime friend to organic farming. He was one of the first in the scientific community to “cross the street” to the organic world. An early speaker at NOFA conferences, he was a professor at McGill University. He once told me that those early scientists who crossed over had to publish twice as much just to keep any respect in the academic community. Fortunately for us, he was up to the task. He is a delight to talk with, and he has taught much to many of us.

He is the Foundation Chair of Social Ecology at the University of Western Sydney. At UWS he taught units on Qualitative Research Methodology, Social Ecology Research, Transformative Learning, Leadership and Change, and Sustainability, Leadership and Change (he retired in 2009 and is now an Emeritus Professor in their School of Education).

His PhD was one of the first whole ecosystem studies that examined community and energy relationships (1969); and it was the earliest such study conducted by a single researcher. For this, he received the awards for Best PhD Thesis and Best PhD Student. In 1977 he received a Queen’s Silver Jubilee Medal for his community and social transformation work.

In 1977, in Canada, he produced a report for the New Brunswick Government on Energy and Agriculture that detailed many of the resource, environment and climate issues that are at last being recognized today. Since then he has produced many more cutting edge reports, and has been an advisor to several ministers.

Prior to 1996, he was at McGill University, in Montreal, where he was responsible for the zoology degree, and where in 1974 he established Ecological Agriculture Projects, Canada’s leading resource centre for sustainable agriculture, and the first such centre in the world within a university (www.eap.mcgill.ca).

Hill has published over 350 papers and reports. His latest books are Ecological Pioneers: A Social History of Australian Ecological Thought and Action (with Dr Martin Mulligan; Cambridge UP, 2001), Learning for Sustainable Living: Psychology of Ecological Transformation (with Dr Werner Sattmann-Frese; Lulu, 2008) and Social Ecology: Applying Ecological Understanding to our Lives and our Planet (with Dr David Wright and Dr Catherine Camden-Pratt; Hawthorn, 2011).

Since 2003 he has contributed ground-breaking chapters to nine books: A social ecology dialogue across Aboriginal and White cultures in Between the Lines: Social Ecologies in Border Landscapes (with Dr Carol Birrell; 2015 in press); Considerations for enabling the ecological redesign of organic and conventional agriculture: a social ecology and psychological perspective in Organic Farming: Prototype for Sustainable Agricultures (2014); Social ecology: an Australian perspective in Social Ecology (2011); Four key features of Permaculture, and an opportunity for the future in Permaculture Pioneers: Stories from the New Frontier(2011); Enabling redesign for deep industrial ecology and personal values transformation, in Industrial Ecology and Spaces of Innovation (2006); Redesign as deep industrial ecology: lessons from ecological agriculture and social ecology, in Industrial Ecology: A Question of Design? (2006); Social ecology as a framework for understanding and working with social capital and sustainability within rural communities, in A Dynamic Balance: Social Capital and Sustainable Community Development (2005); Learning Ecology: A New Approach to Learning and Transforming Ecological Consciousness: Experiences from Social Ecology in Australia, in Learning Toward An Ecological Consciousness: Selected Transformative Practices (2004); and Autonomy, mutualistic relationships, sense of place, and conscious caring: a hopeful view of the present and future, in Changing Places: Re-imagining Australia (2003).

In Canada he was a member of over 30 regional, national and international boards and committees. He is currently on the editorial board of five international refereed journals, and until 2004 he represented professional environmental educators on the NSW Council on Environmental Education.

Stuart has worked in agricultural and development projects in the West Indies, French West Africa, Indonesia, The Philippines, China, the Seychelles, the UK, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia. His work in the Seychelles to make a whole coralline island completely self-sufficient in food and energy is particularly significant.

His background in chemical engineering, ecology, soil biology, entomology, agriculture, psychotherapy, education, policy development and international development, and his experience of working with transformative change, has enabled him to be an effective facilitator in complex situations that demand collaboration across difference and a long-term co-evolutionary approach to situation improvement. These skills were used extensively in his recent role as Provocateur for the Victorian Government (for DPI & DSE: 2004-2005).