Dr Bhavna Middha

Bhavna is an environmental sociologist and a social practice theorist. Her main research area is sustainable consumption, which she has investigated through topics such as food, energy and waste.

Focusing on spatialities and just transitions, Bhavna’s work has explored and advanced the practice perspective in sustainable consumption. A strong focus of her work has been on qualitative research methods, where digital ethnography has been an important aspect of the empirical work undertaken.

Bhavna is currently the Research Fellow in the ARC industrial training and research hub for Transformation of Reclaimed Waste Resources to Engineered Materials and Solutions for a Circular Economy (TREMS) (2021-2026). As part of the hub, she is researching the social and policy dimensions of waste production, consumption and management.

Bhavna is a CI on a project funded by the Fight Food Waste CRC, researching connections between consumer meat waste and refrigerator use, and on a Fuel Poverty Research Network’s (UK) funded ECR research grant, examining multiple vulnerabilities through the nexus of food and fuel poverty.

Previously, Bhavna was the Research Fellow on the ARC project HEET (Housing Energy Efficiency Transitions), examining industry, stakeholder and householder experiences for scaling up retrofits for a sustainable and just transition to zero-carbon housing.

Bhavna’s previous research experience has also included

  • Examining and proposing scenarios for 20-minute neighbourhoods in green-field sites in Melbourne (Living locally: Beveridge volume 1 and 2)
  • Investigating the bespoke digital and social media community engagement platforms of local governments in Victoria and their relationship to urban planning and development for better participation and democratic outcomes (DEMUDIG);
  • An AHURI-funded research project that was a rapid response to capture the changing lived experiences of low income households in Victoria during COVID-19 (The lived experience of COVID-19: housing and household resilience)
  • As a CI on an internal RMIT ECP-funded project looking at changes in food and packaging waste in Melbourne during COVID-19.

Bhavna’s doctoral research (PhD awarded December 2019) examined the eating spaces of an inner urban university and how relationships between eating practices of students and these spaces is negotiated for sustainable outcomes. Using multiple methods, including digital ethnography, practiced spaces of the university were highlighted in the research that addressed sustainable consumption issues such as convenience food and packaging and food insecurity among international students. Besides highlighting the unsustainable trajectories of eating spaces at the university, her thesis  drew attention to some other ways that lived spaces could be reimagined for sustainable outcomes, such as through university eating spaces being designed and used as urban commons, and convivial third spaces of eating that are spatially and temporally flexible.

 

Recent publications

Spaces of capability: consumption geographies at an inner-city university (2020)

Interview with Bhavna Middha – Practice theory methodologies blog, Lancaster University (2021)

Trends and challenges in digital community engagement (2020)

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Projects

Democratic Urban Development in the Digital Age (DEMUDIG)

2019–2021

This international research project is examining citizens’ use of the Internet and social media to participate in urban development processes, and city governments’ efforts to engage and respond to citizens through these channels.

The Work / Life Ecologies Project

2017–2019

The Work / Life Ecologies Project aims to understand staff and students’ broader lifestyles as part of a work-life ecology, occurring across a range of spaces, both physical and virtual.

Work/life ecologies: lifestyles, sustainability practices

2015–2017

This project aims to understand staff and students' broader lifestyles as part of a work-life ecology, occurring across a range of spaces, both physical and virtual.

Embedding sustainability in food practices: Investigating spaces of food provisioning and consumption for students at RMIT city campus

2016–2019

As large scale participants in food provisioning and consumption practices, academic institutions like universities have a crucial part to play in food sustainability transitions

News & Blog

News

Report shows our homes must change for better health and living

25 November 2020

A new study examining Victorians’ lived experience during COVID-19 points to the design and quality of homes and neighbourhoods as a key mitigating factor in people’s capacity to cope with disasters.

Blog

Councils often ignore residents on social media. How can digital platforms ensure they have a say in planning?

16 June 2020

Local governments across Australia are mandated to consult their residents on urban development issues. They are increasingly using digital platforms to do this.

Stimulus that retrofits housing can reduce energy bills and inequity too

03 June 2020

Stay-at-home orders and the economic crisis have increased the burden of energy costs on lower-income Australians. Poor housing quality and unequal access to home energy efficiency are hurting our most vulnerable households.

News

New project investigates how COVID-19 impacts housing stress

28 May 2020

RMIT urban researchers have received funding from the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute to investigate COVID-19’s impact on housing stress in Melbourne.

News

Meet the women helping to improve how we live in cities and with nature

05 March 2020

As our cities evolve, so too should our approach to building and planning our urban habitats. Here, six RMIT urban researchers share how their work is shaping how we live in our cities and with nature.

Blog

How can we improve our homes to be energy efficient?

04 October 2019

With rising energy bills the new normal, we need to focus on improving Victoria’s housing stock to help householders adapt. New research in Moreland is exploring the barriers and opportunities householders face in improving their homes.

News

Food selfies show an appetite for flexible student eating spaces

14 August 2019

Food selfies taken on campus can offer a whole new way to rethink flexible student spaces and help combat food waste, suggests a new study.

News

Meet our green research and teaching team

12 October 2015

RMIT’s academic green team is working to make the University’s ambitious sustainability vision a reality through teaching and research.

Publications

Using the capability approach to evaluate energy vulnerability policies and initiatives in Victoria, Australia

Nicola Willand, Dr Bhavna Middha, Gordon Walker

Local Environment The International Journal of Justice and Sustainability

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