ILWS - Charles Sturt University
ILWS - Charles Sturt University

Environmental Justice and Governance for Social Change

Led by Dr Helen Masterman-Smith and A/Prof Vaughan Higgins

The information on these pages is accurate to the end of 2016 when reporting for SRA was completed for the 2015-16 Biennial Report.  All reporting for our projects is now found in relevant areas under the four research themes.

  • About
  • Issues
  • Members
  • Outcomes
  • Projects
  • Publications
  • Engagement
  • Postgrad Research


The aim of this SRA was to advance policy, community and scholarly understandings about the social dimensions of environmental sustainability.

The emphasis of its research was on issues around transport and energy, climate change, biodiversity and conservation, rural/urban nexus, water security, housing, work and social issues, community sustainability, education, health services, and security issues.

Action is needed to address the numerous and growing threats to the environment on which all life depends. However there are many social barriers, including political, economic, cultural and institutional obstacles, to such action being taken. Questions of environmental justice and governance are central axes of debate on how to best overcome these barriers.

This SRA specifically engaged with the debates on how to best build ecologically sustainable societies in ways that are socially just with research activities that:

  • Identify the environmental challenges and opportunities associated with multi-level governance frameworks (regional, national, international) and competing policy priorities
  • Explore the social drivers and consequences of environmental initiatives and actions, from the local to the global
  • Investigate and critically assess the social dynamics and policy approaches underpinning environmental justice and equity issues
  • Improve understanding of the diverse histories, cultures and knowledge through which social groups understand, manage and interact with environments

The 17 members of this SRA came from a variety of disciplines and include sociologists, educationalists, social researchers and environmental economists. Their areas of expertise include:

  • Social relations of production and consumption
  • Rural social research
  • Social justice
  • Regional governance
  • Rural social issues including disability, marginality and social exclusion/isolation
  • Human dimensions of Natural Resource Management
  • Social aspects of water management
  • Environment management economics
  • Sustainability and higher education
  • Drinking water quality
  • Security  from an international political economy perspective

The environmental justice and governance fields are considered embryonic in Australia, with research currently quite patchy, although well-developed internationally. This SRA is helping to address that imbalance.

A number of small projects looking at transport decisions, knowledge of environmental sustainability and biodiversity, and connectedness to Nature have been completed.

An ARC Discovery project on the use of market instruments for improved land management has also been completed with findings provided to policy makers with valuable information on the implementation and adoption of market-based incentives.

Another major ARC Discovery project is underway which aims to analyse and develop core virtues of social workers to strengthen the social fabric of individuals, families and communities.

The Reviving Regional Railways project, which began in 2007, has promoted a better informed debate and a broader range of options on this issue that might not have been apparent otherwise. The NSW Government is now in consultation with local councils seeking to revive the Blayney-Demondrille (Cowra) line south from Blayney.

Currently there are three post-graduate students associated with this SRA.

Aligned with this SRA is the Regional Centre of Expertise Murray-Darling (RCE-MD), acknowledged by the United Nations University.  The RCE-MD is a consortium of regional stakeholders within the Murray-Darling Basin that supports and promotes sustainable development through integrated research. CSU is one of the partners in the consortium, which is anchored within ILWS. In collaboration with the SRA, the RCE-MD has obtained government funding for projects which aim to help communities protect their local environment and live more sustainably.

Current projects include:

  • Our Place- Wave 2(Corowa)
  • Reviving regional railways
  • Virtuous practitioners: empowering social workers
  • Localisation as a strategy for sustainability
  • Community spirit in flood recovery
  • Social and ecological benefits of urban green space
  • Media representation of veganism
  • Sustainability literacy
  • Environmental challenges for rural workers

Completed projects include:

  • Our Place – Riverina and Murray
  • Transport decisions of staff and students on the Albury-Wodonga campus
  • Children's knowledge of environmental sustainability
  • Community knowledge and value of biodiversity
  • Connectedness to Nature
  • Market instruments for improved land management
  • Investigation of rural Australian's drinking water quality


It is widely acknowledged that action is needed to address the numerous and growing threats to the environment and hence the natural resource base on which all life, including human society, depends. Despite this recognition, many social barriers exist to such action being taken including political, economic, cultural and institutional obstacles. These barriers influence action on environmental sustainability at all levels of society from the individual to neighbourhoods, nations and global communities. Questions of environmental justice and governance are central axes of debate and contention about how best to overcome these barriers. This SRA specifically engages with these debates on how best to build ecologically sustainable societies in ways that are socially just.

