The Pacific Exchange - Road to my PhD


Welcome to the PacificExchange. This site is dedicated to sustaining landscapes and livelihoods through cross-cultural learning between Australian and US. Primarily, it is online research journal and space to communicate my ideas from my post doctoral research on the implications of climate change for communities living in and around US National Forests. I’m a qualitative social scientist with an interdisciplinary bent currently based at College of Forestry and Conservation at the University of Montana. I work on the social and institutional dimensions of environmental change and I’m a passionate advocate of using research time and money to contribute to on-ground change.


I first came to Montana in 2010 to do field work for my PhD. I instantly fell in love with the place – the mountains, the people, the music, the beer – and worked since then to find a way to get back there to work in and explore this landscape more.  My PhD was a comparative study of large landscape conservation projects in Australia and North America. I feel like my four year PhD adventure just scratched the surface of the possible places and spaces to look to share lessons in conservation and resource management across Australia, Canada and the US. During this time I also got into photography (and juggling) so this site is also a place for me to post the images of the amazing places my research has taken me.

The similarities and differences provide ample space for cross-cultural exchange in the hope of improving our capacity to live sustainably in our socially, ecologically and politically different landscapes. These landscapes have been shaped by thousands of years of management by the First Nations but they have also changed significantly in the few hundred years since they were colonised. Drought, climate change, biodiversity decline, coal, oil and gas exploration, intensive agriculture, urban sprawl… it is easy to paint a doomsday picture of the challenges we share. But it isn’t all bad, there are signs of hope, people working tirelessly in their landscapes, in advocacy, in policy trying to turn the ship around. This is not a blog focusing on doom and gloom – okay so I might complain or freak out sometimes – by really, I’ve started this as a space to wax lyrical, muse, even sometimes post the odd rant about my explorations through landscapes and livelihoods in the US and Australia.