Research projects

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Our niche area of research is societal adaptation—more specifically, understanding the social dimensions of regional environmental change. Our disciplinary focus is on the social sciences (eg geography and cultural studies). Through this focus, we make contributions to knowledge in the areas of:

  • sustainability science
  • resilience
  • adaptive capacity
  • social learning
  • social capital
  • adaptive management
  • natural resource governance
  • Indigenous knowledge
  • community livelihoods

While our work encompasses a range of disciplines and undertakes transdisciplinary research, our core focus is aligned with social, behavioural and economic sciences. Our focus areas can be applied to a range of sustainability issues such as coastal management, climate change, sustainable livelihoods and water management (recognised as significant at local through to international scales)—in this way we can address real on-the-ground concerns of society and the environment.

The Sustainability Research Centre are currently working on a number of research projects internationally, nationally, and locally.

Project name Funder/Partner Contact  
Coastal governance embracing vulnerability and change Australian Research Council Future Fellowship Prof Tim Smith
tsmith5@usc.edu.au
Institutional arrangements for disaster management Uppsala, USC and SCC  

Prof Tim Smith
tsmith5@usc.edu.au

Hillfort mapping and understanding in Fiji New Colombo Plan (DFAT)

Prof Patrick Nunn pnunn@usc.edu.au

Crises environnementales et traditions locales: regards croisés sociétés antiques / sociétés de l’Océan Pacifique Région Pays de la Loire; partners USC and Université du Maine

Prof Patrick Nunn pnunn@usc.edu.au

Pacific personalities: how well do Pacific Island people fit the “Big Five” personality types, and why is it important?   USC 

Prof Patrick Nunn pnunn@usc.edu.au

Risk and resilience in the Pacific: influence of peripherality on exposure and responses to global change   Asia-Pacific Network for Global Change Research 

Prof Patrick Nunn pnunn@usc.edu.au

Optimising community-based climate change adaptation in the Pacific Islands Australian Research Council

Prof Patrick Nunn

pnunn@usc.edu.au

Comparing small Island states and subnational island jurisdictions: Towards sustainable island futures Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada

Prof Patrick Nunn

pnunn@usc.edu.au

Integrating protected cropping systems into high value vegetable value chains in the Pacific and Australia ACIAR, and led by Central Queensland University  A/Prof Jennifer Carter
jcarter@usc.edu.au
Co-operative management of water  Lincoln University and MBIE New Zealand Dr Chris Jacobson cjacobs@usc.edu.au
Transforming farm systems from the fringe in rural Cambodia World Vegetable Centre and Pennsylvania State University (in development) Dr Chris Jacobson cjacobs@usc.edu.au
Strengthening the Capacity for Extension Services in the Pacific Region  Secretariat of the Pacific Community Dr Chris Jacobson cjacobs@usc.edu.au
Migration, food security and climate adaptation in Cambodia UN FAO, Ministry of Environment, University of Battambang, Meanchy University  Dr Chris Jacobson cjacobs@usc.edu.au
ACHA economic valuation of water management New Zealand Aid Dr Chris Jacobson cjacobs@usc.edu.au
Policy Drivers for Public-Private Partnerships in Pacific Organics: Improving Extension Policy through an Evidence-based approach Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research Dr Chris Jacobson cjacobs@usc.edu.au
Zircon Auto-Regeneration Luminescence (ZARL) dating using Single-Grain Imaging  

Profs N A Spooner, D.J. Chittleborough, K McDonnell

Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network (TERN 1) – Australian Flux Network Project: Calperum, Riverland, SA Super Site.

National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Scheme

Profs W Meyer, D.J. Chittleborough
Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network (TERN 2) – Australian Flux Network Project: Calperum, Riverland, SA Super Site..

Education Investment Fund

Profs W Meyer, D.J. Chittleborough

Biogenesis of soils and landscapes

Environment Research Institute

Profs D.J. Chittleborough, W Verboom, N Spooner

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Research team Project Funding body

A/Prof Bill Carter, A/Prof Neil Tindale, Dr Harriot Beazley, Luong Thanh Hai, S Thok and Suchai Worachananant