"....Many citizens fear too little action is being taken on pressing environmental problems and that dire impacts on vulnerable people and the planet are already biting. Consequently, human societies are at the edge of a social and ecological precipice. This predicament raises fundamental and urgent questions about human relations with the rest of the environment, including how to live and work sustainably and fairly, and how to build political will and social change to these ends." Dr Helen Masterman-Smith


Members Expertise
Dr Helen Masterman-Smith (Leader) Social relations of production and consumption
A/Prof Vaughan Higgins (Leader) Rural Sociologist
Dr Andrea Crampton Sustainability & higher education; drinking water
Dr Merrilyn Crichton Rural social issues – disability, marginality and social exclusion/isolation
A/Prof Ian Gray (Adjunct) Regional governance
Dr Jonathon Howard Environmental Sociologist
Dr Shelby Gull Laird (Adjunct) Human dimensions of natural resource management
Dr Anna Lukasiewicz (Adjunct) Social researcher in water management
Dr Michael Mitchell Social Researcher NRM
Dr Susan Mlcek  Social Researcher
Prof Mark Morrison Environmental economics; environment management economics
Dr John Rafferty Educationalist
Dr Angela Ragusa Sociology and Interdisciplinary Studies
Prof Manohar Pawar Social Researcher
Dr Marie SheahanSociologist
Dr Felicity Small Social Researcher
Dr Oliver Villar  Social Researcher in security issues


Outcomes or examples of how the work of this SRA has made difference include:

  • Input, on behalf of the Victorian Department of Primary Industries, to a Parliamentary Inquiry into the capacity of the farming sector to attract and retain young farmers and respond to an ageing workforce
  • Research on the transportation decisions and behaviours of student and staff at CSU's  Albury-Wodonga campus has provided an understanding of their transport related values. It may assist in predicting future attitudes and behaviours and provide solutions to foster sustainable transportation choices through targeted interventions. Impacts include targeted policies for future behavioural intervention and education projects
  • The "Our Place-Riverina and Murray" project has delivered practical new resources to assist communities in protecting their natural environment and live more sustainably. It has provided new knowledge about how residents are approaching these issues at the local level as well as  identified barriers to community engagement and opportunities for new initiatives. The project has also informed NSW OEH community engagement strategies.
  • A study on understanding a peri-urban community's knowledge and values of biodiversity has improved our understanding of residents' connection to nature and conservation knowledge, attitudes and behaviours. The data collected provides valuable baseline data that will allow researchers to monitor community views before and after projects or education initiatives are conducted. The results are being used by the Albury Conservation Company to develop educational and community biodiversity initiatives and programs.
  • The on-going "Reviving Regional Railways" project, which began in 2008,is promoting a better informed debate and a broader range of options on this issue than might have been apparent otherwise. Already, with the councils trying to revive the line south from Blayney, the issue is gaining a higher public profile. In October 2014, the NSW State government assessed two tenders to restore the line and start train operations and the NSW Government is now in consultation with local councils.
  • The findings from an ARC Discovery funded project (2010-2013) investigating how Australian farming industries are responding to demands for more sustainable production practices has  provided policy makers with valuable  information on implementation and adoption  of market-based incentives


A Community Engagement Series: Regional Facilitator in the Albury LGA , Masterman-Smith, H., Rafferty, J., and Sheahan, M., (2016) NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, $32,000  Project details

A competency tool for organisational leadership in sustainability learning, research and strategic management, Ragusa, A. & Crampton, A. (2015-2017) CSU Green Sustainability Large Grant, $50,000.

