Associate Professor Carina Wyborn

BA (Hons), PhD (ANU)
ANU College of Science

Areas of expertise

  • Sociology And Social Studies Of Science And Technology 160808
  • Sociological Methodology And Research Methods 160807
  • Environment Policy 160507
  • Conservation And Biodiversity 050202
  • Natural Resource Management 050209
  • Environmental Management 050205

Research interests

  • Science, politics and policy of environmental futures
  • Co-production of science, policy and society
  • Foresight, futures thinking
  • Decision making under uncertainty
  • Adaptive and anticipatory governance


Carina is an interdisciplinary social scientist with background in science and technology studies, and human ecology. Her research focuses on understanding how decisions are made in complex and contested environmental governance and management challenges. This entails research in three main areas:

  • The processes and practices of collaboration across the science-policy-practice interface;
  • The scientific and governance processes that underpin how land and water management agencies address environmental change;
  • The capacities, methods, and practices that enable futures thinking in environmental decision-making. 

Carina's current research focuses on climate adaptation, water governance, and biodiversity conservation in the Murray-Darling Basin, the Australian Alps, and the Western United States. 

After completing her PhD at the ANU in 2013, Carina worked internationally, in the United States, Colombia and Switzerland, working with government and non-government organisations. Many of these collaborations directly contributed to management and policy at local, regional, and national scales of decision-making. Notably, Carina co-led the Biodiversity Revisited Initiative a two-year collaboration that involved over 300 contributors from 46 countries to critically examine the status of biodiversity research, policy, and practice. In 2022, she was awarded the Society for Conservation Biology's early career award for outstanding contribution to the conservation social sciences. 

Carina returned to the ANU in 2020 with an ARC Discovery Early Career Research Award, which involves research on foresight practices and anticipatory governance to enable stakeholders to negotiate pathways for climate adaptation within water reform in the Murray Darling Basin. She is a contributor to the ANU High Country Research Initiative, where Carina’s research is examining how protected area management and policy is grappling with ecological transformation associated with snowgum die-back.

Researcher's projects

Current Projects

  • Building capacity to adapt to a more variable water future in Northern Victoria (2023-2024)
  • Understanding snowgum die-back for effective and integrated management (2023-2028)
  • Foresight in times of disruption: Advancing the theory and practice of adaptive governance in the Murray Darling Basin (2020-2024)
  • Identity, ownership and place in the Northern Murray-Darling Basin (2022-2023)

Past Projects

Current student projects

  • Navigating transformation - futures thinking in water governance (Carla Alexandra, PhD, ANU)
  • Freshwater conservation targets in a changing climate (Fatima Tanveer, PhD, ANU)
  • Adressing uncertainty through adaptive governance in relation to town water security (Leila Noble, PhD, ANU)
  • Resisting, Accepting and Directing trade-offs: Examing tribal and community engagement within the RAD framework (Carloine Bean, PhD, University of Montana)
  • Designing effectivey foresight processes to anticipate and prepare for climate change in the Murray-Darling Basin (Camaria Holder, PhD, ANU)
  • Building futures literacy for adaptation, cohesion and resilience in the face of challenges: lessons for the water sector (Stephanie Rosestone, MPhil, ANU)
  • How can conservation managers manage current and future ecological transformation (Isobel Bender, Honours, ANU)

Past student projects

  • Embracing subjectivity: learning, imaginaion, creativity and the capacity to use the future for transformational change in water governance (Stephanie Rosestone, Post-Graduate Coursework thesis, ANU)
  • The role of communities in building regional resilience: A case study of the Goulburn-Murray Resilience Strategy (Ruby Olsson, Honours, ANU) 
  • Raising the Dam wall, "a pawn in a political game": exploring environmental emotions in the context of the Wyangala Dam (Zoe Duffin-Pruksapun, Honours, ANU)
  • Through the "perfect storm": a discourse analysis of the 2018-2019 Menindee fish kills (Sumithri Venketasubramanian, Honours, ANU)
  • Narratives of adaptation for future-oriented conservation (Claudia Munera-Roland, PhD, ANU)
  • Navigating extreme climate events: Uncovering the challenges of social-ecological system governance in the anthropocene (Amber Datta, PhD, University of Montana & James Cook University)
  • The role of uncertainty in determining the Murray Darling Basin Sustainable Diversion Limites (Leila Noble, Honours, ANU)
  • Organizational influence on the co-producton of fire science for management application (Evora Glenn, Masters, University of Montana)



Projects and Grants

Grants information is drawn from ARIES. To add or update Projects or Grants information please contact your College Research Office.

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Updated:  15 June 2024 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers