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Brandeis University

Publication Date

Spring 2009

Program Name

Australia: Sustainability and the Environment


The threats of climate change and peak oil have roots in our society’s dependence on the availability of cheap fossil fuels for its function and design. In order to both decrease greenhouse gas emissions and significantly lower the demand on fossil fuels, our settlements –built when oil was cheap and abundant- must ‘relocalize’, or develop the systems which will enable the local production of food, energy, materials, employment, and goods. The Transition Movement has developed as a grassroots, community-based response to these challenges, grounded in the belief that a higher quality of life has the opportunity to emerge from a collaborative, community-directed transition to a lower-energy and locally-rooted future. In this study, I seek to explore the manifestation of the Transition Movement in Australia, through the development of four initiatives- Transition Sunshine Coast, Transition Blue Mountains, Transition Sydney, and Transition Bellingen. Through formal interviews with the active leaders of these Transition groups, I will document how the initiatives formed, their progress to date, their relationships with local community groups and councils, and the challenges they face. Through analysis of this data, I aim to identify the initiatives’ progress as related to the purposes they have evolved to fill within communities, their common challenges, and factors that could contribute to the continued spread of the Transition Movement in Australia. I found that Transition groups have emerged as catalysts for community projects which are networked to the global movement, hubs for community environmental collaboration, and vehicles to mainstream environmental problems and solutions. The strength of Transition’s approach to environmental and social change comes in its comprehensive, positive, adaptable, and inclusive model. However, Transition groups face challenges due to their voluntary nature, and in determining how to effectively work with existing community groups. Ultimately, this project is an exploration into the current state of a living process- one which is dependent on commitment, experience, evolution, and adaptation to move it forward. These findings serve as documentation to what may eventually be seen as only its earliest phases.


Natural Resources and Conservation | Politics and Social Change



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