The unsustainability of academic aeromobility in Australian universities

Andrew Glover, Yolande Strengers, Tania Lewis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

57 Citations (Scopus)


This article analyzes how certain forms of unsustainable hypermobility – primarily air travel – are embedded in the institutional orientations of Australian universities, and hence, into the professional practices of academics in the country. Academic air travel is commonly recognized as a key component of a scholar’s ability to cultivate and maintain international collaborations, achieve high-impact journal publications and win large research grants. Despite the environmental sustainability implications that regular international and domestic air travel entails, a normative system of ‘academic aeromobility’ has developed. We discuss the results of a qualitative textual analysis of Australian university-sustainability policies as well as research and internationalization strategies. We find that the ambitions of academic institutions to reduce carbon emissions from air travel are discordant with broader policies and strategic orientations around international mobility. These findings foreground the paradoxical relationship between many university-sustainability policies and the sector’s broader strategic aims of internationalization and mobility of staff and students, suggesting the limits to piecemeal approaches to organizational policy and practices pertaining to sustainability. We conclude by discussing the role of technology and ‘slow scholarship’ as a means to reduce academic aeromobility.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalSustainability: Science, Practice, and Policy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Air
  • Australia
  • Internationalization
  • Mobility
  • Sustainability
  • Travel
  • University

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