New residential short course – the Tao of Sustainability

This one-week intensive residential course is designed to challenge popular misconceptions & develop a deeper understanding of how we can achieve truly sustainable societies. During the week expert facilitators will help you develop your knowledge, thinking & practice around all aspects of sustainability, including transport, energy, waste, food, biodiversity, community, business, economics & their inter-connections.

The Tao (or ‘The Way’) series of courses are led by Anthony James, Convener of the Understandascope, and were developed with the late Professor Frank Fisher, an acknowledged doyen of sustainability & Australia’s Inaugural Environmental Educator of the Year.

The Tao of Sustainability offers an intensive learning opportunity exploring new concepts & practices of sustainability held in a safe community environment where participants are encouraged to share their stories and experiences as part developing our understanding of sustainability.

When: Sunday 13 October 3.30pm, concluding with dinner on Saturday 19 October

Cost: $1,050 inc all accomodation, food, day trips, & materials.
Early bird registration: $950 before 27 September

The Tao series of courses are popular & as numbers are strictly limited we recommend early registration of interest.

For more information click here
To register your interest, contact Anthony James, on 03 9819 3502 or via email

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Frank Fisher Award

Our late friend, Professor Frank Fisher was 1 of 2 people acknowledged in the Local Hero category of the 2013 Yarra Sustainability Awards.  Frank was recognised for his work advocating for systemic change, empowering individuals, communities and organisations to make a better world for all life, by becoming more humble, considerate and insightful people. Frank was a long time resident of the City of Yarra and active community member with groups including the Council, North Yarra Community Health and many others.

Later in the night, Yarra Mayor, Jackie Fristackie announced the new Frank Fisher Award to begin from 2014.  Our thanks to everyone at Council and in Yarra for making these awards happen … for all they represent.

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DODO alternative wins RSA prize

Industrial Design honours student Carl Turner has won an RSA Student design award for his YOLO design – a contribution to the planned extinction of the DODO.

Inspired by the late Professor Frank Fisher’s coining of the term DODO (driver owned, driver only) car, Carl set about designing an alternative.  “DODO car commuting is perhaps the costliest mode of commuting, because it depends on people sacrificing their own time just to get to work at massive social, ecological and economic costs,” Carl said.

Carl’s proposed YOLO (you only live once), design is a shared but personalised subscription-based mobile work environment.  This enables people to include their commute time as part of their working day by “using their commute productively for email correspondence, document review/ writing, conversation or high quality thinking time.”

Swinburne lecturer and former RSA prize winner Mark Strachan encouraged Carl to enter the RSA competition.  The RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of the Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) Student Design Awards issues briefs to young designers to demonstrate how the insights and processes of design can solve 21st century problems.  YOLO was selected from among about 500 entries and will soon be on display, along with other winners, in an online exhibition.

Read more

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2013 Winter Appeal for the Frank Fisher Memorial Fund

Professor Frank Fisher, founding Convenor of the Understandascope

Sadly, our dear friend and Understandascope founder, Professor Frank Fisher, passed away late last year. The Frank Fisher Memorial Fund was launched in his name to further his legacy through the education and sustainability programs of the Understandascope.

Frank was the Inaugural Australian Environmental Educator of the Year in 2007, in recognition of three decades of pioneering work in the field. Much of that time was as Associate Professor in the School of Geography and Environmental Science at Monash University near Melbourne. He then spent seven years at Swinburne University of Technology, at the National Centre for Sustainability, where he was the Convenor of Graduate Programs in sustainability, and the Faculty of Design, where he was Professor of Sustainability.

Frank was also part of the ground-breaking group that began OASES Graduate School, a not-for-profit tertiary organisation based in Hawthorn, where the Understandascope is now based.

This is the first financial appeal since Frank passed away. Please donate generously. For more information about the Fund and the work of the Understandascope, click here.

To make a secure tax-deductible donation, click here.

Thank you. Your donation is very much appreciated.

100% of your donation goes towards the projects or scholarships for the education programs Frank led or inspired. Updates on the progress of these projects and program will be posted on the website.

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Frank Fisher Memorial Internship at MEFL

Moreland Energy Foundation (MEFL) have established a paid internship position as a tribute to Professor Frank Fisher’s lifelong commitment to sustainability education.

The six-month (June-Dec) internship is open to advanced year-level students or recent graduates of a tertiary qualification in a sustainability related field.  It offers an opportunity to get hands on experience working with the MEFL advocacy team.

Professor Fisher was the first lifetime member of MEFL and a longtime supporter of MEFL’s objectives and projects.

For more information and a copy of position description visit the MEFL website.

Applications close Tuesday 11th June at 10am. 

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Sustainability and Spirituality – a public conversation

Understandascope Convener Anthony James will be the special guest in the latest of a series of public conversations hosted by Nunawading Uniting Church Minister Rev Dr Paul Tonson.  The conversation will explore new ways of thinking about sustainability and spirituality and the deep connections between these life practices.

There will be ample opportunity for public participation in the conversation and café discussion to follow.


Sunday 28th April 3-4:30pm
@ Nunawading Uniting Church,

355 Whitehorse Rd, Nunawading

Gold Coin for entry.


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The Tao of City Cycling short course

Bringing sustainability into view

The Tao of City Cycling

A short course on safe cycling in sustainable city streets

Developed by Australia’s Inaugural Environmental Educator of the Year, Professor Frank Fisher

This interactive & practical short course, facilitated by some of Melbourne’s most experienced commuter cyclists, explores how to move about our city in the most efficient, safe & sustainable way. For all ages, genders & backgrounds. Featuring how to cycle safely, dress, carry cargo & kids, secure your bike, gain health & fitness, & create a more cycle-friendly, connected & sustainable society.

Who: Anthony James (Head of OASES Graduate School), Dr. John Merory (Neurologist), Kathryn Donnelly (former Team Leader, Swinburne Uni’s National Centre for Sustainability), MairiAnne Mackenzie (Farmer), Tim Fisher (Journalist & Facilitator) & James Tonson (Coordinator, Understandascope)

When: 5 x Wednesday evenings, from 3 April to 1 May 2013, 6.30-8.30pm

Where: OASES, 2 Minona St, Hawthorn

Investment: $119/$69, inc. light refreshments & participant package

For more info & to register visit

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Special panel event at the Sustainable Living Festival 16 Feb 12pm


Come along to a special interactive panel discussion at the Sustainable Living Festival: what to do when improving efficiency and other ‘green’ initiatives can make our sustainability problems worse?

12-1pm, Saturday 16 February 2013

Under the Gum talk tent, Federation Square Melbourne

FREE event

A 1 hour interactive panel discussion, featuring architect and designer, Heidi Lee, strategic foresight practitioner, Josh Floyd, and the Chair of OASES Graduate School, Keith Badger. Convened by Anthony James, Head of OASES Graduate School and the Understandascope.

Click here for more info.

We look forward to seeing you there.

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Eingana Magazine features a selection from Everyday Transcendence

Eingana Magazine’s December 2012 edition features a selection of works from the ebook recently published by the Understandascope, Everyday Transcendence: The Influence of Frank Fisher.

Eingana is the magazine of the Victorian Association for Environmental Education.

You can download this edition of the magazine here - Eingana December 2012

And of course you can download the ebook in full here.

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