Death Futures Seminar Series

Hosted by the University of Melbourne's DeathTech Research Team in partnership with GMCT, this seminar series explored key questions for the future of cemeteries, memorialisation and deathcare.

About the Death Futures seminar series

The journey of death and grieving is a fundamental emotional, spiritual and cultural experience shared by all of humanity throughout history.

Yet, the diverse and rapidly changing needs of modern society mean the deathcare industry is in need of creative, environmentally sustainable solutions for cemetery landscapes, resources and assets now more than ever.

So, how do we solve this dilemma and set up sustainable solutions for generations to come?

The University of Melbourne’s DeathTech Research Team is a cutting-edge group that exists at the intersection of death, technology and contemporary social issues.

From March to November 2021, DeathTech hosted a seminar series called Death Futures to explore these topics. The seminars were initially presented for an audience of industry insiders at GMCT, but we think they’re so valuable that we’re making them available to a wider audience.

Because these seminars were presented to an internal audience who are used to talking frankly about sensitive topics from grief to dealing with human remains, we understand and acknowledge that the content may be difficult for some viewers.

The series included five presentations, each taking on a key theme for the future not just of the Australian cemetery sector but the deathcare industry globally.

Topics ranged from sustainable alternatives to burial and cremation to the use of digital technology in the cemetery sector, and the past, present and future role of cemeteries as public spaces for leisure and reflection.

The series also featured a panel discussion on ‘the future cemetery’ with panellists including a number of academic researchers and two representatives from GMCT.

You can watch video recordings of all the seminars below.

Meet Melbourne University’s DeathTech Research Team

One of GMCT’s industry research partners, the University of Melbourne’s DeathTech Research Team is a group of anthropologists, social scientists and human computer interaction specialists that was formed to study the most pressing issues facing the deathcare sector in the modern world.

For over a decade, DeathTech has been investigating the relationship between death, technology, and society to understand how deathcare and the cemetery as we know them today can be reimagined in a sustainable way for communities of the future.

As an industry research partner, GMCT provides a connection between scholarly research and industry, helping to create new avenues for the practical application of academic research in the sector.

Seminar 1: High-tech death in East Asia and beyond

Presented by Hannah Gould.

Seminar 2: Alkaline hydrolysis – an alternative to burial and cremation

Presented by Michael Arnold.

Seminar 3: Public life amongst the dead

Presented by Sam Holleran.

Seminar 4: Cemetery technology around the world

Presented by Fraser Allison.

Seminar 5: The Future Cemetery

Presented by Hannah Gould (as chair).

Panel including GMCT’s Simon Wong (General Manager Strategy & Effectiveness) and Deb Ganderton (GMCT Chief Executive Officer 2019-2022).