Dr Margaret Cook - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Staff profile

Dr Margaret Cook

PhD Qld., BA (Hons) Qld.

  • Lecturer in History
+61 5456 5008
Office location
T2.15, Health and Sport Centre, USC Sunshine Coast
Sunshine Coast
Dr Margaret Cook

Margaret is a history lecturer at the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC). She specialises in the history of ‘natural’ disasters in Australia especially floods and earthquakes. The history of floods in the Brisbane River catchment was the subject of her PhD, conferred in 2018 by the University of Queensland, and is now a book, A River with a City Problem: A History of Brisbane Floods (UQ Press, 2019). With Dr Scott McKinnon, Margaret is also co-editor of Disasters in Australia and New Zealand: Historical approaches to understanding catastrophe, a collection of essays on bushfire, flood, cyclones and earthquakes (Palgrave forthcoming). Her broad academic areas of interest are environmental and social history and cultural heritage with particular focus on floods, climate, cotton, water and gender.

Margaret’s academic interest in floods has expanded into issues relating to Australian water politics and administration. She is a Research Assistant on an ARC Discovery Project (DP180100807) “Water and the making of urban Australia since 1900” led by Associate Professor Andrea Gaynor (UWA). Margaret is currently researching the cotton industry (a major water consumer) and European settlement in the Callide Valley in Central Queensland in the 1920s and 1930s to explore cotton, climate, race and gender. Her research focus is environmental and social history.

Margaret has published in the journals History Australia, Conservation and Society, Environment and History, International Review of Environmental History, Journal of Australian Studies, Australasian Journal of Popular Culture and Circa. Her work has been produced online in Australian Politics and History, Arcadia, Queensland Historical Atlas, Queensland State Archives and a virtual exhibition, “Water Crisis in Australian Cities” on the Environment and Society Portal.

Since 1996 Margaret has conducted a successful consultancy business working in the field of built heritage, producing over 40 conservation management plans and heritage studies and assessments. She was a Board Member of the Queensland Heritage Council (1998-2003, Deputy Chair 2003-2006) and a Councillor of the National Trust of Queensland (1997-2003), serving as Secretary and Vice President. A public historian and an inaugural member of the Professional Historians Association Queensland since 1990, Margaret has published several local histories and worked in oral history and the museum sector. For her services to history she was made a member of the Ipswich Heritage Hall of Fame.

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Professional membership

  • Member, Professional Historians Association (Qld)
  • Member, Australian Historical Association (AHA)

Awards / Fellowships

  • 2019 Hon. Research Fellow University of Queensland
  • 2019 Hon. Research Fellow La Trobe University
  • 2019 Australia Historical Association-Copyright Agency Bursary
  • 2018 Highly Commended Circa Prize
  • 2015 John McCulloch Memorial Prize, Highly Commended
  • 2016-2018 Australian Government Research Training Program Scholarship.

Research publications

Research areas

  • floods and other 'natural' disasters
  • cotton in Australia
  • environmental history and gender
  • water politics and administration
  • climate history

Teaching areas

  • Australian History
  • Environmental History