This stream focuses on investigating how we can create communities that are not only sustainable but are regenerative, meaning people are actively working to restore ecosystems and support the health of wellbeing of the communities they live in.  The strand is led by Professor Delene Weber.

Smart communities are networked communities that provide social support to one another, have shared responsibility for protecting natural resources, reducing risks, and creating an environment that facilitates health and wellbeing.   Our work in this area has included educating communities about fire safety, assessing the economic benefits of shared power grids and creating community educational resources about living sustainably. 

This stream is integrally linked with the other two streams, as smart communities rely on sustainable natural resource management and building environmental resilience as well as innovative infrastructure and sound asset management.  Biodiversity protection, reduced air pollution and more effective waste management are examples of issues that are dependent on human attitudes and behaviours. These problems require building capacity within society (e.g. via education and citizen science) but also a strong understanding of the underpinning psychology, and the social marketing techniques likely to change behaviours. The stream focusses on developing smart communities and liveable cities and regions by promoting choices and behaviours that lead to improved biodiversity and reduced negative environmental impact. In many environmental problems, the most effective solution is multi-faceted, requiring input from various disciplines, so researchers in this strand are often engaged to assist in projects in the other strands.

This group is aligned to the UN Sustainable Development Goal #11, making cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. This strand focuses on investigating how we can create communities that are not only sustainable but are regenerative – actively working to improve the wellbeing of residents, for example through urban agriculture and nature connection, while simultaneously decreasing their impact on the Earth. Smart infrastructure can be used as a platform to serve communities, improving their sustainability, ability to adapt, and resilience.  Smart communities are networked communities that provide social support to one another; have shared responsibility for the protection of natural resources and the reduction of risks such as fire, and may also provide economic benefits, for example through shared power grids.

  Topics include:

  • Communities Attitudes and Behaviours: Our researchers conduct studies understanding the role of values, beliefs, attitudes and emotion in the context of consumer responsibility and sustainable behaviours. The context of this work includes conservation, pollution, transport, housing choice, recycling and human dimensions of environmental management.
  • Community Partnerships and Stewardship: We conduct research focused on building adaptive and resilient communities and forging sustainable partnerships to create more environmentally sustainable futures.  Work in this area includes urban agriculture, marketing conservation initiatives and educating people about sustainable options.
  • Policy, Governance and Planning: Our research team conducts work focused on policy development and appropriate governance to achieve strategic and sustainable goals.  We also focus on improved planning for a variety of applications such as bushfires, urban design, and land use planning.
  • Human-environment interactions and benefits: We conduct research in the area of public health, population studies, the benefits of green and blue space and how we can facilitate increased connection with nature and appreciation of the environment.

Current projects