Our Place-Corowa, Masterman-Smith, H., Rafferty, J., Sheahan, M. (2015-2017) NSW Office of Environment & Heritage, NSW, $29,500 Project details

Virtuous Practitioners: Empowering Social Workers, Pawar, M., Hugman, R. (UNSW), Alexandra, A. & Anscombe, A. (2014-2017) ARC Discovery grant, $220,130 Project details

Research Activities

Reviving Regional Railways, Gray, I. ILWS. (2008-on going ) Project details

Identifying, communicating, improving stainability literacy Ragusa, A.T. and Crampton, A.L. CSU Green Sustainability Research Grant, $10,000 (2013-2015)

Our Place- Riverina and Murray, in collaboration with the RCE-MD,OEH, Paroissien, K., Rafferty, J.,  Masterman-Smith, H., Mitchell, A.,  Laird, S., Dunphy, J. & Dunlop, O. (2013-14) $90,000 Project details

Building Capacity to respond to climate change at a local level, Howard, J. & Michelle Olivier (PhD student) (2012-2015). DECC. $15,000. 

Environmental Challenges facing Rural Workers, CSU Large Arts Faculty Grant. Working with regional trades and labour councils. Masterman-Smith, H. $19,987 (2012- 2013)

Sustainable Farming in Australia: Market Instruments for Improved Land Management, ARC Discovery Project. Chief investigator Higgins, V. (2010-2013) with Professor Chris Cocklin (James Cook University) and Dr Clive Potter (Imperial College London). Project details

Antecedents and outcomes of connectedness to nature:  A meta-analysis of studies from 1999 – 2012 Laird, S., &  Boxall, D.,(CSU)  Wilson, A. (Auburn University, USA) (2012-2013) Project details

CSU Green Kids: Developing Children's Knowledge of Environmental Sustainability through Learning about Bush Tucker and Bush Walking. Allen, S., Smith, M., Piazza, L., Laird, S. CSU $14,200 (2012-2013) Project details

Green roof/wall impacts on urban dwellers: A case study. Maloney,K. (Honours Student) Laird, S. &  Rafferty, J. (2013) Project details

Environmental Worldviews of Teachers in Australia. CSU Education Faculty Grant. Rafferty, J., (2012-13)

Transportation decisions and behaviours of students and staff at the Albury-Wodonga campus of Charles Sturt University, Laird, S. & Black, R. CSU $1900 (2012-2013) Project details

Understanding Thurgoona/Wirlinga Community Knowledge & Values of Biodiversity, Laird, S & Black, R. Albury Conservation Council, $4044.70 (2012-2013) Project details

Investigating drinking water quality available to rural Australians in NSW not connected to regulated water, Crampton, A. & Ragusa, A. (2008-2013)

Exploring the Effectiveness of Local Sustainability Strategies. NSW Office of Environment and Heritage. Howard, J. (2012)

Metagovernance in Regional Natural Resource Management. NSW Office of Environment and Heritage. Howard, J. (2012)

The future of eHealth infrastructure provision for the Riverina region: An investigation of mental health services. Crichton, M., Muenstermann, I. and Burmeister, O. Rural and Regional Research and Development Program, $24,000. (2011-2012) Project details

Engaging Landholders to Adopt Profitable and Sustainable Carbon Cropping Practices. Commonwealth Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. Higgins, V. and other Graham Centre members (2012) Project details

Wetland Carbon Storage. Monitoring and Evaluation Component. Commonwealth Government Biodiversity Fund (with Murray CMA). Howard, J. (2012)

What are the factors affecting the ability of agriculture to attract and retain young people? Gray, I. DPI, Victoria, $14,000 (2011) Project details

Environmental Justice in Australia. Masterman-Smith, H. ILWS Fellowship (2010)

Education for sustainability models in Australian health care degrees. Masterman-Smith, H., Dunphy, J., Harvey, R., Sheahan, M., Townsend, R. Commonwealth Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, Education for Sustainability Program, $55,000 (2009-2010

Research Activities

Australian media representation of veganism.  Mastermann-Smith, H., Ragusa, A.T., Laird, S., Crampton, A. (2013-2016)


Peer Reviewed Journals


Olivier, M.M., Wilson, B.J. & Howard, J.L. (2016) Measuring localisation regionally to form a Bhutanese Index. Sustainability 2016. 8(7), 690; doi:10.3390/su8070690

Masterman-Smith, H., Rafferty, J., Dunphy, J., & Laird, S. G. (2016) The emerging field of rural environmental justice studies in Australia: Reflections from an environmental community engagement program. Journal of Rural Studies.

