Environmental Management Research Themes

JCU has many world-renowned researchers who undertake cutting-edge research in their chosen field of environmental science and management.

We are at the forefront of research in a number of environmental science and management themes, including:

Corporate Environmental Management


As a multidisciplinary research theme, corporate environmental management builds on expertise from the disciplines of science, engineering, business, law and governance. We study what drives, impacts and determines corporate environmental practices and explore theoretical issues. Our research is varied, cutting across industries and issues such as sustainable and climate finance, mapping environmental and social co-benefits of corporate activities, corporate resilience, implications of the transition to a clean economy, sustainability, the theory and practice of corporate social responsibility and environmental disclosure.

Development Studies

Diedrich, Law, Sims, King, Gurtner

At JCU our development studies program draws on multidisciplinary expertise to critically interrogate the world’s most prominent social, political, economic and environmental challenges. Key themes of research include: Environmental governance and sustainable resource management, poverty alleviation, inequality, geopolitics of development, disaster relief, urban transformations, community well being, and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Students of development studies at JCU will work collaboratively with a broad range of stakeholders to acquire the academic expertise and practical field-based skills required to undertake diverse career pathways and to make positive changes in the world.

GIS and remote sensing

Duce, Joyce, Smithers, Dawson, Bainbridge, Beaman

We use satellite, airborne, shipborne, and field survey data to map and monitor the environment. Technologies used include drones and state of the art GIS software platforms. Ongoing projects include mapping the Great Barrier Reef, mapping reef islands on the GBR and further abroad, monitoring water circulation and thermodynamics on the reef, documenting sites of archaeological significance, long-term mangrove monitoring, coastal erosion and horticultural yield estimates.

Human-Environment Interactions

Diedrich, Benham, Lim, Nelson, Smithers, Duce

The conservation, sustainable use, and production of natural resources can only occur in conjunction with resilient, adaptive, and receptive societies. This research theme focuses on understanding the feedbacks and interaction between humans and the biophysical environment in a variety of contexts and settings. Our research spans a multitude of sectors such as ports, aquaculture, fisheries, farming and protected areas and societies throughout the tropical world.

Physical Geography and Geomorphology

Haig, Nott, Smithers, Wasson, Dawson, Duce, Bainbridge

This group examines the physical surface features of the Earth. There is a strong focus on the health and functioning of tropical riverine catchments and coastal environments and reconstructing climate and environmental change through a range of long-term natural archives. Specific projects include catchment sediment sources and transport rates, coral reef and reef island development and change, long-term patterns of extreme natural events and coastal change over time.

Urban Design and Planning

Gurtner, Harwood, King, Law, Sims, Tavares

Our researchers are committed to understanding complex land use and development issues in settlements across the tropics, in particular in Australasia, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific.  Our focus is on environmentally responsive and inclusive urban design, indigenous and remote settlement planning and disaster management strategies.  We have close connections to government, industry and community stakeholders through our Tropical Urbanism and Design Lab and the Centre for Disaster Studies.

Water and soil science

Lim, Nelson, Smithers, Bainbridge, Orr, Bird

We study the processes and conditions of water and soil in natural and managed ecosystems of the tropics, including the cycling and transformations of carbon, nutrients and contaminants. This allows us to develop ways of improving the productivity and biodiversity of agricultural soils, improving the health of aquatic and marine ecosystems and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. For more information visit our Land and Water Science Group web page.

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