Centre for the Public Awareness of Science (CPAS) in collaboration with the CSIRO Valuing Sustainability Future Science Platform


Project Description

There is a general consensus that the multiple, intersecting sustainability crises of our time call for transformative forms of innovation. But the question of which kinds of innovation are needed and how they might be steered towards the public good objectives embodied in sustainability goals is less clear-cut.

Industrialized countries have tended to equate innovation with the development of breakthrough technologies which are themselves variously seen as arising from ‘basic’ research in scientific laboratories or, increasingly, from market-oriented ‘translational’ science done in collaboration with industry. However, there is extensive empirical work in the social sciences casting critical light on these assumptions and highlighting the limitations of relying on technologies or markets alone to ‘fix’ sustainability challenges.

This PhD project will contribute to the emerging field of research at the interface of innovation policy studies and science and technology studies (STS), where scholars are building on insights from such assessments to develop frameworks for transforming innovation at a systemic level. Focusing on the case of Australia, the PhD will explore how such frameworks might play out in practice.

The aim of the PhD is to explore how pathways of transformative innovation for sustainability might be articulated, deliberated and governed in Australia. It will engage with current international debates on steering innovation towards collective public good priorities.

Potential research questions include: how do key stakeholders in the Australian innovation landscape (government, industry, researchers, professionals) imagine the ways in which system-wide sustainable change could come about? What narratives and forms of evidence do they mobilise in this regard? What kinds of openings exist for socio-technical system change that can bridge broad aspirations for environmental, social and economic goals; and can these be developed collaboratively? The student will refine and develop these further, engaging in the process with visions of a post-carbon mission for the Australian innovation system. We anticipate the use of social science research methods in documentary analysis, stakeholder interviews and deliberative workshops.

Based in CPAS, one of the oldest science communication centres in the world, the PhD student will benefit from our collaboration with UNESCO and with the flagship Valuing Sustainability Future Science Platform (FSP) of Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO.


Admission to a Doctor of Philosophy degree at ANU requires:

  1. An Australian Bachelor degree with at least Second Class or its international equivalent, or
  2. Another degree with a significant research/thesis component that may be assessed as equivalent to paragraph (1), or
  3. A combination of qualifications, research publications and/or professional experience related to the field of study that may be assessed as equivalent to paragraph (1).

Further information relating to eligibility can be found on the ANUs website:

How to Apply

We are seeking a candidate who we would support through the application process for an Australian Government Research Training Program stipend scholarship at the Australian National University. The next AGRTP application round at the ANU closes in April 2022.

The successful candidate will also be provided with an AUD 10,000 top-up scholarship, and an additional AUD 10,000 to support research expenses from one of the CSIRO Future Science Innovation Platforms. We welcome applicants from a range of disciplines, including but not limited to science and technology studies (STS), science communication, sociology, geography, anthropology, political science, and environmental social sciences. This project will involve qualitative social science research including conducting stakeholder interviews and organising deliberative workshops. Applicants should display experience in conducting such research, or a desire to learn these skills.

To apply please send a CV, names and contact details for 2 referees and 1 page cover letter detailing your experience and interest in the project.

For informal inquiries, contact Associate Professor Sujatha Raman (Email:

Applications should be submitted to