Olivier, M., Wilson, B., & Howard, J. (2016) Determining localisation metrics. Social Indicators Research. doi: DOI 10.1007/s11205-016-1269-6

Ragusa, A.T. (2016) Rurality's influence on women's intimate partner violence experiences and support needed for escape and healing in Australia, Journal of Social Service Research.

Pawar, M. (2016). Reflective Learning and Teaching in Social Work Field Education in International Contexts. British Journal of Social Work, 2016: doi:10.1093/bjsw/bcw136


Higgins, V., Dibden, J. and Cocklin, C. (2015) Private agri-food governance and greenhouse gas abatement: Constructing a corporate carbon economy, Geoforum, 66: 75-84

Pawar, M. (2015) Action Research on Social Work Knowledge Creation and Dissemination from the Global South. British Journal of Social Work, 45 (4), 1357 – 1364, doi: 10.1093/bjsw/bcv043

Crowther, A.J. & Ragusa, A.T.(2015) A dose of our own therapy: using research findings to challenge mental health nurses to embrace contemporary practice realities, Issues in Mental Health Nursing, NY: Taylor & Francis.


Crampton, A.L. & Ragusa, A.T. (2014). Perceived agricultural runoff impact on drinking water.  Journal of Water and Health.

Gray, I. & Crichton, M. (2014) Replacing Trains with Coaches: Implications for Social Inclusion in Rural New South Wales, Journal of Social Inclusion, 5(2), pp 89 – 113.

Higgins, V., Dibden, J., Potter, C., Moon, K. and Cocklin, C. (2014) Payments for ecosystem services, neoliberalisation, and the hybrid governance of land management in Australia. Journal of Rural Studies, 36: 463-474.

Higgins, V., Potter, C., Dibden, J. and Cocklin, C. (2014) Neoliberalising rural environments. Journal of Rural Studies, 36: 386-390.

Higgins, V. (2014) Australia's developmental trajectory: Neoliberal or not? Dialogues in Human Geography. 4(2): 161-164.

Laird, S.G., McFarland-Piazza, L. & Allen, S. (2014). Young children's opportunities for unstructured environmental exploration of nature: Links to adults' experiences in childhood. International Journal of Early Childhood Environmental Education, 2(1), 58-75.

Pawar, M. (2014). Social Work Practice With Local Communities in Developing Countries. Sage Open, 4(2), 2158244014538640.

Pawar, M. and Huh, T. (2014) Korean Responses to Environmental Challenges: Origins, drivers and the impact of green growth on development. In I, Yi and T. Mkandawire, Learning from the South
Korean Developmental Success: Effective Developmental Cooperation and Synergistic
Institutions and Policies.

Bousfield, K. & Ragusa, A.T. (2014). A sociological analysis of Australia's NAPLAN and My School Senate Inquiry submissions: The adultification of childhood? Critical Studies in Education, 1-16.

Ragusa, A.T. (2014). (Ed.) Rural lifestyles, community well-being and social change: Lessons from country Australia for global citizens. UAE: Bentham Science.

Ragusa, A.T. & Crowther, A. (2014). Mental health nurses: The challenge of working in rural and remote Australian communities. In Ragusa, A.T. (Ed.). Rural lifestyles, community well-being and social change: Lessons from country Australia for global citizens. Bentham Science.

Johnston, S. & Ragusa, A.T. (2014). The impact of rurality on major depression in Australia: Socio-cultural reflections for social change. In Ragusa, A.T. (Ed.). Rural lifestyles, community well-being and social change: Lessons from country Australia for global citizens. Bentham Science.


