Michael Mitchell

Dr Michael Mitchell

Social Researcher, Gulbali Research Fellow

Gulbali Institute


Dr Michael Mitchell has a growing body of social research experience related to natural resources management. He is currently leading an Australian government funded project in collaboration with partner agencies in Pakistan to explore strategies for building adaptive capacity with people managing and living in salinity affected landscapes of the southern Indus Basin. From 2016 to 2020, Michael was employed on another Australian government funded project that aims to ultimately improve the lives of millions of people by tackling groundwater over-extraction in Pakistan. He has also been collaborating with Murray Local Land Services on a number of projects, including a novel way to undertake capacity needs assessment among community-based NRM groups.

Michael previously held two post-doctoral research fellow positions. The most recent (2012-2015) was part of the National Environmental Research Program's Landscape and Policy Hub. It involved applying social science theories and methods to improve regional-scale biodiversity assessment and planning in two case study sites – the Australian Alps (covering ACT, NSW & Vic) and Tasmanian Midlands. The other (2009-2012) was with the National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training exploring social dimensions of groundwater management. The position also involved a project working with rural agencies seeking to enable resource-dependent communities determine transformational strategies in the face of major changes to their resource base. Michael's doctoral dissertation (2005-2008) focused on sustainability reporting and the use of the 'triple bottom line' concept drawing on a case study with Murrumbidgee Irrigation.

Michael is interested in participatory action research and qualitative social research to support inter-disciplinary research related to rural NRM issues; in learning theories at organisational and social scales; in reporting as a strategy to enhance sustainability; and in applying social-ecological systems analysis to improve NRM outcomes.

  • Participatory/ transdisciplinary research and social learning
  • Resilience and social-ecological systems analysis
  • Social dimensions of environmental management
  • Governance and NRM
  • Sustainability
Full publications list on CRO

Recent Publications

  • Clement, S., Jozaei, J., Mitchell, M., Allen, C. R., & Garmestani, A. S. (2023). How resilience is framed matters for governance of coastal social-ecological systems. Environmental Policy and Governance (in press). https://doi.org/10.1002/eet.2056
  • Schaal, T., Mitchell, M., Scheele, B. C., Ryan, P., & Hanspach, J. (2023). Using the three horizons approach to explore pathways towards positive futures for agricultural landscapes with rich biodiversity. Sustainability Science, 18: 1271–1289. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11625-022-01275-z
  • Watto, M. A., Mitchell, M., & Akhtar, T. (2021). Pakistan’s water resources: overview and challenges. In M. A. Watto, M. Mitchell, & S. Bashir (Eds.), Water resources of Pakistan: issues and impacts (pp. 1-12). (World Water Resources; Vol. 9). Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-65679-9_1
  • Mitchell, M., Allan, C., Punthakey, J. F., Finlayson, C. M., & Khan, M. R. (2021). Improving water management in Pakistan using social-ecological systems research. In M. A. Watto, M. Mitchell, & S. Bashir (Eds.), Water resources of Pakistan: Issues and impacts (pp. 249-271). (World Water Resources; Vol. 9). Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-65679-9_13
  • Punthakey, J., Allan, C., Ashfaq, M., Mitchell, M., Ahmed, F., Ahmad, W., Akhtar, S., Ali, A., Ali, R., Amin, M., Khalid Awan, U., Baig, I., Culas, R., Ejaz, M. S., Engdahl, S., Zakir Hassan, G., ul Hasan, F., Iqbal, N., Khair, S., ... Rashid Tareen, A. (2021). Improving groundwater management to enhance agriculture and farming livelihoods in Pakistan: Final report. Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR). https://www.aciar.gov.au/publication/technical-publications/improving-groundwater-management-enhance-agriculture-and-farming-livelihoods-pakistan