Corey Peterson

Corey has worked at the University of Tasmania since 2010 advancing from Sustainability Officer to the inaugural Chief Sustainability Officer charged with advancing a holistic organisational sustainability agenda.  He was on the University of Tasmania Governing Council from 2012-2020 and is the President of Australasian Campuses Towards Sustainability (ACTS).

Big Idea(s) for Advancing Sustainability in Higher Education

What does the world need most right now?

I think what the world needs most right now are informed and passionate leaders and changemakers who understand the complexity of wicked problems and can find a way forward to deliver a more inclusive and regenerated world.  This need only just surpasses the need to empower the next generation of informed and passionate leaders and changemakers and, by acting in our capacities as leaders now to the best of our abilities, give them living examples of hope and a shared belief that the future can be good, just, and sustainable, and well worth striving for.

Leadership and Inspiration

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

Never give up, positive change is often a long game and sometimes to get through the tough times it is best to view the situation as literally a bit of a game.  This allows you to disassociate a bit, not take things personally, think both tactically and strategically to achieve the goal(s) you have for yourself, team, or organisation.  So, although a game perspective is useful, try and think of a way to play that is not necessarily winner-takes-all.

Tenacity and Perseverance

What would you tell others who are facing obstacles in their work?

The other bit of advice is to know you are in for the long-haul for regeneration and sustainability work (after all it took generations to get us into this collective predicament) so be ready to get into a perseverance mode.  This should involve you knowing when and how to expend your energy (as well as care and compassion) and ensuring you regularly do what brings you solace and joy to re-energise.  Part of this requires you to know yourself more objectively, which is where personality assessments and team role understandings are useful to understand how you think, react, and your own world view as well as the many ways others are in the world.  I have found the Enneagram to be the most useful tool as you get a good feel for how you might (re-)act when things get stressful.  Self-awareness is a very powerful tool.

Fun Fact

What is a job that you have had that would surprise your colleagues?

I supported a PhD project on penguin chick development in Antarctica that changed the course of my life (think Shirley Valentine!).  The project involved activities like collecting adult regurgitate from their foraging before the chick got it (noting we minimised this obviously) to identify what constituted the diet and in what quantities.  I also collected what came out of the chicks to get data on the feeding to growth rates (over-simplification!).  There was some ‘tension’ with the pure scientists just wanting to know this and my more applied approach – how much krill and silverfish is required for Adelie penguins to maintain their population and how much does that mean humans could harvest sustainably. Reflective of my resource management background and being only one data point among that needed for such modeling, but it illustrates my thinking – that is how can we live within planetary limits without deleterious impacts on ecosystems.