Doctoral Research in Social Dimensions of Natural Resource Management
Charles Sturt University is offering nine top-up scholarships valued at over $7,000 p.a. Each scholarship is available as part of a new partnership program with various natural resource management agencies.
All PhD projects involve field-based research largely centred around NSW. They benefit from the team-based approach between Charles Sturt University and the industry partner. Scholarship top up funding of $7000 per annum will be provided to a total value of AUD$29,860 per annum (2011 rate). Additional project funding and support will be provided by the partner agency.
The Doctoral Research Topics
Developing a systematic and repeatable process for identifying socio-ecological systems within local communities
This PhD will develop a reliable, repeatable, and transparent way of identifying a social-ecological system. The PhD student will be required to review current methods in use around the world, and work with Murray CMA to define the broad social and institutional context for this methodology. The outcome will be the development of a process of analysis to better guide regional investment is sustainable resource management by Catchment Authorities.
Identifying the critical social components within fragile socio-economic systems
This PhD project will develop an understanding of the critical aspects of institutions within a community that sustain their function. The outcome of the project will be a better understanding of the distributed nature of power and capacities within local communities, so that CMAs are better able to make critical and targeted investments (e.g. training and/ or resourcing) in local communities.
Using social capital so that civil societies can adapt to climate change
A number of studies conducted around SE Australia have assessed the vulnerability of various regions and communities to climate change. This PhD research extends this work by examining how communities in these vulnerable areas think about climate change, and assessing what they are doing. The outcome will be a better understanding on how investment in social capital within those communities can be used to strengthened their ability to adopt measures to adapt to climate change.
The metagovernance of regional government
There is a growing interest and experimentation in regional governance in order to resolve issues associated with co-ordination, scale, and complexity in natural resource management. The nexus between state and regions creates a series of question about the role of the various players and their responsibilities. What should the dependences be between levels of governance, when and where is uniformity desirable, and how do we create consistencies across regions? This research will use a cross section of programs and their perceived success to suggest how issues of scale can be better addressed.
Reconfiguring the irrigation landscape for a future with less water
This PhD will investigate ways local communities can manage a transition to reduced water resource allocations. In this particular case, the focus will be landholders with water allocations in the Murray Irrigation district. The candidate will work with MIL to identify the appropriate scale of 'local community', and the number, location, and cross section of communities involved. The research will contribute to better policy options and instruments that encourage more efficient and effective irrigation infrastructure and supply.
How decision making paralysis impacts farming communities
This PhD will examine how the uncertainty associated with water policy is affecting irrigation communities. Most previous policy studies tend to be focused on policy content or policy outcome, but very little attention has been paid to policy roll out. This is surprising, given that choices of policy instrument and subsequent implementations are for most people the most visible and sharp parts of the policy process. The ultimate outcome will be a better understanding of the impact of policy on family businesses that can be used to influence government policy and to design programs to assist landholders.
Creating a deeper a broader market for conservation land
The use of conservation covenants/easements as a conservation mechanism for private land has increased greatly in the past decade. For example conservation easements now protect over 15 million ha across the United States. However the use of easements in Australia to help achieve this outcome remains relatively uncommon in comparison to other countries. Given the attractiveness of covenants as a tool to expand national and regional nature conservation initiatives, a comprehensive understanding of the why individuals buy or donate property rights in conjunction with a conservation easement is important. This research will look at this issue in some detail. It may require travel overseas.
Comparing the effectiveness of three approaches to conservation covenants
There are a number of 'pathways' for private land to become part of the National Reserve System. These include buy and hold (acquisition), revolving fund, and voluntary covenants. The optimum use of conservation covenants using buy and hold, revolving fund, or voluntary covenants in land-use planning remains unclear. The evidence to date from the land trusts and government reveals tremendous disparities in their use nationwide. This scholarship will make comparisons between the use of acquisitions, resolving funds, and voluntary covenants across Australia. The research will help inform the use of these three instruments across the landscape.
Water shepherding involves the movement of parcels of water through unregulated systems to the benefit of a single user. There a number of possible ways to shepherd water through a system including: recommending trading practices within catchments, having moving threshold points, tagged trading, and through 'commons' agreements. All options for water shepherding therefore require a considerable degree of co-ordination and communication among river managers and/or landholders who have access or control the same water resource. This research will investigate whether it is possible to create a shepherding regime that either does not advantage one class of user over another or if it is possible for all users to come to agreement where the benefits and burdens associated with the process are accepted.
Expressions of interest
Expressions of interest are sought from enthusiastic and dedicated, First Class or 2A Honours students. All expressions of interest should include a 500-word personal statement outlining which research area is of interest to you, a detailed CV, transcript of all academic degrees and contact details for two referees.
Applications and General Enquiries: Dr Jonathon Howard, School of Environmental Sciences, Charles Sturt University, Phone: 02 60519 685 Email: email@example.com