Mulligan's Flat Nature Reserve

PhD Research Opportunity Encounters at the biosocial frontier

Publication date
Friday, 31 May 2024

PhD Research Opportunity Encounters at the biosocial frontier: Enhancing people’s relationship with nature in Australia’s ‘Bush Capital’


We are seeking PhD applicants from diverse social science fields for an exciting new opportunity to conduct inter-disciplinary and mixed-method collaborative research on the complex relationship between natural and social systems in and surrounding the Mulligans Flat Woodland Sanctuary in the Australian Capital Territory.



The successful candidates will work closely with academics from the School of Sociology, Fenner School of Environment and Society, and the Australian National Centre for Public Awareness of Science (CPAS) at the Australian National University, and partners in the ACT Government, The Woodlands and Wetlands Trust, Mulligans Flat–Goorooyarroo Woodland Experiment, as well as other relevant stakeholders in the government, industry and community sectors.

Each of the projects will be supervised by a panel comprising leading scholars, knowledge brokers and practitioners drawn from ecology and biodiversity studies, sociology, science communication, public health, science and technology studies, cultural and media studies, and gender studies.

Candidates will be exposed to complementary and cutting-edge methodological approaches and conceptual frameworks, and benefit from diverse disciplinary and substantive networks as well as 20 years of woodland research and 10 years of Sanctuary development at the Mulligans Flat Woodland Sanctuary. This is a unique opportunity to also utilise Wildbark, the new Woodlands Learning Centre in Throsby, as a site of research.



Animal on Mulligan's Flat


We see collaboration and cross-fertilisation of knowledges and approaches as key to building capacity in this exciting and critical area of socio-ecological studies.

We encourage applicants to develop their own ideas for research projects in consultation with relevant faculty members, but the following are some areas of interest for explorations.


Theme A: developing and scaling human well-being indicators for measuring the impacts of nature encounters and educational experiences in urban woodlands;

Theme B: exploring the role of social media and digital data in sharing visions of ‘good’ nature and the amplification of conservation messaging through nature encounter opportunities;

Theme C: intersections between Indigenous knowledges and scientific knowledges in conservation planning and people’s engagement with nature (would suit Indigenous applicants, or those with existing relationships, knowledge and experience with Indigenous communities/perspectives);

Theme D: multi-scale decision-making and effecting change in conservation investment: how global, national and local policy processes interact to determine the conditions for people’s relationship with nature in the ACT, and the role of nature encounters in cultivating thought leadership among decision makers and influencers;

Theme E: increasing understanding of how diverse publics understand the concept and process of rewilding, including: the degree to which they might engage in such programs; the challenges of public witnessing of predation and animal death in rewilding experiments; and the optics of reintroduction activities and population control measures;

Theme F: contrasting aesthetics, social norms and attitudes towards the design and development of urban and conservation landscapes.




Suitable candidates will be provided with direction on how to obtain admission to a relevant HDR Program at ANU to enable the research, and they will need to successfully secure an Australian Government Research Training Program (AGRTP) PhD Scholarship, similar ANU PhD scholarship, or international PhD funding in order to proceed with the project.

First class Honours (or equivalent academic qualifications, i.e. international MSc programme) is a prerequisite for appointment. Prior experience and training in social sciences and humanities is preferred.


How to apply

We are accepting applications from domestic Australian and New Zealand candidates, as well as international applicants. Interested individuals are invited to submit an expression of interest to Dr. Jasper Montana at before July 15th 2024, which should include a short project idea (max 1 page A4), academic transcript(s), CV and short letter outlining your suitability to this program of study (max 1 page A4).

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