Iris Bergmann, PhD, DipEd, BA

PhD Candidate

Madsen Building (F09), Room 426

Supervisor: Prof. Phil McManus
Assoc. Supervisors: Prof. Paul McGreevy

Previous Education

  • PhD (Education for Sustainability), Southern Cross University, Lismore, 1999
  • DipEd, Scientific Institute for School Practice Bremen, Germany, 1991
  • BA, University of Bremen, Germany, 1989


PhD Title: The Future for Horses in Thoroughbred Racing and the Sustainability of Welfare Concepts

This research is about the sustainability of welfare concepts within the thoroughbred racing industry. It is also about the future-readiness of the industry in light of changing social expectations in terms of how animals are used and treated. This study aims to identify and compare welfare conceptions held within the industry internationally, and how it envisages the implementation of strategies to better protect the welfare of thoroughbreds. It investigates to what degree the various welfare conceptions are sustainable, what likely futures of thoroughbred welfare might look like and what that might mean for the future of thoroughbreds and thoroughbred racing.

This study is expected to make significant conceptual and theoretical contributions to our understanding of the thoroughbred racing industry, of animal welfare, of human-animal relationships and of sustainability as a species-inclusive concept. It is also expected that this species-inclusive sustainability concept can be adopted and applied to a range of animals and animal issues. With this, it is hoped that this research contributes policy-relevant solutions to animal welfare issues. It is also hoped to outline pathways for change to solving increasing social conflict over animal protection issues, many of which are entangled in industries of global significance such as thoroughbred racing.


My background is in capacity building for sustainability. Prior to moving to the University of Sydney, I held a research fellowship at RMIT University in Melbourne. While at RMIT, I was awarded the 2008 Voiceless Factory Farming Grant to investigate Australians’ knowledge of and attitudes toward farm animal welfare. This was the catalyst to direct the focus of my research to the intersection of sustainability and animal studies. Other projects I had worked on were related to vocational education, training and governance for sustainability; community development, youth leadership, and teacher training for sustainability; the role of the arts for the sustainability transition and green skills for a green economy.

I am now member of the research team working on the project “Caring for Thoroughbreds: Addressing social, economic and welfare issues in international horse racing”. This international research project is funded by the Australian Research Council (ARC) through their Discovery Project scheme (ARC DP130104933). My research is supported by a University of Sydney Postgraduate scholarship. “Caring for Thoroughbreds” is built on the premise that the thoroughbred breeding and racing industry is of economic, social and cultural importance in Australia and other nations. The project is situated within the interdisciplinary field of human-animal studies and brings together geographical, veterinary and economic approaches to address research questions pertaining to the care of thoroughbreds and the future of racing.

I have an interest in using photography as a method for research and teaching and I am planning to apply this to aspects of this current research project.