Research with impact

Our research has a major impact on policy and gives the public access to the very latest knowledge on some of the major environmental and developmental challenges we face.

Research in the fields of Human Geography and Urban and Regional Planning is of 'world standard' according to the Excellence in Research Australia (ERA) evaluation.

Our department's research is focused on the complex relationships between human and environmental systems in cities and regions. We work on projects across Australia, the Asia-Pacific region and Europe.

These include major projects in:

  • urban planning and governance
  • Indigenous knowledges
  • refugee and migration studies
  • global environmental change
  • vulnerability and risk in the Asia-Pacific region
  • environmental justice
  • heritage
  • tourism studies.

Research impact

While our research is theoretically informed, we are dedicated to having a 'real world' impact and many of our projects have informed policy development and implementation. Our research has made important policy contributions in the areas of:

  • urban planning and housing policy
  • disaster risk reduction
  • natural hazards and bushfire management
  • immigration and migrant populations
  • climate and environmental change
  • water management.

Download the 2018 Department of Geography and Planning Research Report

Core strengths

Our areas of research strength are comprised of academic staff and students who meet monthly to discuss research progress, collaborations and findings in supportive, collegial environments.

Honoured to be situated on Darug Country in northern Sydney, our research engages critical post-development and Indigenous geographies to rethink rights, responsibilities and belonging. We nurture the theory–practice nexus through innovative research approaches including close collaborations with communities, families, NGOs and place.

Our research focuses on the interface of Indigenous and local communities, institutional frameworks, governance, sustainability and justice. We work to challenge the dominance of Western knowledges and colonising processes and go beyond categorical thinking and dualisms to nurture relations and spaces of belonging, sharing and care. Our staff, research students and collaborators work in Australia, Asia, Africa, the Pacific, Aotearoa-New Zealand and Sápmi, and are active researchers in a number of fields.

Research themes

Key research themes include: Indigenous self-determination, empowerment and knowledges, Indigenous research methodologies and ethics, critical development studies, water cultures, cultural tourism, intergenerational healing, food, rethinking human-nature relationships through a more-than-human lens, political ecology, displacement and resettlement, climate change adaptation and community participation.

Shifting socioecological conditions highlight the complexity of life in the Anthropocene, where the boundaries between environments and societies are problematised; and where there is increasing recognition of the politics and power relations that shape the 'more-than-human' worlds we inhabit. This research cluster focuses on new approaches to understanding power and human-environment relations on a dynamic planet.

Our research centres on connections across social and environmental systems, as well as rethinking these categories in Australia, the Asia Pacific and beyond. Our researchers draw on a range of Indigenous, cross-cultural, interdisciplinary, geographical, historical and philosophical approaches that bridge theory and practice, and emphasise the importance of engaging and collaborating with diverse communities and publics.

The cluster is committed to critical research that highlights social and environmental injustices whilst also fostering resilient ways of living in and with multispecies communities.

Research themes

Key research themes include: political ecology; more-than-human geography; environmental humanities; environmental and multi-species justice; socioecological change; capacity building and participatory approaches to environmental challenges; politics, care and ethics; Anthropocene and climate change futures; place, scale and sustainability; critical animal studies; conservation; biopolitics and eco-governmentality; disasters, disruptions, displacement and crises; historical and future transformations.

The Cultural and Political Geography cluster was first convened in August 2018, and brings together faculty, researchers, postgraduates and MRes students whose work explores the inextricable relationship between cultural and political worlds.

Drawing on a range of geographical and philosophical traditions, including postcolonialism, feminist geographies, political philosophy, post-structural theory and social and spatial justice, the cluster's research is concerned with how cultural and political forces converge and interact in shaping environments, communities, identities, memories, bodies, knowledges, landscapes and mobilities.

The cluster seeks to advance critical theoretical thinking and praxis, through a diversity of formats, while promoting the contemporary and cutting-edge work being done in the department.

Research themes

Key research themes include: geographies of food and food politics, environmental humanities, water and water landscapes, political ecology, posthumanism, biopolitics and affect, indigenous knowledges, digital geographies, literary geographies and testimony, visual culture, spaces of heritage and trauma, tourism, migration, asylum and refugee studies, mobilities, critical border studies, nationalism and statehood, camp studies, landscapes and communities of disaster, carceral geographies, genocide studies and the spaces and spatialities of Nazism.

Research on the social, political, economic, cultural and environmental processes shaping cities is paramount to respond to the dynamic global urban challenges manifest in the age of the Anthropocene. Our research provides a critical lens to interrogate urban processes and their diverse outcomes. We address conceptual and policy challenges related to the way our cities are planned, governed and experienced.

Our research is based on a transformative politics and dedication to improving urban futures through enabling justice and care in the city. It draws together critical urban theory and planning practice to investigate the ways cities are managed and experienced by urban stakeholders, including policy makers, private sector actors, communities and a diverse array of non-human actors.

Central to our research is a multi-scalar lens which sees cities in relation to local, national and global practices and processes. We are dedicated to improving the policy and practices of urban governance through applied, comparative and collaborative research with governments, non-government organisations and communities which address real world urban issues.

Research themes

Key research themes include: Care, justice and ethics in the city; Urban politics, activism and resistance; Housing and urban regeneration; Urban transformations: climate change, energy, food and water; Planning practice and policy; Urban Political Ecology; Multispecies cities.

Our faculty conducts research for local and state-level governments, NGOs, international aid agencies, community organisations and private consultancies. We collaborate with universities across the Asia-Pacific region, including Kyoto University and University of Malaysia Sabah.

We welcome enquiries and opportunities for collaborations and partnerships. Potential higher degree research students (PhD and Master of Research) and postdoctoral research fellows are encouraged to contact the Department of Geography and Planning to find out more.

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Last updated: 20 May 2020