Coral reef and water quality status and community understanding of threats in the eastern Gulf of Thailand Asia Pacific Network for Global Change Research
A/Prof Jennifer Carter, Dr John Moxon, Dr Maria  Raciti, Colin Blunt, Ioan Viji, Kim Jones and Prof Helen Wallace Developing markets and products for the Pacific Island and Papua New Guinea Canarium nut industry National Agricultural Research Institute
A/Prof Jennifer Carter and Prof Helen Wallace Value chain analysis of forestry activities in the Pacific Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research
A/Prof Jennifer Carter and Prof Steven Underhill Developing an integrated participatory guarantee scheme in the Pacific Islands in support of sustainable production of high-value vegetable crops Pacific Agribusiness Research for Development Initiative Research Activity
A/Prof Neil Powell and Prof Timothy Smith Climate change and adaptive water governance (CADWAGO) Stockholm Environment Institute
A/Prof Bill Carter Water and reef quality and human perceptions Asia-Pacific Network for Global Change Research and US National Science Foundation
Prof Tim Smith National Climate Change Adaptation Research Network in Marine Biodiversity and Resources- ARN-MBR-Research Association National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility
Prof Tim Smith Coastal Collaboration Cluster CSIRO Collaboration Fund
Dr Tristan Pearce Inuit traditional knowledge for adapting to the health impacts of climate change (IK-ADAPT) Canadian Institute of Health Research
A/Prof Neil Powell and Dr Pedro Fidelman Supporting governance institutions for adaptive capacity to environmental change Asia Pacific Network for Global Change
A/Prof Claudia Baldwin Social Licence to Fish Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC)
A/Prof Claudia Baldwin Noosa Rural Hinterland Enterprise Research  Country Noosa Inc via Noosa Biosphere Reserve Foundation
A/Prof Claudia Baldwin Co-housing for Seniors in Maleny Maleny Neighbourhood Centre via Qld Age-friendly Community Grant 
Young driver situation awareness fast-tracking, including identifying escape routes (SAFER): A pilot project Motor Accident Insurance Commission (MAIC) Dr Bonnie Huang

bhuang1@usc.edu.au

Dr Bridie Scott-Parker

bscottpa@usc.edu.au

Facebook Friending Across the Lifespan USC

Ms Clara Silvi

csilvi@usc.edu.au

Dr Bonnie Huang

bhuang1@usc.edu.au

Senior driver situation awareness fast-tracking, including identifying escape routes (SAFER-Senior): A pilot project Motor Accident Insurance Commission (MAIC)

Ms Clara Silvi

csilvi@usc.edu.au

Dr Bridie Scott-Parker

bscottpa@usc.edu.au

Dr Bonnie Huang

bhuang1@usc.edu.au

Situation Awareness of Paramedic Students and Experienced Paramedics School of Social Sciences New Research and Collaboration Grant

Mr Tyrone Huckstepp

thuckste@usc.edu.au

Dr Bonnie Huang

bhuang1@usc.edu.au

Dr Bridie Scott-Parker

bscottpa@usc.edu.au

The driving exposure of Learner and Provisional 1 drivers (EXPOSURE)  USC Research Grant

Dr Bridie Scott-Parker

bscottpa@usc.edu.au

Dr Bonnie Huang

bhuang1@usc.edu.au

Time For Change USC Community Solutions

Dr Bridie Scott-Parker

bscottpa@usc.edu.au

Dr Bonnie Huang

bhuang1@usc.edu.au

Root distribution and salinity and soil water dynamics in a chenopod shrubland: implications for restoration ecology.

Australian Research Council

Profs J Facellli, J Watling, and D.J. Chittleborough

New Horizons: realising the potential of clay addition to increase crop yields.

South Australian Research and Development Institute

Profs D Davenport, A Schapel, D.J. Chittleborough, and N Wilhelm.

Advanced nanomaterials characterisation facility

Australian Research Council

Profs G Owens, E Lombi, K Kirkbride, D.J. Chittleborough, T Nann, A Ellis, J van Leeuwen, N Voelcker.

 

Research team Project Funding body
Prof Bill Carter, Dr Marcus Bussey, Dr Scott Lieske, Troy Street and Dr Noni Keys Interpreting the landscape-human dynamic in Maleny, Sunshine Coast Sunshine Coast Regional Council
A/Prof Jennifer Carter, Bo Carne, Jon Altman and Ann Fleming Identifying the key social and economic factors for successful engagement in aquaculture ventures by Indigenous communities Fisheries Research and Development Corporation
A/Prof Scott Baum, Dr Kathy Arthurson and Prof Timothy Smith Climate change and extreme events: developing a typology of coastal settlement vulnerability to aid adaptation strategies Griffith University
Dr Anne Roiko Reclaimed water is viewed as an acceptable alternative water for augmenting drinking water supplies Australian Water Recycling Centre of Excellence
Dr Anne Roiko and Emily Rames Regional and remote water security: treatment, tools and training

University of the Sunshine Coast

Griffith University

A/Prof Claudia Baldwin and Dr Caroline Osborne

Seniors perceptions of accommodation models

Church of Christ Care
Dr Christine Jacobson

Cultural resilience and customary fisheries

Te Tiaki Mahinga Kai
A/Prof Dana Thomsen

Sustainability Indicators

Sunshine Coast Regional Council
Prof Neil Powell and Prof Timothy Smith Climate change adaptation for natural resource management in East Coast Australia Natural Resource Management Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Research Grants Program
Dr Lila Singh-Peterson, Prof Bill Carter and Prof Geoffrey Lawrence Building resilience by empowering communities: addressing the vulnerability of food supply chains following extreme weather events Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal

 

