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OPEN Fellow – Chris Ives


BEnvSc (2006, Macquarie University) PhD (2012, Macquarie University) PGCHE (2021, University of Nottingham)

Interests & Passions

I am interested in how people connect to nature in various ways (e.g. through experiences of natural environments, their cognitions, values and emotions), and how strengthening people’s and communities’ connections to nature can contribute to system change for sustainability. I am also interested in how people’s ‘inner worlds’ – their beliefs, values and paradigms – might provide a leverage point for sustainability transformations. I am convinced that a sustainable future will require not only behavioural and structural changes to reduce carbon emissions and lighten our footprint on the natural world, but also the cultivation of characteristics such as empathy, self-control and humility. These are vastly different from conventional paradigms of self-interest, efficiency and control that characterise our economic and governance systems. I am therefore interested in exploring ways to bridge ‘inner’ and ‘outer’ dimensions of change, and working to unleash latent values of environmental responsibility and care in policy, practice and education.


OPEN Board Member

Chris is an interdisciplinary sustainability scientist, based in the School of Geography at the University of Nottingham. His primary areas of expertise are in social-ecological systems and sustainability transformations, particularly in urban settings. Chris’ research focusses on understanding diverse ways people connect to nature, how different notions of value can inform environmental management, ‘inner’ dimensions of sustainability such as beliefs and worldviews, and the role of faith in mobilising environmental action. He received his PhD from Macquarie University for his work on the biodiversity, planning and management of urban ecosystems in Sydney, Australia. He then pursued postdoctoral research in the area of environmental social science, holding postdoctoral positions at the University of Melbourne, RMIT University, and Leuphana University Lueneburg before moving to the UK in 2016. Chris is an editor of the journal Sustainability Science, and director of the MSc in Environmental Leadership and Management at the University of Nottingham.

Why am I an OPEN fellow?

I am passionate about mobilising positive change for environmental sustainability through connecting creating spaces for mutual learning and exchange. The need for transformative change to ensure a safe and flourishing future for people and the planet is unprecedented, yet traditional education systems often impose barriers to sharing and activating necessary knowledge and wisdom. I am excited to support OPEN as a new platform for knowledge sharing, a community of practice marked by a culture of humility, curiosity and care, and a force for influencing social and educational systems for a sustainable future.

How can I help change agents?

I can help those working to bridge the worlds of academia and practice through advising on partnership development and communication. I can also advise on how current sustainability scholarship can be translated into applied settings. For early career academics, I can provide mentoring opportunities in navigating an inter- or trans-disciplinary career. I can also provide advice around the development of interdisciplinary action-oriented curricula.

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