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Dr Karen Fisher

BA/MSocSc (Waikato), PhD (ANU)

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Senior Lecturer

Research | Current

I am a Human Geographer interested in society-environment interactions.  My research programme is organised under the general theme: environmental governance and politics of resource use.  My research interests fall broadly under the following areas:

  • Māori co-governance and indigenous knowledge
  • Environmental governance and development
  • Political economy and political ecology
  • Science, knowledge and policy

I have conducted research in the Philippines focused on the sociopolitical dimensions of water governance and development with a particular interest in the role of local government in mediating the needs of local communities with national objectives.  Since 2012, I have been involved in collaborative transdisciplinary research projects that focus on knowledge production for sustainability in the context of marine environments and urban water. I also conduct research using feminist and critical theories to explore knowledge production and methodologies. I am also part of the Auckland-based Puāwai Writing Collective, which performs feminist research focused on slow scholarship, care, and the neoliberal university.

Teaching | Current

My teaching reflects my interest in environmental management and governance more broadly and draws on cases from a range of different contexts within the Asia-Pacific Region, including New Zealand and Australia.

At undergraduate level I teach on GEOG324 Critical Perspectives on Sustainable Development and GEOG205(S2C) Environment and Society. 

At postgraduate level I coordinate ENVMGT744 Resource Management.

Postgraduate supervision

Completed PhD students

  • Barbara Hock (2018) - The role of visualisations in eliciting attitudes in sustainable forestry, and the attitudes elicited (Primary supervisor; Co-supervisor Dr Tim Payn, SCION)
  • Stephen FitzHerbert (2016) - Geographies of economy-making: the articulation of Taewa Maori across Aotearoa New Zealand (Co-supervisor; Primary supervisor Dr Nick Lewis)
  • Bizhan Rahnama (2016) - Negotiating Co-governance of the Waikato River: Political projects at work (Co-supervisor; Primary supervisor Dr Nick Lewis)
  • Kathryn Davies (2015) - Many voices of the Manukau: participatory modelling, ecosystem services and decision making in New Zealand (Primay supervisor; Co-supervisors Dr Mark Dickson Prof. Richard Le Heron, Prof. Simon Thrush)
  • Roger Baars (2015) - The Good Citizen: Citizenship Education and Youth in Singapore (Primary supervisor; Co-Supervisor Dr David Hayward)
  • Claire Gregory (2013) - Enabling sustainable river futures: exploring institutional interventions (Co-supervisor; Primary supervisor Prof. Gary Brierley, Co-supervisor Prof. Richard Le Heron)

Current PhD students

  • Andrew Allison - Identifying the controlling dynamics within social-ecological coastal systes (Co-supervisor; Primary supervisor Dr Mark Dickson, Co-supervisor Prof. Simon Thrush)
  • Claudia Gonelli -The social construction of wind energy in China and New Zealand: Development and perceptions in the political culture context (Co-supervisor; Primary supervisor A/Prof. Hong-Key Yoon)
  • Danielle Johnson - Exploring indigenous health, wellbeing and climate change adaptation in the Kaipara Catchment of Aotearoa New Zealand (Primay supervisor; co-supervisor Dr Meg Parsons)
  • Victoria Jollands - Fisheries governance and food security (Co-supervisor; Primary supervisor Prof. Simon Thrush)
  • Leane Makey - Integrated Catchment-Coastal Management: an ecofeminist autoethnography from the Kaipara Harbour (Primary supervisor; co-supervisor Dr Meg Parsons)
  • Gabby O'Connor - Engaging Communities in Issues of Environmental Complexity through the Art-Science Nexus: The Unseen – an art, science and community project 

Committees/Professional groups/Services

New Zealand Geographical Society

  • Fellow
  • Chair of the Auckland Branch
  • Membership Officer, National Executive

eSocSci Network Co-convenor: Women and Gender Geographies Research Network

Royal Society of New Zealand, Professional Member

Institute of Australia Geographers, Member

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Parsons, M., Nalau, J., Fisher, K., & Brown, C. (2019). Disrupting path dependency: Making room for Indigenous knowledge in river management. GLOBAL ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGE-HUMAN AND POLICY DIMENSIONS, 56, 95-113. 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2019.03.008
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Meg Parsons
  • Davies, K., Collective, P., Fisher, K., Le Heron, E., Sharp, E., & Spiers, R. (2019). Assembling disruptive practice in the neoliberal university: an ethics of care. GEOGRAFISKA ANNALER SERIES B-HUMAN GEOGRAPHY, 101 (1), 33-43. 10.1080/04353684.2019.1568201
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Emma Sharp
  • Driver, E., Parsons, M., & Fisher, K. (2018). Technically political: The post-politics(?) of the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme. GEOFORUM, 97, 253-267. 10.1016/j.geoforum.2018.09.023
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Meg Parsons
  • Davies, K., Fisher, K., Foley, M., Greenaway, A., Hewitt, J., Le Heron, R., ... Lundquist, C. (2018). Navigating collaborative networks and cumulative effects for Sustainable Seas. Environmental Science & Policy, 83, 22-32. 10.1016/j.envsci.2018.01.013
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Carolyn Lundquist, Judi Hewitt, Richard Le Heron
  • Jollands, V., & Fisher, K. T. (2018). Don’t forget the fish! Transnational collaboration in governing tuna fisheries in the Pacific. In M. C. Dawson, C. Rosin, N. Wald (Eds.) Global resource scarcity: Catalyst for conflict or cooperation? (pp. 184-202). London, UK: Routledge.
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Victoria Jollands
  • Allison, A. E. F., Dickson, M. E., Fisher, K. T., & Thrush, S. F. (2018). Dilemmas of modelling and decision-making in environmental research. Environmental Modelling and Software, 99, 147-155. 10.1016/j.envsoft.2017.09.015
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Andrew Allison, Mark Dickson, Simon Thrush
  • Trowsdale, S., Golder, C., Fisher, K., & Brierley, G. (2017). Water demand management and the quest for sustainability. New Zealand Geographer, 73 (3), 192-204. 10.1111/nzg.12165
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Sam Trowsdale, Gary Brierley
  • Parsons, M., Nalau, J., & Fisher, K. (2017). Alternative perspectives on sustainability: Indigenous knowledge and methodologies. Challenges in Sustainability, 5 (1), 7-14. 10.12924/cis2017.05010007
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Meg Parsons


Contact details

Primary office location

SCIENCE CENTRE 301 - Bldg 301
Level 5, Room 509
New Zealand

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