Researcher Project Funding body
Prof Tim Smith Climate change adaptation in South East Queensland CSIRO Collaboration Fund
Prof Bill Carter Traveston Crossing Dam research partnership: a blueprint for developmental and operational arrangements for integrated public contact and education Queensland Water Infrastructure Pty Ltd
Prof Bill Carter Ecological colonisation and habitat values and public outreach relating to the ex-HMAS Brisbane Environmental Protection Agency
Prof Bill Carter Indigenous attachment, engagement and protocol in natural and cultural heritage management Burnett Mary Regional Group
Prof Bill Carter Systems approach to regional climate change adaptation strategies in metropolises The Department of Environment and Heritage, through CSIRO
A/Professor Julie Matthews Rethinking reconciliation and pedagogy in unsettling times Australian Research Council
Prof Tim Smith Adaptive capacity synthesis project The National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility
Prof Tim Smith Sustainability and corporate plan indicators for the Sunshine Coast Regional Council (SCRC) Sunshine Coast Regional Council
Prof Tim Smith Climate change adaptation in South East Queensland CSIRO Collaboration Fund
Prof Bill Carter Traveston Crossing Dam research partnership: a blueprint for developmental and operational arrangements for integrated public contact and education Queensland Water Infrastructure Pty Ltd
Prof Bill Carter Ecological colonisation and habitat values and public outreach relating to the ex-HMAS Brisbane Environmental Protection Agency
Prof Bill Carter Indigenous attachment, engagement and protocol in natural and cultural heritage management Burnett Mary Regional Group for Natural Resource Management
Prof Tim Smith Systems approach to regional climate change adaptation strategies in metropolises The Department of Environment and Heritage, through CSIRO
A/Prof Julie Matthews Rethinking reconciliation and pedagogy in unsettling times Australian Research Council
Prof Tim Smith Adaptive capacity synthesis project NCCARF
Prof Tim Smith Sustainability and corporate plan indicators for the Sunshine Coast Regional Council (SCRC) Sunshine Coast Regional Council
Researcher Project Funding body

Prof Tim Smith

Tsmith5@usc.edu.au

Ecosystem-based adaptation decision support framework United Nations Environment Programme
Prof Neil Powell
Npowell@usc.edu.au
Climate change and adaptive water governance – CADWAGO Stockholm Environment Institute

A/Prof Claudia Baldwin
Cbaldwin@usc.edu.au

Creative models of accommodation for older Australians in infill development ULDA, Diecke Richards, Churches of Christ Care, SCC
A/Prof Jennifer Carter
Jcarter@usc.edu.au
Processing of Canarium indicium nuts: adapting and refining techniques to benefit farmers in the South Pacific ACIAR
A/Prof Dana Thomsen
dthomsen@usc.edu.au
Sustainability indicators Sunshine Coast Regional Council
Prof Tim Smith
Tsmith5@usc.edu.au
National Climate Change Adaptation Research Network (NCCARF) - Research Association NCCARF (Department of Environment and Energy)

Coastal governance embracing vulnerability and change

This project aims to discover coastal governance approaches that embrace vulnerability and change. Current coastal management approaches are failing as existing threats intensify and new threats emerge. This project expects to generate knowledge on diverse vulnerabilities, with insights advancing the disciplines of human geography and public policy through improved understanding of the relationships between people, place and change. This is expected to support ongoing economic, environmental, social and cultural benefits that are derived from the Australian coast.

Vulnerability, Adaptation and Resilience to Climate Change in the Arctic (VARCCA)

Vulnerability, Adaptation and Resilience to Climate Change in the Arctic (VARCCA) is a five-year project to integrate Inuit traditional knowledge and western science to research climate change impacts in the Arctic. The project, led by Dr Tristan Pearce, brings together an international team of Inuit leaders and university scientists from Canada with extensive experience in traditional knowledge and climate change adaptation. Research will conduct real-time monitoring of environmental risks affecting subsistence hunting and adaptation responses; examine the economics of subsistence hunting under changing conditions; and investigate the role of multiple stresses, climatic and non-climatic, in adaptation. Findings are expected to advance our understanding of climate change impacts in the Arctic and opportunities to support human adaptation.

Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Beluga Whales in the Canadian Arctic

The goal of this research program is to use the platform of knowledge co-production among Inuit, other decision makers and researchers to identify indicators of ecosystem health for the Beaufort Sea in the Canadian Arctic. The research will use a multiple evidence-based (MEB) approach to bridge diverse knowledge systems, Inuit and western sciences, towards the development of indicators to monitor changes in the ecosystem. In the first phase of the research, Inuit Traditional Knowledge and western science will be brought together to develop indicators to support monitoring of beluga whale health (Delphinapterus leucas). In the second phase the MEB approach will be used at a regional scale to integrate across social, ecological, and economic disciplines. A suite of indicators will be selected that inform decision-making based on the long-term objectives for marine resource-use in the Beaufort Sea.

Strengthening the Capacity for Extension Services in the Pacific Region

Extension studies involves understanding the knowledge needed for development and the ways it can be provided to improve outcomes. Improving agricultural extension can increase trade opportunities and development pathways in the Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTs), and therefore requires a coordinated approach at the regional scale. Working with the Secretariat of the Pacific Community Pacific Agriculture Policy Project, Dr Chris Jacobson led the development of the Pacific Islands Extension Strategy.

Migration, food security and climate adaptation
The impacts of climate change are forcing many rural communities to adapt in different ways, and can affect the success of broader livelihood development strategies in rural poor communities. Understanding the links between food security, migration and climate adaptation is essential so that communities can become more resilient and avoid maladaptive strategies.

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