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Curtin Profile – Professor Peter Newman

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The founder of the Curtin University Sustainability Policy (CUSP) Institute, Peter Newman believes universities are in a position to lead in developing innovative solutions to the major sustainability issues facing the community and businesses today.

‘We have to do things differently so local economies become much more important,’

‘The process of change is about someone getting out there to help start things off and then sitting back and smiling once it comes together,’ Professor Newman said.

‘I’m just glad I got a chance to be a bit of a stirrer.’

Make no mistake though; Professor Newman is more than a ‘stirrer’. The renowned Australian academic and 2006/7 Fulbright Senior Scholar has advised multiple governments, helped save the Fremantle rail line, written numerous books and lectured across the globe.

For Professor Newman, who’s been fighting for change since 1974, the increased discussion about sustainable development in recent years is a victory, but there’s still a lot of work to be done.

‘Attitudes and popular understanding have improved enormously but we still have to fight the system,’ he said.

‘Things don’t change quickly … the system grinds on even when cultural attitudes have changed.

‘We want change and yet we can’t seem to achieve it through current planning.’

Gone are the days of global economics, argues Professor Newman. ‘We have to do things differently so local economies become much more important,’ he said.

‘Two things driving sustainability are oil prices and climate change – we’ve realised there are limits to the kind of development we once thought possible. Local economies use far less oil and burn less fossil fuels.’

Professor Newman will start lecturing in April with a syllabus based on his latest book ‘Cities as Sustainable Ecosystems’ and will work with PhD students at CUSP’s Fremantle centre.

‘I’ll be leading a more local life after many years of globe trotting, and I’m looking forward to that.’

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