Ms Dr Elizabeth (Liz) Clarke

Visiting Fellow
T: +61419738087

Areas of expertise

  • Environmental Science And Management 0502
  • Human Geography 1604
  • Social And Cultural Anthropology 160104
  • Sustainable Agricultural Development 070108
  • Agricultural Land Management 070101
  • Other Studies In Human Society 1699

Research interests

  • Rural research for development and rural livelihoods
  • Social innovation and innovation systems;
  • Sustainability adaptation and transformation (including climate change)
  • Local and indigenous knowledge;
  • Knowledge management and co-production;
  • Disaster and risk management
  • Capacity development and pedagogy;
  • Food systems, dynamics and governance;
  • Research-policy engagement and governance;
  • Participatory evaluation and learning;
  • Facilitation, participatory process and action research;
  • Trans- and interdisciplinary research design, facilitation and implementation
  • Complex systems thinking and research;


I am a transdisciplinary researcher and practitioner, focusing on coproduction of knowledge and codesign for positive change. My background is in food systems, rural development, sustainability, natural resource management, livelihoods, social innovation and change, and learning and capacity building.

My work focuses on complex systems, particularly tackling wicked problems. This includes exploring problem, context and scale; and designing, implementing and evaluating action research. I help people from diverse backgrounds: spanning research, policy and practice; cultures, backgrounds and contexts; and disciplinary, expert and experiential knowledge bases; to explore and share their unique knowledge and perspectives through a range of techniques and methods.

Through a range of complexity-based tools and by fostering generative dialogue, I enable coproduction between this diversity of people and perspectives to create synergies and collaborative approaches to addressing these problems, as well as creating dynamic networks for ongoing collaboration (given that wicked problems have a no stopping rule).

Wicked problems infer more than complexity – I describe wicked problems as complex issues that defy complete definition, for which there can be no final solution, since any resolution creates further issues, and where solutions are not true or false or good or bad, but the best that can be done at the time (Brown, 2010, p. 4; Rittel & Weber, 1973). Irreducible uncertainty is a core feature of wicked problems (Head 2008).

My experience is broadly based, encompassing research, international development, policy, governance, community development, and business and communication. Through my research experience (particularly facilitating and coordinating collaboration and coproduction) I provide important insights into research and academic cultures and the constraints and challenges researchers face in engaging in complex problems in partnership with practitioners, policy-makers, and communities, and in dealing with the complexities and contradictions and conflicts that this generates.

Researcher's projects

  • Developing academic capabilities and communities of practice in the Mekong region (including Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Myanmar)
  • Leverage Points for Sustainability Transformation, Leuphana University Lueneburg
  • Facilitating social innovation in rice-based systems in Southern Laos drawing on a participatory evaluation approach
  • Innovation systems approach for enhancing livelihoods in Southern Laos rice-based farming systems: study of the factors that enable and constrain innovation and change.
  • Disaster risk management: Transdisciplinary action research to explore and facilitate research-policy-practice engagement in the process of generating flood mitigation and management options and solutions in the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley, in Western Sydney.
  • “Making it visible”: A series of workshops examining underlying motivations, beliefs, assumptions of sustainability change agents and social innovators (workshops in Romania and Germany) to strengthen their work and partnerships to enable collaboration, coproduction and transformational change through scenario planning and foresighting.


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Updated:  21 September 2020 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers