The key theme of Robert's research is how the aesthetic interacts with the moral and the educational.
Good teaching, like good writing or architecture, is beautiful and exciting as well as useful and purposeful. What creates this stimulation? And how does beauty relate to global environmental priorities and the urgent educational needs of changing opinions and behavior to create a fairer and greener society?
Robert's research is eclectic. He publishes prolifically on art and design, bicycles, method, ecology and urban planning, with five books and over 1,000 articles and newspaper reviews.
Underlying these investigations is Robert's philological study of the history of ideas, which he pursues through primary texts from antiquity to the present. Interpreting philosophical and poetic writings and comparing their rhetoric with inventions in art, design and music, Robert is developing a history of feeling and the linguistic institutions that define vision for better or worse.
Robert is art critic for The Age newspaper.