Liam Phelan

Membership:  2017

Member Bio

Liam Phelan is a senior lecturer at the University of Newcastle, Australia. He has a long-standing engagement at the nexus of climate change, finance, human rights, and ecological sustainability and, before joining the academy, worked with civil society organizations in advocacy roles. His primary research interest is sustainability and how to achieve it. Recently, he has been focusing on governance of the Earth system as a complex adaptive system—comprising human-social and ecological elements— and its key characteristics, including thresholds, nonlinear change, and capacity for surprise. In particular, he examines the relationship between the Earth system and the global economy as a subsystem of the Earth system, and ways towards bringing the global economy into alignment with the Earth system. He engages in critical research and in his teaching aims to equip and encourage students to participate consciously, actively, and effectively in wider society as highly functioning citizens. Phelan is particularly interested in connections between education, social justice, and sustainability.


  • with Ann Henderson-Sellers and Ros Taplin. “The Political Economy of Addressing the Climate Crisis in the Earth System: Undermining Perverse Resilience.” New Political Economy 18, no. 2 (2013):198–226.
  • with Geoff Evans. “Transition to a Post-Carbon Society: Linking Environmental Justice and Just Transition Discourses.” Energy Policy 99 (2016): 329–39.
  • with Jeffrey McGee and Rhyall Gordon. “Cooperative Governance: One Pathway to a Stable-State Economy.” Environmental Politics 21, no. 3 (2012): 412–31.
  • with Ros Taplin, Ann Henderson-Sellers, and Glenn Albrecht. “Ecological Viability or Liability?: Insurance System Responses to Climate Risk.” Environmental Policy & Governance 21, no. 2 (2011): 112–30.
  • with Tim Connor. “Antenarrative and Transnational Labour Rights Activism: Making Sense of Complexity and Ambiguity in the Interaction between Global Social Movements and Corporations.” Globalizations 12, no. 2 (2015): 149–63.
  • with Angela Carbone, Bella Ross, Katherine Lindsay, Steve Drew, Sue Stoney, and CAroline Cottman. “Course Evaluation Matters: Improving Students’ Learning Experiences with a Peer-Assisted Teaching Program.” Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education 40, no. 2 (2014): 165–80.