Masterman-Smith, H. (2013). Rural Workers and Environmentally Sustainable Livelihoods in Australia. Rural Society, 22(3), 196-207.

Ragusa, A.T. (2013). Downshifting or conspicuous consumption? A sociological examination of tree change as a manifestation of slow culture. In Osbaldiston, N. (Ed.). Slow Culture Edited Collection. UK: Palgrave

Villar, O. and Cottle, D. (2013) One-Hundred Years of Solitude or Solidarity? Colombia's Forgotten Revolution. A Contracorriente: Journal on Social History and Literature in Latin America. Vol. 10, No. 2 (North Carolina) 167-202.


Higgins, V., Dibden, J. & Cocklin, C. (2012). Market instruments and the neoliberalisation of land management in rural Australia, Geoforum, 43: 377-386.

Maye, D., Dibden, J., Higgins, V. & Potter, C. (2012). Governing biosecurity in a neoliberal world: Comparative perspectives from Australia and the United Kingdom. Environment and Planning A, 44: 150-168.

Mitchell, M., Curtis, A., & Davidson, P. (2012). Can triple bottom line reporting become a cycle for "double loop" learning and radical change? Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal, 25(6).

Mitchell, M., Curtis, A., Sharp, E., & Mendham, E. (2012). Directions for social research to underpin improved groundwater management. Journal of Hydrology, 448-449, 223-231.

Ragusa, A.T. & Crowther, A. (2012). "I think it is the best job…I love it!" Engendering workplace satisfaction in rural and remote Australian mental health nursing. Rural Society, 22(1).


Crichton, M. (2011). The logic of 'service': conceptualising service as a discourse rather than an act. Third Sector Review 17: 153+

Dibden, J., Higgins, V. & Cocklin, C. (2011). Harmonising the governance of farming risks: The regulation and contestation of agricultural biosecurity and biotechnology in Australia. Australian Geographer, 42(2): 105-122.

Higgins, V. & Dibden, J. (2011). Biosecurity, trade liberalisation and the (anti)politics of risk analysis: The Australia-New Zealand apples dispute', Environment and Planning A, 43: 393-409.

Crichton, M. & Strong, C. (2011). Editorial: Energy and Rurality, Rural Society, 20(3).

Crowther, A. & Ragusa, A.T. (2011). Realities of mental health nursing practice in rural and remote Australia, Issues. Mental Health Nursing, 32(8): 512-518.


Andree, P., Dibden, J., Higgins, V. & Cocklin, C. (2010). Competitive productivism and Australia's emerging 'alternative' agri-food networks: Producing for farmers' markets in Victoria and beyond. Australian Geographer, 41(3): 307-322.

Crampton, A. & Ragusa, A. (2010). The E. Coli load in self-managed rural water in Australia. The Internet Journal of Microbiology. 9(1).

Howard, J.L.,(2010). Managing for justice in community-based water planning: a conceptual model. Environmental Conservation, 37(3), 356-363.

Masterman-Smith, H. (2010) Green collaring a capital crisis? Labour and Industry, 20(3), April, 317-330.

Masterman-Smith, H. (2010) Labour force participation, social inclusion and the Fair Work Act: current and carbon-constrained contexts, Australian Journal of Social Issues, 45(2), 227-241.

Ogilvie, A., Mahé, G., Ward, J., Serpantié, G., Lemoalle, J., Morand, P., Barbier, B., Diop, A. T., Caron, A., Namarra, R., Kaczan, D., Lukasiewicz, A., Paturel, J.-E., Liénou, J. & Clanet, C. (2010). Water, agriculture and poverty in the Niger River basin, Water International, 35(5), 594-622.

Crampton A. & Ragusa A. T. (2009). My water's fine, isn't it? An exploration of the gendered perception of water quality and security in Australia. Rural Society, 18(3), 202-213.

Gray, I. (2009). Maintaining the power of central governments: Regional land transport in the Australian Federation, 1850-2007. The Journal of Transport History, 30: 22-39.


Midgley, J. & Pawar, M., (2017) Future Directions in Social Development (ed).  New York: Palgrave Macmillan

Pawar, M. (2014) Water and Social Policy. Palgrave Macmillan

Farmar-Bowers, Q., Higgins, V. & Millar, J. (eds) (2012) Food Security in Australia: Challenges and Future Prospects, New York: Springer.

Book Chapters

Pawar, M. (2017). Social Development: Progress So Far. In Midgley, J. & Pawar, M., Future Directions in Social Development (ed).  New York: Palgrave Macmillan. (pp. 21-40).

Pawar, M. (2017). The Need for Enhanced Community Participation.  In Midgley, J. & Pawar, M., Future Directions in Social Development (ed).  New York: Palgrave Macmillan. (pp. 61-77).

Pawar, M. & Midgley, J. (2017). Beyond Goals and Targets: Future of Social Development.  In Midgley, J. & Pawar, M., Future Directions in Social Development (ed).  New York: Palgrave Macmillan. (pp. 253-264).

Midgley, J. & Pawar, M. (2017). Social Development Forging Ahead.  In Midgley, J. & Pawar, M., Future Directions in Social Development (ed).  New York: Palgrave Macmillan. (pp. 3-19).

Villar, O. and Cottle D. (2015) FARC in Colombia: 21st Century US Imperialism and Class Warfare. In Ness, I (ed.). Encyclopedia of Imperialism and Anti-imperialism. Palgrave Macmillan, New York

Crampton, A.L. (2014). Water, An essential resource and potential health risk! Rural perceptions, awareness and knowledge of health risks. In Ragusa, A.T. (Ed.). Rural lifestyles, community well-being and social change: Lessons from country Australia for global citizens. Bentham Science.

Masterman-Smith, H. (2013). Worker citizens and the environment. In Heather Aslin & Stewart Lockie (eds), Engaged Environmental Citizenship, CDU/ANU Press, Canberra.

Rafferty, J. (2012). Design of outdoor and environmentally integrated learning spaces. In M. Keppel, K. Souter & M. Riddle (eds), Physical and virtual learning spaces in higher education: Concepts for the modern learning environment, Hershey, PA : IGI Global.

Lawrence, G., Richards, C., Gray, I. (2012). Climate change and the resilience of commodity food production in Australia. In N. Hansar (ed), Food System Failure: The Global Food Crisis and the Future of Agriculture, Earthscan, New York.

Ragusa, A.T. (2011). Changing Towns, Changing Culture: Examining Tree Changers' perceptions of Community in Australian Country Towns and Places. (Chapter 5, pp. 81-104) In Martin, J. & Budge, T. (Eds). The sustainability of Australia's Country Towns. Bendigo, VIC: La Trobe University Press, ISBN: 9781921915116.

Higgins, V., Dibden, J. & Cocklin, C. (2010). Adapting standards: The Case of Environmental Management Systems in Australia. In V. Higgins & W. Larner (eds), Calculating the Social: Standards and the Reconfiguration of Governing. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Ragusa, A.T. (2010). Seeking Trees or Escaping Traffic? Socio-Cultural Factors and 'Tree-Change' Migration in Australia. In G.W. Luck, R. Black & D. Race (eds), Demographic Change in Australia's Rural Landscapes. Springer, Netherlands.

Ragusa, A.T. (2010). Country landscapes, private dreams? Tree change and the dissolution of rural Australia. In Whitford, T. & Blacklow, N. (Ed.). Where the crows fly backward: notions of rural identity (Chapter 10, pp. 137-50). QLD: Post Pressed. ISBN: 978-1-921214-61-5.

Gray, I., Lawrence, G. & Sinclair, P. (2009). The sociology of climate change for regional Australia: Considering farmer capacity for change. In J. Martin, M. Rogers & C. Winter (eds), Climate change in regional Australia: Social learning and adaptation, VURRN Press.

Ragusa, A.T. (2010). Country landscapes, private dreams? Tree change and the dissolution of rural Australia. In Whitford, T. & Blacklow, N. (Ed.). Where the crows fly backward: notions of rural identity (Chapter 10, pp. 137-50). QLD: Post Pressed. ISBN: 978-1-921214-61-5.

Conference Papers


Crampton, A., Ragusa, A.T. & Mastermann-Smith, H. (2016) Not enough feathers flying!! SAANZ Conference Proceedings, Massey University, NZ. Nov 22-24

Ragusa, A.T. & Crampton, A. (2016) Risky food and water? Health and environmental knowledge and information-seeking in Australia, TASA Conference Proceedings, University of Melbourne, Nov 28 to Dec 1.

Ragusa, A.T. & Crampton, A. (2016) Bridging the Gap between Health Recommendations & Individual Behaviour, SAANZ Conference Proceedings, Massey University, NZ, Nov 22-24


Higgins, V., Dunn, T. and Love, C. (2015) Material agency and the adoption of conservation farming practices, Annual Conference of the Australian and New Zealand Agri-Food Research Network, Queenstown, December 6-9.

Higgins, V., Love, C., Dunn, T. and Lemerle, D. (2015) Why do farmers partially adopt conservation farming practices: A sociological study of stubble retention in NSW and Victoria, Proceedings of the 17th Australian Agronomy Conference, 20-24 September 2015, Hobart. Available online at

Higgins, V. and Enticott, G. (2015) Maps, mapping, and neoliberal governance of animal disease, XXVI European Society for Rural Sociology Congress, Aberdeen, August 18-21.

Masterman-Smith, H., Rafferty, J., Sheahan, M. & Ward, W. (2015). Beyond the usual suspects: justice, community and NRM. Presented at Australian Social Science Academy workshop on justice, fairness and equity in natural resource management (12-13 October). Canberra: Australian National University.

Ragusa, A.T. & Crampton, A. (2015, July).  Problematising sustainability as a concept for improving the human-animal interface.  Australian Animal Studies Group Conference, Melbourne, VIC.

Sheahan, M., Masterman-Smith, H., Rafferty, J. & Ward, W. (2015). Relating environmental justice education to NRM. Presented at Australian Social Science Academy Workshop on justice, fairness and equity in natural resource management (12-13 October). Canberra: Australian National University.


Howard, J.L. (2012). Extremes in justice: how arguments are framed by conservation and farmer groups when attempting to influence water policy. Proceedings for the 6th Australian Stream Management conference.


Creating sustainable communities

Drs Helen Masterman-Smith and John Rafferty presented "Creating Sustainable Communities" based on findings from their Our Place Project Riverina-Murray and the Learning Communities HEPPP project to the Albury Rotary Club a the North Albury Sports Club on March 22, 2016.

Social Sciences in Australia Workshop

Drs Helen Masterman-Smith, John Rafferty, Marie Sheahan and PhD candidate, Wes Ward, participated in an Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia workshop on the topic of Justice, Fairness and Equity in Natural Resource Management. The workshop was hosted by the Fenner School at the ANU on 12-13 October, 2015. They gave two presentations: "Beyond the usual suspects: community, justice and NRM" (results from the first Our Place project) and "Relating environmental justice education to NRM" (results from Learning Communities project). The workshop builds the capacity of the SRA through involvement in the establishment of the Australian Environmental Justice Research Network of which Drs John Rafferty and Helen Masterman-Smith are founding members.

Sustainability Graduate Learning Outcomes

Within CSU, Dr Angela Ragusa led and completed creating Sustainability Graduate Learning Outcomes (GLOs) to embed sustainability within the undergraduate curriculum and university courses. Termed 'Sustainability Practices', this GLO received DVA-A and PVC, L&T endorsement in October 2015 and will enter the resource development and implementation stage in 2016. Dr Ragusa is a member of the CSU Sustainability Advisory Group; chair of CSU's Sustainability Practices GLO Reference Group; and member of the CSU GLO Steering Committee.

Expert Witness

A/Prof Jonathon Howard was called as an expert witness for the Commonwealth Senate Inquiry into the Social and Economic Impact of the Murray Darling Basin Plan with the final report to be made to the Senate on or before 26 February 2016.

