Cobi Smith

PhD Researcher
Level 9, Melbourne Law School (visiting scholar)



Cobi researches participatory and deliberative methods of science communication. She is interested in theories of participatory governance, deliberative democracy and collaborative learning. She has led or facilitated deliberative processes about science and technology policy for universities, government departments and non-governmental organizations. Cobi is interested in science and technology supporting sustainable development and environmental security.

In 2014 Cobi is a Visiting Scholar at Melbourne Law School, where she is completing writing her PhD.

Cobi worked for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation while completing degrees in journalism and international studies. After working as a newsreader she headed abroad to produce media about youth-led development. She returned home to work for the Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics before moving to Cambridge, UK, where she worked on science media projects ranging from podcasts to books. In the UK she worked with organisations ranging from the University of Cambridge to the Science and Development Network.

She was living in South America when a position at the Royal Institution of Australia (RiAus) lured her back to Australia. She was employed by RiAus with government support to strengthen communities and networks, as well as facilitate, produce and evaluate activities through the Inspiring Australia initiative. While at RiAus, Cobi began producing science/theatre projects focused on physics and mathematics. These included a busking show with circus performers about the physics of unicycles, a concert celebrating debate in mathematics, and storytelling about the mathematics of Alice in Wonderland. After leaving RiAus Cobi continued to experiment with participatory theatre and improvisation themed around science and technology, including Science Impro in the 2013 Adelaide Fringe. Cobi was part of The Ada Initiative’s first AdaCamp and is an open access activist.

Cobi became an Australian Youth Ambassador for Development with the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact in 2013, where she combined her interests in environmental security, sustainable development, human rights and participatory governance in a development context. She supported indigenous peoples to understand and assert their rights using diverse methods including comic books, posters, videos, dance, social media and participatory workshops. Her experiences with indigenous peoples in Asia reinforced her interest in international and environmental law, leading to her current involvement with Melbourne Law School.


Research interests

  • Participatory governance.
  • Deliberative democracy.
  • Public participation.
  • Science and technology policy.
  • Decision-making.
  • Environmental law.
  • International law.
  • Media law.
  • Technologies for sustainable development.
  • Participatory action research.
  • Science communication.
  • Upstream public engagement.
  • Bioethics.
  • Program evaluation.
  • Philosophy of science.

2012 public presentations


Smith, C (2014) Public engagement in prioritizing research proposals: A case study. SAGE Open, Feb 2014, 4(1), DOI: 10.1177/2158244014523791

Boyesen, A and Smith, C (2013) Rights in action: free, prior and informed consent for indigenous peoples. Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact; AIPP Printing Press.

Smith, C (2010) Deliberative Democracy in S. Hornig Priest (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Science and Technology Communication (pp. 210-212). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc. DOI:

Hirschfeld, D (2010) One in every four OLPC laptops in Uruguay is not working, translated by Smith, C, Science and Development Network, 11 August

Portillo, Z (2010) Peru reduces arsenic contamination using solar energy, translated by Smith, C, Science and Development Network, 3 August

Portillo, Z (2010) Antibiotics in the environment foster child resistance, translated by Smith, C, Science and Development Network, 14 June

Leighton, P (2010) Internet and mobile phone harnessed for Chilean farmers, translated by Smith, C, Science and Development Network, 4 June

Smith, C (Ed) (2008) Climate Change (Issues series v151), Cambridge: Independence Educational Publishers

Smith, C (Ed) (2008) Migration and Population (Issues series v150), Cambridge: Independence Educational Publishers

Smith, C (Ed) (2008) Sustainability and Environment (Issues series v146). Cambridge: Independence Educational Publishers

Smith, C (2007) Suriname has 'already hit' malaria MDG, Science and Development Network, 20 September

Smith, C (2007) Antimalarials 'give children an edge' at school, Science and Development Network, 18 September

Smith, C and Crewdson, S (Eds.) (2007) Smoking Trends (Issues series v145), Cambridge: Independence Educational Publishers

Firth, L  and Smith, C (Eds.) (2007) The Cloning Debate (Issues series v144), Cambridge: Independence Educational Publishers

Firth, L  and Smith, C (Eds.) (2007) Problem Drinking (Issues series v143), Cambridge: Independence Educational Publishers

Smith, C and Crewdson, S (Eds.) (2007) Media Issues (Issues series v142), Cambridge: Independence Educational Publishers

Smith, C and Crewdson, S (Eds.) (2007) Mental Health (Issues series v141), Cambridge: Independence Educational Publishers

Firth, L  and Smith, C (Eds.) (2007) Vegetarian and Vegan Diets (Issues series v140), Cambridge: Independence Educational Publishers

Smith, C and Adelaja, A (2007) Scholars call for communications cable access, Science and Development Network, 24 May

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