David King

Executive Committee (Associate Professor, College of Science and Engineering)

David King is an Associate Professor of Geography in the College of Science and Engineering at James Cook University, and is director of the Centre for Disaster Studies, and the Centre for Tropical Urban and Regional Planning. He is a Fellow of the Planning Institute of Australia. He has taught and researched at James Cook University for twenty nine years and was formerly at the University of Papua New Guinea for ten years. He began his career as a school teacher on the diamond fields of Sierra Leone, turning that experience into a doctorate on the social impact of the diamond rush. Following that research he carried out research and consultancy work on the social impacts of mines in PNG, beginning with the Ok Tedi mine before construction in 1979 through to social monitoring of the impact area along the whole river system, until the mid 1990’s. Other mine impact research was carried out in Bougainville, and pre mine social monitoring of the Hidden Valley gold mine at Wau/Bulolo. Alongside mine impacts he researched rural development projects and urbanisation and migration. He continued urban focussed research at James Cook University, but during the mid 1990s moved out of development issues into disaster impact research. The social issues and impacts of natural hazards, complex humanitarian crises, including war and recovery, disaster impact, community vulnerability and resilience, and related issues of disaster recovery, awareness education and communication. He has worked closely with mining companies, government departments, local government, NGOs, emergency managers, and planners in a range of research projects throughout his career. Research has been strongly applied in scope with an emphasis on community messaging, and policy development. Research in community resilience to natural disaster linked into the Climate Change adaptation agenda, with a number of highly successful research projects on climate change adaptation. Research in the planning discipline has focussed on two primary areas; hazard mitigation in towns and cities including climate change adaptation, and migration and urbanisation.

While much of the disaster research has focussed on northern Australia, he has carried out social research in Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Mali, Kenya, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Tonga, Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia. Throughout his career he has published a total of over 120 Journal papers, conference papers, research monographs, chapters, and books and 42 funded consultancy and research reports. He has successfully supervised 10 research Masters projects and 30 PhDs.

David King stepped into the role of Director of the Centre for Disaster Studies in 1994. The centre had existed since 1979, but had no staff or projects at the time he took it on, at the instigation of the Bureau of Meteorology and Queensland Emergency Services. Under his direction it has been extremely successful in working with agencies to generate community research that contributes to policy and practice. The centre also continued a tradition of rapid response post disaster studies, covering over 25 disasters since the mid 1990s.

His teaching has focussed on Geography, development studies, urban planning and design, and disaster management. During the mid 1980s he brought together teaching capacity at the University of Papua New Guinea, and the University of Technology, to create a joint postgraduate town planning (physical planning) diploma. On moving to James Cook University he continued in this field, working with the Planning Institute to develop a planning program at JCU. This eventuated in professionally accredited undergraduate and masters degrees and the creation of the Centre for Tropical Urban and Regional Planning, which includes research student supervision.

He also designed the curriculum and degree structure of the Bachelor of Environmental Practice and contributed to the development of the Master of Global Development. With staff of the CDS, a postgraduate certificate in Disaster Management was introduced after 2012 and taught with Queensland Government support. When the sponsored period ended, course content was absorbed into other programs in order to be available for an eventual Masters in Disaster Resilience etc. Three of the emergency management subjects in this qualification continue to be taught to postgraduate planning and global development students.