Dr Katrina Proust

BA, LLB, MLitt (Syd), PhD (ANU)
Honorary Senior Lecturer, Fenner School of Environment and Society
ANU College of Science
T: 0459 450 164

Areas of expertise

  • Dynamical Systems In Applications 010204
  • Historical Studies 2103

Research interests

My principal research interest is the development of methods for practical systems thinking. This work is centred on an integrative approach called Collaborative Conceptual Modelling (CCM).  


My background in historical archaeology allows me to study the historical factors and the feedback behaviour that shape relationships between humans and our environment.

I have worked with the Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, of the International Council for Science (ICSU) in its Urban Health Programme (2012-2016). This work led to collaboration with the United Nations University International Institute for Global Health in Malaysia (2014-2018) on the social and environmental determinants of public health. In 2016 we won a Wellcome Trust Seed Award in the Medical Humanities to investigate historical factors that influenced public health and urban planning in colonial George Town, Penang. 

Other collaboration has been with Academia Sinica Taiwan (2014-2017) in developing and facilitating systems thinking workshops on air quality and public health.

Researcher's projects

In collaboration with Dr Barry Newell (FSES), I am carrying out action research centred on the development of an approach called Collaborative Conceptual Modelling (CCM). CCM provides a conceptual framework to support collaborative groups and integrative projects. Our approach is intended to help members of a collaborative group to develop a shared understanding of the dynamics of social-ecological systems.

Our action research takes place in systems thinking workshops. In CCM we demonstrate that complex behaviour can be described in both words and causal diagrams. This correspondence allows us to introduce causal diagrams as a visual language.  Research includes improving ways to making systems thinking accessible to a wide range of policy makers and managers.


  • facilitating systems thinking workshops for FSES and other ANU students 
  • contributing to the DFAT-ANU Awards Program on climate change adaptation 



Available student projects

I am interested in mentoring students who want to apply systems thinking to complex human-environment issues and problems. Areas of application include the coastal zone (particularly the NSW south coast), climate change adaptation, and urban health.

Past student projects

2016-2018 – A complex systems approach to urban renewal and social inclusion in Hong Kong (Kate Sewell, FSES)

2014 – Role of open spaces in revitalizing World Heritage Sites: A case study of George Town, Penang, Malaysia (Christine Duran, Masters thesis, Crawford School)

2012 – Taking a systems approach to dengue-fever management in the Caribbean (Karemah Francois, Masters thesis, FSES)

2011-2013 – Health Impacts of Climate Change in Urban Areas: A Pathway to Adaptation (Helen Brown, PhD, Curtin University WA)


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Updated:  25 July 2024 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers