Frank Fisher

Prof. Frank Fisher passed away in August at the age of 68. Frank was a long-term member of Friends of the Earth. But he was so much more − one friend described him as an environmental educator, academic and theorist, electrical engineer, understandascoper, social constructionist, constant cyclist, and chronic disease sufferer.

Another friend said: "Relentless, objective, philosophical, generous, imaginative, insightful, honest, dedicated, friendly – all while grappling with a series of illnesses, any of which would have floored most people. That was Frank. Many people have now lost a lot."

Frank originally trained as an electrical engineer, and completed a Masters of Environmental Studies in Sweden in 1975. He began his career as an engineer in industry and was later director of Monash University's Graduate School of Environmental Science. He joined Swinburne Uni in 2006 as the convenor of graduate programs with the National Centre for Sustainability. In 2008 he was hired by the Dean of Swinburne's Faculty of Design Professor Ken Friedman to guide Swinburne's efforts in sustainable design.

Anthony James from Swinburne University said: "Frank Fisher continues to be pivotal to the richest legacy in sustainability education in this country, bringing to light a way of understanding that truly changes the world, from the inside out."

Frank initiated the first inland wind farm in Victoria and the 35 turbines at Challicum Hills have been operating for almost a decade.

He was the recipient of the Inaugural Australian Environmental Educator of the Year award in 2007.

Frank was a health consumer advocate and a contributing member on some 20 national committees. Despite his enormous personal challenges with Crohn's disease, and enduring some 35 operations, Frank used his chronic condition as an opportunity to create positive change. In 2006, a selection of Frank's writings were published as a book by Vista Publications called "Response Ability: Environment, Health & Everyday Transcendence".

In June, the Understandascope, one of Frank’s major projects, was launched at Federation Square. Understandascope is a centre for sustainability thinking and practice.

An ebook of some of Frank's work has recently been produced and can be downloaded at

The Swinburne Uni Alumni office has established the Frank Fisher Memorial Fund to finance a scholarship and to produce a documentary and a book. To donate, follow the links at or visit:

The titles of some of Frank's papers give an insight into his breadth of interests:

  • Designing the sustainable mind: when good design can make sustainability problems worse
  • Chronic disease self-management and the liberation inherent in understanding the social construction of chronic disease
  • From values to social construct analyses in environmental science
  • Melbourne's current commuting options: uneconomical choices and underperforming assets
  • Free public transport
  • A systems view of altruism reveals self-interest
  • Obsession with car sending us way of the DODO
  • Seduced by a title: an environmental scientist reviews an ecology text
  • We languish in our habits and must see life afresh
  • Response ability: environment, health and everyday transcendence
  • Ecoliteracy and metaresponsibility: 'steps to an ecology of mind'