Professor Chris Ryan, Director of the Victorian Eco Innovation Lab (VEIL) at the University of Melbourne, has worked for over 30 years across various areas of science, technology, environmental policy and design, and in projects that span the community sector, academia, government and international agencies and business.
His community sector work includes the creation of a number of networks of ‘alternative’ and ‘radical’ technology in the UK in the 1970′s. He brought this work brought back to Australia for the creation of several community technology programs and, in 1978, a community plan for environmental and socially-useful work that became the Centre for Research into Environmental Strategies (CERES), still existing today in the Melbourne Suburb of Brunswick.
In academic work he helped found the first multi-disciplinary undergraduate socio-environmental degree program at RMIT University that spanned two faculties (Social Science and Architecture and Design). That program ran from 1984 to 1997. He was foundation professor of Design and Sustainability at RMIT from 1990, and Director of the National (Key) Centre for Environmental Design from 1989-98. In this position he directed the National EcoReDesign program, and ARC Linkage and ERDC project, working with 20 Australian companies to develop a new eco-design methodology and bring new greener products into the market.
He left Australia in 1998 to take up a position of Professor, and subsequently Director, of the International Institute for Industrial Environmental Economics (IIIEE) in Lund, Sweden. That Institute, which focuses on new sustainable systems of production and consumption, is attached to Lund University. Its research program is closely linked to the formation of government policy, innovation and industry strategy. Professor Ryan returned to Australia from Sweden in 2002-3 to work with RMIT’s Lab 3000 researching the potential for Information and Communications Technology (ICT) to contribute to eco-innovation. The outcomes of that research appeared in Lab Report 03 – “Digital Eco-Sense: Sustainability and ICT, a new terrain for innovation”. In parallel with that research, he initiated the international “Eco-Sense” program linking University design schools around the world to explore new possibilities for transformative eco-innovation. EcoSense was a pre-cursor to the VEIL program.
Professor Ryan was consultant to the UN Environment Program coordinating and writing the Global Progress Report on Sustainable Consumption for the Johannesburg UN world summit in 2002.
He is a member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Industrial Ecology (Yale University). He is a member of the Board of the Banksia Foundation Australia and was Director – Curator of the Victorian Deakin Lectures 09: Climate and Innovation: Building the low Carbon Economy Now.
He joined the University of Melbourne in 2006 as Professor and Co-Director of the Australian Centre for Science Innovation and society and as Director of the Victorian Eco-Innovation Lab (based on the Eco-Sense program). That program is funded from a Victorian Sustainability Fund grant. He is now Professor and Director of VEIL as a research unit within the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning. He was theme leader Sustainable Cities for the Melbourne Sustainable Societies Institute until April 2010.