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2009 Environmental History Prize winners

The winners

This year's prize attracted a range of strong and varied entries. The prize was shared by Jodi Frawley from the University of Sydney and Benedict Taylor from the University of New South Wales. Two highly commended entries, from Kylie Carman-Brown and Lawrence Niewójt (both from the Australian National University), received Honourable Mentions.

The entries

Jodi's essay, titled Trans/Nationalising wattle from the Sydney Botanic Gardens, explored the national and transnational paths of the wattle. Her essay examined the idea that what is national can be transnational, and what is transnational can be global, without the wattle losing its sense as an iconic Australian tree.

Benedict's essay, titled It is curious how the convict loves a pet: animals in Australian prisons and penal discourse, examined the long history of prisoners keeping pets and how these informal relationships probably influenced official animal care programs developed from the 1970s. He explored how pets helped have helped prisoners understand the nature of imprisonment and how it shapes lives and emotions.

In her essay titled Muck, mud and morasses: Draining wetlands in 19th century Gippsland, Kylie discussed the role of wetlands in the hydrological landscape. She examined colonial drainage practices and the changing attitudes to these over the course of history.

Lawrence entered an essay titled Gadubanud society in the Otway Range, Victoria: an environmental history. In it he gathered together diverse lines of inquiry pursued in gauging the scale of past Aboriginal interventions in these forested landscapes. His interdisciplinary approach was highly commended.

The entries

Jodi's essay, titled Trans/Nationalising wattle from the Sydney Botanic Gardens, explored the national and transnational paths of the wattle. Her essay examined the idea that what is national can be transnational, and what is transnational can be global, without the wattle losing its sense as an iconic Australian tree.

Benedict's essay, titled It is curious how the convict loves a pet: animals in Australian prisons and penal discourse, examined the long history of prisoners keeping pets and how these informal relationships probably influenced official animal care programs developed from the 1970s. He explored how pets helped have helped prisoners understand the nature of imprisonment and how it shapes lives and emotions.

In her essay titled Muck, mud and morasses: Draining wetlands in 19th century Gippsland, Kylie discussed the role of wetlands in the hydrological landscape. She examined colonial drainage practices and the changing attitudes to these over the course of history.

Lawrence entered an essay titled Gadubanud society in the Otway Range, Victoria: an environmental history. In it he gathered together diverse lines of inquiry pursued in gauging the scale of past Aboriginal interventions in these forested landscapes. His interdisciplinary approach was highly commended.

The judges

The judging panel, chaired in 2009 by Associate Professor Rachel Ankeny (Chair of the Academy's National Committee for History and Philosophy of Science), was impressed by range and number of entries and the quality of the essays. The other panelists were Dr Mike Smith, representing the National Museum of Australia and Dr Libby Robin, representing Historical Records of Australian Science. The panel encouraged many of the entrants, including the winners, to seek publication in various peer-reviewed journals.