Reviving Regional Rail

Institute Adjunct Associate Professor Ian Gray has continued to push for the revival of regional rail. To that end, he has helped instigate three successful seminars on the subject in regional NSW. The first, held in Wagga in 2007 in conjunction with Engineers Australia, was attended by about 120 people. Speakers included a former MP, Paul Neville who was Chair of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Transport and Regional Services at the time.

The second seminar, held in Blayney, May 10, 2013 attracted over 105 people. The event was hosted by Charles Sturt University (CSU), Blayney Shire Council and Lachlan Regional Transport Committee, with the support of Cowra, Harden, Weddin, and Young Shire Councils. High-profile speakers
included a Canadian rail expert, the CEO of the Australasian Railway Association, and the
Senior Policy Officer with the Department of Transport Victoria.

The third event was held on September 17, 2014 at CSU's Albury-Wodonga campus. Twenty eight representatives from regional councils and businesses, rail interest groups, transport consultants and regional transport committee members attended the afternoon symposium. Presentations by A/Prof Gray and Reid Mather, from the Victorian Alliance of Councils for Rail Freight were followed by a
lively discussion.

In October 2015, A/Prof Gray gave a presentation on "Rail freight for regional development" at the SEGRA conference held at CSU's Bathurst campus.

In November 2015, he spent four days studying the small, locally managed and provincially administered railways of Saskatchewan, Canada. The tour was organised with help from provincial officials and the Saskatchewan Short Line Railway Association. The aim of the tour was to examine the essential features of small regional freight railways which make them successful and work out how those principles might be applied in Australia, in coordination with the large railway corporations and the three levels of government. The findings have helped specify objectives and methods for two small research projects to be undertaken this year.

Regional Centre of Expertise-Murray-Darling engagement

The first activity for the RCE-MD was a meeting of 35 environmental educators from across the Murray-Darling Basin at CSU's Albury-Wodonga campus on April 11/12, 2013. The educators (from primary schools, TAFE, local land services and catchment management authorities, state agencies
and research institutes) explored education for sustainable development. The RCE-MD is developing a professional network of Environmental and NRM educators across the Basin.

A second event was the official launch of the RCE-MD on October 31, 2013 at CSU's Albury-Wodonga campus with TV personality Costa Georgiadis, who is also the RCE-MD's Patron.   L

The RCE-MD also supported a Climate Change and the Community Forum held at the Albury Entertainment Centre, August 19, 2014 attended by more than 120 people.

RCE meetingAn Interim Board meeting of the Regional Centre of Expertise-Murray-Darling (RCE-MD) was held on March 16  2015 at the Albury-Wodonga campus.

Our Place "launch"

More than 55 people, including community members from Holbrook and Albury where "Our Place" discussions were held, attended the official launch and showcase of achievements to date of the project on August 18, 2014. The project was launched by South-West Regional Manager for the
NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, Mr Graeme Enders.

Book Launch

More than 30 people, including CSU Vice-Chancellor Professor Andrew Vann, attended
the launch of a book showcasing CSUs strength in rural social research at CSU's Wagga campus on March 7, 2014. The book Rural lifestyles, Community Well-being and Social Change: Lessons from Country Australia for Global Citizens, published by Bentham Science, was edited by Dr Angela Ragusa and included chapters by a number of ILWS members on topics such as social and economic change in rural communities,human services delivery in rural and remote communities, and water and knowledge of health risks.

Postgrad Research


Research Topic

Mark AdlerUnderstanding relationships between universities and Regional Centres of Expertise in Education for Sustainable Development 
Principal supervisor Dr Helen Masterman-Smith
Jeanette CarrollAnimal activism of the poor in Australia
Principal supervisor Dr Helen Masterman-Smith
Michelle Olivier The advantages of localisation as a strategy for sustainability and global carbon reduction   Principal supervisor A/Prof Jonathon Howard
Ashlea Hunter Investigating the link between social and ecological benefits of urban green space
Principal supervisor A/Prof Jonathon Howard
Jenny WoodsExperiences of community spirit in flood recovery: Exploring meaning and the opportunities for community development.
Principal supervisor A/Prof Jonathon Howard